Israel demanding apology from Russia’s Lavrov brings up conspiracy theory on Hitler’s ‘Jewish blood’ back in focus

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An old conspiracy theory about Nazi leader Adolf Hitler’s alleged Jewish ancestry is back in focus after the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov compared the Ukraine government to Nazi Germany and its president Volodymyr Zelensky to the German dictator. Appearing in an Italian TV interview, when Lavrov was quizzed about how the Kremlin was fighting to “de-Nazify Ukraine” when its President is Jewish, the Russian Minister said: “I could be wrong, but Hitler also had Jewish blood. [That Zelensky is Jewish] means absolutely nothing.”
What also means absolutely nothing is the comparison of modern wars to the holocaust, a unique tragedy in human history. Politicians in modern times brand opponents as Hitler because the figure serves as the popularly accepted example of a morally corrupt person and the holocaust illustrates what is right versus what is wrong. But, Israeli and human rights activists have long argued that the holocaust should not be used to score political points. They say such comparisons are dangerous because they trivialise the sufferings, and calling Hitler a Jew without proof appears to suggest Jews murdered themselves in the holocaust.
Russia, rather than retract the statement, has doubled down and accused Israel of supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Was Hitler Jewish?

Meanwhile, let us turn our attention to the conspiracy about Hitler’s alleged Jewish heritage.

The claim that that Hitler had Jewish blood was given credence by his lawyer Hans Frank who was executed for war crimes in 1946. In his memoirs published posthumously, the lawyer claimed he was asked by Hitler to probe his ancestry to find any Jewish link after a nephew threatened to expose Hitler’s Jewish blood, at a time of the fuhrer’s meteoric rise. Frank claimed he found evidence that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Jewish, but many have punctured holes through the claim since.

The mystery really surrounds Hitler’s paternal grandmother Maria Anna Schicklgruber, who had a child out of wedlock. Alois Hitler, the father of Adolf Hitler, was born in 1837 when his mother (42 at that time) was working as a cook at the home of the Frankenbergers – a Jewish family from the Austrian city of Graz.

Frank claimed that the Frankenbergers paid maintenance to the mother until the child reached the age of 14, and this was verified by him through letter exchanges between Hitler’s grandmother and the Frankerbergers.

More questions than answers

But these letters, apparently seen by him, were never found. Further, historians say Jews of Graz were expelled from the city in the 15th century and returned around 1860, 20 years after Alois Hitler was born. However, in 2019, Jewish psychologist Dr. Leonard Sax claimed that he found that a small community of Jews did live on in Graz. But, there is no evidence that Hitler’s grandmother ever really lived in Graz. Also, city records do not show any Jewish family by the name Frankenberger. A family of Frankenfurters did live in Graz but they were not Jewish.

Besides, the threat letters allegedly received by Hitler from his nephew were also never recovered.

Hitler got his family name from one Johann Georg Hiedler, who his grandmother married five years after giving birth to her illegitimate son. Alois Hitler was adopted by Johann’s brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler after his mother died in 1847.

Frank had said that Hitler claimed his paternal grandfather was not Jewish but that his grandmother and the man she married later (according to Hitler, his biological grandfather) lied to the Jewish employers that the son was theirs to receive maintenance payments since the family was poor.

Hitler said he heard this from his grandmother and father. But he could not have heard this from his grandmother who died before he was born, taking the secret of his ancestry to the grave with herself.

So, what if Hitler was part Jewish? These unproven rumours gained sway during World War II. Some say it was floated by the Nazis to “explain their defeat”. Others say Hitler persecuted and killed millions of Jews because he felt shame about his lineage.

However, these conspiracy theories are viewed with skepticism by mainstream historians.