Aus den Gemeinden von Burgenland

Revisiting the question of Adolf Hitler's paternal grandfather

Hans Frank was Adolf Hitler’s personal attorney. In Frank’s memoir, published seven years after his execution in 1946 at the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Frank claimed to have uncovered evidence in 1930 that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was a Jewish man living in Graz, Austria, in the household where Hitler’s grandmother was employed.

Contemporary historians have largely dismissed Frank’s claim, primarily on the grounds that there were purportedly no Jews living in Graz in 1836, when Hitler’s father Alois Schicklgruber was conceived. This consensus can be traced to a single historian, Nikolaus von Preradovich, who claimed that “not a single Jew” (kein einziger Jude) was living in Graz prior to 1856. No independent scholarship has confirmed Preradovich’s conjecture. In this paper, evidence is presented that there was in fact eine kleine, nun angesiedelte Gemeinde – “a small, now settled community” – of Jews living in Graz before 1850.

The contemporary consensus regarding Hitler’s paternal grandfather does not have a strong evidentiary basis. Other evidence, deriving from earlier sources, suggests that the contemporary consensus may be incorrect. Avenues for further research which might help to clarify the question are suggested.

Click here to access the full text of the final published manuscript at the journal web page.

Click here to read the author’s manuscript.

A word about my background relative to this paper: My paper titled “What was the cause of Nietzsche’s dementia?” was published in 2003 by the Journal of Medical Biography. In that paper, I challenged the long-held consensus that Friedrich Nietzsche had syphilis. My paper has now been cited by numerous scholars, and the previous consensus no longer stands. I also wrote a short biography of Ignatz Bubis for the B’nai B’rith International Jewish Monthly.

In July 2019, I was a guest on the Eric Metaxas Show to discuss this paper. You can watch that segment at no charge by clicking on this Vimeo link.