Adolph Hitler

Paula Hitler – What She Said About Her Brother Adolf Hitler

On June 1st, 1960, elderly Paula Wolf passed away in her two-room apartment in a little German town of Berchtesgaden. Frau Wolf worked as a secretary for the most of her life, and there was nothing remarkable about her, except the fact that she was surrounded by former Nazi and SS members, who took care of her for the last eight years of her life. For Frau Wolf was actually Paula Hitler, the last living immediate relative of Adolf Hitler.

Alois Hitler Sr. married Klara Pölzl, his third and final wife, on January 7th, 1885. Faithfull to his character, after a modest lunch for a few guests, Alois went to work for the rest of the day, leaving Klara to take care of his two children from his second marriage, Alois Jr., and Angela. Soon, Clara added three of her own children to the bunch, Adolf (born 1889), Edmund (born 1893), and Paula (born 1896). Edmund died of measles in 1900, when he was just seven.

When Paula was six, Alois Hitler Sr. died while having his usual morning glass of wine in his favorite tavern. Five years later, she lost her mother as well. Since Alois Sr. spend his entire career working in the customs office, Austrian government awarded small pensions to both Adolf and Paula. Later, Adolf renounced his pension, signing it over to Paula.

Paula Hitler’s first job after the war was as a housekeeper at a dormitory for Jewish university students in Vienna. She changed careers later and became a secretary. She saw her brother only once during the 1920s and described the meeting as if he had “fallen from heaven.” He was quickly gaining notoriety and his reputation did have a negative effect on Paula’s life. She lost her job at a Viennese insurance company in 1930, when her bosses, despite her using the Alois Sr.’s original surname Hiedler, discovered she was Adolf’s sister. Since then she was receiving financial aid from her brother until his death and the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945. Although he was helping both of his sisters after his climb to power, Adolf didn’t think much of either Angela or Paula, calling them stupid geese. He even declined Paula’s request to marry Dr. Erwin Jekelius, an Austrian doctor. Instead, he had him arrested and sent to the East front, where he was captured. Dr. Jekelius died in Soviet prisoners of war camp in 1947.

After the war, Paula Hitler was arrested by the Allies and interrogated by the United States military intelligence. One of the notes from the interrogation states that agents thought she looked a lot like her older brother. She couldn’t believe that her beloved Adi was responsible for Holocaust and said that she only got to meet Eva Braun once.

When she was released, Paula returned to Vienna, living from her savings. But in 1952, she transferred to a modest apartment in Berchtesgaden, where several former Nazi and SS members flocked to her. In all her interviews she never talked about politics, thus avoiding to criticize her brother.


Otto Skorzeny, Hitler’s favorite commando

Born in Austria, Otto Skorzeny was brought up in a middle-class Viennese family. Foreign languages were one of his passions, and he spoke perfect French and passable English, besides his native German. Another passion of young Skorzeny was fencing. He was known as an excellent fencer and participated in 15 duels. One of them left him with a big scar on his cheek, something he was very proud of.

The political turmoil of the 1930s was an excellent opportunity for a young and charismatic man like Skorzeny. He joined the Nazi Party and was involved in Anschluss of Austria. He saved the life of Austrian President Wilhelm Miklas when a group of Nazis tried to kill him.

After the invasion of Poland, Skorzeny tried to join Luftwaffe, but was rejected because he was too tall (1.92 m, 6 ft 4 in) and too old (31 years) for pilot training. Instead, he joined the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler as an officer-cadet. LSSAH was an SS regiment tasked with the protection of Adolph Hitler.

Scorzeny was part of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. He was wounded in 1942 and after recovering was given a staff position in Berlin. He used the time to develop his idea of commando warfare deep behind the enemy lines and trying to sell the concept to German High Command. The plan worked and he was given the command of a newly created special forces unit Waffen Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal.

Their first mission came soon after. Operation François was aimed at sabotaging Allied supply routes to Soviets through Iran by using Qashqai people, who were in conflict with the Tehran government. Scokzeny sent his men on a parachute insertion in Iranian mountains, but the support of the native population was deemed insufficient, and the operation was canceled.

Skorzeny redeemed himself and his unit in Operation Eiche (“Oak”). The raid on the Gran Sasso, as it was also known, was an operation to rescue Benito Mussolini from his imprisonment, after his fall from power in Italy. It was a complete success and earned Skorzeny Hitler’s admiration.

After that, he was tasked with Operation Long Jump, a plan to assassinate Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Franklin Roosevelt during the Tehran conference. The operation was discovered by the Soviets and Skorzeny was forced to abort.

His next mission was the attempted capture of Yugoslav partisan leader, Josip Broz Tito. His location near the town of Drvar was discovered, and Sonderverband z.b.V. Friedenthal (renamed to SS-Jäger-Bataillon 502) was to parachute in the area and kill or capture him. During the preparation for the mission, Skorzeny visited Zagreb and discovered that the mission was compromised by Germany’s Croat allies. He proposed the operation to be canceled, but he was overruled. Just like he predicted, the operation was a disaster and a majority of German forces involved were destroyed. Tito easily escaped Drvar and continued his struggle against Germans.

In 1944, rumors that Mikos Horty, Hungarian dictator was secretly negotiating with the Allies and was making plans to sign a separate peace reached Berlin and Hitler sent Skorzeny to Operation Panzerfaust. Its aim was to kidnap Hungarian leader’s son, Mikos Norty Jr. and blackmail him into stepping down from his position in favor of Ferenc Szálasi, who was loyal to Hitler. The success of this operation led to Skorzeny being promoted to Obersturmbannführer (equivalent to lieutenant colonel).

As a part of the German offensive in what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge, Otto Skorzeny devised Operation Greiff, a plan to infiltrate a group of commandos and capture two crucial bridges essential for the success of German assault. The attack failed and many of his commandos were caught and shot for breaching the laws of war by using enemy uniforms. Skorzeny spent the rest of the was commanding troops as acting General-Major. He was captured in May 1945 by the Americans.

It took almost two years before Skorzeny was brought to trial. He was acquitted of charges but remained in custody until 1948, when he escaped and after hiding in Bavaria for 18 months fled to Spain. In 1952 he started working as an advisor for the Egyptian army, helping to train them for war with Israel. Among others, he trained Yasser Arafat, the future Palestinian leader.

Skorzeny spent some time in Argentina, advising Juan Perón and acting as a bodyguard for his wife, Evita Peron. In 1970 he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent a surgery that left him paralyzed from the waist down. In just six months, he regained the control of his legs and started walking again. Otto Skorzeny died from lung cancer in 1975.


Angela Hitler, Adolph’s older sister

Angela Hitler was born in Braunau, Austria-Hungary, on July 28th, 1883. She was the second child of Alois Hitler and Franziska Matzelsberger, whom Hitler Sr. married after the death of his first wife, Anna Glasl-Hörer. Even before Anna’s death, the couple was involved in an affair that started shortly after Hitler and Anna’s wedding.

Angela was one year old when her mother died. Her father married for the third and final time in 1885 and Angela and her older brother, Alois Jr. went to live with him and their stepmother, Klara Pölzl. On April 20th, 1889, Alois Sr. and Klara had the first of their two children that survived the childhood, Adolph Hitler. Four of Hitler’s siblings died very young. Gustav and Ida died of diphtheria in 1886. Otto was born in 1887 and died the same year. After Adolph Hitler, Klara gave birth to Edmund in 1894, only to see him die of measles six years later. It was just Paula, born in 1896, who survived to adulthood as the only Hitler’s sibling.

In 1903, Alois Hitler Sr. died. In September of the same year, Angela Hitler married her first husband, Leo Raubal. The couple lived in Linz, where Klara moved with the children after her husband died. Angela and Leo had a son, Leo Jr., and two daughters, Geli and Elfriede. Leo died in 1910, leaving Angela to take care of the children alone. By that time, she has lost contact with Adolph Hitler.

After the World War I, Angela and the girls moved to Vienna. She found a job as a manager of Mensa Academia Judaica, a boarding school for Jewish boys. She often had to defend them from anti-Semitic attackers and this earned her a favorable mention in Walter Langer’s report on Hitler, called The Mind of Adolf Hitler.

“Some of our informants knew her during this time and report that in the student riots Angela defended the Jewish students from attack and on several occasions beat the Aryan students off the steps of the dining hall with a club. She is a rather large, strong peasant type of person who is well able to take an active part,” Langer said of her.

In 1919, Angela was contacted by her stepbrother after a decade of no communication. Adolph Hitler was imprisoned in Landsberg prison and Angela went to see him. This is perhaps the reason why Hitler mentioned only her of his several siblings and half-siblings in Mein Kampf. They became close again and in 1928, Angela and her daughters Geli and Elfriede moved to Hitler’s home Berghof at Obersalzberg. Angela was given the position of a housekeeper, while Geli started living with her uncle in his Munich apartment. She committed suicide in 1931.

Angela disapproved of Hitler’s relationship with Eva Braun and this was probably the reason she moved to Dresden, where she married her second husband, a famous architect Professor Martin Hammitzsch. Angela and Adolph apparently patched things up sometime during the war and he borrowed her some money to relocate from Dresden, as the city was in danger of falling to the Soviet troops in 1945.

Shortly after the war ended, Martin Hammitzsch committed suicide and Angela moved again, this time to Hannover, where she died from a stroke in 1949.


Herta Bothe, “Sadist of Stutthof”

Born in Teterow, a small town in German province Mecklenburg-Schwerin on January 3, 1921, Herta Bothe was a daughter of a local woodworker and she often helped in her father’s shop as she grew up. Later, Herta decided that woodworking isn’t her forte and sought another career. After a short stint as a factory worker, she became a hospital nurse.

At the age of 18, Herta Bothe enrolled in League of German Girls, a Nazi organization aiming at indoctrinating young girls into the Fascist ideology and Adolph Hitler cult. It was a starting point for many of the notorious SS-Aufseherin, a German name for female concentration camp guards, and Herta was no exception. She applied for the position in 1942 and was sent to a four-week course. After graduation, she was placed in Stutthof camp near Danzig, in East Prussia. She soon made the reputation of an exceptionally cruel guard and prisoners gave her the nickname “Sadist of Stutthof.” In 1944, she was transferred to Bromberg-Ost, one of the Stutthof subcamps. Bromberg-Ost was recently open, strictly female, facility, and seven aufseherinnen were sent to oversee some 300 mostly Jewish women. Among the seven were some of the cruelest female guards in the SS, including Ewa Paradies and Gerda Steinhoff, who was in charge of the prisoner selection for gas chambers. Herta Bothe was in the right company.

In 1945, Soviet troops were deep in Poland and were advancing towards Stutthof. Germans, trying to prevent them from liberating the prisoners, sent them on a death march to notorious Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany. Herta Bothe accompanied the prisoners as they struggled on foot across the war-torn countryside. Not many reached their destination.

On April 15, 1945, Bergen-Belsen was liberated by the British VII Corps. Disgusted with the sight, British ordered guards and civilians from the nearby town of Celle to bury dead prisoners, which were heaped around the camp. Later, Herta Bothe recalled that they weren’t allowed to wear gloves and that she was afraid of contracting typhus, which was rampant in the camp. She also said that the bodies were so rotten that arms and legs fell off as she tried to pick them up and that she had a terrible back pain form the labor.

Herta Bothe was tried at the Belsen Trials and sentenced to 10 years in prison, as judges deemed her “ruthless overseer.” She claimed that she never beat prisoners with rods like other guards and that she never killed anyone, despite several witnesses stating to the contrary. She was released from prison in 1951 and lives in Germany under the name Lange.