The unknown life and death of Paula Hitler
Paula and Adolf Hitler
Much has been written about Adolf Hitler, one of the historical figures with the greatest impact in Europe and in the world. However, many were unaware of the life that Paula, the dictator’s sister, led. Paula, unlike her brother, spent much of her life in poverty. A life that, for a long time, was not exactly lived as Paula Hitler, but under the name of Paula Wolf.
Paula’s Early Years
Paula Hitler was born on January 21, 1896, and was the daughter of a middle-class German family. She was the youngest daughter of Alois and Klara Hitler. When Paula was 6 years old, her father Alois died of a pleural hemorrhage, and her mother Klara took over the family.
After his death, Klara moved with her two young children to a modest apartment in Linz, a small town in northern Austria. For several years, they survived thanks to Alois’s pension. Klara did not work in order to dedicate her life to her children. Both Adolf and Paula would remember her fondly.
Unfortunately, just five years after her husband’s death, Klara also died. In 1906, she noticed a lump on her chest but ignored it. The family doctor eventually examined her and determined that she had cancer.
Adolf, being the eldest, took responsibility. Klara resigned herself to her fate, even though her little daughter didn’t understand what was happening. At just 11 years old, she started leaning on her older brother, who was seven years older than her.
After Klara’s death, Adolf moved to Vienna and Paula Hitler stayed in the small family apartment in Linz. They lived on what was left of their father’s pension, as well as a small government pension. Adolf then gave up his pension and gave his share to his younger sister.
Work and Forbidden Marriage
In the early 1920s, Paula Hitler had moved to Vienna. Although her brother had pursued his big dreams of being a painter and political leader, Paula had chosen a more peaceful and simple life.
She worked for a time as a housekeeper for several wealthy families and ironically for a Jewish dormitory. After Paula left cleaning behind, she made a living doing secretary work until during the war, she worked in a military hospital.
Little is known about Paula Hitler’s political leanings. During her work in the Jewish dormitory, its residents never reported any prejudice being shown against them. This is further supported by her not joining any movement in support of her brother and the Nazi Party
However, investigators discovered that during World War II she was engaged to Doctor Erwin Jekelius, a Third Reich officer and one of the main sacrificers of the Nazis, responsible for murdering at least 4,000 people in the gas chambers.
But the marriage was forbidden by Adolf, who had Jekelius arrested and sent to the Eastern Front, where he died in a prison camp.
“For me, discovering that Paula was going to marry Jekelius was one of the most surprising revelations of my career,” commented historian Timothy Ryback. “She bought the whole thing: hook, line and plumb line.”
Despite her knowledge of Hitler’s gaits, there was a strange dichotomy in Paula Hitler’s head. Although she did not support her brother’s political and social actions, she adored her older brother. She often regretted moving and expressed her great delight at the infrequent meetings.
In an interrogation by the United States Army, Paula claimed that her brother had not ordered the extermination of millions of people. She didn’t believe so, that just didn’t fit the brother she knew.
It was later discovered that Adolf assumed the role of the protective father so much that he once struck Paula. Paula took it as a correction in her education.
In fact, it seemed that Adolf had “affection” for his younger sister. After she lost her job, he supported her financially throughout the war and until his suicide in 1945.
Life After Hitler and Death
After the war, Paula Hitler was arrested by American intelligence officers and held for questioning. During questioning, she explained that she loved her brother and that he continued to support her financially throughout the war. Even so, Paula stated that she was only able to see Adolf twice a year and otherwise had little to no contact with the dictator
She was eventually released and returned to Vienna, where she lived for a time on her savings. When her brother’s money ran out, she took a job at a local craft store. In 1952, she moved to the mountains outside of Salzburg and changed her name to Paula Wolff.
Wolff had no obvious connection to the Hitler family. Although, it was later discovered that it was the nickname Paula used to refer to her brother as a child and that Adolf also used it as a codename during his time as Führer.
Unbeknownst to her, Paula Hitler was closely supervised by the surviving former SS members. Most of her life, Paula lived in seclusion, alone and away from social gatherings, facing the fact that her brother had turned into a monster.
In any case, her life after the war was quiet and reserved. In 1959, she accepted the only interview she would ever do. Peter Morley, a British reporter who contacted Paula showed his interest in Adolf Hitler’s life. The original German interview was lost, but the English version remains. It was her first and last television interview.
In 1960, at the age of 64, Paula Hitler died, and with her, the Hitler line ended. Despite the sons and daughters of Adolf’s half-siblings, Paula was the last direct descendant of the Hitler bloodline. Her death marked the end of a peaceful life tortured by her brother’s reputation.