In 1944, a man in his early thirties enlisted in the US Navy. There was nothing unusual about the event except that the man’s name was William Hitler. The last name was not a coincidence, William Hitler was directly related to the leader of Nazi Germany, his uncle, Adolf Hitler.

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William Hitler is sworn into the Navy

William Hitler was not a Nazi, but he was no angel. Born in 1911 to Alois Hitler Jr. and an English women named Bridget Dowling, William grew up in England. In 1914, his father abandoned the family and traveled to Europe but got stuck there when war broke out. Alois started a new family and tried to have a message sent to his English wife that he was dead. In 1924, when he finally managed to contact his family in England, he was charged in Germany with bigamy. Bridget did not press charges but did not allow William to visit his father in Germany until 1929 when he turned eighteen.  In 1930, Alois took his son to a Nazi rally where he met his uncle Adolf for the first time. After that,William’s visits to Germany became more frequent.

By 1931, Adolf Hitler had become a prominent figure in Europe and William Hitler published several articles about his uncle’s rising popularity. Adolf did not approve of the way William portrayed him and demanded that he retract the articles and never publish anything about his private life again. William also found himself unwelcome in many places in Britain due to his relationship with the fascist dictator. Unable to find work, William decided to move to Germany where he could ask favors of his uncle. Upon arrival, he received a letter from uncle Adolf disavowing their relation and was sent back to England by his father.

Since William Hitler could not find work in England, he decided to blackmail his uncle into getting a job in Germany. He spent a year gathering materials to prove his relationship to his uncle and returned to Germany in October 1933. By this time, Adolf Hitler was chancellor of Germany. William went to Ernst Röhm, the head of the SA, and submitted his request for work. Röhm forwarded the request to Adolf who sent his sister, Angela Raubal, to meet with William. After hearing William’s story and seeing his documents she agreed to take him to his Uncle.

Hitler received his nephew, gave him 500 marks and asked him what kind of job he wanted. William got a job in a Berlin bank and later at Opel Automobiles. William Hitler contended that he was unable to save money and was soon forbidden to send money outside of Germany, even to his poor mother in England. He complained bitterly when his work permit at Opel was revoked and when he was accused of stealing and selling cars on the side. William stated in a Look magazine article titled “Why I hate my uncle” that he came under constant scrutiny, observation and pressure from his dictator uncle. The truth was that William used his position as nephew to the Führer to show off in public and blackmail is uncle for more money by threatening to sell embarrassing family secrets to the press.

In 1938, Hitler offered William a better job if he gave up his British citizenship. Sensing a trap, William fled for England, but not before he threatened to blackmail his uncle once again by saying he would tell the press that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish. William Hitler returned to England and then traveled to America with his mother on a lecture tour about his uncle. Trapped in America at the outbreak of war, William Hitler stayed in the USA and petitioned President Franklin Roosevelt to let him join the US Navy. After a FBI investigation, he was cleared and sworn in to the US Navy on March 6th, 1944 as a Pharmacist’s Mate. William Hitler served three years in the Navy and was awarded the Purple Heart.

After the war, William Hitler settled in Patchogue on Long Island, New York. He changed his last name to Stuart-Houston, a name very similar to the British anti-Semitic writer Houston Stewart Chamberlain and ran Brookhaven Laboratories, a blood testing laboratory. William Stuart-Houston, lived an anonymous life along with his wife and four children until his death in 1987.

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Willy Hitler in uniform


William Hitler

Willy Hitler at his discharge from the US Navy.

For Further Reading Check Out:

Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1941

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