The deeper you dig into the family tree of some of the most notorious figures in history, you will come across connections that might astonish you, to say the least.
The German-Prussian-British links during the First World War, which saw cousins fighting cousins, has definitely dominated the journal entries of history enthusiasts for some.
Here we will look at an even stranger set of events, which led to the nephew of Adolf Hitler receiving the Purple Heart from the US Navy during the Second World War.
William Patrick Stuart-Houston Hitler, or ‘Willy’ as he was known as amongst his peers, was the real nephew of Adolf Hitler. He found himself in an odd situation, having to fight the monster his uncle had created.
William was the son of Adolf Hitler’s brother, Alois Hitler Jr, and his first wife Bridget Dowling. Alois and Bridget had met in the Irish capital Dublin when Alois was living there during 1909.
After marriage, the pair moved to London and later moved to the north in Liverpool where William Hitler was born a couple of years later in 1911.
Although he was raised in Britain, William did decide to move back to Germany, but could not connect with the German society polluted with Nazi propaganda and ideology. He later emigrated to the United States, where he joined the US Navy and took part in the Second World War on the side of the Allies.
The Hitler family resided in a flat at 102 Upper Stanhope Street in Liverpool; during the Second World War the entire street was destroyed courtesy of a Nazi Blitz on January 10, 1942.
This was yet another entry in the already confused state of affairs for the Hitler family in Britain.
In a manuscript that Bridget Dowling wrote under the title My Brother-in-Law Adolf, she reported that her husband Alois had moved with her to Liverpool from London in order to avoid the mandatory conscription to Austria.
Some historians suggest that the family moved from London anticipating a German attack on the capital and didn’t want to get caught up between German bombing and British people’s anger; however, when their house was destroyed by the German bombs in 1942, they learned they couldn’t escape their fate after all.
The close-knit Hitler family started crumbling when Alois left his wife and then three-years-old son William for a gambling tour of Europe in 1914. Soon after Alois left home, the First World War broke out, and the family could not develop any connection due to the chaos and lack of communications. Alois effectively abandoned his family and left Dowling to raise their young son alone in Britain.
He remarried in Germany’ however, in the mid -920s he sent a letter to Bridget requesting her to send William to the Weimar Republic of Germany for a family visit. Dowling agreed to the proposal in 1929, as William had reached the age of 18. By that time Alois had had another son, Heinz Hitler, by his wife in Germany.
Heinz Hitler had a completely different fate than William; he became a committed Nazi supporter and died in Soviet captivity in 1942 after getting captured during the invasion of Russia.
Before enlisting for the US Navy, William Patrick decided to return to Germany in 1933 to benefit from his Uncle Adolf Hitler’s growing power over the country.
Adolf found a job for William in Reich Credit Bank in Berlin. William was not particularly satisfied with his job and later joined Opel automobile factory and had also worked as a salesman in a car company. The whole ambiance of this new Germany did not amuse William, and he showed his dissatisfaction to his uncle, even threatening him with blackmail if he didn’t get him a nice satisfying job.