Leonard Sax published an article in the Journal of European Studies, "Aus den Gemeinden von Burgenland: Revisiting the question of Adolf Hitler’s paternal grandfather", providing a very interesting perspective on the issue of Hitler's DNA. Sax explains:Hitler's DNA has been discovered to be of the ancient E-M35 Y-Haplogroup, one subclade of which later became the Berbers.
In 2010, Dutch journalists claimed to have obtained DNA from Adolf Hitler’s living relatives (Mulders and Vermeeren, 2010). The most dominant haplogroup among the relatives was reportedly E1b1b, which is common among Ashkenazi Jews but rare among Gentile Europeans. These findings were never reported in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, only in the Dutch magazine Knack and other popular magazines, so the findings must be treated with caution (Cohen, 2010). The methods were hardly conventional. For example, the authors claimed that they spent seven days trailing Alexander Adolf Stuart-Houston, the eldest son of William Patrick Hitler. When Alexander Adolf dropped a napkin, the napkin was retrieved and used as a source of DNA in the study, according to an article in the Daily Mail (Hall, 2010). Such methods – obtaining material without the consent of the donor – would generally disqualify the study from publication in a reputable journal.
In addition to being ethically questionable, the DNA from this napkin could easily have been contaminated. So, Sax is correct to treat the results of the Mulders & Vermeeren study with some skepticism. Nevertheless, until there's a better study, it's the best information available.
Hitler's mother, Maria Anna Schicklgruber, was unmarried at the time Hitler's father Alois was conceived and born. So the identity of Hitler's paternal grandfather has been a matter of intense speculation. According to Sax, the "scholarly consensus" is that Maria's lover was either Johann Georg Hiedler, or his brother Johann Nopomuk Hiedler. Sax sets about to undermine that consensus, and argues that an account by Hans Frank is probably correct. Frank claimed that Hitler's grandfather was a Jewish teenager of the Frankenberger family, who supported Maria and Alois to avoid a public scandal.
Sax further offers the hypothesis that this scenario led to the development of young Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic leanings, and thus changed the course of history. And, this suggests the significance of the DNA results: not by direct influence of DNA on Hitler's ideology, but as a result of family dynamics.
If correct, the finding that Alexander Adolf Stuart-Houston had an E1b1b Y-chromosome would be consistent with the idea that Hitler's grandfather was the Jewish teenager named Frankenberger.
Here is Sax's concluding section from the JES article:
As in any of the sciences, 100 per cent certainty is often not possible. Instead, one makes a hypothesis and checks to see how well the hypothesis fits the facts. The hypothesis that Hitler’s grandfather was a Jewish teenager may fit the available facts better than the hypothesis that Johann Georg Hiedler or Johann Nepomuk Hiedler was the grandfather. Consider the following questions:
- Why did Hitler order the destruction of his grandmother’s home town, Döllersheim?
- Why was Hitler so anxious to prevent any public investigation into his ancestry?
- Why did Hans Frank enjoy near-immunity from serious punishment, despite calling for an end to the Nazi police state?
- How to explain Hans Frank’s claim that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Jewish?
The hypothesis that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Jewish yields answers to these questions. The hypothesis that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Johann Georg Hiedler, or Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, yields less convincing answers.
There is evidence that Hitler was anti-Semitic as a child, although anti-Semitism was not common in his community at that time.17 Yet in Mein Kampf, Hitler claimed that he never had any anti-Semitic feelings until he encountered Polish Orthodox Jews as a 20-year-old in Vienna. He never acknowledged that he had been anti-Semitic as a child, for if he had done so people might ask why. Why would a child who had no personal contact with Jews hate them with such a passion? If Hans Frank’s account is correct, then the extramarital liaison between the teenage Frankenberger boy and the 41-year-old Maria Anna Schicklgruber, which may not have been consensual, was the proximate cause of Maria Anna returning home to Döllersheim pregnant, and rejected by her own family. An inquiry into the reasons for Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic feelings at such a young age might have lent further credence to the rumours about his Jewish paternal grandfather.
The most common objection to the hypothesis that Hitler’s grandfather was a Jewish teenager rests on the fact that Jews were officially prohibited from residing in Styria from 1496 until 1856. As we have seen, that prohibition on legal residence did not mean that no Jews were present in Styria, while having their legal residence elsewhere. The hypothesis that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Jewish, as claimed by Hans Frank, may fit the facts better than the alternative hypothesis that Hitler’s paternal grandfather was Johann Georg Hiedler or Johann Nepomuk Hiedler.
While all of this is very plausible: as skeptics, I feel we can't rule out the possibility of a Rothschild connection, either. If the Rothschilds indeed were involved, we would expect Stuart-Houston's Y chromosome to be J1, not E1b1b. But it's possible that the Mulders & Vermeeren study is a misdirection (either intentional or unintentional) and also that Hans Frank's final service to Hitler was to promulgate a fake story about the Frankenberger family, in order to cover up the far more incriminating possibility that Hitler was a Rothschild.
Sax calls for a more credible DNA study to resolve the matter, which can only be a subject of continual speculation in the meanwhile.