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Was Hitler Jewish?


That what Nazis did was partly the responsibility of Jews was reportedly suggested by Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov.

Russia, like many others, certainly still takes Hitler’s legacy seriously. When Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the objectives given by the Russian Federation was denazification. At least one Russian soldier shot dead a Ukrainian when he was asked where Nazis are and he said he didn’t know, so evidently at least that soldier took the objective seriously.

I tried to find a reliable full text of the Foreign Minister’s statement, but I didn’t find one in a quick search, including of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s English-language website pages.

One piece of the argument for Jewish responsibility is that Hitler was himself Jewish. I Googled on whether Adolf Hitler had Jewish heritage. I found two things:

— His paternal grandfather is unknown. Five candidates have been identified; one is described as a leading candidate, but another one was Jewish and 21 years old when he and Hitler’s paternal grandmother, who was a maid, had an affair. An affair need not be sexual, but it often is. A sexual relationship with a maid need not produce a baby, but it often does.

It is said that there is no proof that this man was the paternal grandfather, and there probably is not strong or incontrovertible proof, and therefore one could say that he was not the paternal grandfather. However, uncertainty of a thesis is not certainty of the opposite, and so saying he definitely was not the one is a fallacy.

Hitler had asked at least one lawyer to investigate whether he was pure in his claimed heritage (I assume Aryan and not Jewish). I assume the lawyer was practicing in Germany. I don’t know how German lawyers work, but lawyers practicing in the U.S. rely on the law that says that you generally cannot accuse someone of wrongdoing, including some that is not in violation of law, unless you can prove it, it was stated by a court, or the someone in question admitted it, or else the one accused can sue you for financial damages for defamation of character. Therefore, an American lawyer who found no proof of Jewishness in Hitler if Jewishness was bad would have denied any Jewishness in Hitler. Maybe a German lawyer would have done the same. So, right or wrong, Hitler likely believed that he was not at all Jewish.

— A DNA study of relatives points to Hitler being partly Jewish and also partly African in heritage. The study was described in Maclean’s magazine, a newsweekly more or less like Time or Newsweek but for Canada, in . There were 37 living relatives of Hitler that year. Substantial DNA with these characteristics was found.

DNA refers to Jewishness by birth and not by belief. I didn’t see the study itself, so there could be quality issues, e.g., with what library of DNA samples was used for comparison.

So, Hitler likely had substantial Jewish and African heritage.

But did it matter?

Nazi Party membership may have peaked, in , at around 8 million. Let’s say a little over one per cent were individuals who were partly Jewish. That could be one hundred thousand. Say they were enthusiastically Nazi.

But they would have had to hide their Jewishness. So, they would, more than non-Jews, have avoided being subject to background investigations. They’d have kept low profiles as Nazis. They’d mostly have stayed home (or equivalent). They’d have been supporters but not very effective for their numbers. Hitler used non-Aryan soldiers, I think East European, but not as Nazi leaders.

Someone could have criticized Hitler as not authentically Aryan enough to be a leader of Aryans. A time to have brought this up would have been in the early or mid s, when his leadership of Nazism could have been contested, with him pushed aside. But once he committed Nazi Germany more deeply, such as in major war, fewer German Nazis would have given credence to any anti-Hitler claims. He proceeded through World War II as an Aryan leading Aryans, weakening any potential claim that a Jew was committing Nazism. Once nations were openly invading and bombing each other, the claim would have originated too late to have any significant effect.

And thus it also became too late to claim that Jews inflicted Nazism on themselves. Hitler did it as an Aryan with Aryans in his leadership levels and that’s hardly doubted by anyone.

Even if we suppose that all the Nazis were full-blooded Jews who did exactly what non-Jewish Nazis actually did, including putting six million other Jews to death and waging war against other nations, a supposition based on some Jews being so identified by their birth rather than by their theologies, Nazis being Jews would have been important for history and to the prospects for what became Israel but would have made no difference to the justification for World War II, to the justice in the Allies defeating the Axis, and to the necessity for denazification of Germany and various other loci after the war.

But Russian Federation Foreign Minister Mr. Lavrov made the comment which I now can’t find in the ministry’s English-language website.

I suspect Russia’s President and (I think) head of state, Vladimir Putin, had the view and asked Lavrov to back it up, and Lavrov obliged, but without giving it a high profile.

Conclusion: Hitler likely had Jewish and African DNA but it didn’t matter during World War II and it doesn’t matter now and it’s not ground for blaming Jews or Africans for anything much that’s Nazi. The blame belongs where it already is: with Nazis. There were enough Nazis to do the harm they did. Regardless of their theology, the blame belongs squarely with Nazis.