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   World news

Journal reveals Hitler's dysfunctional family

   Beaten by his father, the future dictator used to bully his sister
   Adolf Hitler (circled) with his fellow pupils at school in Lambach,
   [ ]
   Adolf Hitler (circled) with his fellow pupils at school in Lambach,
   Austria. Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images
   Adolf Hitler (circled) with his fellow pupils at school in Lambach,
   Austria. Photograph: Three Lions/Getty Images

   Krysia Diver in Stuttgart
   Thu 4 Aug 2005 11.16 BST

   Two historians yesterday acclaimed the discovery in Germany of a
   journal written by Adolf Hitler's sister, saying it offers remarkable
   insights into the dysfunctional nature of the Fuehrer's family.

   Paula Hitler's journal, unearthed at an undisclosed location in
   Germany, reveals that her brother was a bully in his teens, and would
   beat her.

   Recounting the earliest memories of her childhood, when she was around
   eight and Adolf was 15, Paula wrote: "Once again I feel my brother's
   loose hand across my face."

   The typewritten journal is among an assortment of documents which have
   been disclosed by historians Timothy Ryback and Florian Beierl.

   Dr Ryback is the head of Germany's Obersalzberg Institute of
   Contemporary History, which is dedicated to research into Hitler, while
   Mr Beierl has written several books about the Nazi party leader and
   Third Reich chancellor.

   They said that scientific tests had verified the documents'

   Other insights include the revelation that Paula, always thought of as
   the innocent bystander of the Hitler family, was engaged to one of the
   Holocaust's most notorious euthanasia doctors. Dr Ryback told the
   Guardian: "This is the first time that we have been able to get an
   insight into the Hitler family from a very young age.

   "Adolf was the older brother and father figure. He was very strict with
   Paula and slapped her around. But she justified it in a starry-eyed
   way, because she believed it was for the good of her education."

   The two historians have also located a joint memoir by Hitler's
   half-brother, Alois, and half-sister, Angela.

   One excerpt describes the violence exercised by Hitler's father, also
   called Alois, and how Adolf's mother tried to protect her son from
   regular beatings.

   "Fearing that the father could no longer control himself in his
   unbridled rage, she [Adolf's mother] decides to put an end to the

   "She goes up to the attic, covers Adolf who is lying on the floor, but
   cannot deflect the father's final blow. Without a sound she absorbs

   Mr Beierl said: "This is a picture of a completely dysfunctional family
   that the public has never seen before.

   "The terror of the Third Reich was cultivated in Hitler's own home."

   Mr Beierl's research also led him to Russian interrogation papers,
   which exposed the fact that Paula Hitler was engaged to Erwin Jekelius,
   responsible for gassing 4,000 people during the war.

   Mr Beierl said: "Until this point, Paula Hitler had a clean slate. But
   the portrayal of her being a poor little creature has suddenly shifted.

   "In my opinion, the fact that she was due to marry one of Austria's
   worst criminals means that she was also connected with death, horror
   and gas chambers."

   And Dr Ryback added: "To me, discovering that Paula was going to marry
   Jekelius is one of the most astonishing revelations of my career.

   "She bought into the whole thing - hook, line and sinker."

   Paula, who later lived under the pseudonym Wolf, did not marry
   Jekelius, as the wedding was forbidden by her brother.

   Dr Ryback said: "It was like a scene from Monty Python. Jekelius goes
   to Berlin to ask Hitler for his sister's hand; he is met by the
   Gestapo, shipped off to the Eastern front, and snapped up by the

   Other eye-opening documents that shed light on the Hitler household
   include a family account book.

   One entry mentions a loan of 900 Austrian crowns given to Hitler in the
   spring of 1908, enough for the teenager to live on for one year, and
   dispels the myth that he existed as a "starving artist" when in Vienna.

   The historians were asked to carry out their extensive research almost
   six years ago for the German television station ZDF. Their findings,
   due to be broadcast in a 45-minute documentary in Germany next week,
   also include interviews with two of Hitler's relatives.

   Dr Ryback said: "This is the first time that these people have spoken
   publicly about living under the shadow of Hitler. They do not
   romanticise their past. They are very humble and have suffered their
   whole lives under the curse of Adolf.

   "It is an incredible closing of a loop: Hitler came from a family of
   poor farmers. After he rose and fell as a dictator, his family today is
   back where they started."

   Hitler's relatives requested to remain anonymous in the documentary and
   their faces are digitally altered.
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