William Patrick Hitler: The Irishman who fought his uncle

History is a complex and entertaining subject. Time after time, some unusual and surprising secrets appear from the deepest parts of history, about which one wants to learn more and more. Here we have such a secret, which not many would have known about.

The story begins in 1909, by the banks of the river Liffey in Dublin, Ireland, where Dublin-born eighteen-year-old Bridget Dowling visited the Dublin Horse Show with her father for a relaxing afternoon. Who would have thought that her life would change that day? As it happens, a young man named Alois also attended the horse show. What is so unusual about this, you might ask? Well, this young man’s last name was a very familiar one indeed! This was Alois Hitler, the half-brother of the future Führer. You might also ask what he was doing so far from home. However, the answer is simple, and laughingly banal; he worked as a kitchen porter in the Shelbourne Hotel. That’s right, the hotel beside St Stephen’s Green. When he met the intriguing and wealthy woman, he had introduced himself as a procurer of hotels, after which they had been involved together romantically, and eloped to London in 1910. Bridget’s father, William, had accused Alois of kidnapping, but soon resigned his accusations after some convincing from his daughter. The couple had wed, and the father was left with no option but to bless their union, albeit hesitantly.

After having resided on Charing Cross Road in London for almost a year, the young family moved to Liverpool, where their only child was born, named William Patrick. In 1914, after having failed to establish a stable form of income in England, the child’s father had decided to move to Germany to establish his own safety-razor business; however, Bridget had refused to come with him and kept young “Willy” with her due to her husband’s short temper and tendency to physically abuse her and the child. This behaviour may appear reminiscent of the behaviour displayed by the child’s uncle. During the Nazi air strike on Liverpool had left the house in which they had lived in ruins, but fortunately, Bridget and Willy had made it out alive.

Several years had passed and it was time for William Patrick to begin making his own. However, his blood ties to the Fuhrer had been a major hindrance in allowing him to live in Britain. He had written about his difficulty in his articles. In 1933, William Patrick Hitler had moved to Germany in order to make use of his uncle’s influence. Adolf had helped him get a job in the Reich Credit Bank in Berlin. It certainly was not a bad place, but William still was not exactly comfortable in this position.

Later, William started working at the Opel automobile factory, and later worked as an automobile dealer. Most likely, the lad expected a bit more from his uncle. Uncomfortable with his position, he had written a letter to the Führer, stating that if he did not help him with his career, then he would sell stories about his family to the newspapers. Uncle Führer, of course, also wished to influence the fate of his nephew. In 1938, Adolf had asked William to renounce his British citizenship in exchange for a very high-paying job. Fearing that this was a trap, William had decided to leave Nazi Germany and then started blackmailing Adolf, threatening to write to the press that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish.

Having returned to London, he had published an article in the ‘Look’ magazine called “Why I hate my uncle”. In 1939, William Patrick and his mother left England for the United States of America by the invitation of newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, and they stayed there when the Second World War had started.  The young man refused to sit around while there was fighting to be done. After a special request to the president of the USA Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, the US Naval Forces had allowed William Patrick Hitler to serve amongst their ranks. There were rumours that when he arrived to the recruitment office, an officer had offered William his hand and said “Pleased to meet you, Hitler”.

William Patrick Hitler served in the US Navy as a pharmacist’s apprentice until 1947. Though unforeseen then, the war was nearing an end, but the nephew got a chance to spend almost a year amongst the army ranks and to fight against his uncle, but during his deployment, he was heavily wounded. There were often times that upon hearing William’s last name, there were instant associations with his uncle, the Fuhrer, which he was not best pleased about. The people’s reactions were not much different since that was the enemy’s name, which is why William Patrick legally changed his last name to Stuart-Houston, married in 1947 and moved to Long Island, New York. During his time in the States, he had a chance to start his own business; he had a small private laboratory in which his job was to analyse blood for hospitals. This laboratory, which he had named ‘Brookhaven’, was located in his two-storey house on 71 Silver Street, Patchogue, New York. William died on 14th of July 1987 in Patchogue, New York, and his remains are buried beside his mother, Bridget, in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Coram, New York.

Such is our story! It has been seventy years since the day of Victory over Nazi Germany. A lot has changed over these seventy long years. Many of the veterans of the Second World War had long passed on, but the memory remains for generations. Sometimes, when I walk past the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin, I think, “Life is complicated”. Who would have thought that within these walls, some one hundred years ago, there worked a kitchen porter who happened to be the half-brother of the Fuhrer that we all know about, and that his son, Hitler’s nephew, would hate him so much that he would join the US army to fight against him. There are so many connections between times and generations, and I would like so much for the current generation to remember those terrifying pages of the history of the human race. To remember them and to prevent any more wars from happening.

Elena Zakarite

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