An anonymous Canadian collector has paid at least $950 US for a vintage American magazine containing six yellowing pages titled Why I Hate My Uncle.
The story in a 1939 copy of Look magazine, at the time a rival of Life magazine, was penned by none other than William Patrick Hitler, the nephew of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.
The vintage magazine was first listed for sale on AbeBooks.com, an online marketplace for books and collectibles. However, following the international publicity the listing generated, the seller, a Canadian vintage magazine collector, decided to go for a private sale, said AbeBooks spokesperson Richard Davies.
“A few weeks ago I was browsing the Internet and I read an article about someone called William Hitler,” said Davies in a phone interview from Victoria, British Columbia. “The last name obviously jumped out at me and I was surprised to find that this person was the nephew of Adolf Hitler and that he became quite well-known during the 1930s, as Hitler rose to power in Germany.”
(click to listen to the interview with Richard Davies)Listen
William’s mother, Bridget Dowling, met Hitler’s brother Alois in Dublin. They married in 1910 against her family’s wishes and moved to Liverpool, where William Patrick was born in 1911.
William moved to Germany in 1933 in an attempt to benefit from his uncle’s position of power.
Moving to the United States in 1939, William served in the US Navy against the Germans during World War II, Davies said. After the war, William Hitler changed his last name to Stuart-Houston.
“That is an interesting story in itself, but imagine being part of the Hitler family and carrying that name during those times,” Davies said. “It’s almost mindboggling that he did it.”
Written in a form of captions to a number of photos, documents and letters from what appears to be a family diary or photo album, the story explains from William’s perspective what it was like to be related to Adolf Hitler and some of the interactions he had had with the Nazi leader during the 1930s.
“Being very close to my father at the time, he (Adolf Hitler) autographed this picture for me,” William writes under a photo of young Adolf Hitler. “We had cakes and whipped cream, Hitler’s favorite desert. I was struck by his intensity, his feminine gestures. There was dandruff on his coat.”
As Hitler’s infamy grew and William’s family connection to the Führer became known in England, William lost his job and was forced to go to Germany in hopes of finding employment there using his uncle’s connections.
He found work in a Berlin bank but was not allowed to send any money to his mother who was struggling in England. In 1935, he was offered a position withe Opel Automobile company.
“I published some articles on my uncle when I returned to England and was forthwith summoned back to Berlin and taken with my father and aunt to Hitler’s hotel. He was furious. Pacing up and down, wild-eyed and tearful, he made me promise to retract my articles and threatened to kill himself if anything else were written on his private life.”
William is not above airing some dirty family laundry. The article includes a photograph of Hitler chatting with a little girl on a sunny balcony.
“When I visited Berlin in 1931, the family was in trouble. Geli Raubal, the daughter of Hitler’s and my father’s sister, had committed suicide. Everyone knew that Hitler and she had long been intimate and that she had been expecting a child – a fact that enraged Hitler. His revolver was found by her body.”
William visited his uncle again at Hitler’s summer retreat in Berchtesgaden in 1936.
“I drove there with friends and was shown into the garden. Hitler was entertaining some very beautiful women at tea. When he saw us he strode up, slashing a whip as he walked and taking the tops off the flowers. He took that occasion to warn me to never again mention that I was his nephew. Then he returned to his guests still viciously cracking his whip.”
His last meeting with Hitler was no more pleasant.
“He was in a brutal temper when I arrived. Walking back and forth, brandishing his horsehair whip … He shouted insults at my head as if he were delivering a political oration. My parting with my father was scarcely more pleasant, but his meanness was more understandable since he lives in mortal terror of publicity and knew that I would be free to talk once I left Germany. In February 1939 I sailed for the United States.”
William died in New York State in 1987.