Almost everyone has a black sheep in their family. Someone who maybe gets in trouble with the law and doesn’t follow rules.
But what if you had the misfortune to be related to someone truly horrific? What if you had a relative who was in the upper echelon of the Third Reich?
For a handful of people, they had to live with the legacy of parents who were responsible for the murder of millions.
Learn more about the children of Nazis on this episode of Everything Everywhere Daily.
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The people I will be talking about played no active role in the Third Reich. They had the misfortune of being borne to horrible parents. They were children during the events of the Second World War and weren’t responsible for anything.
That being said, how these children responded to their parents was extremely varied. Most of them did as much as they could to distance themselves from their parents, but a few actively embraced their parent’s ideology.
Let’s start with the top guy himself: Adolf Hitler.
As far as we know, Hitler never had any children. However, there was a story that he had an illegitimate son in France.
In 1918, Jean-Marie Loret was born in Saint-Quentin, France. He never knew his father and his mother only told him that his father was a German soldier.
In 1948, just before his mother’s death, she told him that the German soldier was named Hitler.
The story was kept a secret but it was eventually leaked to the press in the early 1970s.
Heinz Linge was Hitler’s valet during the war. In his memoirs, he noted, “[Hitler’s] belief that he had a son, born in 1918 as the result of a relationship Hitler had had with a French girl as a soldier in 1916–1917 in northern France and Belgium….”
There is no hard evidence to prove this claim, and no genetic testing has ever been done. Loret had nine children, so there still might be potential to do genetic testing in the future. If paternity could be proven, then Hitler’s descendants would have a claim on the incoming made from Mein Kampf.
Hitler did have relatives, however.
Hitler’s father was Alois Hitler, and he had a son named Alois Junior, who was Hitler’s half-brother. He migrated to Britain and had a son named William Patrick Hitler, who also fought in World War II against the Germans.
William Patrick moved to the United States and had four sons. The family changed their name from Hitler to Stuart-Houston. The remaining sons have never married or had children and have made a pact amongst themselves to never have children because of their relationship with Hitler.
Hitler was a legitimate German surname, and there are still people today walking around with the family name “Hitler”.
There was a documentary released several years ago called “Meet the Hitlers” that tells the story of people with the name Hitler, although they are of no relation. They just got stuck with a crappy last name.
Other Nazi leaders did have children.
Martin Bormann was the Nazi Party Chancellor and the private secretary to Adolf Hitler. He had a son named Martin Adolf Bormann Jr. Adolf Hitler was his godfather.
He was the oldest of 10 Bormann children and he was 15 when the war ended.
His mother took the family to surrender to the Americans, and she died of cancer soon after. Martin Jr. sought sanctuary in a monastery and there he converted to Catholicism. He became a priest in 1958 and then left the priesthood in 1969 to get married to a nun.
He became a doctor of theology and traveled around Germany and Austria, speaking about the horrors of the Third Reich. He also went to Israel to meet with Holocaust survivors. He never, however, personally condemned his father saying it was up to God to judge.
Josef Mengele was known as the Angel of Death and ran horrific experiments on prisoners in Auschwitz. He had a son named Rolf who was born in 1944.
He was only a year old and never knew his father. However, Mengele escaped Germany and fled to Brazil.
Rolf grew up thinking his father was dead, even though his father managed to forge a passport, return to Europe, and met his son under the pretense of being his uncle Fritz.
Rolf eventually few to Brazil to meet his father in 1977 and found that his father was unrepentant about his Nazi past. It took him five years to arrange the trip, and he never divulged the location of his father.
However, he never could understand how his father did what he did, and eventually abandoned the Mengele name so his children wouldn’t have to bear the burden of it.
Heinrich Himmler was the head of the Nazi SS. He had a daughter named Gudrun. She was the only child of Himmler and was 16 when the war ended. Unlike many of the children of Nazis, she had a close relationship with her father.
Also unlike other Nazi children, she was an adamant supporter of her father. She never believed that her father committed suicide and that he was murdered.
She supported far-right causes in Germany her whole life. She married a leader of the German far-right, supported former SS members, provided financial aid to former Nazi prison guards standing trial, and defended her father throughout her life.
She died in 2018 at the age of 88.
Herman Goering also had a daughter named Edda. At the end of the war, she was only seven. She and her mother fled west to avoid the Soviets.
She grew up in an apartment which became a shrine to her father. Throughout her life, she defended her father and claimed that he had nothing to do with the worst atrocities of the Nazis.
She was quoted as saying “My father’s problem was his loyalty to Hitler,” she said. “He had sworn personal fealty to him and would never abandon it, even when Hitler had gone too far. The things that happened to the Jews were horrible but quite separate from my father.”
She died in 2019 at the age of 80.
In contrast, Goherring’s niece Bettina totally reputed her uncle, moved to America, and had herself sterilized so she couldn’t pass along her genes.
Hans Frank was Hitler’s personal lawyer and the governor of Nazi-occupied Poland. He was personally responsible for the executions of thousands of people. He had a son named Niklas.
Niklas’s first memory of meeting children his age was at the age of four at a concentration camp. He was not at all close to his father.
He was six when the war ended. When he grew up, he understood immediately the enormity of the crimes committed by his father.
He became a journalist writing for Playboy and Stern in Germany and wrote several books about his hatred for his father.
He thinks his father was driven by greed and ambition and would have murdered anyone to get what he wanted.
He carries around a photo of his father everywhere he goes. When asked why he said, ??“I am pleased by what the picture shows: He is dead.”
I should end by noting the most tragic story of all the Nazi children. The children of Joseph Goebbels.
Goebbels was the Nazi minister of propaganda and his wife Magda was as committed a Nazi as her husband. Together they had six children, Helga, Hilde, Helmuth, Holde, Hedda, and Heide. At the end of the war, the children ranged in age from 13 to 5.
The entire family was in the bunker with Hitler when he killed himself.
Despite Hitler’s order that Goebbels and his family flee the bunker, he and his wife decided to stay and kill themselves and their children.
One day after Hitler’s suicide, they killed their six children while they were sleeping via cyanide capsules placed in their mouths. They never had a chance to grow up to defend or hate their parents.
These are just some of the children of the notable Nazi leaders. There were thousands of midlevel Nazi bureaucrats, camp guards, and officers who committed war crimes, major and minor, who had families. All of these families and descendants had to come to terms with what their relatives did during the war.
The vast majority distanced themselves from what their family members did, but a small few, like the daughters of Goering and Himmler, defended their fathers to the bitter end.