Klara Hitler was born as Klara Pölzl, on August 12, 1860 in Spital, Austria.[1] She was supposedly “known for her quiet disposition and gentle demeanor”.[2] Her husband, Alois Hitler (who was nearly twice her age) was known to be physically abusive toward Klara and their children.[3] Young Adolf, however, was the only one of Klara’s natural-born children to survive much past infancy until the birth of his younger sister Paula, although he was a sickly baby and demanded a great deal of attention.[4] As a result of both her general love for her child and the combined trauma of losing five other children, Klara doted upon young Adolf as much as she possibly could.

Klara’s Influence

It was largely due to his mother’s encouragement and support that Adolf Hitler pursued his dreams of becoming an artist. Without her backing, Hitler may have capitulated to the standards of his father and pursued the Austrian Civil Service as opposed to applying to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts.[5] Without the experience of rejection by the latter institution, and subsequent homelessness which exposed him to the political musings of other tenants of the shelter in which he was staying, Hitler may not have cultivated the particular brew of anti-Semitism, anti-Marxism, and general sense of Aryan superiority which came to be some of his defining characteristics.[6] While these facets of Hitler’s later goals and ambitions cannot possibly be attributed directly to Klara’s influence, I mean merely to suggest that the specific set of circumstances which prompted the leader of the NSDAP to such infamy may have been catalyzed in some small way by her support.

The Virtues of Motherhood in Nazi Germany

Although Klara Hitler’s role as mother to Adolf Hitler is justification enough to include her as an important person in the context of Nazi Germany, she deserves special mention in terms of her influence on Nazi policy. Mothers were held in high esteem during the Third Reich, and the more children each women bore, the more she was honored.[7] In fact, Hitler chose Klara’s birth date as the day on which he would bestow these honors on German mothers.[8] Perhaps this was influenced by the fact that Klara provided Hitler with obsessive displays of motherly doting and affection.[9] In fact, O’Reiley suggests that it was because of Klara that “Hitler would declare his love for his mother and extol the virtues of motherhood, a theme that he would promote as central in his vision of a pure German society”.[10]

For more information on the Lebensborn Program, see Eugenics.


Photograph of Klara Hitler

Photo Credit: https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/find-a-grave-prod/photos/2005/103/11645_111352483069.jpg


[1] Andrea O’Reilly. Encyclopedia of Motherhood. (Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE
Publications, Inc, 2010), 526.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Jerry H. Bentley et al. Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective on the Past
(Sixth Edition), Vol. 2: From 1500 to the Present
 (McGraw Hill Education, 2015), 812

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid, 811.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Andrea O’Reilly. Encyclopedia of Motherhood. (Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE
Publications, Inc, 2010), 526.

[10] Ibid.


Cover Photo Credit: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/3adikey-