The Jews Hitler knew- The account, and fate, of the Jews who personally knew the Nazi Führer
Under the approving eye of Adolf Hitler, over six million Jews were murdered by the barbarous Nazi regime. But what became of the Jews who personally knew, and even befriended, the German dictator? What role did they play in his life? Based on my research, Hitler had at least some form of contact with seven Jews throughout his life. They are listed below.
Dr. Eduard Bloch- Hitler's childhood physician
Dr. Eduard Bloch (1872-1945) was an Austrian Jewish doctor and the physician of the Hitler family. As a child, Hitler was treated by Dr Bloch for several aliments, such as a cold and tonsillitis. He also treated Hitler's mother, Klara Hitler, for breast cancer, often providing the poverty-stricken family with medication free of charge. For this, the eighteen year old Hitler promised his "ever-lasting gratitude".
“While Hitler was not a mother's boy in the usual sense, I never witnessed a closer attachment. Their love had been mutual. Klara Hitler adored her son. She allowed him his own way whenever possible. For example, she admired his watercolor paintings and drawings and supported his artistic ambitions in opposition to his father at what cost to herself one may guess.”
Their contact was revived once again in 1937 when Hitler inquired on the fate of his old childhood doctor from Nazi delegates. He was pleased to learn that Dr. Bloch was still alive and practicing, calling him a "noble jew" and stating that: “if all Jews would be like Dr. Bloch, there would be no Jewish question.” ¹
On the 12th of March, 1938 the Nazi regime finally annexed the Austrian state, and with it, came the virulent antisemitic legislation. Along with other Jews, Dr Bloch found himself barred from practicing medicine. Desperate, he wrote to the Nazi Führer, begging for clemency.
The Führer answered his call, and consequently he was placed under the protection of the Gestapo. Dr. Bloch stayed in his house with his wife undisturbed until the formalities for his emigration to the United States were completed. The Nazi authorities allowed him to take the equivalent of 16 Reichsmark out of the country; the usual amount allowed to Jews was a mere 10 Reichsmark.
Dr. Bloch emigrated to the US and settled in the Bronx. He was interviewed several times in 1941 and 1943 by the OSS to get more information on Hitler's childhood. He subsequently published a series of memories about his relationship with the young Hitler.
“As a youth he was quiet, well mannered and neatly dressed. He waited patiently in the waiting room until it was his turn, then like every 14- or 15-year old boy, bowed as a sign of respect, and always thanked the doctor politely. Like many other youngsters of Linz, he wore short lederhosen and a green woolen hat with a feather. He was tall and pale and looked older than his age. His eyes which he inherited from his mother were large, melancholic and thoughtful. To a very large extent, this boy lived within himself. What dreams he dreamed I do not know.”
Dr Bloch died of stomach cancer in 1945, at the age of 73, barely a month after the death of Hitler. He is buried in Beth David Cemetery, Section D, Block 3, Elmont, New York.
Erhard Milch- The Jewish Air Marshal
The son of a Jewish pharmacist, Erhard Milch controversially rose through the Nazi hierarchy to become Field Marshall (Generalfeldmarschall), the Nazi equivalent to a five star general. This was mainly thanks to the effort of Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring, who protected his protégé and helped hide his Jewish ancestry.
Milch was given charge of aircraft production. However, he was by most accounts, quite incompetent in his role, giving frequent and conflicting commands that delayed vital aircraft production. He also insisted that factories run only eight hours a day and refused to allow women into the workforce. The result was that by 1942 the Soviet Air Force had already surpassed the Luftwaffe in production.
The relationship between Milch and Hitler seemed to be in good terms. The pair were first introduced by Göring following the Nazi election victories in October 1930. As a civilian airline manager, Milch was responsible for chartering Hitler for his election tours. A mutual respect devolved between them ². He frequently conveyed with the Führer on matters of aircraft production.
“Early in 1929 I declared to [the now] Reichsminister Göring my readiness to join the NSDAP. Reichsminister Göring asked me to wait until he could discuss with the Führer whether it would be in the Party’s best interests for me to join then. Reichsminister Göring told me the Führer had decided I might regard myself as a Party member already, and a number would be reserved for me, but that the Party’s purposes would be better served by my not officially joining, so that I could continue my work within Deutsche Lufthansa as laid down by Reichsminister Göring.”
In 1944 Milch sided with Goebbels and Himmler in a dispute against his mentor, Göring. This led Göring to remove him from his prestigious position. Following Hitler’s suicide, Milch attempted to flee Germany, but was apprehended by Allied forces on the Baltic coast on 4 May 1945. On surrendering, he presented his baton to British Brigadier Derek Mills-Roberts, who was so disgusted and angered by the atrocities he had seen committed when liberating the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp that he brutally broke the baton over Milch's head with several blows and repeatedly beat Milch with a champagne bottle. This incident left Milch with several contusions and a fractured skull.
Soon after he was taken with other prisoners to view a film of the Nazi death camps.
“Horrifying scenes, complete with a commentary by a German doctor! Hitler, Himmler and consorts must have gone quite mad. Even though we suspected none of this, the burden of guilt stands heavily upon us all. The more senior we are, the heavier the burden. I cannot comprehend how human beings can become such animals- and how different was the impression we all had of Hitler in those first years after 1933! But why are our victors doing precisely the same things now?”
Milch was tried by the United States and was convicted with crimes against humanity and the use of slave labor. He was sentenced to life in prison, but his term was commuted and he was released in 1954. He lived out the remainder of his life in Düsseldorf, where he died in 1972, aged 79.
Hans Litten- The lawyer who prosecuted Hitler.
Unlike the other proponents in the list, it is hard to imagine that Hans Litten had any sort of positive effect on Hitler's view of Jews. In fact, Hitler so despised the Half-Jewish lawyer, that for years after, he forbade his name being mentioned anywhere near him. He once told the Wilhelm, the German Crown prince that, "Anyone who advocates for Litten lands in the concentration camp, even you."
Born to a Jewish father who converted at birth, Litten developed an early interest in Jewish and socialist ideals. As a youngster he learned Hebrew in school and joined a German-Jewish youth group with socialist-revolutionary ideas. He became a prominent lawyer in Weimar Germany, working to defend the rights of workers.
On the 22nd of November, 1930, an SA unit attacked a popular dance hall frequented by a left wing migrant workers association, leading to the deaths of three people. As prosecutor, Litten wanted to show that the Nazis intentionally used terror as a tactic to destroy the democratic structures of the Weimar Republic. Hitler was summoned to appear as a witness in court to that end, where he was cross examined by Litten for over three hours.
Litten: (…) Did you know that in the circles of the SA there is talk of a special rollkommando? Hitler: I haven't heard anything about a rollkommando. (…) Litten: You said that there will be no violent acts on the part of the National Socialist Party. Didn't Goebbels create the slogan, "one must pound the adversary to a pulp?" Hitler: This is to be understood as "one must dispatch and destroy opposing organizations". (…) (The presiding judge read a question formulated by Litten): Did Hitler, as he named Goebbels "Reichsleiter"(Leader) of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, know of the passage from his book, where Goebbels declares that fear of the coup d'état cannot be permitted, that parliament should be blown up and the government hunted to hell and where the call to revolution was made again, letter-spaced? Hitler: I can no longer testify under oath, if I knew Goebbels' book at the time. The theme (…) is absolutely of no account to the Party, as the booklet doesn't bear the Party emblem and is also not officially sanctioned by the Party. (…) Litten: Must it not be measured against Goebbels' example, to awaken the notion in the Party, that the legality scheme is not far away, if you neither reprimanded nor shut out a man like Goebbels, rather straightaway made him head of Reich Propaganda? Hitler: The entire Party stands on legal ground and Goebbels (…) likewise. (…) He is in Berlin and can be called here anytime. Litten: Has Herr Goebbels prohibited the further dissemination of his work? Hitler: I don't know. [In the afternoon, Litten returned to this subject.] Litten: Is it correct that Goebbels' revolutionary journal, The Commitment to Illegality [Das Bekenntnis zur Illegalität], has now been taken over by the Party and has reached a circulation of 120,000? (…) I have concluded that the journal is sanctioned by the Party. (…) Presiding judge: Herr Hitler, in point of fact, you testified this morning, that Goebbels' work is not official Party [material]. Hitler: And it isn't, either. A publication is an official Party [organ] when it bears the emblem of the Party. Hitler (shouting, red-faced): How dare you say, Herr Attorney, that is an invitation to illegality? That is a statement without proof! Litten: How is it possible that the Party publishing house takes over a journal that stands in stark contrast to the Party line? Presiding judge: That doesn't have anything to do with this trial.³
After the Nazi's seized power Litten was urged to leave Germany but refused, stating, "The millions of workers can't leave here, so I must stay too." In the early hours of 28 February 1933, the night of the Reichstag fire, the Nazis finally came for him. He was arrested and taken into protective custody. For the next few years he was moved from concentration camp to concentration camp, suffering unimaginable horrors, including beatings, torture and starvation. In 1938, he was transferred to Dachau concentration camp, where he committed suicide by hanging.
Rosa Bernile Nienau- Hitler's young Jewish friend.
Born to a Jewish mother, the young Rosa developed an unlikely friendship with the Nazi dictator, whom she affectionately referred to as "uncle Hitler".⁴ She first caught the Fuhrers attention during a visit at his Obersalzberg mountain retreat. When informed that she shared the same birthday as him, Hitler singled her out of the large crowd and treated her to strawberries with whipped cream on his terrace. From 1933 to 1938, the pair frequently exchanged letters. They would see each other during Hitler's holidays at his Obersalzberg retreat.
“Dear Uncle Brückner! Today I have a lot to tell you. During the holidays we were on the Obersalzberg and I was twice allowed to dear Uncle Hitler! Unfortunately, you have never been up. [...] I am already working on the Christmas work. [...] Uncle Hitler I knit some socks again because I asked him if they fit him last year. He said yes! This year I can knit with finer wool, mom only helps me with the heel. They are going to be very warm, and where he always travels so much, his feet will not feel cold. [...] Mommy also sends you greetings and many greetings and kisses from your Bernile!”
Hitler already knew of her Jewish ancestry in 1933, but chose to ignore it. When secretary Martin Bormann learned of it, he forbade the girl from appearing at his Berghorf retreat. Upon learning of it, Hitler said of Bormann, "There are people who have a true talent to spoil my every joy." Nonetheless, he conceded to severing the relationship.
Rosa tragically died of spinal Poliomyelitis at the young age of 17 on the fifth of October, 1943.
Stephanie von Hohenlohe- The Jewish-Austrian princess
The charming Stephanie von Hohenlohe was born in Vienna, the daughter of a Jewish mother and a small-time lawyer. Using her beauty and elegance, she quickly gained entrée to the echelons of Vienna's high society. Richter had an affair with the married Archduke Franz Salvator of Austria, son in law of Emperor Franz Joseph.
She later married Friedrich Franz von Hohenlohe, an Austrian prince. The loveless marriage soon broke down, but Stephanie continued to retain the title of princess. In 1932 she moved to London, where she developed intimate relationships with many prominent men, including Harold Harmsworth, owner of the influential Daily Mail, and the German ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentrop.
She was sought after by the Nazi leadership for her valuable connections to British aristocracy. During visits to Germany, she had become closely acquainted with members of the Nazi hierarchy, including Adolf Hitler⁵, who called her his "dear princess". She developed a close friendship with Hermann Göring, and Heinrich Himmler declared her an "honorary Aryan". In a 1938 MI6 report, British intelligence said of her, "She is frequently summoned by the Führer who appreciates her intelligence and good advice. She is perhaps the only woman who can exercise any influence on him"
She was instrumental in arranging the visit of abdicated King Edward VIII to Nazi Germany. When war broke out, Stephanie feared that she would be arrested as a Nazi operative and fled to the United States. Following the attack on pearl harbor she was interred as a suspected spy for the remainder of the war. Her interrogations by the OSS provided vital insights into the character and personality of Adolf Hitler.
Stephanie was paroled at the end of the war in 1945. She returned to Germany and later settled in Switzerland, where she died in 1972.
Hugo Guttman- Hitler's Jewish commander
Hugo Guttman is primarily known as Hitler's Jewish commander during WW1⁶ . As officer, he was responsible for recommending him to receive the award of the iron cross. Hitler proudly wore the cross throughout his career. After the war, Guttman remained on the rolls as a reverse lieutenant. He briefly served in the Freikorps.
Following the Nazi rise to power and passing of the Nuremberg laws, Guttman lost his German citizenship and was formally discharged from the army. He continued to receive a pension however, possibly due to Hitler's influence. In 1938 he was arrested by the Gestapo, but was released by SS personnel who knew his history. In 1940 he immigrated to the United states, maintaining a low profile and changing his name to Henry G. Grant. He died in 1962 aged 81.
Because of his refusal to divulge, not much is known about the extent of his relationship with Hitler. Much of Hitlers service in the German army is shrouded in mystery and speculation. Still, a photo taken of Hitler and his fellow dispatch runners by Guttman suggests that he was at least personally familiar with him.
Ernst Moritz Hess- Another of Hitler's Jewish commanders
The second of Hitler's Jewish commanders, Ernest was bewildered to learn that the future-Nazi dictator had even served in his regiment. "What, Hitler?" he remarked, "He was in our unit? We never even noticed him." The future Nazi dictator was, by most accounts, a rather solitary figure, having little to no friends.
Ernest himself remained friends with several of his old war comrades, including Fritz Wiedemann, a future aide of Hitler. After the war, Hess settled with his wife and daughter in Düsseldorf, becoming a judge. But because of his Jewish mother, he was targeted by the Nazis. In 1936 he was forced to leave his position as a judge with the passing of the Nuremberg laws. Shortly after, he was beaten in the street outside his house by Nazi supporters.
In 1940, Himmler drafted a letter to the Düsseldorf gestapo, noting that Hess had been "both in the same company as the Führer and briefly the Führer's company commander" and assuring his "relief and protection as per the Führer's wishes". However it is unknown if the letter was indeed actually ordered by Hitler himself⁷. It may have been obtained through the influence of Fritz Wiedemann, his old comrade.
The protection bestowed on Hess did not last long. In 1941 he was sent to Milbertshofen concentration camp near Munich, where he was put to work as a slave labourer until the end of the war. His sister, Berta, was less lucky. She perished at Auschwitz.
² http://www.fpp.co.uk/books/Milch/Milch.pdf pg 30-31.
³ https://web.archive.org/web/20110718195804/http://www.anwaltsblatt.de/archiv2/pdf/jahrgang_98/02-98.pdf pg 75-81. (In German)