On March 6, 1944, William Patrick Hitler enlisted into the United States Navy and served during World War II. His father was Alois Hitler Jr., the half-brother of Adolf Hitler, making William the Führer of Germany’s nephew.
In the early 1930s, William tried to capitalize on his uncle’s newly found fame and went on a lecturing tour around Europe. He fell out of grace with his uncle, who called William “my loathsome nephew.” William then spent two years lecturing in the United States but once the country went to war, he wanted to help fight. Initially he was rejected because of his uncle. He was finally accepted into the Navy after petitioning President Roosevelt. After the war, William wanted to put as much distance between him and his burdensome name, so he changed his last name and removed himself from the public’s eye.
William was not Hitler’s only nephew to fight during World War II. William’s half-brother, Heinz Hitler, joined the Wehrmacht (Germany’s armed forces). It would be false to say that brother fought against brother since Heinz was captured and later killed by Soviet forces in 1942, two years before William’s Navy enlistment.
Leo Rudolf Raubal Jr., William and Heinz’s cousin, fought in the Luftwaffe (Germany’s air force). His mother, Angela Hitler, was Alois’ full-blood sister and Adolf’s half-sister. Leo, like Heinz, was captured by the Russians but, unlike Heinz, was freed after the war.
Langton, James, “Hitler’s lost relatives found on Long Island - ‘in terror of identification,’” The Telegraph, July 16, 2000. Found online here.
Gardner, David, “Getting to know the Hitlers, The Telegraph, January 20, 2002. Found online here.
Brown, Jonathan and Oliver Duff, “The black sheep of the family? The rise and fall of Hitler’s scouse nephew,” The Independent, August 17, 2006. Found online here.
Crawford, Steve. Strange but True Military Facts. New York: Metro Books, 2010, 46.
U.S. Navy photo of William Patrick Hitler found here.