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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Liverpool

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Myths and Legends
Your Story: Adolf Hitler - did he visit Liverpool during 1912-13?

The domineering Alois snr died in January 1903 and the family relocated to Linz two years later. In 1907, his third wife Klara - Adolf's mother - died from cancer aged forty seven. The grief stricken Adolf, who had already failed to secure a place at the Viennese Academy of Fine Arts, determined to return to the city intent on becoming an architect. It did not go well. From early 1908 until May 1913 he remained in Vienna, living hand to mouth, drifting from one menial job to another, unable to get into college to pursue his chosen career. By 1910, after a period of living rough, often in the open, he moved into a men's hostel while hawking postcards of paintings he had made of views of the city.

So far, much of this detail about the brother's early life is factual and generally accepted by most historians and biographers. It is the next development which has caused the most controversy.

Adolf Hitler in Liverpool

The only source for Adolf's “visit” to Liverpool is contained in Bridget's Memoir. According to Michael Unger, "The existence of Bridget's memoirs has been generally known since the early 1970's when the historian Robert Payne, gathering material for his book The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, read them in the manuscript division of the New York Public Library”.

Payne's discovery, led to a series of articles in the Liverpool Daily Post in the early 1970's. The unfinished manuscript, which ends in mid sentence, was published for the first time in 1979, with an introduction and discussion of its authenticity by Unger, then editor of the Daily Post.

Historians have little time for the memoir, and have been highly critical of its contents feeling there are too many discrepancies (not just with the Liverpool episode) to take seriously. Indeed, Kershaw goes as far as calling the memoir a work of fiction without a grain of truth. And here lies the problem. Until something else appears placing Hitler in Liverpool, the controversy will continue. As the only source for this is Bridget's own memoir, it has inevitably undergone thorough analysis.

The memoir was probably written by Bridget and son William, during 1940-41, perhaps with the help of a ghost writer, as there are noticeable differences in style contained within.

Words: M W Royden

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