Imagine having Adolf Hitler for an uncle. Hitler -- in the family! And you knew what he was up to, maybe before the rest of the world had caught on. Wouldn't you want to stop him? Wouldn't you even be willing to betray your own country and join another nation's military to help thwart your relative's evil plans?
We are just now getting a peek into the life of Adolf Hitler's real-life nephew, William Patrick Hitler. The son of Adolf's half-brother Alois (and Adolf's only descendant), he fled the Gestapo in 1939, tried to warn England and France about his uncle's "devilish and pagan plans," and eventually settled in the U.S. There he tried to join the U.S. Army. He was rejected. And so he wrote a letter to President Roosevelt begging to join the Allies in their fight.
In the U.S. William wrote and lectured, trying to warn Americans that "Hitler would loose his Frankenstein on civilization that year." But writing wasn't enough for him. He wanted to fight -- on the right side of the war.
For me today there could be no greater honour, Mr. President, to have lived and to have been allowed to serve you, the deliverer of the American people from want, and no greater privilege then to have striven and had a small part in establishing the title you once will bear in posterity as the greatest Emancipator of suffering mankind in political history.
William was granted his wish. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1944 until 1947, when he was discharged after an injury. And in case you're wondering, yes. Of course he changed his last name after he immigrated. It became Stuart-Houston.
It's incredible that we get to see this letter now. William was so determined! And why didn't more people listen to him? Maybe his warning was just too outlandish. It was simply impossible to believe that anyone could possibly be so evil -- and yet have this much power. I think people just didn't want to believe such a thing were possible.
I'm also impressed that William wanted to do more than talk and write. He wanted to put his own body on the line. That's how strongly he felt about stopping his uncle. I think he felt, as a blood relative, doubly obligated to join the Allies. There was no way he alone could cancel out the horrific destruction of Adolf, but he could still make a difference.
What would you have done if you'd been a relative of Adolf Hitler?
Image via Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S62600 / CC-BY-SA/Wikimedia