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Did Any of Adolf Hitler’s Relatives Fight Against Him in World War II?

Remarkably, Adolf Hitler's own nephew, William Patrick Hitler, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, actively opposing his uncle's regime. This twist of fate highlights the complex web of personal choices amidst global conflict. How did family ties entangle within the broader narrative of war? Join us as we unravel this intriguing piece of history.

William Patrick Stuart-Houston had the dubious distinction of having the most infamous uncle in history. Name not ringing any bells? Stuart-Houston was born William Patrick Hitler in Liverpool, England in 1911, to Irish mother Bridget Dowling and Austrian father Alois Hitler, Jr., the half-brother of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. As fate would have it, William would end up fighting against his uncle's German forces as a member of the U.S. Navy in World War II.

William was brought up by his mother after Alois abandoned the family in 1914. When he turned 18, William visited his father in Germany. He returned in 1933 and tried to benefit from his uncle's position as chancellor, asking him for increasingly better jobs. However, the two shared little affection. “I didn’t become Chancellor for the benefit of my family (and) no one is going to climb on my back,” wrote Adolf Hitler, who called William “my loathsome nephew" on at least one occasion. William even tried to blackmail his uncle for a better job by revealing alleged family secrets.

Adolf Hitler’s British-born nephew wrote a magazine article entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle” and joined the US Navy in 1944.
Adolf Hitler’s British-born nephew wrote a magazine article entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle” and joined the US Navy in 1944.

After a stint back in Britain, where William wrote "Why I Hate My Uncle" for Look magazine, he eventually moved to the United States. After many attempts to enlist in the U.S. military (his motives were looked on skeptically, to say the least), he wrote directly to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was eventually allowed to join the Navy in 1944 and served for three years as a hospital corpsman. After a battlefield injury, he was awarded a Purple Heart.

From Hitler to Houston:

  • William changed his name to William Stuart-Houston after the war, married Phyllis Jean-Jacques, and lived a normal life of relative anonymity in Patchogue, New York. He owned a business that analyzed blood samples and died of natural causes in 1987.

  • William and Phyllis had four sons, but none had sons or daughters of their own. Contrary to a popular rumor, though, they did not have a pact about refusing to sire children.

  • The neighborhood where William Hitler spent his earliest years was reduced to rubble in the Liverpool Blitz in January 1942.

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    • Adolf Hitler’s British-born nephew wrote a magazine article entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle” and joined the US Navy in 1944.
      Adolf Hitler’s British-born nephew wrote a magazine article entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle” and joined the US Navy in 1944.