Was the notorious Nazi really an honorary Scouser a century ago?
THE SUNDAY TIMES, 2009
Was Liverpool once the home of Adolf Hitler? This extraordinary claim was made by Bridget Hitler, the Irishwoman who married his half-brother, Alois, before the first world war. According to Bridget in her memoirs, Adolf arrived unexpectedly at Lime Street station one morning in November 1912.
The 23-year-old nascent Nazi, who was then an impoverished artist and evading military service in his native Austria, allegedly settled for more than five months in Bridget and Alois’s three-room flat at 102 Upper Stanhope Street in Toxteth. He had a full handlebar moustache, apparently, and he was fascinated by maps, astrology and “how Germany was going to take its rightful position in the world”.
In 1979 the story caught the attention of many Liverpudlians, including the Beatles
The story caused a fuss in the press when Bridget’s memoirs were published in 1979. It caught the attention of many Liverpudlians, including the Beatles. After reading the news in New York, John Lennon stuck a newspaper headline, “Adolf Hitler Arrived in Liverpool in November of 1912 for a five-month visit”, on the front of a postcard and sent it to Ringo Starr, who was living in Monte Carlo with his then girlfriend, Nancy Lee Andrews. “Dear Ringo & Nancy,” wrote Lennon, “Thought you’d like to know.”
Bridget’s book claimed that young Adolf not only wandered around Liverpool but visited London with Alois: “Adolf was enchanted by Tower Bridge, and they bribed their way into the engine room to see the immense machinery in motion.”
Unfortunately, historians say that Hitler was safely tucked up in a men’s hostel in Vienna at the time
Unfortunately, the future Führer’s Scouse sojourn is uncorroborated by any other sources, and historians say that he was safely tucked up in a men’s hostel in Vienna at the time in question – a fact supported by the records of the Viennese police. A thoroughly researched 2005 chronology of Hitler’s life damns the Liverpool tale as “entirely fictitious”. We can no longer interrogate Bridget about why she made up the story, as she died 10 years before her memoirs were published.
Nevertheless, so many people are keen for the story to be true that it continually resurfaces on websites, in tabloid newspapers, and in conversations in Liverpool itself. One of the myth’s attractions is that it ends with a neat historical irony: the Luftwaffe finished off 102 Upper Stanhope Street in its final bombing raid over the city in January 1942. At least that part is true. ♦
© 2014 Tony Barrell