Of all the stories that are woven into the rich tapestry that is Liverpool’s history, few offer as much debate and intrigue as the link between the city and Adolf Hitler.
The Nazi dictator, who led Germany and virtually the rest of the world into the 20th Century’s most brutal and destructive war, certainly had relatives in Liverpool following the marriage of his half-brother Alois and Bridget Dowling (later Hitler), an Irish woman from Dublin, in 1910.
For many years it has been rumoured that a youthful Adolf Hitler paid them a visit before World War I.
The Hitlers had moved to 102 Upper Stanhope Street in Toxteth soon after their arrival, and there have long since been questions asked over whether the later-reviled tyrant had ever visited the city as a result.
Now, former Liverpool Daily Post and Echo editor Mike Unger hopes to shed some light over Hitler’s links with Liverpool after becoming involved with the story whilst working for the Daily Post in the early 1970s.
By using the memoirs of Bridget Hitler, in which she claims and explains at length that Adolf visited the couple in 1912, Mike has chronicled the story of the youthful would-be dictator arriving on Merseyside far before his rise to power, in a new book: ‘The Hitlers of Liverpool’.
Mike is convinced that Adolf Hitler’s visit to this city took place.
He told JMU Journalism: “My instincts are that he did come to Liverpool. These are also the instincts of some historians, the FBI and the boss of the wartime British spies, William Stephenson.
“The only doubts that I have had have been dispelled in recent years although some people, journalists and historians among others, doubt it simply because they doubt it. One of my great surprises is how bad the research is of some eminent people.”
Bridget’s memoirs were discovered in a New York public library long after Austrian-born Hitler’s death, and describe him as staying in Liverpool from November 1912 to April 1913 in order to avoid conscription to the army shortly before World War I.
Mike feels that the story of his visit provides a unique insight into the infamous leader, and begs questions as to how Hitler became such a powerful and deadly figure, casting a dark shadow over world history.
He said: “It clearly reinforces the knowledge that he was a lazy, layabout when here [Liverpool], so how and why did he become a demonic leader, particularly in light of his very mundane career as a soldier during the First World War?
“The other importance is that these are the only memoirs ever written by a member of the Hitler family – who clearly knew him from their visits to see him in Germany.
“I think that people the world over take a huge interest in Hitler because he was such an evil man and that the majority wonder how he was allowed to be evil, and a very small minority think he was some sort of hero. He is almost a cardboard character of a leader – a trait that is still seen today.”
The story is still a controversial subject, with some historians discrediting the memoirs as a fabrication on the part of Bridget Hitler. It was also the inspiration behind ‘Young Adolf’, the 1978 novel by famous Liverpudlian author Beryl Bainbridge.
The flat in Upper Stanhope Street where the Hitlers of Liverpool lived was destroyed in the last German air-raid on the city during World War II, in January 1942.
‘The Hitlers of Liverpool’ is written by Mike Unger and published by Bluecoat Press