#OTD in 1891 – Birth of Bridget Hitler, née Dowling in Tallaght, Co Dublin. She was Adolf Hitler’s sister-in-law via her marriage to Alois Hitler, Jr.

In 1909, when she was seventeen, she and her father, William Dowling, attended the Dublin Horse Show where they met Alois Hitler, Jr., who claimed to be a wealthy hotelier touring Europe when, in fact, he was a poor waiter at Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. Alois courted Bridget at various Dublin locales and soon they were discussing marriage. On 3 June 1910, the couple eloped to London, living in Charing Cross Road for a while. Her father threatened to charge Alois with kidnapping but accepted the marriage after Bridget pleaded with him.

The couple settled at 102 Upper Stanhope Street in Toxteth, Liverpool, and, in 1911 they had their only child, William Patrick Hitler. Ironically, the house was destroyed in the last German air raid of the Liverpool Blitz on 10 January 1942, and has remained a bomb site ever since.

Alois went to Germany in 1914 to establish himself in business but these plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. Bridget refused to go with him, as he had become violent and started beating their son. Alois decided to abandon his family, he remarried bigamously and sent word after the war that he was dead. He was charged with bigamy in 1924 but escaped conviction due to Bridget’s intervention. Bridget raised her son alone with no support from her husband from whom she was eventually divorced (although as a Roman Catholic she was religiously opposed to divorce). She set up a home in Hornsey, North London, and took in lodgers to make ends meet.

In 1939, she joined her son on a tour of the United States where he was invited to lecture on his famous uncle. They decided to stay and changed their name to Stuart-Houston. Bridget wrote a manuscript, “My Brother-in-Law Adolf”, in which she claimed that her famous brother-in-law had moved to Liverpool to live with Bridget and Alois from November 1912 to April 1913 in order to dodge conscription in his native Austria. She claims that she introduced Adolf to astrology, and that she advised him to trim off the edges of his moustache. She was unable to sell the manuscript and most historians dismiss the work as being a fabrication written in an attempt to cash in on her famous relation. There is no evidence Hitler ever visited his relatives in Liverpool. Professor Robert Waite refutes her claims that Adolf Hitler had stayed with her as well as most of the rest of her book in the appendix to his “The Psychopathic God, Adolf Hitler”. According to David Gardiner, Bridget’s daughter-in-law has said Bridget admitted to her the book was fanciful. The story of Adolf Hitler’s visit to Liverpool has remained popular, however, and was the subject of Beryl Bainbridge’s 1978 novel “Young Adolf” and Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s notorious 1989 comic “The New Adventures of Hitler”.

After the war Bridget and her son settled in Long Island under assumed names. She died there in 1969.

Mrs Brigid Hitler, the wife of Adolf Hitler’s stepbrother Alois, says goodbye to her son William Patrick Hitler outside the Astor Hotel in New York City | Image: Keystone/Getty Images
Alois Hitler [left] was the eldest half-brother of the Nazi leader | Image: Wikimedia

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