| 22.4°C Dublin

Paddy, Bridget and Uncle Adolf -- meet the Irish Hitlers

On a sunny summer afternoon just over a century ago, young Bridget Dowling spotted a dashing foreigner with a dangling gold chain at the Dublin Horse Show.

The "handsome stranger'' in the Homburg hat at the RDS was none other than Alois Hitler, brother of the future leader of the Third Reich.

Bridget, a naive 17-year-old who was just out of convent school, said later: "I cannot deny that this stranger with his fine foreign manners made a great impression.''

Romance blossomed and the pair went on dates at Dublin's National Gallery. Alois, the older half-brother of Adolf Hitler, made out he was a grand hotelier who was on a European tour studying the business in various countries.

Bridget's family disapproved of the match. Their opposition to the relationship was heightened when they found out that Mr Hitler was not in fact a wealthy hotelier. He was working as a waiter in the Shelbourne Hotel.

The Dowling family tried in vain to stop the budding romance but Bridget was besotted and the couple eloped to England.

They married and lived in Liverpool, where the less famous Hitler brother worked as a razor salesman, and they had a son William Patrick in 1911.

This week, it was reported that Adolf Hitler himself had a son by a Frenchwoman in 1918, and that his only child Jean-Marie Loret lived until the 1980s. But the claims are unproven.

The only confirmed surviving relatives of Adolf are the "Irish branch'', descendants of Alois and Bridget. Their three grandsons now live anonymously on Long Island in the United States.

Bridget Dowling Hitler wrote a memoir of her supposed encounters with the Fuhrer, My Brother-in-Law Adolf.

Her most controversial contention is that Adolf Hitler came to stay with her and Alois in their flat in Liverpool just before World War One.

The Dubliner described young Adolf in her memoir as a "pale unsteady-eyed lad'', who sat in her kitchen and played with her two-year-old baby.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Bridget claimed that she herself was responsible for the famous Hitler moustache. She said she advised him to trim his waxed handlebar moustache at the ends.

When she later saw his face in a newspaper, she noticed that he had followed her advice, but she remarked: "Adolf has gone too far.'.

Historians have taken Bridget Hitler's story about Adolf's Scouse sojourn with a pinch of salt, and most believe it never happened.

The marriage of Alois and Bridget Hitler proved short-lived, but the Irish Mrs Hitler and her son Paddy were not shy about boasting about their notorious relative when it suited them.

When he reached adulthood young Paddy Hitler showed himself to be an opportunist.

Patrick travelled over to Germany to exploit his connections after Hitler became Chancellor.

The pair apparently had a stormy relationship, but uncle Adolf found Paddy work in a bank. He later became a car salesman for Opel.

He began to ape his uncle's mannerisms, including the characteristic Fuhrer's pose with crossed arms. He even grew a similar moustache.

Paddy Hitler was in demand at society dinner parties in Germany. Adolf soon found him to be an embarrassment, however, and described him as his "loathsome nephew''.

Patrick was reported to have made veiled threats to expose Adolf's Jewish ancestry, and demanded a more senior job.

Flying into a rage with his half-Irish nephew, Hitler demanded that he become a German citizen if he wanted a top job.

Fearing a trap, Patrick then fled Germany in a hurry. Back in England he wrote an article for Look magazine, "Why I hate my Uncle''.

The Hitler name may have opened doors for Paddy in Berlin, but it wasn't flavour of the month in England as war broke out.

Paddy and his mother Bridget emigrated to the United States, where he turned his colourful background into a sort of travelling freak show.

He gave lectures, warning America that his uncle was a madman surrounded by "sexual perverts''.

Remarkably, Hitler's nephew joined the US Navy in 1944. He saw action and received a shrapnel wound in the leg.

Having cashed in on the Hitler name before and during World War Two, Bridget and Paddy then decided to drop out of public view completely.

They vanished and assumed new identities as the Stuart-Houston family. They lived on Long Island, where Patrick ran a blood-analysis laboratory.

Patrick married a German woman Phyllis and they had four sons, three of whom survive. Although Patrick kept his identity secret until shortly before his death, at least one of the locals saw a family resemblance.

Teresa Ryther, a neighbour of Patrick, told The New York Times in 2006: "Once, my father told my mom, 'I just saw Patty mowing the lawn, and he turned around and, my God, he looked exactly like Hitler'. And I remember thinking: 'Oh, Hitler -- he was that bad guy.'"

Bridget Dowling Hitler died in 1969 at the age of 78. Her son Patrick is buried beside her, having died suddenly in 1987. Their grave on Long Island offers no clues to their background.

His sons Louis (61) and Brian (47) run a local landscaping business, while the oldest brother Alex (63) is a former social worker. Hitler's last surviving relatives quietly decline interviews about their notorious grand-uncle.

It is said that at least two of the boys made a pact that they will never have any children, so that the Hitler family line will die with them.

Most Watched