Adolf Hitler ranks as the most notable villain of the 20th century, but there’s no denying that he’s an interesting figure. The German Chancellor and Third Reich leader exerted a massive influence on world politics during his time, drawing Europe into World War II and orchestrating the deaths of millions. Hitler’s undeniably a bad guy, but his life is full of strange coincidences, contradictions and occurrences. For example, the most infamous dictator of the 20th century almost wasn’t named Hitler at all. If Hitler’s father, born Alois Shicklgruber, hadn’t adopted his stepfather’s surname in 1887, the Fuhrer would have grown up Adolf Shicklgruber, which just doesn’t have the same terrifying ring to it, does it? Check out 12 more unbelievable facts about last century’s most famous fascist.
1. He Never Visited a Single Concentration Camp
Nazi concentration camps were at the heart of Hitler’s “Final Solution,” the plan to exterminate all Jews in Europe. But as surprising as it is, Hitler never once set foot in any of the 1,200 concentration camps the Germans operated. Many of them were located in Poland, far from the center of German operations, but it’s crazy to think that Hitler never once witnessed the incomprehensible death and suffering his plans had produced.
2. His First Crush was a Jewish Girl
It’s hard to imagine the century’s most fearsome dictator as a teenage dweeb fretting about girls, but that’s exactly where young Adolf found himself at age 16. Hitler fell head over heels for Stefanie Isak, a young Jewish girl who wouldn’t even acknowledge him in spite of his incessant love notes and poetry. In an even stranger twist, Hitler’s longtime companion later in life was Eva Braun, another Jewish girl. Braun and Hitler wed shortly before Allied forces closed in on their bunker in Berlin, and the two committed suicide after being married for just 40 hours.
3. A Priest Saved His Life as a Child
A Priest Saved Adolf Hitlers Life as a Child
People always talk about traveling back in time to assassinate Hitler, but how do you think the priest who saved his life felt? According to historians, a local priest saved a four-year-old Hitler from drowning in a river after he fell in while playing with friends. The story is corroborated by both historians and locals, some of whom say Hitler never learned how to swim. The experience may have influenced the young Hitler’s desire to become a priest, a dream he later gave up in favor of world domination.
4. He Saved His Favorite Jewish Doctor
Adolf Hitler Saved His Favorite Jewish Doctor
Hitler’s hatred of Jews may have been irrational, but his love for one Jewish doctor in particular made sense. Eduard Bloch treated Hitler’s mother while she suffered from cancer, charging the impoverished family a modest fee and giving them cheap medication. Although Hitler’s mother died in 1907, he never forgot Bloch’s kindness, calling him a “Noble Jew.” Even as he was rounding up other Jews to send to ghettoes and concentration camps, Hitler bestowed special privileges on Bloch and his family, placing them under the protection of the German Gestapo. Bloch was allowed to sell his home at a fair price and emigrate to the U.S. in 1940.