Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

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David Smith
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Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by David Smith » 07 Mar 2022 08:21

Hi everyone,

I have been reading some books about Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich and World War 2 recently and time and time I have read that Hitler was a “German”. But, since he was an Austrian by birth, why do people claim he was a German? Also, I know that he considered himself a German, but why?

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Helly Angel
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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by Helly Angel » 10 Mar 2022 22:59

Welcome to the forum.

Because under the National Socialist conception Austria was part of the Greater German Reich. In chapter one of Mein Kampf, AH explains at length the answer to your question.

Greetings,

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by George L Gregory » 11 Mar 2022 18:31

In the 1800s there was a debate about how to solve the German Question. Austria and Prussia were the two dominant German states. Pan-Germanism was very popular in Austria. A Greater Germany included Austria and a Smaller Germany excluded Austria. Otto von Bismarck unified Germany without Austria. In 1918 Austria became known as German Austria and the popular opinion for most Austrians was to join Germany, but the Allies of WW1 forbid the union (Treaty of Versailles).

Adolf Hitler, an Austrian, sought to sort that out and fulfil the desired dream for many Germans and unify Austria (and some other ethnically German areas) and create a Greater German Reich.

Basically, Austrians are Germans (ethnically) and had for one historical reason - the German war in 1866 between Austria and Prussia - been excluded from the German Reich when it became unified as a nation-state in 1871.

Hitler was an Austrian citizen by birth and became a German citizen in 1932 but as an Austrian he was always ethnically German and that’s why he considered himself to be a German.

Austria literally means in German the Eastern Realm of the Reich. Austria came out of a March of Bavaria in 976.

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by Sheldrake » 11 Mar 2022 20:44

Austria had historically had a far greater role leading Germany as the ducal seat of the Hapsburgs, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438-1806. The Prussians were upstarts - winners by picking up rapidly industrialising Westphalia as spoils for their part in defeating Napoleon.

Austria was Catholic while Prussia was Protestant. Bismark did not want Austria inside the Second German Empire as it would destabilise the balance of power. Austria remained the centre of a big multi national empire until 1918. Lviv was an Austrian city. The Hapsburgs were exciled from Austria, but the heads of the family have been promoting pan european EU. Otto von Hapsburg and his son Karl have served as MEPs

There was a piece of graffiti in the 1970s in the student union lavatory in the Univesity of Sheffield. "The Holy Roman Empire will rise anew from the ashes of the EEC"

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by George L Gregory » 20 Mar 2022 23:20

If one historical event had turned out differently, that is the German war in 1866, then it’s highly likely that the Austrians would have unified Germany and excluded Prussia and thus people would be asking if people like Otto von Bismarck as a Prussian should be classified as a German or not.

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by ManfredV » 30 Mar 2022 16:33

Might have been the better way. A South German and Austrian confederation. Not so wealthy and powerful like "Deutsches Reich" but more cosy, "gemuetlich", a little bit jog trott and and chaotic. Hard working Swabian of course, but Austrians, Bavarians, Franconians, Palatines, Hassians and Alamannis would work a little bit more unhurriedly and after some hours it`s "Feierabend" and time for sitting in their Beergarden, "beim Heurigen", "beim Schoppen" or "Viertele schlotzen". No other nation would have a reason to be afraid of Germany. But many tourists would come and enjoy this way of life. :D
But no. This kind of Reich also would have had those problems like K. und k. monarchy: to many nationalities and ethnic groups.

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by George L Gregory » 01 Apr 2022 22:57

ManfredV wrote:
30 Mar 2022 16:33
Might have been the better way. A South German and Austrian confederation. Not so wealthy and powerful like "Deutsches Reich" but more cosy, "gemuetlich", a little bit jog trott and and chaotic. Hard working Swabian of course, but Austrians, Bavarians, Franconians, Palatines, Hassians and Alamannis would work a little bit more unhurriedly and after some hours it`s "Feierabend" and time for sitting in their Beergarden, "beim Heurigen", "beim Schoppen" or "Viertele schlotzen". No other nation would have a reason to be afraid of Germany. But many tourists would come and enjoy this way of life. :D
But no. This kind of Reich also would have had those problems like K. und k. monarchy: to many nationalities and ethnic groups.
Talking about different ethnic groups... the original Prussians weren't even Germanic but Baltic! But then again the Celts were in present-day Austria and Germany way before the Germanic tribes. Also, let's not forget that Slavic tribes also settled in present-day Austria and Germany too. All ethnic groups are a mixture of different tribes and all Europeans are descended from ancient Asian tribes e.g. Turkic tribes, Iranian tribes, etc.

Even after the Anschluss there was still tension between Austrians and Prussians.

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by Peter89 » 16 Apr 2022 12:55

George L Gregory wrote:
20 Mar 2022 23:20
If one historical event had turned out differently, that is the German war in 1866, then it’s highly likely that the Austrians would have unified Germany and excluded Prussia and thus people would be asking if people like Otto von Bismarck as a Prussian should be classified as a German or not.
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by George L Gregory » 18 Apr 2022 10:06

Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 12:55
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
Bavaria was lucky to have been included in the German Empire.

Presumably if the Austrians had defeated the Prussians in the German war then Vienna and not Berlin would be the capital of Germany.

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by ljadw » 18 Apr 2022 10:20

Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 12:55
George L Gregory wrote:
20 Mar 2022 23:20
If one historical event had turned out differently, that is the German war in 1866, then it’s highly likely that the Austrians would have unified Germany and excluded Prussia and thus people would be asking if people like Otto von Bismarck as a Prussian should be classified as a German or not.
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
There is no proof that Austria ( which did not exist ,as it was Austria-Hungary ) wanted to unify Greater Germany : the Hapsburgs were hostile to German nationalism,as nationalism meant democratisation and wanted to conserve the status quo and some of them wanted to restore the situation from before 1789 . Metternich was a typical example .
And the German powerhouse did not withstand the imaginary Russian aggression, but was a staunch ally of Russia til 1890 .
After 1890 the German nationalism, the German contempt for Slavs,the hostility of the SPD to the Tsar changed the situation, but a very big part of the ruling German class still considered Russia as a natural ally . The same happened in Vienna .

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by Peter89 » 18 Apr 2022 10:21

George L Gregory wrote:
18 Apr 2022 10:06
Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 12:55
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
Bavaria was lucky to have been included in the German Empire.

Presumably if the Austrians had defeated the Prussians in the German war then Vienna and not Berlin would be the capital of Germany.
Germans could not stay together in one, unified country. Even now it is hardly possible to balance out Germany on the continent, and it would be outright impossible if the bloodbath of WW1 and WW2 didn't take place, and/or Austria and the German cantons of Switzerland would form a unified country with Germany.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by ljadw » 18 Apr 2022 10:23

Sheldrake wrote:
11 Mar 2022 20:44
Austria had historically had a far greater role leading Germany as the ducal seat of the Hapsburgs, the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire from 1438-1806. The Prussians were upstarts - winners by picking up rapidly industrialising Westphalia as spoils for their part in defeating Napoleon.

Austria was Catholic while Prussia was Protestant. Bismark did not want Austria inside the Second German Empire as it would destabilise the balance of power. Austria remained the centre of a big multi national empire until 1918. Lviv was an Austrian city. The Hapsburgs were exciled from Austria, but the heads of the family have been promoting pan european EU. Otto von Hapsburg and his son Karl have served as MEPs

There was a piece of graffiti in the 1970s in the student union lavatory in the Univesity of Sheffield. "The Holy Roman Empire will rise anew from the ashes of the EEC"
That Prussia was protestant is a generalization and an exaggeration .

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by Peter89 » 18 Apr 2022 10:29

ljadw wrote:
18 Apr 2022 10:20
Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 12:55
George L Gregory wrote:
20 Mar 2022 23:20
If one historical event had turned out differently, that is the German war in 1866, then it’s highly likely that the Austrians would have unified Germany and excluded Prussia and thus people would be asking if people like Otto von Bismarck as a Prussian should be classified as a German or not.
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
There is no proof that Austria ( which did not exist ,as it was Austria-Hungary ) wanted to unify Greater Germany : the Hapsburgs were hostile to German nationalism,as nationalism meant democratisation and wanted to conserve the status quo and some of them wanted to restore the situation from before 1789 . Metternich was a typical example .
And the German powerhouse did not withstand the imaginary Russian aggression, but was a staunch ally of Russia til 1890 .
After 1890 the German nationalism, the German contempt for Slavs,the hostility of the SPD to the Tsar changed the situation, but a very big part of the ruling German class still considered Russia as a natural ally . The same happened in Vienna .
The unification of Germans first came up as a political idea on the Frankfurter Nationalversammlung in 1848, thus well before Austria-Hungary came to be in 1867. What actually happened is that the Habsburg-Austrians searched for a way to dominate the new German state. It is questionable whether they wanted to deal with the rebellious borderlands like Transsylvania, Hungary and the Military Frontier. Most likely they would let these provinces go in the same way as Romania gained its independence; a meaningless buffer state. After Königgrätz, the Austrians had to make a deal with the Hungarians, because the Prussian solution (Kleindeutsche Lösung) won. The alliance or hostility towards Russia is irrelevant in this regard; alliances changed all the time, the question was how the power centers should balance out each other.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by ljadw » 18 Apr 2022 11:23

Before WW1 there were less than 60 % Protestants in Prussia and 75 % Catholics in Austria-Hungary .

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Re: Why did the Nazis claim that Adolf Hitler was German?

Post by ljadw » 18 Apr 2022 11:43

Peter89 wrote:
18 Apr 2022 10:29
ljadw wrote:
18 Apr 2022 10:20
Peter89 wrote:
16 Apr 2022 12:55
George L Gregory wrote:
20 Mar 2022 23:20
If one historical event had turned out differently, that is the German war in 1866, then it’s highly likely that the Austrians would have unified Germany and excluded Prussia and thus people would be asking if people like Otto von Bismarck as a Prussian should be classified as a German or not.
Not really. There were many plans, but ultimately the Austrians wanted to unify Greater Germany, including the Prussians, while Prussia wanted to leave the Austrians out - Bismarck realized what the guys after WW1 not, namely that there must be a powerhouse in Central Europe that can withstand the Russian aggression.
There is no proof that Austria ( which did not exist ,as it was Austria-Hungary ) wanted to unify Greater Germany : the Hapsburgs were hostile to German nationalism,as nationalism meant democratisation and wanted to conserve the status quo and some of them wanted to restore the situation from before 1789 . Metternich was a typical example .
And the German powerhouse did not withstand the imaginary Russian aggression, but was a staunch ally of Russia til 1890 .
After 1890 the German nationalism, the German contempt for Slavs,the hostility of the SPD to the Tsar changed the situation, but a very big part of the ruling German class still considered Russia as a natural ally . The same happened in Vienna .
The unification of Germans first came up as a political idea on the Frankfurter Nationalversammlung in 1848, thus well before Austria-Hungary came to be in 1867. What actually happened is that the Habsburg-Austrians searched for a way to dominate the new German state. It is questionable whether they wanted to deal with the rebellious borderlands like Transsylvania, Hungary and the Military Frontier. Most likely they would let these provinces go in the same way as Romania gained its independence; a meaningless buffer state. After Königgrätz, the Austrians had to make a deal with the Hungarians, because the Prussian solution (Kleindeutsche Lösung) won. The alliance or hostility towards Russia is irrelevant in this regard; alliances changed all the time, the question was how the power centers should balance out each other.
The Frankfurter Nationalversammlung from 1848 was dominated by the Bildungsbürgertum ( in present terms : intellectuals ) and the Hapsburgers were very hostile to it .
The Hapsburgers searched for a way to dominate the actual German ''state '',not the new one .
The Hapsburgers could not afford the independence of Hungary, as this would be followed by the independence of the Czechs, Croatians, etc .
Their deal with Hungary was not caused by the victory of the Prussian solution, but by their defeats of Königgratz and earlier Magenta .The Russians had saved he Hapsburgers in 1848, but this could not be done a second time .
About the relationship between AH and Russia : both were multicultural states (Austrians were a minority in AH and Russians would become a minority in Russia ) with autocratic rulers,both faced by a growing pressure for democratization and nationalism .
Both were ideological allies and both knew that the disappearance of one of both would result in the disappearance of the other one .

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