About one hundred km northwest of Vienna, in northern Austria, lies a small village called Döllersheim that, eighty years ago, was literally wiped off the map by a certain German dictator with a short moustache in an attempt to erase the disreputable origins of his family.
The village was first mentioned in an 1143 deed issued by Duke Henry XI of Bavaria, whereby one Chunradus (Conrad) of Tolersheim appeared as a witness.
Due its location near the Austrian border with Bohemia the nearby market town held by the Lords of Ottenstein was devastated during the Hussite Wars in 1427 and again in the run-up to the Battle of White Mountain in 1620.
It was here, in Döllersheim, in the year 1837, that a woman named Maria Schicklgruber gave birth to an illegitimate child, Alois Schicklgruber, the father of Adolf Hitler himself.
The identity of the man who impregnated the forty-two-year-old unmarried serving woman was not disclosed on the baby’s baptismal certificate filed in her parish church but later, when Alois was five, his mother married Johann Georg Hiedler and Alois took the name Hitler, after Hiedler.
Ever since Adolf Hitler came to political prominence, historians have been trying to crack the mystery of his true origin, an important factor, since he claimed to be absolutely of Aryan descent.
Among the several candidates proposed as Alois’s biological father, historian Werner Maser suggested that he was Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, brother of Johann Georg Hiedler, who raised Alois through adolescence and later willed him a considerable portion of his life savings.
According to Maser, Nepomuk was a married farmer who had an affair and then arranged to have his single brother Hiedler marry Alois’s mother Maria to provide a cover for Nepomuk’s desire to assist and care for Alois without upsetting his wife.
Another unproven theory is that Alois father was a Jew named Leopold Frankenberger, with whose family Maria Schicklgruber was employed as a cook in the town of Graz, Austria.
But this theory is dismissed by historians because it seems there was no Jew living in Graz at the time Maria Schicklgruber became pregnant, and these rumors often threw Hitler into apoplectic rage.
“People must not know who I am,” he was reported to have said. “They must not know where I come from.”
Either way, in 1931 Hitler ordered the SS to investigate the alleged rumors regarding his ancestry, but found no evidence of any Jewish ancestors. He then ordered a genealogist to prepare a large illustrated genealogical tree showing his ancestry, which he published in the book Die Ahnentafel des Fuehrers (“The pedigree of the Leader”) in 1937, where he showed that he had an unblemished Aryan pedigree.
It has been alleged that, not content, Hitler decided to eradicate the entire village of Döllersheim where sceptics went to make enquires.
Shortly after the 1938 Anschluss which annexed Austria to Nazi Germany, he ordered Döllersheim, Zwettl, Allentsteig, and several other smaller neighbouring villages to be evacuated in favour of a large military training area, even though (or perhaps because) it contained the grave of his paternal grandmother, Maria.
The real reason for the area’s selection may lie in its relatively sparse population, poor soils and consequently low agricultural yields, lack of industry, and not least, from a military training point of view, its very severe winter weather conditions.
In any case, over two thousand residents were forcibly resettled and their houses bombed as part of the training exercises.
In World War II the facility was home to the 392nd Infantry Division and the site of several prisoner-of-war camps near the abandoned village of Edelbach.
Upon implementation of the 1945 German Instrument of Surrender and the Allied occupation of Austria, the training ground was seized by the Soviet Army and, despite raised claims for restitution, has remained a military exclusion zone (renamed Truppenübungsplatz Allentsteig) to this day, now operated by the Austrian Armed Forces.
Since 1981, however, the main square, the ruins of the Romanesque parish church of Saints Peter and Paul, and its surrounding graveyard have been made accessible to visitors.
In 1986, the church was reconsecrated as a “church of peace” by the Bishop of Sankt Pölten, but the expelled inhabitants were not compensated until 1955.
Images from web – Google Research