Philanthropy

The edition of May 2, 1945 of News Chronicle is considered one of the “15 most iconic newspaper headlines ever printed”.

An evergreen topic of unimaginative science fictions and alternative histories is that the Führer has survived the war and he is living his life in Argentina as an honest bourgeois, he is dragging on the miserable existence of a  prisoner of the Soviet KGB, or else he is preparing his return on a secret military basis. However, the following photo document puts an end to all doubt. Adolf Hitler has in fact died and has been buried. In the Jewish cemetery of Bucharest, on October 26, 1892.


Aici se odichneşte remăşiţele mortuare ale reposatului
ADOLF HITTLER
încetat din viaţă la 26 octombrie 1892, în etate de 60 de ani.
Rugaţi-vă pentru dânsul

Here lay the mortal remains of
ADOLF HITTLER
died on October 26, 1892, at the age of 60.
Pray for him

The shocking news were aired some weeks ago by the portal 20minutos.es, and at the moment it only spreads over the Spanish web. On the basis of its information, however, it was not difficult to search for the source which was a post of July 29 of the excellent Spanish blog in Bucharest Un vallekano en Rumania which had taken over the article of last October 12 published in Romanian at the portal frontpress.ro.

The Romanian portal, in its turn, referred to the book Filantropia, un cimitir plin de viaţă (Philanthropy, a cemetery full of life) by the Romanian Hebraist Marius Mircu (1909-2008) written on the Ashkenazi Filantropia, the largest Jewish cemetery in Bucharest. (The Sephardic Jews have their own cemetery, the Giurgiului, and until the Holocaust there existed also a third cemetery founded in the 17th century along Sevastopol Road. A short overview of them can be found at the site Metropotam dedicated to the history of Bucharest.) According to this reference, an employee of the Jewish cemetery by accident came across the tomb covered by weed in the 1940s, during the Fascist Antonescu regime, and fearing the possible consequences, he chiseled off the Romanian legend, leaving only the Hebrew one. It was only in 1987 that the Rabbi of Bucharest Moses Rozen ordered the legend to be restored.

The Romanian portal asserts that in Bucharest there was no family with the name Hittler, and that Adolf Hittler had immigrated from the formerly Austrian province of Bucovina. What is more, they assume that the word was not the name of the deceased but rather its profession, being a corrupt version of German “Hüttler”, hat-maker. This supposition, however, is untenable for a number of reasons. Why would have anybody written in German the profession of the deceased in a Romanian text, and with an archaic term instead of the modern “Hutmacher”, even that in a corrupt form, and, to top it up all – or to put the hat on it, as we say in Hungarian – as a family name, by pure mistake?

But the portal 20minutos.es goes further and claims that Marius Mircu discovered in the archives of Bucharest that Adolf Hittler had been a hat-maker, and he even had a workshop and a milliner’s shop in Bucharest. Whether Mircu really asserts this, it is impossible to ascertain for the time being. In fact, his book referred by the portals is such a rarity that apart from the articles on the tomb only two occurrences of it are found all over the net. It was published in 2001 in Bacău at the Egal publisher, and we have found only three libraries having a copy of it: the Library of Congress (with a misprinted place of publication), the British Library and the national library of Jerusalem. Két Sheng will try to obtain it through inter-library loan, and until he succeeds in having it, we are dead-locked as to the source of Hittler’s being a hat-maker.

Just in parenthesis, this reminds me that in the bookshops of Transylvania, at the sight of the multitude of local and private publications I always think: how many of these find their way to public libraries? Foreigners like me, if they do not regularly come here to buy, where can have an access to this multicolored and exciting local print culture? Probably nowhere, just like to Mircu’s monography.

But search and you shall find, even if not always what you were looking for. A month after the report of frontpress.ro the news was more or less repeated also by inpolitics.ro. They, however, also added an illustration, without any comment. It was obviously taken from an old newspaper which also published the following text with the photo:


Mormântul lui Adolf Hittler din Bucureşti

Evreii americani comentând atitudinea dictatorului german faţă de cetătenii de rassă semită, au emis părerea că Hitler trebue să fie evreu, deoarece in decursul istoriei cei mai mari asupritori ai israeliţilor au fost renegati. Astfel o pildă printre cele mai ilustre o alcătueşte marele inchizitor Torrequemada, care era evreu botezat.
In consecinţă americanii au făcut apel la comunităţile evreeşti din toată lumea să cerceteze dac’a existat o familie austriacă, Hitler, înrudită cu cancelarul german.
Un evreu bătrân din Alexandria (Egipt) şi-a amintit c’ar fi cunoscut în România cu patru cinci decenii in urmă pe un oarecare Hitler. S’a adresat rabinului dr. Niemerower din Bucureşti, care de fapt a găsit în cimitirul Filantropia un mormânt datat 26 Octombrie 1892 şi a cărui piatră funerară o reproducem în ilustraţia noastră. (*) Mormântul e ai lui Adolf Hittler, supus austriac. El a venit în România din părţile Poloniei de azi şi s’a angajat cu portar la hotelul Boulevard.
E probabil că nu există nici o legătură intre decedatul Adolf Hittler şi cancelarul german. Oricum insă, se dovedeşte că numele Hitler poate fi şi un nome evreesc şi că ipoteza ca în vinele cancelarului german să existe sânge semit, nu este exclusă. Dealtminteri aceasta n’ar avea absolut nici o importanţă.

*) Mormântul poartă no. 9 şi se găseşte în rândul al 18-lea. Se găseşte în locul unde sunt îngropaţi săracii.
The grave of Adolf Hittler in Bucharest

American Jews, commenting the attitude of the German dictator towards the Semitic race, have issued opinions that Hitler must be a Jew, because in the course of history the greatest oppressors of the Israelites have always been renegades. One of their most illustrious example is the great inquisitor Torrequemada who was a baptized Jew.
The Americans have therefore appealed to the Jewish communities around the world to investigate whether there exist any Austrian [Jewish] family of the name Hitler which is related to the German Chancellor.
An old Jew in Alexandria (Egypt) has recalled that some four or five decades earlier he had known a certain Hitler in Romania. He addressed to Dr. Niemerower, Rabbi of Bucharest who has in fact found a grave in the cemetery Philanthropy dated October 26, 1892 whose tombstone is reproduced in our illustration. (*) The grave was of the Austrian subject Adolf Hittler who had come from Poland to Romania and was employed as the porter of Hotel Boulevard.
It is probable that there is no connection between the deceased Adolf Hittler and the German Chancellor. However, since it appears that Hitler can be also a Jewish name, it is not excluded that there is some Semitic blood in the veins of the German Chancellor. Nevertheless, this has absolutely no importance.

*) The tomb bears number 9 and is found in the 18th parcel. It lays on the place where the poor are buried.

What might be the date of this article? The mention of Hitler as a “German Chancellor” and the no more than four or five decades that passed since the death of Hittler refer to the 1930s or 40s. The reference to Niemirower sets an even narrower limit to the possible date. The great reformer Chief Rabbi, a member of the Romanian Senate and the spiritual leader of all the Jews of pre-war Romania died on November 18, 1939. Therefore the article must have been published sometimes in the second half of the 30s, in the relatively anti-German climate under King Charles, before the internal crisis produced by the Soviet annexation of Bessarabia and Northern Bucovina as well as the restitution of Northern Transylvania to Hungary in 1940 opened the way to power to the pro-German Antonescu government. Under the new regime which through organized pogroms caused the death of almost 400 thousand Jews in Romania and in the Soviet territories invaded by the Romanian army (including Odessa) it would have been impossible to write about the Führer in this frivolous tone. And it is also very probable that, in contrast to the report of Mircu, the tomb stone was not accidentally discovered by an employee of the cemetery, but the Jews of Bucharest consciously tried to eliminate the provocative tomb inscription that some years earlier received too much publicity by the above and similar articles.

A closer look at the former image of the tomb proves how thorough work they did.


This stone matches the one seen in the modern photos only in its chief features. It seems that not only the Romanian legend but every inscription and decoration had been chiseled off and then newly carved in 1987. The content of the Romanian text did not change, but its typography did, just like the symbol at the top of the stone which was transformed into a much smaller bas-relief and topped by an eight-pointed star. The original Hebrew text of a classical typography was also re-carved in an inferior quality, but its content has not changed either:

איש יקר הר
אברהם אליהו
במוה' שמואל
נפ' ביום כ' חשון התרנג
ת'נ'צ'ב'ה

The precious man, Rabbi
Avraham Eliyahu,
son of our teacher, Rabbi Shmuel.
Deceased on 20 Heshwan 5653.
May his soul be bound up in the bundle of life.

20 Heshwan 5653 corresponds to November 10, 1892. True, Romania only changed for the Gregorian calendar in 1919, and in the Julian calendar the Hebrew date can be in fact October 26. But according to the inscription the deceased was a Rabbi, and a Rabbi’s son. Did Marius Mircu see this, and if yes, how did he reconcile it with his assumed profession as a hat-maker? And with the porter’s position in Hotel Boulevard? The further we go in our research, the larger the confusion grows. “Adolf Hittler may have lived a beautiful life” we could say with the catchword of a popular Hungarian novel of the period, “but he had a death of vicissitudes”.