Did Adolf Hitler’s nephew serve in the US Navy during World War II?

The short answer is yes, he did. His name was William Patrick “Willy” Hitler, and he was born in 1911 in England, to Adolf’s half-brother Alois and an Irish woman named Bridget Dowling, who had met in Dublin while Alois was living there in 1909. Alois left the family in 1914 to go on a gambling tour of Europe and was unable to leave Germany after the outbreak of World War I, so William was raised by his mother. In 1933, William traveled to Germany to try and benefit from his uncle’s rise to power. Adolf got him a job at a bank in Berlin, and he later worked at the Opel car factory and as a car salesman. Unhappy with his lot in life, he bugged his uncle for better jobs, threatening to blackmail him by telling the papers that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish.

William ultimately left Germany and went back to London, where he wrote an essay for Look magazine entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle.” He then visited the United States with his mother on a lecture tour set up by publisher William Randolph Hearst, and the two were stranded there when World War II broke out. In 1944, after getting special dispensation from President Roosevelt, William joined the Navy and became a hospital corpsman. He was wounded in action and was given a Purple Heart, and was discharged in 1947. After the war, he changed his name to Stuart-Houston and moved to Patchogue, a small town on Long Island, where he built a business out of his home analyzing blood samples for hospitals and laboratories.

William and his wife Phyllis had four sons, Alexander (whose middle name is Adolf), Louis, Howard and Brian. Howard died in a car accident in 1989, but his brothers still live on Long Island, and periodically reporters and documentary filmmakers show up to interview one of them about their famous uncle. None of them have had children, so the Hitler name will eventually die out. There was a rumor that the sons had deliberately decided not to have children so that Hitler’s bloodline would end, but Alexander said in an interview in 2002 that this isn’t true.

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