Can a case be made that Hitler was a German?

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,441
Hitler's father was an Austrian customs official on the German border. He appeared to Germans to speak with a Bavarian accent. Bavarians and Austrians speak German, but are not mostly ethnically Germanic. There were a whole bunch of little states in the HRE and some were swallowed up by Austria and some by Prussia.

It is like being on one side or the other of the US / Canada or Venezuela / Columbia border. There isn't a big cultural difference when you cross the line.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,569
Las Vegas, NV USA
Austrians are Germans. Just as the inhabitants of San Marino are Italian.
Austrians are ethnic Germans but are not citizens of Germany unless they are so naturalized. I don't know if you can be a citizen of both countries but it's not automatic.
 
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betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,441
There is very little difference between the area of Austria that Hitler was from and Bavaria.

It isn't exactly correct that Austrians are ethnically German. There were multiple languages spoken in what is now Austria, but German became predominant. It is sort of like saying Turks are ethnically Turkish, Syrians are ethnically Arab, or Peruvians or Domincan Republicans are ethnically Spanish.
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,569
Las Vegas, NV USA
There is very little difference between the area of Austria that Hitler was from and Bavaria.

It isn't exactly correct that Austrians are ethnically German. There were multiple languages spoken in what is now Austria, but German became predominant. It is sort of like saying Turks are ethnically Turkish or Syrians are ethnically Arab.
True but citizenship is a legal classification that allows one to vote and hold office in a country. Other benefits may attach uniquely to citizenship or not. Non citizens can and do live and work in many countries and not so much others. Hitler fought in the German Army, was prosecuted, sentenced and imprisoned in Germany. and later built a political party without German citizenship. This detail would have prevented him from running for President in 1932. The Nazi controlled state of Brunswick (Braunschweig) made him a citizen of that state and under German law a citizen of one state is a citizen of Germany.
 
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Apr 2018
979
Upland, Sweden
Austrians are Germans - as well as Austrians. This notion that the current rump state of the Austrian Republic is self-evidently a proper country is a product of World War 2, and partially the result of a desire on behalf of many in Austria to differentiate themselves and pretend like they somehow did not share responsibility for the 3rd Reich (as well as also partially allied power politics after World War 2). Quite understandable given how things turned out...

Austria was for the majority of it's existence the German metropole to a multicultural Empire. In the interwar years the loss of this Empire caused quite a lot of anxiety and psychological dislocation among a lot of austrians, which is probably why so many of them welcomed the "Anschluss" with open arms.

In regards more specifically to Hitler: his brand of German nationalism was the largest one possible. So if we look at how he wanted to see and be seen himself, he was definitely German.
 
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Jun 2017
2,976
Connecticut
It's well known that Hitler was born in Austria. However, most Austrians are ethnic Germans and certainly considered themselves to be Germans during the late 19th century and early 20th century - it is only after the end of WW2 that an Austrian identity fully emerged.

His birthplace Braunau am Inn was under Bavarian rule until 1816. After the Anschluss in 1938, Hitler said, "I, myself, as Führer and Chancellor, will be happy to walk on the soil of the country that is my home as a free German citizen."

Is it really that wrong to call Hitler a German? I don't think so. What do you think?
It's a bizzare situation. And the answer is yes, Hitler and Austrians are Germans. Does Austria have perhaps the most distinctive history of any German state besides Bavaria and Prussia? Yes. But the Austrian identity is an attempt to acquit themselves of association with a regime whose leader was born in their new distinctive country. And they are using their country's rich history as a shield to rid themselves of a stain they have and deserve. The leader of the Third Reich was Austrian, the Austrians voted for annexation, and four years earlier voted for a mirror Nazi government. They shouldn't get to go home and wipe their hands because history offers them an excuse to do so.

Anyway to simplify the answer to the general question, "are Austrians German". Germany was the HRE, even states not considered German today like Bohemia, Switzerland, Belgium and the Nehterlands were considered German if you go far enough. But with Austria you don't need to go back far because Austria/the Hapsburgs were the most important state/family in the HRE(they got the power from Bohemia but they lived in Austria) so Germany was in a(loose) way Austria's empire. When the HRE dissolved and Germany eventually was reunited under Prussian control, Austria wasn't part of it and was linked to the former Hapsburg lands. There's a shared identity with other Catholic Germans, the Austrians had influence there right up until unification. With World War II, all of a sudden there became a reason to disassociate from Germany. There was a separate identity too notwithstanding that, but look at the wide shift in Austrian opinion from 1938 to 1950. And it's not like they can say "Hitler just took us over", or they didn't have a real choice in the referendum, they elected Nazi's four years prior to the annexation at a time when Mussolini was doing everything he could to prevent that outcome.

It would make sense if the man whose era the Austrians were trying to disassociate with wasn't an Austrian guy who'd tried to disassociate from them. That's a really bizarre situation cause they are trying to make a separate identity to free themselves of the stain of the Third Reich while the Third Reich was ruled by an Austrian guy, so the attempt just makes them look even worse IMO.