Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Name Change Can Be a Deadly Thing - Halloween scary thought for 2010

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Then again - NOT!

Alois was a minor Austrian customs official, born in 1837 as an illegitimate child of a peasant woman. Five years after his birth, his mother married Johann Georg Hiedler, the man believed to be his father, a wandering miller, plying his trade in Lower Austria. Yet, for the first 39 years of his life, Alois bore his mother's maiden name, Schicklgruber, since Johann had never bothered to legitimize his son's birth.

Johann was also a deadbeat dad.  After Alois's mother died in 1847, Johann vanished for the next 30 years only to reappear at 84 to testify before a notary that he indeed was the father of Alois. Perhaps, this was done to help his son obtain an inheritance. How nice.

In 1876, the parish priest finally changed Alois's baptismal certificate to a variation of his father's surname. Later, Alois's third son from a third marriage expressed to his only boyhood friend that nothing had pleased him so much as his father's name change.

Young Adolf told August Kubizek that the name Schicklgruber "seemed to him so uncouth, so boorish, apart from being so clumsy and unpractical. He found 'Heidler' ... too soft; but 'Hilter' sounded nice and easy to remember."

Reference: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer (Pages 6-8)

So back in the 19th century, a deadbeat dad - Johann Georg Hiedler - not only changed the surname on his son's baptismal certificate, but also he would become the grandfather of one of the deadliest world figures of the 20th century - Adolf Hitler. Now, that's a scary thought.

Can you imagine Donald Duck saying "Heil Schicklgruber" fifty times?

Der Fuehrer's Face  (from which the above video clip was taken) was the only Donald Duck cartoon to win an Oscar.

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names ... Schicklgruber? Hielder? Hilter?

They can change history ... and not for the better!


Picture from everystockphoto.comHall of Remembrance, US Holocaust Museum

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