He might have changed his name to William Stuart-Houston, but he was born William Hitler, he served in the U.S. Navy and he was the Fuhrer’s nephew.
An Englishman, William Hitler was born in Liverpool in 1911, the son of Adolf Hitler’s half-brother Alois and wife Bridget. During WWI, Alois abandoned his family while in Germany for the War’s duration, marooned while on a gambling tour of Europe.
Alois later asked Bridget to send William to Germany, and in 1929, William Hitler joined his father there. William returned to England, but in 1933, when Adolf Hitler had become Chancellor, William took himself back again to Germany, eager to capitalize on his uncle’s new position of power.
The plan worked. Adolf Hitler duly found his nephew a post at the Berlin Reichskreditbank, a position he would hold across the 1930s. But William wanted more. He attempted to blackmail his uncle into improving his “personal circumstances” by threatening to sell embarrassing family stories to the press. Whether or not that threat worked, Adolf Hitler offered William a senior post — on condition he renounce his British citizenship.
William suspected a trap, and fled to the UK where he again attempted to blackmail the Fuhrer, this time threatening to reveal that Hitler’s alleged grandfather was Jewish. Having not succeeded, William then went to London and wrote an article for Look magazine, entitled “Why I Hate My Uncle.”
This seemed like a story with legs and U.S. media mogul William Randolph Hearst saw it as an opportunity, bringing William Hitler and his mother to the States for a lecture tour. During that tour, WWII broke out, and the pair were stranded.
After making a special request to President Roosevelt, William Hitler was allowed to serve in the U.S. Navy. After being wounded, he was awarded a Purple Heart.
But it was only after the war that William changed his surname. Why Stuart-Houston? It was a reference to Houston Stewart Chamberlain, a German Philosopher — and one of Adolf Hitler’s role models.