Home > history > He Named His Son After Adolf Hitler

He Named His Son After Adolf Hitler

Where I grew up there was a couple who gave their first son the first name of Adolf and the middle-name Hitler.  The father had been in the German army in WWII and came to Illinois after the war.  During the war he served with Hitler and must have admired him.  The child was born shortly after the war before Hitler was known for anything other than what he had done in the war.  The father was named Emil.

How Emil ended up coming to the United States and marrying a woman whose family provided him with a small farm I don’t know.  I can remember going to his farm when I was younger.  He was one of the last farmers who still grew almost all of his food.  The inside of his house looked like it had not changed in decades.  I imagine that he could have been sent back in time a hundred years without knowing the difference.

As it is in a small community everyone knew that Emil’s son had been named for someone that he knew while in the army. Early on nobody had heard of the namesake.  All I know of what happened later is that by the time we were at war with Germany that the son’s name was changed to Larry.  I never did meet Larry because he was killed early in the Korean War.  When I was a child I can remember going to church on Veteran’s Day with my father who had been in Korea.  After mass an honor guard would fire a salute to those who had died in a war and were buried in the cemetery next to the church.  These are the only times that I saw my father take part in something connected to the military since he held a low opinion of the army and of war in general.  I think the only reason that he went was because of Larry, who he had been friends with since childhood.

Now as is apparent I only know the barest outlines of this story.  And that small knowledge only came out in bits and pieces over many years.  I know that I do wonder what Emil must have thought to have once known and admired someone who turned out to be one of the worst monsters in history.  Yet he has been dead for many years and probably wouldn’t have answered when he was alive.  I do remember getting the sense when I was a child that this was a topic so shameful that it wasn’t to be talked about.  I never heard that he defended Hitler in anyway and I imagine that if he had people would have remembered.  And I am fairly certain that he probably would have preferred not to have been maybe the only man in the United States to have named his son Hitler.

I thought of this story because yesterday I was out riding my bike and a dog started chasing me.  Once I got done out-running the dog I stopped to catch my breath.  As I looked about I noticed that I was at the spot where Emil’s farm once stood.  All that is there now is a short driveway and a small machine shed.

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