The Only Jewish Family That Adolf Hitler Protected from the Holocaust

Jhemmylrut Teng

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Whenever we hear the name Adolf Hitler, the first thing that comes to mind is his anti-Semitic views that led to the genocide of millions of Jewish people in Europe. He was a dictator, a madman, and a mass murderer. When the Nazis started occupying other nations in Europe and persecuting the Jews, one Jewish physician, together with his family, was spared from the horrors of the Holocaust. Adolf Hitler was their protector.

From the book, Hitlers Edeljude by Brigitte Hamann, this is the story of Dr. Eduard Bloch.

The Jewish doctor from Austria

Bloch was born in the Czech Republic and studied medicine in Prague. He became a medical officer in the Austrian army, and from 1899 to 1901, he was station in Linz, Austria. Eventually, he settled there, raised his family, and became the go-to physician of the community.

Dr. Bloch was as having a noble nature, as he always extended his services to the lower and indigent social classes. He usually visited them to check on their condition, for free. It was no surprise that the Jewish doctor was held in high regard in Linz.

He was known as the “doctor of the poor.”

The Hitlers’ family doctor

Near Linz lived a humble family — the Hitlers.

In 1904, Bloch had his first encounter with the Hitlers when he had to cure a fifteen-year-old fatherless boy with a cold and tonsillitis. The boy recovered, his name was Adolf Hitler. The Hitlers continued to come to Bloch for their health predicaments.

The Hitlers trusted the Jewish doctor, and in March 1907, he had to take care of Adolf’s mother, Klara.

Klara was diagnosed with breast cancer and died on December 21, 1907, after intense suffering which involved daily doses of iodoform, a painful corrosive treatment typically used at that time to treat cancer. Dr. Bloch administered the entire treatment.

Adolf was only eighteen-years-old then, and his family was part of the impoverished class. Consequently, they could not afford expensive medical treatments for his mother.

Despite that, Dr. Bloch was very understanding. He usually charged less, sometimes even not charging his usual fee. And because of this, Adolf swore his “everlasting gratitude” to the Jewish doctor who helped them in their difficult times.

Even after the two had parted ways after Klara’s death, Adolf continued to keep in touch with Bloch by sending him postcards. Some of those were even personally hand-painted by Adolf himself.

“During this period he took time out to send me a penny postcard. On the back was a message: “From Vienna I send you my greetings. Yours, always faithfully, Adolf Hitler.” It was a small thing, yet I appreciated it. I had spent a great deal of time treating the Hitler family and it was nice to know that this effort on my part had not been forgotten.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

Bloch, likewise, also had a particular fondness for the Hitler family. Little did he know that his good deed would soon save his life and that of his entire family.

Nazi-occupied Austria

The First World War was already over. Yet, the growing reputation of the Nazis and their anti-Semitic views were deliberately spreading in Europe, especially in Austria. When the Nazis’ failed coup d’ état occurred on November 8, 1923, in Munich, Bloch couldn’t believe the news that his former patient was the Nazi leader.

“Was it possible, I asked myself, that the man behind these things was the quiet boy I had known — the son of the gentle Klara Hitler?” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

In 1937, Hitler invited some Austrians (Nazis’ supporters) to his home in Berchtesgaden. He asked them how the Austrian people perceived him, thus, if the Nazis had a massive following in the country, particularly, in Linz. Eventually, he asked them about Dr. Bloch.

“He [Adolf Hitler] asked for news of me. Was I still alive, still practicing? Then he made a statement irritating to the local Nazis. “Dr. Bloch,” said Hitler, “is an Edeljude — a noble Jew. If all Jews were like him, there would be no Jewish question.” It was strange, and in a way flattering, that Adolf Hitler could see good in at least one member of my race.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

For a while, Bloch thought what was happening in Germany had no direct effect on Austria. However, after a year, in 1938, Austria became a Nazi territory. Like the Jewish community in Germany, the Austrian Jews began to suffer legal and physical persecution.

The untouchable Blochs

Adolf’s postcards and gifts became a source of protection for the Bloch family when the Gestapo (Nazi secret police) paid a surprise visit to their home.

Although the police confiscated the postcards and other gifts from Hitler for safekeeping still, in Linz, the Blochs were untouched. Additionally, their assets were not seized, which was an odd treatment for a Jewish family.

It only further shows that the Gestapo was mandated not to harm the Blochs.

“If my relations with the Gestapo were not precisely cordial, I at least didn’t suffer at their hands as did so many others. I was told on good authority, and I can well believe it, that the bureau in Linz had received special instructions from the chancellery in Berlin that I was to be accorded any reasonable favor.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

They were also spared from wearing the “Yellow Star” badge. Jews throughout Nazi-occupied Europe were forced to wear a badge in the form of a Yellow Star as a means of identification.

“The first suggestion that I was to receive special favors came one day when the local Gestapo telephoned. I was to remove the yellow signs from my office and home. Then a second thing happened: My landlord, an Aryan, went to Gestapo headquarters to ask if I were to be allowed to remain in my apartment. “We wouldn’t dare touch that matter,” he was told. “It will be handled by Berlin.” Hitler, apparently, had remembered.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

Compared to other Jews, the Blochs were also allowed to keep their passports. Hence, their ration cards were distinct from the rest.

“I don’t believe that another Jew in all Austria was allowed to keep his passport. [There was] no J stamped on my ration card, once food became scarce, this was most helpful because Jews today are allowed to shop only during restricted hours which are often inconvenient. Without the J on my card I could buy at any time. I was even given a ration card for clothes — something generally denied Jews.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

However, one incident made Bloch doubt if they really had a “special status.” It was when his son-in-law, Dr. Franz Kren, was arrested and jailed. But Bloch’s daughter, Gertrude, went to the police and told them he was related to Dr. Eduard Bloch.

She was treated rudely by the police then, but her visit must have had some effect because Franz was released within three weeks. This only proved that their family, compared to other Jews, was approached more justly.

Seeking Adolf’s assistance

As the days go by, life in Austria became more difficult for the Jews. It was also challenging for Bloch, as all Jewish medical practitioners, including him, were only allowed to treat their compatriots. Eventually, he had to stop practicing medicine too.

On November 10th, 1938, the Nazis issued that all Jews should leave Linz within forty-eight hours. They were mandated to transfer to Vienna. All Jews had to sell their properties, pack, and depart in the span of two days.

So, Bloch called the police if they had to leave as well.

“I called at the Gestapo. Was I to leave? I was informed that an exception had been made in my case. I could remain. My daughter and her husband? Since they had already signified their intention of emigrating to America, they also could stay. But they would have to vacate their house. If there was room in my apartment they would be permitted to move there.” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

Consequently, Bloch and his wife decided to join their daughter and her husband on their migration to the United States. So, he wrote a letter to Hitler, hoping that he might extend them a special favor for the last time — a smooth and safe departure from Linz.

Bloch’s letter was coursed through Hitler’s younger sister, Paula, who was then living in Vienna. Unsurprisingly, Bloch’s wish was granted.

Sailing to New York

Before they left Austria, Bloch sold their home at a market price, which was highly unusual for a Jew. At that time, Aryanization was already implemented. It was the government’s mandate to transfer all Jewish-owned properties to non-Jews in Nazi Germany.

Fortunately for Bloch, his long-time friendship with Hitler saved him from the agony of Aryanization. Thus, his entire family managed to carry pocket money on their journey to America.

“When it finally became my turn to leave Linz for America I knew that it would be impossible for me to take my savings with me. But the Gestapo had one more favor for me. I was to be allowed to take sixteen Reichsmarks (former Germany’s currency) from the country instead of the customary ten!” — Dr. Eduard Bloch

Before the family’s departure, the Nazi organization of physicians gave Bloch a letter, recognizing his medical excellence and contribution to the community. An official also suggested that he should write to Adolf Hilter to express his gratitude.

Bloch did what was told of him, but he had no further knowledge if Hitler even received it.

Your Excellency:
Before passing the border I want to express my thanks for the protection which I have received. In material poverty I am now leaving the town where I have lived for forty-one years; but I leave conscious of having lived in the most exact fulfillment of my duty. At sixty-nine I will start my life anew in a strange country where my daughter is working hard to support her family.
Yours faithfully.
Eduard Bloch

By November 1940, Eduard Bloch and his entire family sailed their way to New York and settled in the Bronx.

Bloch’s memories of Adolf

In 1941, Collier’s Magazine, one of the most influential and widely-read periodicals in the United States, published Bloch’s two-parts essay, “My Patient, Hitler.” In this work, he narrated his association with the notorious dictator, Adolf Hitler. Yet, in his words, he portrayed him as the young boy he used to know, the one who loved his mother so much:

“Outwardly, his love for his mother was his most striking feature. While he was not a “mother’s boy” in the usual sense, I have never witnessed a closer attachment… Klara Hitler adored her son, the youngest of the family. She allowed him his own way wherever possible. His father had insisted that he become an official. He rebelled and won his mother to his side. He soon tired of school, so his mother allowed him to drop his studies.”

Bloch also said that growing up, Hitler had a hard life in Vienna after his mother’s death. He hated the situation he was in, being a laborer and residing in a cheap hostel, surrounded by the large city’s human dregs.

“Hitler says, “I became dissatisfied with myself for the first time in my life.” This dissatisfaction with himself was followed by dissatisfaction with everything about him — and the desire to alter things to his own liking. The vitriol of hate began to creep through his body. The grim realities of the life he lived encouraged him to hate the government, labor unions, the very men he lived with. But he had not yet begun to hate the Jews.” — Eduard Bloch

In 1945, Bloch died because of stomach cancer. This was barely a month after Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker.

When Bloch’s essay was published in 1941, it created a stir and became too controversial. Some interpreted that his “failed” treatment of Klara Hitler may have caused Adolf’s wrath against the Jews.

However, many historians contested these speculations. As based on several records, Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitism was developed much later, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War.

Nevertheless, Dr. Eduard Bloch’s accounts cast a different outlook on the Nazi leader’s evil persona.

In his version of events, the Jewish doctor sheds a human perspective on history’s most diabolical monster: Adolf Hitler.

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I am a PR officer and a professional journalist with a master's degree in international development. I write history, geopolitics, food, and culture. Since I am a member of the API community, I make sure to highlight our stories to promote diversity and create awareness for cultural understanding.

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