This meme is full of outright lies, factual contortions, and unsupported speculation. In other words, it’s perfect for Stupid Bad Memes.
Let’s start with the United States Federal Reserve System, also known as the Fed. The U.S. Fed is the central bank of the United States. It was created in 1913 as part of the Federal Reserve Act. While the Fed’s responsibilities have evolved over time, its basic function has always been to provide a measure of stability to the United States economy. (Obviously it has been more successful at some times than at others.) The Fed monitors and controls the supply of money, supervises and regulates the nation’s banks, and ostensibly keeps a thumb on interest rates and prices, all in the service of protecting the financial interests of Americans.
It should come as no surprise that an institution neck-deep in America’s finances has become the subject of numerous conspiracy theories. Some of the most impressively bizarre and convoluted theories ever devised focus on the shadowy organizations allegedly controlling the United States Federal Reserve, including the Illuminati, the New World Order, and, of course, the Jews. All of these conspiracy theories play on a common fear: that our wealth is not really under our control; instead, back-stage deals between (usually foreign) billionaires are subverting our hard-won paychecks to their nefarious purposes. And what purposes might those be? Why, nothing less grandiose than the control of the entire world’s financial system, and all the politics money can buy.
I’ll admit: these theories do have a certain paranoid appeal. After all, how many of us really understand the intricate workings of upper-level finance management in the United States? How many of us are privy to the goings-on that decide the value of our money, or who can and cannot control it? Just as a dark room or a bump in the night inspire us to conjure images of ghosts, the apparent opacity and complexity of our nation’s highest tier of financial control cause us to dream of sinister puppeteers that run the entire show. I understand the appeal of these theories, but the rational mind must not allow itself to be seduced by them. At some point we must resort to critical thinking. Our judgments must be based on evidence.
Before we examine that evidence, let’s take a look at the Rothschild family. The Rothschilds (Rothschildren?) are the descendants of Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a German Jew who opened a bank in the 1760s in the Free City of Frankfurt. He did quite well for himself and bequeathed his wealth to his fives sons, who spread the family business and established the seeds of a dynasty. At the height of their influence, the Rothschilds were a formidable economic force. During the 19th century, they possessed one of the world’s largest private fortunes, and several members of the Rothschild clan held positions of nobility in the governments of Europe. Today, the Rothschilds’ fortune and influence have dwindled somewhat, the family’s wealth having been divided among hundreds of descendants; even so, they are not hurting for money.
The idea that the Rothschild family controls the United States Federal Reserve probably stems from the work of authors Gary Kah and Eustace Mullins. According to Kah, the U.S. Fed is directly owned and operated by foreign interests, including the Rothschild Banks of London and Berlin. Kah alleges that the Rothschild banks – and other Jewish-owned foreign financial institutions – are “Class A shareholders” of the New York branch of the U.S. Fed. Never mind that the U.S. Fed does not have “Class A shareholders”; its stocks are classified as member stocks or public stocks. Also, in order to believe this, you’d have to ignore legislation incorporated into the formation of the Fed which specifies that only American banks can be shareholders.
Mullins (who passed away in 2010) claimed that the New York branch was 63% owned by a cohort of eight American banks, which were in turn owned by foreign interests. Chief among these foreign controllers, according to Mullins, is the London House of Rothschild. Mullins’s claims are slightly more plausible than Kah’s, in that they do not require an overt violation of the laws that were created to govern the Fed, but they still lack evidential support.
Both men’s sources are elusive. Mullins claimed that the Federal Reserve Bulletin listed the Rothschilds as share owners, but that simply isn’t true. The Federal Reserve Bulletin has never published a list of shareholders for any of the Federal Reserve Banks (there are twelve altogether). Gary Kah’s sources are unnamed Swiss and Saudi associates.
Mullins’s and Kah’s assertions both hinge on the idea that the entire U.S. Fed can be manipulated via its New York branch. According to an article published by Policital Research Associates, that isn’t true either. Each branch of the Fed answers directly to the federal government, with no branch having more control than any of its siblings. Also contrary to the claims of Mullins and Kah, any profit generated by the U.S. Fed devolves directly to the United States Government, and not to foreign organizations.
Whatever influence the Rothschild family has in the United States, they do not own or control the U.S. Fed; ergo, the second sentence of this meme is entirely false. It should therefore be of no concern to the average American citizen (or to anybody else, really) whether Adolf Hitler was a Rothschild descendant.
But just for the sake of thoroughness…was Adolf Hitler a Rothschild descendant?
There’s no good evidence to suggest that he was. Here’s what the meme does get right: Adolf was the son of Alois Hitler, né Schicklgruber, who was the illegitimate son of Maria Schicklgruber and…somebody. The identity of Alois Hitler’s biological father is not known, although speculations are rampant. Among the more believable hypotheses is that Alois’s father was Johann Georg Hiedler, the man who would later marry Maria Schicklgruber and raise Alois. In an 1876 testimony before a notary and three witnesses, Alois claimed that Johann was his father and officially claimed the surname Hiedler, which was probably regularized to Hitler by a clerk.
It’s also possible that Alois’s father was Johann Nepomuk Hüttler, brother to Johann Georg Hiedler, and Adolf’s maternal great grandfather (It gets complicated, okay?). Since Alois’s birth certificate is mute vis à vis his biological father, we may never know for certain.
It seems unlikely, however, that Alois’s father was one of Maria’s Jewish employers. The legend of Maria’s employment in a Jewish household arises from the testimony of Hans Frank, Adolf Hitler’s private lawyer. According to Frank, Adolf Hitler asked him to research Hitler’s genealogy in the 1930’s, following an alleged blackmail letter from one of Hitler’s relatives. Frank claims to have turned up evidence that Maria Schicklgruber, Adolf’s paternal grandmother, was employed at the time of her pregnancy by a Jewish household in Graz named Frankenberger. Allegedly, 19-year-old Leopold Frankengruber was the one who impregnated 42-year-old Maria Schicklgruber, and Alois was the result.
Historians largely discount Frank’s account of Hitler’s paternal heritage, largely because it doesn’t fit with facts. Maria Schicklgruber never lived in Graz, and even if she had, the Jews had been expelled from Graz since the 15th century and would not be allowed to return until Alois was nearly 30 years old. The story presented by Hans Frank is therefore quite improbable.
At no point did Hans Frank draw a connection between Maria Schicklgruber and the Rothschild family. The Hitler-Rothschild connection is purported to have started with an Office of Strategic Services psychological evaluation of Adolf Hitler – one aimed to smear Hitler, if you believe the modern Hitler supporters. (In general, I don’t, but I agree that the evidence for a Hitler-Rothschild connection is flimsy at best.)
So let’s summarize all the ways in which this meme goes wrong:
- There is no good evidence that Adolf Hitler is part of the Rothschild legacy.
- There is no good evidence that the Rothschild family controls or owns the U.S. Fed.
- In fact, the U.S. Fed was set up specifically to prevent dabbling by outside interests.
- There’s no good evidence that Alois Hitler was Lionel Rothschild’s son.
- And even if he was Lionel Rothschild’s son, he was never claimed by Rothschild.
- Hitler was not Alois’s mother-in-law’s maiden name; it was the surname of his adoptive (and possibly biological) father.
- Alois did not adopt the name Hiedler (or Hitler) until he was fully grown, and after his mother had already died. By that point, his illegitimacy was no secret.
- Evelyn de Rothschild does not control the United States.
- I sincerely hope that none of our elected officials believe this tripe. (Although considering some of the other things they seem to believe, it wouldn’t surprise me.)
It took a good deal of research to write this post, and that meant reading a lot of conflicting opinions. The difficult part about researching a controversial topic is that you must always be mindful of an author’s agenda. That’s hard work, I admit. It’s much easier to just take the word of a meme, particularly when that meme sort of confirms something you already believe, but come on, conspiracy theorists…it’s time to wake up.
- What is the purpose of the Federal Reserve System?
- Who owns and controls the Federal Reserve?
- Come on, though…it’s really the Jews, right? Nope.
- The Wikipedia page for Alois Hitler.
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (note the conspicuous lack of any Rothschilds.)
- The Straight Dope: Was Hitler Part Jewish?