timesonline.co.uk/December 13, 2007
She was the English aristocrat who became so enamoured with Hitler that she shot herself in the head at the outbreak of war.
Unity Mitford, the daughter of Lord Redesdale, had been so entwined in the Führer’s inner circle that British secret services described her as “more Nazi than the Nazis”. But could this cousin of Winston Churchill have been closer to Hitler than anyone suspected?
An article published today raises the possibility that Mitford, who survived her suicide attempt, may have given birth to his child.
If the theory that this baby was born in a tiny Cotswolds village and rapidly adopted were true, Hitler’s child could be living somewhere in Britain today.
Unity Mitford was one of six well known – and somewhat politically diverse – sisters who included Diana, the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, and Jessica, a committed communist.
She first went to Germany in the early 1930s, when the Nazis were on the rise, and the young woman was so overwhelmed by a visit to the Nuremberg rallies that she became determined to meet Hitler. This she managed in spectacular style, ingratiating herself to the point where he described her to friends as “a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood”.
When her homeland declared war on the Third Reich in September 1939, Mitford was so devastated that, in the English Garden in Munich, she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled pistol.
She suffered serious brain damage and returned to Britain via Switzerland. As the history books tell it, Mitford then lived as an invalid with her mother in the Cotswolds until her death, at the age of 33, in 1948.
Martin Bright, writing in the New Statesman, describes a phone call he received from a woman called Val Hann that suggested there could be more to it: “She explained that her aunt Betty Norton had run a maternity home to the gentry in Oxfordshire during the war and that Unity Mitford had been one of her clients.
When asked who the father of this child might be, Ms Hann paused before replying: “Well, she always said it was Hitler’s.”
Sceptical but intrigued, Mr Bright visited Wigginton, where he looked around the aunt’s former business, at Hill View Cottage, and met a woman called Audrey Smith.
Unsurprisingly, Mitford’s surviving sister, the Duchess of Devonshire, was unimpressed by Mr Bright’s investigations.
But a file on Mitford at the National Archives indicated that she may not have been such an invalid. Mr Bright notes:
The married Mr Andrews was apparently transferred to the north of Scotland and died in 1945, leaving no further clues about Mitford. A trawl of the Oxfordshire register office
Mr Bright, who remains deeply sceptical about the possibility of a Hitler Jr, has thrown in the towel.
The makers of a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary, Hitler’s British Girl, examined theories surrounding Mitford’s notorious life and concluded that there was very little evidence that she was pregnant or ever had a sexual relationship with Hitler.
Whereas some might consider the idea of her giving birth to the Führer’s only offspring to be a harmless and intriguing tale, Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, thinks differently. “Unity Mitford’s relationship with Hitler was basically political,” he said. “She was a hard-line Nazi and a rabid racist and antiSemite, and I’m worried that gossip about her personal life might take attention away from these facts.”
— The Mitford children had a private language called “Boudledidge”
— Several heads of the Mitford family served as High Sheriff of Northumberland
— Unity wrote a letter to the antiSemitic paper Der Stürmer in 1935 that read:
— Jessica, Unity’s sister, was often in conflict with her, as she was a supporter of Communism and eloped with her cousin to fight with the Reds in the Spanish Civil War
— Deborah Mitford married Harold Macmillan’s nephew, later the Duke of Devonshire. Jessica married Winston Churchill’s nephew. Nancy was related to President John F. Kennedy by marriage. Diana married Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, in secret in 1936, in Joseph Goebbels’s home in Berlin
— Jessica’s book Hons and Rebels is cited by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, as being one of her greatest influences
— British rockers The Indelicates have a song titled Unity Mitford about her apparently romantic feelings towards Hitler