Several years ago an article was published and widely circulated that pushed the idea that Adolf Hitler, the brutal dictator and murderer, had Jewish ancestry. This misinformation is still circulated on the Internet, and thus this article has been penned to refute the lie.|
DNA is the carrier of our genetic information, and is passed down from generation to generation. All of the cells in our bodies, except red blood cells, contain a copy of our DNA.
The Y chromosome is transmitted from father to son. Thus, if you're a male and take a Y-DNA test, it will measure your father's ancestral origins tracing back to our most recent common ancestor Y-chromosomal Adam -- the name given by researchers to the patrilineal most recent common ancestor of all living humans.
In simple terms, Y-DNA is the measurement of the origins of the father's, father's, father's, etc. of the individual who took the Y-DNA test. In the widely circulated study from Jean-Paul Mulders and Marc Vermeeren, Y-DNA tests were taken from several of Hitler's distant relatives to determine their father's ancestry.
Hitler's father is widely viewed to be Johann Georg Hiedler. His mother's line was never tested for the DNA studies that concluded he was of Jewish origin.
Johann Georg Hiedler's parents were Stefan Hiedler (1762-1829) and Anna Maria Goeschl (1760-1854). In 1842, Johann Hiedler married Maria Anna Schicklgruber and became the legal stepfather to her illegitimate five-year-old son, Alois Hitler.
In 2010, Jean-Paul Mulders and Marc Vermeeren used samples from Adolf Hitler's distant relatives to try to trace the Hitler family's haplogroup. This means they tried to find the Y-DNA of the family, a common practice among those trying to find the ancestral roots of someone.
Mulders and Vermeeren concluded that Hitler's haplogroup is E1b1b (Y-DNA). This haplogroup originated in East Africa about 22,400 years ago.
It is unclear who was tested to form this conclusion. Presumably it was someone who was connected to the Hiedler/Hitler family. Hitler's closest living relatives were also not tested in this genetic testing sequence by these researchers.
Finally, it is unclear who his father was, so determining that the family was in fact of Jewish origin seems like quite a stretch. The Y-DNA does no such thing. It determined that the Y-DNA of the relative tested by the researchers was e1b1b.
Even if Hitler's relative was legitimate and this determined Hitler's Y-DNA (which has not been proven by the researchers or anyone else), having e1b1b1 Y-DNA does not confirm that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
Many different types of people have the Y-DNA e1b1b1: "Haplogroup E is abundant in all regions in Africa and in some populations it makes up nearly 100% of the Y-DNA. It is a highly diversified haplogroup with many subclades that have unique histories and distributions, including regions outside of Africa in nearby Asia and Europe" (source: Genebase).
Finally, there are many different sub-clades of e1b1b. Concludes researcher Razib Khan, "Even within Europe most men who carry this set of markers are not Ashkenazi Jews." Khan suggests that they test Alexander, a surviving great-nephew of Hitler. This would be wise, as it is unclear which distant relatives of Hitler were tested.
The fact that this study from Jean-Paul Mulders and Marc Vermeeren is widely believed without significant data on who they tested and how those people related to Hitler shows that the public has very little understanding of Y-DNA testing. The results of such a test would vary greatly depending on who was tested and their closeness in relation to Hitler.