Adolf Hitler’s father was called Alois. And he was known as Alois “Schicklgruber” for the first forty years of his life. That was the maiden name of his mother, since his father Johann Hiedler, a miller, never legitimized Alois as his own son. In fact he had abandoned him aged ten when his mother Maria Ann Schicklgruber passed away. Then thirty years later, Johann turned up aged eighty four to claim Alois. For some reason his name had modified slightly to “Hitler”. Historians speculate that Alois, out of guilt, wanted to help his son gain a share of an inheritance from an uncle.
In any case, the story continues thusly in William Shirer’s classic work, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:
There are many weird twists of fate in the strange life of Adolf Hitler, but none more odd than this one which took place thirteen years before his birth. Had the eight-four-year-old wandering miller not made his unexpected reappearance to recognize the paternity of his thirty-nine-year-old son nearly thirty years after he death of his mother, Adolf Hitler would have been born Adolf Schicklgruber.
There may not be much or anything in a name, but I have heard Germans speculate whether Hitler could have become the master of Germany had he been known to the world as Schicklgruber. It has a slightly comic sound as it rolls off the tongue of a South German. Can one imagine the frenzied German masses acclaiming a Schicklgruber with their thunderous “Heils”? “Heil Schicklgruber!”? Not only “Heil Hitler” used as a Wagnerian, pagan-like chant by the multitude in the mystic pageantry of the massive Nazi rallies, but it became the obligatory form of greeting between Germans during the Third Reich, even on the telephone, where it replaced “Hello.”