Eduard Bloch

Eduard Bloch

Dr. Eduard Bloch (1872 in Frauenburg, East Prussia (now Frombork, Poland) – 1945 in New York City, USA) was a doctor practicing in Linz (Austria). He was a Jew and until 1907 the doctor of the family of Adolf Hitler, who, out of gratitude, later gave Bloch special protection after the Nazi occupation of Austria.

Bloch studied medicine in Prague and then served as an army doctor in the Austrian army. In 1899 he was stationed in Linz and opened a private doctor's practice there in 1901 after his discharge. In 1901, he opened his office in the baroque house at 12 Landstrasse, where he also lived with his family: his wife, Emilie (née Kafka) and their daughter Trude, born in 1903. According to Linz's future mayor Ernst Koref, Bloch was held in high regard, particularly among the lower and indigent social classes. It was generally known that at any time at night he was willing to call on patients. He used to go on visits in his hansom, wearing a conspicuously broad brimmed hat. Like most Jews in Linz at the time, the Bloch family were assimilated Jews.

The first member of Hitler's family he was to see was Adolf's father Alois Hitler in 1903. Alois died shortly afterwards. In 1904, Adolf had become seriously ill and was bedridden due to a serious lung ailment. Due to this, he was allowed to abandon his school career and return home. However, after checking Hitler's files Bloch later maintained that he had treated the youth for only minor ailments, cold, or tonsilitis and that Hitler had been neither robust nor sickly. He also stated that Hitler did not have any illness whatsoever, let alone a lung disease.

In 1907 Hitler's mother, Klara Hitler was diagnosed with breast cancer. She died on December 21st after intense suffering that required daily medication usually given by Bloch. Because of the poor economic situation of the Hitler family at that time, Bloch had been working for reduced prices, sometimes taking no money at all. The then 18 year old Hitler granted him his "everlasting gratitude" for this ("Ich werde Ihnen ewig dankbar sein"). This showed in 1908 when Hitler wrote Bloch a postcard assuring him of his gratitude. Young Hitler expressed his gratitude and reverance to Bloch with handmade gifts, for example, a large wall painting which according to Bloch's daughter Trude Kren was lost in the course of time. Even in 1937 he inquired about his well-being and called him an "Edeljude" (noble Jew).

Bloch also apparently had a special fondness for the Hitler family which was to serve him well in the future. After Hitler's Third Reich had "merged" with Austria in 1938 life became hard for the Austrian Jews . Bloch's medical practise was closed on October 1, 1938. His daughter and son-in-law, Bloch's young colleague Dr.Franz Kren, fled overseas.

The sixty year old Bloch wrote a letter to Hitler asking for help and was as a consequence put under special protection by the Gestapo. He was the only Jew in Linz with this status. Bloch stayed in his house with his wife undisturbed until the formalities for his emigration to the United States were completed. Without any interference from the authorities, they sold their house for a large sum and were allowed the unusual privilege of keeping their money.

In 1940 he emigrated and lived in the Bronx, New York City but no longer practiced medicine because his medical degree was not recognized there. He continued to live there until his death at the age of seventy three in 1945.

In 1941 and 1943 he was interviewed by the Office of Strategic Services (a predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency) to get information about Hitler's childhood.

He also published his memories about the encounter with the later "Führer" in the Collier's Weekly in which he painted a remarkably positive picture of young Hitler, saying that he was neither a ruffian nor untidy nor fresh: "This simply is not true. As a youth he was quiet, well mannered and neatly dressed. He had patiently waited in the waiting room until it was his turn, then like every fourteen or fifteen year old boy, made a bow, and always thanked the doctor politely. Like the other boys in Linz, he had worn short lederhosen and a green woolen hat with a feather. He had been tall and pale and looked older than he was. His eyes which were inherited from his mother were large, melancholy and thoughtful. To a very large extent, this boy lived within himself. What dreams he dreamed I do not know."

He also said that Hitler's most striking feature was his love for his mother: "While Hitler was not a mothers boy in the usual sense, I have never witnessed a closer attachment. This love had been mutual. Klara Hitler adored her son. She allowed him his own way whenever possible. For example, she admired his watercolor paintings and drawings and supported his artistic ambitions in opposition to his father at what cost to herself one may guess". However, Bloch expressly denies the claim that Hitler's love for his mother was pathological.

In his memory Hitler was the "saddest man I had ever seen" when he was informed about his mother's imminent death. He remembered Klara Hitler, Hitler's mother as a very "pious and kind" woman. "Sie würde sich im Grabe herumdrehen, wenn sie wüsste, was aus ihm geworden ist." ("She would turn in her grave if she knew what became of him.") According to Bloch, after Hitler's father's death the family's financial resources were scarce. He mentions that Klara Hitler had not even indulged in the smallest extravagance and lived frugally.

Despite the obvious affection Hitler showed to Bloch, the historian Rudolph Binion believes that he was one of the contributing factors to Hitler's antisemitism that later resulted in the Holocaust.

Among the acquaintances of Bloch was also Hedda Wagner, an author and supporter of women's rights, who wrote a book dedicated to him.

References

Sources

  • Eduard Bloch: My Patient Hitler. In: Collier’s Weekly, March 15. and 22. 1941.
  • Eduard Bloch: The Autobiography of Obermedizinalrat Eduard Bloch. In: J. A. S. Grenville and Raphael Gross (Eds.): The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, XLVII (2002)
  • Office of Strategic Services, Hitler Source Book, Interview With Dr. Eduard Bloch March 5, 1943
  • Hamann, Brigitte Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship . Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0195140532

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