- Philippe Loret, 56, was told he is a descendent of Adolf Hitler 40 years ago
- His late father, Jean-Marie Loret, is said to have been Hitler’s secret lovechild after he was conceived in France during the First World War
By ABUL TAHER and DAVID BARNES
PUBLISHED: 16:00 EST, 7 April 2012 | UPDATED: 18:20 EST, 7 April 2012
Philippe Loret and his six siblings were sitting around the dining room table chatting about everyday things when their father, Jean-Marie, broke the news.
‘Suddenly my father said, “Kids, I’ve got something to tell you. Your grandfather is Adolf Hitler,” ’ explains Philippe. ‘There was stunned silence as no one knew what to say. We didn’t know how to react.’
That was 40 years ago, yet there is a sense that Philippe, 56, still doesn’t know how to react. He has never spoken out about that conversation or the fact he may be the grandson of the most infamous dictator in history. A former plumber for the French air force, he has kept it a secret from all but his closest friends, never telling his colleagues or even his partner’s family.
This is the first time Philippe has talked publicly about his ancestry and he has agreed to do so only in the light of new evidence backing up his father’s story.
Last month Alan Wilkes, the son of Royal Engineer Leonard Wilkes, one of the first soldiers to land on the Normandy beaches on D-Day, released an entry from his father’s diary that appeared to corroborate Jean-Marie’s assertion that he was Hitler’s illegitimate son.
On September 30, 1944, Leonard wrote: ‘An interesting day today. Visited the house where Hitler stayed as a corporal in the last war, saw the woman who had a baby by him and she told us that the baby, a son, was now fighting in the French army against the Germans.’
Mr Wilkes came forward after reading new information that adds weight to Jean-Marie’s belief he was conceived during a brief relationship between his French mother, Charlotte Lobjoie, and Hitler, a young German corporal fighting in northern France in the summer of 1917.
The story of Hitler’s secret lovechild has divided historians for decades. Jean-Marie died in 1985, aged 67, but two months ago, in Paris’s Le Point magazine, his lawyer, Francois Gibault, revealed compelling evidence to support his claims.
Tests prove Jean-Marie had the same blood type as Hitler and similar handwriting. Hitler had no official children and never acknowledged or met Jean-Marie. But German army papers show that officers took envelopes of cash to Charlotte during the Second World War. When she died, Jean-Marie found paintings in her attic signed by Hitler, while in Germany a picture of a woman painted by Hitler looked exactly like Charlotte.
Most striking of all, however, was the astonishing resemblance… a resemblance that Philippe undoubtedly shares. It is there in the familiar dimpled chin, the square jaw and piercing eyes. Philippe insists he is not proud of his apparent link to Hitler, but admits he is not unhappy about it either.
There is something vaguely unsettling about the way he sweeps his hair into the same side parting and has a moustache, something most people would avoid were they said to be related to Hitler.
And on entering his spacious one-bedroom flat in the sleepy town of Saint-Quentin in Picardy, northern France, one’s eyes are inevitably drawn to two portraits of the Fuhrer on the wall, incongruously placed either side of an oil painting of a vase of flowers.
In all other respects, the flat is cosy, with warm yellow walls and antique furniture. Philippe’s partner, Veronique, 46, a school caretaker, bustles around, chatting and making pots of tea. They met shortly after Philippe’s wife, Rosalyn, died in 1991; they had three children.
Veronique clearly adores Philippe, who is currently off work with a heart condition, and says the fact he may be Hitler’s grandson makes no difference at all. She, like Philippe, believes the claims are true.
For his part, Philippe remains strangely unperturbed by the fact he could be a direct descendant of the man responsible for the death camps and the Holocaust.
Speaking calmly and quietly, while chain-smoking Belgian cigars, Philippe says: ‘I believe I am Hitler’s grandson. Of course I am. The evidence is there. If people don’t believe it, that’s their problem.
‘My father told me. My mother is still alive and also believes it. He is part of my family, that’s why I have him on the wall. Hitler is my family. It’s not my fault that I ended up as his grandson or that all the things happened during the war. What he did has nothing to do with me. He will always be family for me.
‘When I was first told, all I was interested in was girls, and so I didn’t think about it too much. I knew who Hitler was – I studied him at school – but I did not tell any of my school friends. My private life had nothing to do with them.
‘I married Rosalyn in 1977 when she was 19 and I was 21. She did not want to accept it at first, but then she became used to it. Veronique first found it difficult to accept too, but she does not mind it because she loves me.’
In contrast to Philippe’s sanguine approach – he has read more than 40 books on Hitler, met the daughter of Himmler and claims to have spoken to one of the dictator’s mistresses – Jean-Marie struggled with the knowledge left to him by his mother.
Philippe says: ‘By the time my father told us about Hitler being his father, he was proud of being Hitler’s son. He had trouble accepting it at first. He didn’t like this fact, but gradually he came to terms with it.’
In 1981 Jean-Marie wrote a book, Your Father’s Name Was Hitler, in which he recounted the story his mother had told him when he was in his 20s. Charlotte said he had been conceived during a ‘tipsy’ evening with Hitler in June 1917.
She said she had enjoyed a brief relationship with the Fuhrer when he was on leave in the town of Fournes-in-Weppe near Lille. It was an unlikely match. She was 16, Hitler was 28; he couldn’t speak French, she couldn’t speak German.
The couple would go walking but Charlotte told Jean-Marie: ‘These walks usually ended badly. In fact, your father, inspired by nature, launched into speeches which I did not really understand. He did not speak French, but ranted in German, talking to an imaginary audience.’
Love mystery: Charlotte Lobjoie (left) and a painting said to be of her by a young Hitler (right)
Philippe says: ‘My father told me the relationship lasted for only a few months. Hitler came under gas attack and went back to Germany to recover. He came back again for a few months and left again for Germany, and she never saw him again.
‘My father said Hitler was a good lover and was gentle with my grandmother. But apparently he was a jealous person and did not like other men giving her the eye. As far as I know he never had any sexual perversions – I don’t want to make him more than the monster he is.’
According to Philippe, Hitler painted Charlotte and he has a copy of a picture believed to be her. Published here for the first time, it shows her in the hayfields with a scarf over her head to protect her from the sun and a pitchfork in her hand. The painting has a signature, said to be that of Hitler, with the date 1916 below it. It was once owned by an art collector in the Belgian city of Ypres but has now been sold to another private collector.
Jean-Marie was born on March 25, 1918, in Seboncourt, 12 miles north of St Quentin. The shame of having an illegitimate son drove Charlotte away and she left for Paris, abandoning her newborn son to her parents. A birth certificate for Jean-Marie Loret records him as the ‘natural son’ of Miss Lobjoie.
‘I don’t think evil passes on. What he did has nothing to do with me’
According to Philippe, his father had an unhappy childhood; his grandfather often beat him, partly for being illegitimate. But he claims Hitler became aware of his son and made plans to look after him. At the age of eight, after his grandmother died, Jean-Marie was adopted by a local wealthy family called the Frizons, who were devout Catholics.
Philippe says: ‘This adoption was arranged by a local nun called Sister Theodosie, who knew Hitler. Apparently, she did this at Hitler’s request.’ According to Jean-Marie’s autobiography, Sister Marie Theodosie was a German nun who ran a clinic in St Quentin where Charlotte gave birth.
It is not known how Sister Theodosie knew Hitler but shortly after the Frizons took Jean-Marie in, the head of the family, Fernand Frizon, visited Frankfurt where he somehow managed to become the owner of a large building without paying any money for it. A year later, Mr Frizon sold the building and used the money to pay for Jean-Marie’s education.
Although Charlotte gave up her son for adoption, Philippe says they were reunited in Paris during the occupation of France, which began in May 1940. He also says German officers tracked her down to her address in Paris and used to hand her money.
Philippe says: ‘My father was re-acquainted with his mother by German officers during the Occupation. He even spent a week living with her at her apartment. That’s when she told him his father was Hitler, not on her death-bed as some have reported.
‘My father told me he heard from his mother how German soldiers used to bring her money on a regular basis. It didn’t help her to become rich, but she lived on it.’
Charlotte died in 1951 and Jean-Marie spent the next 20 years denying the secret she had left him with. In 1954 he divorced his wife Jacqueline, whom he had met in 1940. The couple had three children. Within months he married 19-year-old Muguette Dubecq, Philippe’s mother. The couple moved to Provins, a town west of Paris, where Jean-Marie worked in a glass manufacturing company. They would go on to have five daughters and two sons.
Philippe says: ‘Growing up I knew that my grandparents had died but I always thought they were French. I always thought that I was French. Every now and then at home, I would hear my father say how the Germans were far more disciplined than the French, but that was it.’
Philippe trained as a plumber and worked at a French air base, Cazaux, near Bordeaux, for 34 years. He and his wife Rosalyn had two sons and a daughter and he now has six grandchildren. Although he claims his children do not mind the connection to Hitler, they have not told their own children.
Philippe says: ‘They have not been told that their great-great-grandfather was Hitler. We don’t want them picked on at school. Some people find it difficult. My partner Veronique kept it a secret from her father for as long as he was alive, because he was born in 1938, and he grew up malnourished and was ill all his life as a result of the Second World War.
‘He would not have accepted her daughter’s partner being related to Hitler. Veronique’s mother now knows about me being Hitler’s grandson but does not accept it. She does not talk about it.’
Philippe does not believe in the concept of an evil gene and is not worried about the future of his children or his grandchildren. He says: ‘No, it has not had an effect on me. I don’t think evil passes on. Of course qualities from your parents pass on to you, but you build your own life and you make it what it is.
‘I’ve been a law-abiding French citizen all my life. I learned that from my family. I am not a bad person, and what he did had nothing to do with me. It was another time. We weren’t there when all this happened. Maybe the people around him manipulated him to do all the nasty things. Maybe he was not even aware that such nasty things were happening.
‘I started to read Mein Kampf but gave up. It was too complicated’
‘What Hitler did to the Jews was wrong. But some of the things Hitler did were admirable – he brought Germany back from collapse after the Treaty of Versailles. He built the country up with roads and highways.’
Philippe says he is apolitical yet he clearly retains a fascination with Hitler and the Nazis. He says: ‘I read Mein Kampf but gave up after a few pages. It was too complicated. But on its philosophy, I don’t agree.
‘When we were growing up, we never discussed politics in our house. I’ve always voted but I won’t say who I vote for. I would now say that my politics is slightly right of centre, but not extreme right.’
After his father died in 1985, Philippe travelled to Munich and met the daughter of Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS who co-ordinated the extermination of the Jews. He will not name the daughter but it is believed to be Gudrun Burwitz, now 81.
He says: ‘She believed I was Hitler’s grandson, because she had heard of him having a French son living in France from her own circle. This means that his inner circle knew about him having a secret son.’
Philippe also claims he met one of Hitler’s mistresses on the same trip. Historians have always believed the Fuhrer had only two mistresses, Eva Braun and Geli Raubal. Raubal died in 1931 and Braun died with Hitler in his bunker at the end of the war.
If Philippe is correct it means there was a third mistress whom no one knew about and who lived at least until the mid Eighties. Philippe says they met in Berchtesgaden, 100 miles south-east of Munich, and were introduced through Himmler’s daughter.
He says: ‘Historians are wrong, they don’t know everything. Hitler had more than two mistresses. The woman I met was Hitler’s mistress. I won’t name her as she has left behind a son, not Hitler’s, but for his sake I won’t identify her. But she told me that Hitler was a gentle lover and a good lover, just like my grandmother said.’
It is a strange way to talk about the man who perpetrated such evil, but Philippe says: ‘My father did not need to defend him. He was proud of being Hitler’s son.’
A pride, it would seem, shared by Philippe, despite his claims to the contrary.