By Amy Willis
Newspaper clippings have emerged detailing how a child – who experts believe was Adolf Hitler – was rescued from a river in Passau, Germany, in January 1894.
The infant is not named in the article, which was uncovered in a German archive, but it matches a story recounted by priest Max Tremmel in 1980. He said his predecessor Johann Kuehberger told him he had rescued Hitler when the Nazi leader was a child. Residents of Passau, where Hitler grew up, also claimed the priest’s story was true.
The account of the incident remained uncorroborated until recently when the article emerged.
The Donauzeitung-Danube newspaper described how “a young fellow” was pulled out of the River Passau by a “brave comrade” after he fell through thin ice. The priest is said to have dived into the icy water after spotting the child struggling to stay afloat in the strong current.
Anna Elisabeth Rosmus, a German author who lived in Passau, said the tale was known by most people in the town in book Out of Passau, Leaving a City Hitler Called Home.
“Everyone in Passau knew the story. Some of the other stories told about him were that he never learned to swim and needed glasses,” she wrote. “In 1894, while playing tag with a group of other children, the way many children do in Passau to this day, Adolf fell into the river. The current was very strong and the water ice cold, flowing as it did straight from the mountains. Luckily for young Adolf, the son of the owner of the house where he lived was able to pull him out in time and so saved his life.”
Hitler told his Nazi generals that he used to play cowboys and Indians on the banks of the river but never admitted to falling in the water.