Did Unity Mitford have Adolf Hitler’s love child?
by Fran Yeoman
She was the English aristocrat who became so enamoured with Hitler that she shot herself in the head at the outbreak of war.
Unity Mitford, the daughter of Lord Redesdale, had been so entwined in the Führer’s inner circle that British secret services described her as “more Nazi than the Nazis”. But could this cousin of Winston Churchill have been closer to Hitler than anyone suspected?
An article published today raises the possibility that Mitford, who survived her suicide attempt, may have given birth to his child.
If the theory that this baby was born in a tiny Cotswolds village and rapidly adopted were true, Hitler’s child could be living somewhere in Britain today.
Unity Mitford was one of six well known – and somewhat politically diverse – sisters who included Diana, the wife of Sir Oswald Mosley, and Jessica, a committed communist.
The Mitford Sisters, Unity Mitford (L) and “the perfect Aryan woman” Lady Diana Mosley (R), with SS troops at the Nuremberg rally, Sept 1937
She first went to Germany in the early 1930s, when the Nazis were on the rise, and the young woman was so overwhelmed by a visit to the Nuremberg rallies that she became determined to meet Hitler. This she managed in spectacular style, ingratiating herself to the point where he described her to friends as “a perfect specimen of Aryan womanhood”.
When her homeland declared war on the Third Reich in September 1939, Mitford was so devastated that, in the English Garden in Munich, she shot herself in the head with a pearl-handled pistol.
She suffered serious brain damage and returned to Britain via Switzerland. As the history books tell it, Mitford then lived as an invalid with her mother in the Cotswolds until her death, at the age of 33, in 1948.
Martin Bright, writing in the New Statesman, describes a phone call he received from a woman called Val Hann that suggested there could be more to it: “She explained that her aunt Betty Norton had run a maternity home to the gentry in Oxfordshire during the war and that Unity Mitford had been one of her clients.
“Her aunt’s business, in the tiny village of Wigginton, had depended on discretion and she had told no one except her sister that Unity had had a baby. Her sister had passed the story on to her daughter Val.”
When asked who the father of this child might be, Ms Hann paused before replying: “Well, she always said it was Hitler’s.”
Sceptical but intrigued, Mr Bright visited Wigginton, where he looked around the aunt’s former business, at Hill View Cottage, and met a woman called Audrey Smith.
“Audrey Smith was a little girl at the time, but by pure chance her sister (now dead, unfortunately) had worked at the home and had talked about Unity. Audrey claimed that she had seen Unity wrapped in a blanket and looking very ill. However, she insisted that she was at the home not to have a baby, but to recover from a nervous breakdown.”
Unsurprisingly, Mitford’s surviving sister, the Duchess of Devonshire, was unimpressed by Mr Bright’s investigations. “She was adamant that there was nothing in the Wigginton story and claimed she could produce her mother’s diaries to prove it.”
But a file on Mitford at the National Archives indicated that she may not have been such an invalid. Mr Bright notes: “By October 1941, the police picked up rumours that ‘Unity Mitford has formed an attachment for an officer in the RAF’. Further investigation found that she had been “consorting with Pilot Officer John Sidney Andrews”, an RAF test pilot’.”
The married Mr Andrews was apparently transferred to the north of Scotland and died in 1945, leaving no further clues about Mitford. A trawl of the Oxfordshire register office “confirmed that Nurse Norton had helped dozens of wartime mothers give birth at her maternity home. But no record of Unity Mitford.”
Mr Bright, who remains deeply sceptical about the possibility of a Hitler Jr, has thrown in the towel.
The makers of a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary, Hitler’s British Girl, examined theories surrounding Mitford’s notorious life and concluded that there was very little evidence that she was pregnant or ever had a sexual relationship with Hitler.
Whereas some might consider the idea of her giving birth to the Führer’s only offspring to be a harmless and intriguing tale, Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, thinks differently. “Unity Mitford’s relationship with Hitler was basically political,” he said. “She was a hard-line Nazi and a rabid racist and antiSemite, and I’m worried that gossip about her personal life might take attention away from these facts.”
Fascists and Communists
— The Mitford children had a private language called “Boudledidge”
— Several heads of the Mitford family served as High Sheriff of Northumberland
— Unity wrote a letter to the antiSemitic paper Der Stürmer in 1935 that read: “We are looking forward to the day when we will be powerful enough to declare: England for the English! Push out the Jews! With German salut! Heil Hitler! Unity Mitford!”
— Jessica, Unity’s sister, was often in conflict with her, as she was a supporter of Communism and eloped with her cousin to fight with the Reds in the Spanish Civil War
— Deborah Mitford married Harold Macmillan’s nephew, later the Duke of Devonshire. Jessica married Winston Churchill’s nephew. Nancy was related to President John F. Kennedy by marriage. Diana married Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists, in secret in 1936, in Joseph Goebbels’s home in Berlin
— Jessica’s book Hons and Rebels is cited by J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels, as being one of her greatest influences
— British rockers The Indelicates have a song titled Unity Mitford about her apparently romantic feelings towards Hitler
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