Channel 4’s groundbreaking factual show Dead Famous DNA has come up with perhaps the most sensational claim yet: the possibility that Adolf Hitler’s wife Eva Braun may have been Jewish.
DNA analysis of hair samples from a hairbrush said to belong to Braun - Hitler’s long-term lover who married the German dictator shortly before the couple killed themselves at the end of World War II - shows that it contained the hair of someone who could have had Jewish ancestry, the programme will claim.
The Braun hairs that are analysed have a long and complicated history but are thought to come from a monogrammed hairbrush found by an American army intelligence officer at the end of the Second World War in Eva Braun’s apartment at Hitler’s Alpine residence, the Berghof in Bavaria.
Braun fell madly in love with Hitler when she was 17 but was kept a secret to protect his image until he married her just before the pair embarked on a joint suicide in Hitler’s Berlin bunker the last few days of the war.
The analysis shown in the programme show that the hairs had a particular DNA sequence belonging to haplogroup N1b1, which is strongly associated with Ashkenazi Jews.
An estimated 80% of the world’s Jewish population is Ashkenazi, descended from medieval Jews who lived in central Europe, having first settled in The Rhineland.
In the nineteenth century, many Ashkenazi Jews in Germany converted to Catholicism, so Eva Braun is highly unlikely to have known her ancestry and – despite research he instigated into Braun’s race - neither would Hitler.
However the programme makers have admitted that definitive proof that the hairs came from her head were not possible because requests from Braun’s two surviving female descendants to provide a DNA swab were both refused.
In Dead Famous DNA presenter Mark Evans sets out to track down the remains of some of history’s most famous figures, including Elvis Presley, John F Kennedy and Napoleon and subject them to scientific analysis to solve mysteries associated with them.
Other claims contained in the series which began airing on April 2 include the claim that Napoleon had a tiny penis and Presley had a pre-existing heart complaint which may have contributed to his death in 1977.
The Hitler claims will appear in the final programme of the series which airs on Wednesday, April 9 on Channel 4.
“This is a thought-provoking outcome - I never dreamt that I would find such a potentially extraordinary and profound result,” said Evans. “Racism and Fascism – ideas that one racial group is superior to another – made a mockery of by studying dead famous DNA.”
* The final part of Dead Famous DNA will be shown on Channel 4 on Wednesday, April 9th at 9pm.