Alois Schiklgruber was born in Lower Austria
, the son of an unmarried peasant woman. On his birth certificate his name was not given, and he was noted as illegitimate. Hitler's paternity is undetermined, though three men have been suggested. These are Johann Georg Hiedler, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler and Leopold Frankenberg. The latter is the least supported of the suggestions. Most historians believe that his father was Georg. However this has never been conclusively proven. Some time after his birth Johann Georg Hiedler moved to the area, and, when Alois was five, married his mother, Maria. At age ten Alois was sent to live with his step-uncle, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler, a farmer. While he lived with his step-uncle he attended elementary school and trained under a cobbler. When he was thirteen he went to Vienna and became an apprentice cobbler. He remained there as an apprentice for the next five years. In 1855 he joined the frontier guards of the Austrian Finance Ministry. He served in many different place across Austria in his position as a costumes official, and rose steadily through the ranks. Five years after joining he had reached the rank of "Finanzwach Oberaufseher", the equivalent of a non-commissioned officer. In 1875 he was an inspector of customs for Braunau. Before 1876 he used his birth name, but in 1876 he claimed that his father, Johann Georg Hiedler, had decided to legitimize him. He neglected the fact that Hiedler had been dead for twenty years at this point. In 1877 he was allowed to change his name, which became Hitler instead of Hiedler for reasons still unknown. His illegitimacy, which he admitted to fully before and after his name change did not hamper his progress in the frontier guards, rather, his lack of schooling allowed him to rise no further than full inspector of customs. Nonetheless he had done quite well for himself at the time. It is suggested that the name change was at the behest of his mother and was required in order to allow him to inherit money from her.
Some time in the late 1860s he fathered an illegitimate child with a woman named Thelka or possibly Thekla about whom nothing else was known. In 1873 he got married for the first time, to Anna Glassl, who was 14 years his senior. When they married she was unwell, and by the end of their marriage she was an invalid. Shortly after marrying Anna he began an affair with a woman 17 years his junior, Franziska Matzelsberger. He also had a number of other affairs, which eventually led to Anna separating from Alois. Matzelsberger became Hitler's girlfriend, but they could not marry because of the Catholic prohibition against divorce. In 1876 he hired Klara Polzl
as a domestic servant, who was either his niece or first cousin once removed, depending on the identity of his father. She was 23 years his junior. In 1882 Matzelsberger gave birth to his illegitimate son, Alois Matzelsberger. Anna died in 1883, and Alois and Matzelsberger married soon after. Matzelsberger died the next year, shortly after giving birth to their second child, Angela. Soon afterwards Polzl was pregnant. Though they were possibly too closely related to allow marriage, Hitler submitted a petition to the church without mentioning she was pregnant, and the pair was allowed to marry. She continued to refer to Hitler as "uncle". She gave birth to their first child, Gustav, soon after the wedding, then a daughter, Ida, the following year. Otto was born in 1887, but died soon after. Gustav and Ida also died in their childhoods, but of a diphtheria outbreak. On April 20th, 1889 she gave birth to Adolf Hitler
. Edmund was born in 1894 and died in 1900, and the final child, Paula, was born in 1896. In 1895 Hitler retired to a 9-acre farm after spending forty years in civil service. He wasn't used to the difficult work of farm life, and the property quickly fell into disrepair. He wasn't used to spending time at home, and was apparently verbally and physically abusive with his young children and wife. He also became more dependent on alcohol. On January 3rd, 1903 he died of what was later described as a fit of apoplexy. He was 66-years-old.