Who do you think you are kidding, Mr Hitler?

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The Independent Online

Students of genetic inheritance will have learnt some interesting news about the offspring of the great dictators.

Students of genetic inheritance will have learnt some interesting news about the offspring of the great dictators.

In last week's The New Yorker, Timothy W Ryback revealed what became of the scattered family of Adolf Hitler - his sister Paula, his half-brother Alois, his nephews Leo and William Patrick, an assortment of Schmidts and Raubals and several people mysteriously called Hiller.

The marvellous thing is how closely they correspond to their famous relative. "I have absolutely no sense of family history," said Hitler once, and his loving descendants seem united in only one thing - wanting to be the first to get a slice of the royalties from Mein Kampf (estimated at $22m).

But how they sound like Hitler himself. "I listened to tales of Jewish conspiracies and laments for lapsed German nationalism," reported Ryback on interviewing an unnamed fiftysomething relative. Jean-Marie Loret, fathered by Hitler on a French girl in the First World War, once toured Japan, giving a Nazi salute to the surprised National Assembly. Leo the nephew looked so much like Adolf, he found work as his double during public meetings. Hitler's half-brother Alois, was nasty to his Irish wife Bridgid: "He was very cruel: he was Hitler the Second," she says. " 'I'll bend you or I'll break you,' he said."

No sign of virtue or decency in this tribe; no white sheep in this family. Then one thinks of Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of Il Duce and now an MP with the Alleanza Nazionale party, a coalition of "post-Fascists" led by Gianfranco Fini, who thinks Mussolini "one of the greatest statesmen of all time". You'd imagine, wouldn't you, that Ms Mussolini might learn some sense from the large, Benito-shaped blot on the family escutcheon. But no, she just had to turn into a bottle-blonde version of him.

Now we learn that Stalin's great-grandson, Jacob Dzugashvili, 28, having graduated from Glasgow Art School, is exhibiting his paintings (up to £2,500 a throw) at the Cork Street Gallery in London's Mayfair. Does he play down the family connection? Oh, please. "I respect Stalin," says Jacob, with dull inevitability. "He had good ideas."

Stalin, Mussolini, Hitler - and the sins of the fathers are visited upon the sons, yea, unto the 10th generation. Why cannot the spawn of dictators preserve a decent silence? Why can we not read: "I'm so embarrassed on behalf of the family," says a sheepishly smiling Henry Pot, 32, grandson of Pol, Cambodian visionary, counter-intellectual and Khmer Rouge genocide expert. "The Pots once held their heads high in society. Now, I rarely go out for fear of someone asking me about that field of skulls in the newsreels. But granddad was a crotchety old sod and clearly barmy, and I'm really sorry for any trouble he may have caused."

"All that happen such rong time ago," laughs Gordon Tse-Tung, 41, grandson of the architect of modern China, the spear of the Cultural Revolution and convener of the Long March. "Whoresair destluction of poritical enemies terribah mistake. Pubric denouncing of counter-revorutionaries not nice way to behave. Rear-ry ashamed of honolable ancestor."

"Oh, don't go bringing up all that again," smiles Tamarovna Rasputina, 71, only living relict of the mad monk of St Petersburg, currently living in Hounslow. "It was all blown up by the media, darlink. But since you ask, no, I have no desire at present to appear in the Duma with mad staring eyes, pretending to heal haemophilia and trying to seduce Mrs Putin, even though her name suggests she's probably a relation of mine..."

There, now. A much happier way to perpetuate the family name. And just don't get me started on Jacques-Yves Buonaparte, 19...

j.walsh@independent.co.uk

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