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About Maria Schmidt
Hitler Cousins Seized by Stalin Pardoned
05:06 p.m Apr 03, 1998
By Robert Eksuzyan
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has granted posthumous pardons to several cousins of Adolf Hitler who died in Soviet prisons after being arrested at the end of World War II, the military prosecutor's office said Friday.
They were rehabilitated in December, Sergei Ushakov, a spokesman for the military prosecutor, told Reuters.
After a study of the archives, it was concluded they had no links to Hitler's crimes and were innocent victims of repression.
repression are key words used in formal pardons for the millions convicted on trumped-up charges under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.
Ushakov was confirming a report Friday in the newspaper Noviye Izvestia, which he believed was the first mention in the media of the pardons for a handful of Austrian farmers.
The paper named them as Hitler's cousin Maria Koppensteiner, nee Schmidt, whose mother Theresia was the sister of Hitler's mother Clara Poelzl, her husband Ignaz Koppensteiner, brothers Johann and Eduard Schmidt and Johann's son, also called Johann.
Though she had last met the future Fuehrer when he visited her home village of Spittal in 1906 when she was just six, Maria was arrested by the Red Army's anti-espionage unit Smersh in the spring of 1945 when they overran that part of Austria.
Sensing a propaganda coup, the Soviets, who were thwarted in efforts to capture Hitler himself when he took his own life, also rounded up the other members of her family. Except for the younger Johann Schmidt, all had spent the war on their farms.
Despite intensive interrogations and investigations, however, the Soviets found to their discomfort that not only had their prisoners had virtually no contact with Hitler but, apart from the younger Schimdt who served in the SS, they had taken almost no part in the Nazi political movement, the paper said.
They found that the Koppensteiners had employed a Ukrainian prisoner on their farm in 1942 -- but had paid him for his work.
The Koppensteiners did, however, occasionally receive small sums of money from Hitler's sister Paula and on one occasion, through his step-sister Angela, from the Fuehrer himself -- money to pay for the funeral of Maria's mother, Hitler's aunt.
After four years in captivity, Maria Koppensteiner was sentenced to 25 years' imprisonment.
The charge read that
being a relative of Hitler, she maintained contacts with him and received financial support from him and, approving his criminal plans directed against the Soviet Union and other peace-loving states, she cruelly exploited a Soviet citizen during the war.
She died Aug. 6, 1953, at a prison camp at Verkhneuralsk in the Urals. Her husband Ignaz had died of heart failure as a result of tuberculosis in Moscow's Lefortovo prison on July 5, 1949, the paper said.
Noviye Izvestia, publishing Soviet prison photographs of Maria and her younger brother Eduard, also printed Eduard's last letter, to the governor of Lefortovo in 1949, asking for clothes to replace those he had worn out during four years in jail.
He died of tuberculosis at Verkhneuralsk two years later.
Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited.