The extraordinary story of the brief wartime romance between Adolf Hitler and Charlotte Lobjoie was revealed by Jean-Marie Loret, who claimed to be their son until his death in 1985.
His claims, told to him by his mother, were hotly debated by historians for decades until new evidence came to light via his lawyer in 2012.
Their chance meeting took place in the town of Fournes-en-Weppe, west of Lille, where Hitler, then 28, was on leave from the front lines of World War I.
Hitler, two decades before he was dictator of Germany, was just a young soldier doodling in his sketch pad on a summer’s day. Lobjoie was cutting hay with her friends across the road and was nominated to find out what he was drawing.
Jean-Marie’s son Philippe found out about his ancestry when he was just 16 and his father suddenly broke the news at the dinner table, and now carries on the story
‘All the women found this interesting, and were curious to know what he was drawing. I was designated to approach him,’ Ms Lobjoie told her son.
Hitler and his teenage belle were an odd couple as neither spoke each other’s language and he was often away in the trenches.
‘When your father was around, which was very rarely, he liked to take me for walks in the countryside,’ she said.
‘But these walks usually ended badly. In fact, your father, inspired by nature, launched into speeches which I did not really understand.
‘He did not speak French, but solely ranted in German, talking to an imaginary audience.
‘Even if I spoke German I would not be able to follow him, as the histories of Prussia, Austria and Bavaria were not familiar to me at all, far from it. My reaction used to anger your father so much that I did not show any reaction.’
Hitler treated her well and was a ‘good lover’, according to Jean-Marie’s son Philippe, but unsurprisingly had an envious streak.
‘Apparently he was a jealous person and did not like other men giving her the eye,’ Philippe Loret said.
Ms Lobjoie claimed Jean-Marie was conceived after a ‘tipsy’ evening in June 1917, and he was born the following year.
However, having a child ruined their relationship as the teenage mother was so ashamed she left the baby with her parents and fled to Paris.
Their chance meeting took place in the town of Fournes-en-Weppe, west of Lille, where Hitler, then 28, was on leave from the front lines of World War I
Later she was reunited with her son during the occupation of Paris and lived off envelopes of cash from German soldiers that were recorded in army papers.
Ironically, Jean-Marie fought for the French Army and joined the French Resistance against his father’s own forces, as was recounted in the diary of a British soldier.
Family of Royal Engineer Leonard Wilkes came forward after reading Jean-Marie’s claims, having unearthed the diary years earlier.
‘An interesting day today,’ Mr Wilkes wrote on September 30, 1944.
‘Visited the house where Hitler stayed as a corporal in the last war, saw the woman who had a baby by him and she told us that the baby, a son, was now fighting in the French army against the Germans.’
Ms Lobjoie finally told Jean-Marie about his father in the years before she died in 1951 and he spent two decades trying to forget he knew.
‘In order not to get depressed, I worked non-stop, never took a holiday, and had no hobbies. For 20 years I didn’t even go to the cinema,’ he said.
Eventually he accepted it and spent the rest of his life researching his background in an effort to prove he was the notorious dictator’s son.
Jean-Marie’s lawyer revealed more evidence in 2012, including that the his long-deceased client shared the same blood type as Hitler.
The alleged lovechild also had similar handwriting and shared an uncanny physical resemblance he passed on to his own children.
Philippe found out about his ancestry when he was just 16 and his father suddenly broke the news at the dinner table.
‘Suddenly my father said: “Kids, I’ve got something to tell you. Your grandfather is Adolf Hitler”,’ Philippe recalled.
Family of Royal Engineer Leonard Wilkes (left) came forward after reading Jean-Marie’s claims, having unearthed the diary years earlier that mentioned him meeting Ms Lobjoie
‘There was stunned silence as no one knew what to say. We didn’t know how to react.’
One of 10 children to Jean-Marie’s two wives, Philippe too struggled with the information – not even telling his wife’s father, who struggled with poverty in the war.
The 56-year-old plumber who worked at a French airbase for 34 years told his story for the first time two months after his father’s story went public.
Despite Hitler’s reputation as one of the worst mass murderers in history, he has embraced his lineage and taken up his father’s cause.
He even sweeps his hair into the same side parting and has a moustache, something most people would avoid were they said to be related to Hitler.
‘It’s not my fault that I ended up as his grandson or that all the things happened during the war. What he did has nothing to do with me. He will always be family for me,’ he said.
Philippe has read more than 40 books on Hitler, met the daughter of Himmler and claimed to have spoken to one of the dictator’s mistresses unknown to historians.
‘What Hitler did to the Jews was wrong. But some of the things Hitler did were admirable – he brought Germany back from collapse after the Treaty of Versailles. He built the country up with roads and highways,’ he said.
‘I don’t think evil passes on. Of course qualities from your parents pass on to you, but you build your own life and you make it what it is.’
However, Philippe’s grandchildren still haven’t been told, as his family don’t want them to be bullied at school.