Max Tremmel, a priest who went on to become one of Europe‘s most famous organists, said that his predecessor Johann Kuehberger had rescued the terrified Hitler.
Father Tremmel told before his death in 1980 how Father Kuehberger, who was around the same age as Hitler, had seen the other boy struggling in the waters of the River Inn and dived in to rescue him.
Although the story was never verified by Hitler during his lifetime, a small cutting from the Donauzeitung – Danube newspaper – of 1894 has been found in Passau.
The report describes how a young fellow fell through the thin ice of the river in January of that year.
It also narrated how a determined comrade, the paper at the time was left-wing, went into the freezing water to save the child who would grow into mankind’s biggest monster.
The near-drowning episode also featured in a German book called ‘Out of Passau- Leaving a City Hitler Called Home’, by Anna Elisabeth Rosmus, a personal history of her family’s connections with it.
The banks of the River Inn provided an idyllic setting for the children to play, the Daily Mail quoted Rosmus as writing in her book.
In 1894, while playing tag with a group of other children, the way many children do in Passau to this day, Adolf fell into the river.
The current was very strong and the water ice cold, flowing as it did straight from the mountains.
‘Luckily for young Adolf, the son of the owner of the house where he lived was able to pull him out in time and so saved his life, she wrote.
The Nazi dictator would, as a young man and later among his generals, tell stories of how he played cowboys and Indians on the banks of the river but he never once related the near-drowning tale.
In Passau, however, everyone knew the story. Some of the other stories told about him were that he never learned to swim and needed glasses, Rosmus said.
No name is given for the child in the old Passau newspaper but historians believe it gives credence to Father Tremmel’s claim that it was indeed Hitler.
It is likely that Hitler airbrushed the incident out of his life history.