Stefanie Rabatsch (née Isak; born 28 December 1887) was an Austrian woman of the upper-middle class known for being the unrequited love subject of Adolf Hitler, the future leader of the Nazi Party and dictator of Nazi Germany, when he was a teenager. Her Jewish-sounding maiden name has been subject to much speculation.
Stefanie was born into a family of high social status. Hitler fell in love with her after she passed by him during her daily daughter-mother stroll in Linz, glancing at him. Although madly in love with her to the point of suicide, Hitler never once spoke with her, and she later married an Austrian army officer. August Kubizek, a close childhood friend and later biographer of his childhood experience with Hitler, wrote about Hitler's passion for her in his book, Adolf Hitler, My Childhood Friend. Stefanie stated in interviews that she was unaware of Hitler's feelings towards her, and little is known about her life. August Kubizek, a music student from Linz, first met Hitler when the two were competing for a place to stand during an opera performance. According to him, Hitler's passion for Stefanie began in spring 1905, when he was 16 and attending school in Linz, and lasted until 1909, when he was 20. Kubizek recalls the first time he heard about Hitler's obsession in his memoirs: “ One evening in the spring of 1905, as we were taking our usual stroll, Adolf gripped my arm and asked me excitedly what I thought of that slim blonde girl walking along the Landstrasse arm-in-arm with her mother. 'You must know, I'm in love with her,' he added resolutely. ”
Born Stefanie Izak, she came from a family of higher social class than Hitler's. She is thought to have been one or two years older than him. Stefanie had returned to Linz after professional training in Munich and Geneva. Kubizek describes her as "a distinguished-looking girl, tall and slim. She had thick fair hair, which she mostly wore swept back in a bun. Her eyes were very beautiful". Kubizek's book was heavily edited during the Nazi period, especially the parts concerning the details of Hitler's passion for Rabatsch, but was republished in many editions after the war. According to Kubizek, Hitler never spoke to Stefanie, always saying he would do so "tomorrow". He loathed those who flirted with her, especially the military officers, whom he called "conceited blockheads"; he came to feel an "uncompromising enmity towards the officer class as a whole, and everything military in general. It annoyed him that Stefanie mixed with such idlers who, he insisted, wore corsets and used scent". Hitler insisted that Kubizek stalk Stefanie and delivered daily reports on her activity while he was away visiting his mother or family.
In one report, Kubizek wrote that Stefanie loved to dance and had taken lessons. Hitler disliked dancing and reportedly replied, "Stefanie only dances because she is forced to by society on which she unfortunately depends on. Once Stefanie is my wife, she won't have the slightest desire to dance!" In June 1906, Stefanie gave Hitler a smile and a flower from her bouquet as she was passing him in her carriage. Kubizek later described the scene: “ Never again did I see Adolf as happy as he was at that moment. When the carriage had passed he dragged me aside and with emotion he gazed at the flower, this visible pledge of her love. I can still hear his voice, trembling with excitement, 'She loves me!' ” After Hitler's mother died of breast cancer in 1907, the funeral procession went through Urfahr to Leonding. Kubizek remarks that Hitler said he had seen Stefanie at the funeral procession, which gave him some consolation. Kubizek claims that "Stefanie had no idea how deeply Adolf was in love with her; she regarded him as a somewhat shy, but nevertheless remarkably tenacious and faithful, admirer.
When she responded with a smile to his inquiring glance, he was happy and his mood became unlike anything I had ever observed in him. But when Stefanie, as happened just as often, coldly ignored his gaze, he was crushed and ready to destroy himself and the whole world." Hitler finally stated he planned to kidnap Stefanie and kill both her and himself by jumping off a bridge into the Danube. Instead he moved to Vienna, where an idealised image of Stefanie became his moral touchstone. Stefanie stated in later interviews that she was unaware of Hitler at the time, but that she had received an anonymous love letter asking her to wait for him to graduate and then to marry him, which she only realised after being questioned about him, must have been from Hitler. She recalled: “ I once received a letter from someone who said they were to attend the Academy of Arts, and that I should wait for him; he could come back and marry me! I had no idea who the letter might have been from or who I should have send it to. ”
She became engaged in 1908 to an officer in the Hessian regiment stationed in Linz, and after the end of the Second World War she lived in Vienna. At Christmas in 1913, when he was living in Munich, Hitler placed an anonymous personal ad in the Linz newspaper with his best wishes to her, but she was already married and in Vienna by then. She was interviewed and Hitler's love for her dramatised in a 1973 Austro-German television film called A Young Man From the Innviertel. Little is known about her overall life. Most historians agree that Hitler would have assumed Stefanie was of Jewish origin. American historian Graeme Donald believes Hitler would have inferred that she was Jewish, but saw no problems with this at the time. This view is supported by German historian Anton Joachimsthaler who stated in a BBC interview that Hitler must have assumed she was Jewish because of her Jewish surname. British historian Paul Roland wrote in his book Nazi Women that it didn't make the slightest difference to Hitler whether she was Jewish or not. Despite her Jewish-sounding surname, Stefanie was not Jewish.