Adopting Adolf Hitler’s name is a controversial and unique—though legally permitted—choice to make. On the face of it, the implications would appear to be extreme, as taking such a name is often seen as both a sign of admiration and as a display of totalitarian disregard. But legally, it is possible to alter one’s name to honour one of the world’s worst historical villains.
The answer to the question of whether one can adopt the name of Adolf Hitler depends on the country’s legal system in which the name change is desired, however, the decision is ultimately up to the government and the decision must, in many cases, be approved by a court. According to the United States legal system, there are a few things to consider, such as if the potential new name is obscene, contains profanity, has obscene meanings, or if it will cause significant public outrage if used as a name.
Despite the fact that the majority of countries have laws that forbid the use of certain names—especially in the case of Adolf Hitler—there is ample evidence to suggest that the name change can actually take place. There are several examples of individuals who have legally changed their name to something similar to Adolf Hitler’s. For example, in Idaho, a man changed his name to Dr. Aedolf Hitler—dropping one of the two F’s in order to pass legal requirements. As of 2020, this man still lives under the name Aedolf Hitler, with no legal ramifications whatsoever. In addition, an individual in the UK changed their name to Ayla Adolf Hitler Zimmermann in 2016.
In some rare cases, name changes are not only accepted but celebrated by the government; such was the case in 2014, in India, when the civil registry office of Bengaluru registered Sreejith M., a software engineer, own name as Adolf Hitler. While this example may seem shocking to some, it is perfectly legal as the name change was done in accordance with India’s Transparency and Accountability in Governance Act, and the man was not charged with any wrongdoings.
Free speech is something that most countries protect, and it is a right that often falls under the category of being able to choose one’s own name. Nonetheless, in some cases, governments may enact laws or regulations that forbid or limit the type of names that can be adopted, ruling out any possibility of a name change to Adolf Hitler. Although, it depends on the country, hence it is worth investigating the legal parameters before submitting a name change request.
Sentimental Value in Name Change
The reasons why someone might want to make a name change to Adolf Hitler could range from symbolic to personal. There are people who may have a sentimental connection to the dictator, where a name change could be a way to honour his legacy, although this is seldom the case.
Often, people who contemplate changing their name to Adolf Hitler might simply be seeking a deeper understanding of his actions from times gone by. It could also be the case that people might be exploring the idea of changing their name as a form of art. Again, it is ultimately up to the government to decide whether an individual will be allowed to make the name change.
Societal Impact of Name Change
Apart from the legal implications of a name change to Adolf Hitler, it is worth considering the societal impact. There are many people who would likely be alarmed by such a name, as it invokes a painful part of humanity’s past. There is also a likelihood that the individuals or organisation who knows or become aware of the name change may regard the individual in negative light and avoid dealings with them, or even take the matter to court—civil action—claiming a breach of privacy and general discomfort by being associated with the name.
That said, in some countries, and in certain contexts, names such as Adolf Hitler are not considered reprehensible—for instance in India, where people are more familiar with the surname than in the Western World. There have been a few cases of individuals who have sought to change their name to Adolf Hitler without any legal repercussions.
Name changes are commonly perceived as an avenue for a fresh start, especially if an individual does not identify with their current name or feel attached to it. Most people know themselves by their names, and changing it can feel as though you are abandoning who you are currently and are in need of a new identity. But what psychological effects may one experience when changing their name to Adolf Hitler?
Psychologists say that such a name change is unlikely to have a positive effect on the individual as it may create feelings of guilt, shame, and alienation from society. Furthermore, if an individual’s past is related to what is known about Hitler’s legacy, changing one’s name to Adolf Hitler can be a form of self-destruction and even suicidal behaviour.
The Power of A Name
The power of a name cannot be understated. Names are a source of identity, pride, and reputation. Due to the explosive implications of the name Adolf Hitler and its association with horror, awfulness, and suffering, it is understandable why people are against changing their name to it. Moreover, it is also important to remember that even if a person were able to make this name change, they would still be identified and associated with the dark events of history.
Ethics of Name Change
Understandably, there are those who question the morality of name change to Adolf Hitler and some who may even find it offensive. As mentioned, Adolf Hitler is a name that is associated with immense suffering and tragedies in the past, and adopting such a name could be viewed as a blatant disregard for history. Therefore, it is understandable why some people may find it inappropriate for someone to take such a name for him or herself.
The legal implications of changing one’s name to that of Adolf Hitler differ from country to country. However, one must also bear in mind the potential morality implications and the social perception that a name change to Adolf Hitler may evoke. Ultimately, this decision lies with the individual, their government, and the court system in which name change is requested.