No, image does not show Ursula von der Leyen’s grandmother shaking hands with Hitler

By: Ishita Goel
May 20 2024

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No, image does not show Ursula von der Leyen’s grandmother shaking hands with Hitler

A screenshot of a social media post falsely claiming that the photo shows Ursula von der Leyen’s grandmother shaking hands with Hitler. (Source: X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The image is from 1937 and shows a woman named Hildegard Zantop. Ursula von der Leyen has no known relative by that name.

Claim ID c23184a6

What is the claim?

An image of a woman shaking hands with Adolf Hitler is circulating on social media, with users claiming that the woman seen is the grandmother of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. 

One X post sharing the image reads, "A Photo from Ursula von der Leyen's Family Album 'My Sweet Granny Didn't Wash Her Hand for a Month after This Precious Occasion.'" Another user wrote, "A photo of Ursula von der Leyen's grandmother with Adolf Hitler is going viral on social media." Archives of the posts can be found here, here, here, and here.

Screenshot of the viral social media posts. (Source: X/Screenshots/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, we found that the woman in the photo is not Ursula von der Leyen's grandmother as claimed. 

What are the facts?

Through a reverse image search, we found that the image dates back to 1937. The description for the photo on Getty Images, posted on April 15, 2004, reads "Meeting Hitler-1937: Adolf Hitler shaking hands with a traditionally dressed peasant girl during a visit to Buckeburg."

The Picture Library East Prussia (Bildarchiv Ostpreußen), an archive of historical pictures of the former German region of East Prussia, identified the woman as Hildegard Zantop. The description reads, "Hildegard Zantop from Naunienen presents the harvest crown of the East Prussian region. Rural youth at the farmers' day in Bückeburg (translated from German)," dating the image to October 3, 1937. 

Image found on  Picture Library of  East Prussia. (Source: Website/ Screenshot)

von der Leyen family tree

Geneastar, a website that records famous family trees, has recorded von der Leyen's family tree. It shows that her paternal grandparents were Carl Eduard Albrecht and Adele Albrecht Berg and her maternal grandparents were Gustav Julius Wilhelm Stromeyer and Gertrud Emma Margarethe Stromeyer. Another website, EntiTree, published the same tree with the same information.

There is nobody named Hildegard Zantop in the entire family tree.

Ursula von der Leyen has been serving as the 13th president of the European Commission since 2019 and is running for re-election this year. Claims attempting to associate her with Nazis have been previously debunked by German fact-checkers when it was falsely suggested that her father or grandfather could have Nazi links. 

The verdict

Sources show the image dates back to 1937 and shows a Naunienen settler named Hildegard Zantop. The von der Leyen family tree shows no connection to Zantop. Therefore, we have marked the claim as false. 

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Global Fact-Checks Completed

We rely on information to make meaningful decisions that affect our lives, but the nature of the internet means that misinformation reaches more people faster than ever before