Born the fourth of six children to Austrian customs officer Alois Hitler--who had been married twice before--and the former Klara Polzl, Adolf Hitler grew up in a small Austrian town in the late 19th century. He was a slow learner and did poorly in school. He was frequently beaten by his authoritarian father. Things got worse when Adolf's older brother, Alois Jr., ran away from home. His mild-mannered mother occasionally tried to shield him, but was ineffectual. Adolf's attempt to run away at 11 was unsuccessful. At the age of 14 he was freed when his hated father died - an event that he did not mourn.