Rudolf Höß

Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höß , also written Hoess or Hoess ( Baden-Baden , 25 of November of 1900 – Auschwitz , 16 of April of 1947 ) was a military and official Nazi member of the SS (Schutzstaffel) and the Waffen-SS with the rank Of SS- Obersturmbannführer ( Lieutenant Colonel ) . He was commander of the concentration camp of Auschwitz .


Early years

Rudolf Hoess was born in 1900 in Baden-Baden and educated in a family Catholic a believer. Despite the wishes of his parents that he was a priest , just turned 15 years he volunteered to fight in the First World War . Destined on the Turkish front, he ascended in 1917 to sergeant and received several decorations, among them the Iron Cross . After the defeat, in the early 1920s, he entered the Freikorps , a nationalist and anti-communist paramilitary formation. 1

Höss was an early activist of the German National Socialist Workers’ Party (NSDAP), in which he entered in November 1922 with the license number 3240. He was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1923 after his involvement in the murder of Walter Kadow ; His accomplice Martin Bormann was sentenced to one year in prison. When he left prison in 1928, he entered the Artaman League , an agrarian organization along the lines of the ” Blood and Soil ” of Walther Darré, which also included Heinrich Himmler , who had studied Agronomy . In these years he met his future wife and intended to work as a farmer. 2 His wife, Hedwig, accompanied him in his fates and during the period in which he led Auschwitz lived in the house of the command, located in the same field: the garden was adjacent to the land of the first crematoria furnaces. 3

Race in the concentration camps

Höss entered the SS in June 1934 on the recommendation of Heinrich Himmler himself and in November of the same year was sent to the Dachau concentration camp where he served as guard and progressed rapidly until in April 1936 he reached the degree of Rapportführer , Principal assistant of the field commander. In Dachau it was where he learned the bases on which the organization of the Nazi concentration camps was systematized afterwards , ideas worked largely by his first commander, Theodor Eicke . In such camps guards were to be educated in the insensitivity to the suffering of the prisoners, who knew from the beginning the duration of their sentences and received to a large extent deliberately arbitrary physical and psychological punishments. Also introduced into Dachau was the system of kapos , privileged prisoners who were expected to impose brutal discipline on the rest of the inmates. In addition, from his own imprisonment in Leipzig , Höss was convinced of the usefulness of the job in conditions of imprisonment and adopted the famous motto later reproduced at the entrance of Auschwitz , Arbeit macht frei (“Work will make you free”), which in the Context of the Nazi camps was first used in Dachau. 4

In September 1936 he received the rank of lieutenant and was transferred to the camp Sachsenhausen , 5 where he remained until, on April 30, 1940, he was appointed commander of the new camp Auschwitz , in whose command he remained until the end of 1943. 6 In That period reached to relate with the doctor Josef Mengele . During his stay at Auschwitz, Höss organized the administrative side of the mass murder of the ” final solution .”

Despite the discipline and organizational skills he demonstrated at the front of the concentration camp, he allowed the SS members assigned there to lead a relaxed life, although it did not prevent abuse, the thefts of accumulated belongings of the prisoners and the contraband. As corruption was widespread, especially in the dependencies of camps for the collection of prisoners’ possessions (known in Auschwitz as “Canada”), Himmler ordered inspections and, in the fall of 1943, Auschwitz Konrad Morgen , SS lieutenant and former instructor judge of the Kripo . Morgen also found evidence of a sexual scandal between Höss and an Austrian political prisoner, Eleonore Hodys, and although the investigation, which lasted until the end of 1944, did not obtain conclusive results, it brought about the dismissal of Höss. Thus, although Martin Bormann interceded before Himmler in his favor, Höss lost its position, decision that was presented as an ascent to a higher position in Berlin. 7 One of Höss’s last decisions, following instructions from Himmler, who believed that the productivity of the camps was increasing, was the commissioning of a brothel in Block 24, just at the entrance next to the Arbeit macht frei poster To reward the detainees who collaborated with the SS, of good behavior and good health. Referring to Fig.

In December 1943 he was replaced as commander of Auschwitz by Arthur Liebehenschel . Höß took over Liebehenschel’s previous post as president of the SS Wirtschaftsverwaltungshauptamt ( WVHA), where he introduced Zyklon B gas as a means to carry out mass killings in the countryside; also he appointed him deputy leader Richard Glücks of WVHA on 8 May 1944. However, Höß returned to Auschwitz by personal request of Himmler for the “Aktion Höß”, ie, expanding the field and preparing machinery death in Auschwitz II Birkenau, in order to exterminate the Jews Hungarians .

The end

The war had ended in Germany on 8 as maypole as 1945 . Höß, disguised as a non-commissioned officer of the German Navy ( Kriegsmarine ), went off to the Baltic shores, where he fell into the hands of the Allies. When no evidence of any kind was found against him, given his false name (Franz Lang) and his status as a professional farmer, he obtained an early release. His guardians were unaware of the importance of his prey. He was employed as an agricultural worker on a farm near Flossenbürg , not far from the Danish border . He stayed there for eight months.

In the meantime, British intelligence followed his search. They had the first news of Höss thanks to the statements of freed prisoners of Bergen-Belsen that previously had been in Auschwitz and decided to locate it pressing to his family. They found his wife, Hedwig, in a village near Belsen and arrested her on March 8, 1946. In her interrogation, she insisted that her husband had died until they had been cheated of her with the threat of deportation of their three children to Siberia . She then revealed the hiding place of her husband, who was arrested at 11 pm on 11 March in Gottrupel, on a farm near Flensburg . A doctor inspected him immediately to prevent him, like Heinrich Himmler , from committing suicide if he had a poison capsule and was beaten repeatedly to confess his identity. Moved to Heide ‘s headquarters, he was again ill-treated and kept awake for three days until he signed an eight-page confession on March 14. Referring to Fig.

His statements from the arrest even today are in doubt, as two confessions appeared: the first, made in his own language before British authorities in which he claimed that his poisonous blister had been broken two days ago. 10 11 12 The second confession, a posteriori, was made when he was in Krakow , leaving many doubts regarding the first (he had a lawyer). He stated that, having been tortured for the first statement, he was forced to sign what his captors demanded of him. In Krakow he retracted everything he said in the first confession. This was not taken into account by the judges. [ Citation needed ]He was brought to the Nuremberg Trials as a witness at the trial of Ernst Kaltenbrunner , Oswald Pohl and IG Farben .

On May 25, 1946, he was extradited to Poland where a new war crimes trial was opened, 13 in which he did not deny any of the charges, asserting that he served Himmler’s direct orders and, given his Military rank, could not ignore them. During the trial he did not lodge complaints against those who kept him in prison; on the contrary, in his Memoirs he was grateful to them for allowing him to write his personal history. 14 All the surviving prisoners affirmed that he was a man who administered the camp of Auschwitz with coldness and without feeling ; He only ran a “killing machine”. In this way he leaves it reflected in his handwritten memories, drafted while in prison:

By the will of the Reichsführer SS, Auschwitz became the largest facility of extermination of human beings of all time. Whether or not this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary, it was not my place to question it, it was beyond my powers. If the Führer himself had ordered the final solution of the Jewish problem, it did not correspond to a whole-life National Socialist like me, let alone a Führer of the SS, to question him.

Rudolf Höß

At the end of his trial in Krakow , on 2 April 1947, Höß received the death sentence with apparent indifference. He was hanged in the former concentration camp Auschwitz on 16 of April of 1947 .

His memoirs written in prison were published in 1958 by the historian Martin Broszat. The texts were assembled under the title Le Commandant d’Auschwitz parle (German Kommandant in Auschwitz ), and were written by Höß in pencil in Krakow prison while waiting to be processed.