Rudolf Hoess – Nazi mass murderer

Rudolf Hoess was one of the Nazi’s top SS commanders and commandant at Auschwitz concentration camp during World War Two. Today, his grandson has now been informally adopted by a Jewish woman who survived internment at Auschwitz.

Rudolf Hoess was born to a strict Catholic family in 1901at Baden-Baden in south-west Germany. He was the eldest of three children and the only boy. As a young child he was a loner with no really close friends or play mates.

His father owned a tea and coffee trading company and brought up all of his children to adhere to strict Catholic principles and with military discipline, since he had served in the Germany Army. Hoess’s father wanted Rudolf to become a priest and he grew up around the strict belief in duty and morality, guilt and confession.

Hoess’s father died when Hoess was only a teenager, and it was then that he turned to a military life. He was only 14 years old at the start of World War One but was allowed to join his grandfather’s old regiment and so went to serve in the Middle East.

In 1922 he heard Hitler speak in Munich and as a result renounced his Catholicism and joined the Nazi party. During his first year with the party he and a group of men from the Freikorps were found guilty of beating a local schoolteacher to death under the orders of the Nazi party. Hoess served five years of a ten year sentence.

Rudolf Hoess, born in Baden-Baden to a Catholic family in 1901 , a lonely child with no playmates of his age, went on to become an architect of one of the most horrifying episodes of human history as the commandant of the concentration and extermination camp, Auschwitz.

He joined the Nazi’s paramilitary arm, the SS, in 1934. He admired and idolised one of Hitler’s top military commanders, Heinrich Himmler, and six years later Himmler  appointed Hoess commandant of Auschwitz.

As commander of Auschwitz, Hoess was given free reign to exterminate the Jewish people that arrived at the camp as part of Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’. Hoess supervised the deaths of around 1.5 million Jews over four years, the Mail Online reports.

On a daily basis, Hoess was responsible for managing the mass extermination via gas chambers.  Many other prisoners died of starvation.

Hoess lived just 1.5 kilometres from Auschwitz, where he would go home to his wife and five children at every night.

Hoess was captured at the end of World War Two and tried at the Nuremberg Trials. Hoess admitted researching the most effective ways of killing on a mass scale, believing that the methods could be improved.  He was hanged in 1947 next to the Auschwitz I camp crematorium.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE