Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höß (in English commonly spelt Hoess or Höss; b. 25 November 1900 in Baden-Baden; d. 16 April 1947 in Auschwitz) was a German NCO of the Imperial German Army and the Freikorps. Later he became an officer of the SS, an SS-Obersturmbannführer, and from 1940 until 1943 was Kommandant of Auschwitz and probably the most important witness at the Nuremberg show trials. Following another communist show trial in Warsaw, Höß was hanged in Poland in 1947.
- 1 Life
- 2 WWII and the Holocaust
- 3 Höß' different "confessions"
- 4 Family
- 5 Promotions (day, month, year)
- 6 Awards and decorations
- 7 Criticisms
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Höß was born in Baden-Baden into a strict Catholic family. He lived with his mother Lina (née Speck) and father Franz Xaver Höss. Höss was the eldest of three children and the only son. His father, a former army officer who served in German East Africa, ran a tea and coffee business. When World War I broke out, Höss served briefly in a military hospital (Lazarett) and then, at age 14, was admitted to his father's and grandfather's old regiment, the German Army's 21st Regiment of Dragoons (2. Badisches Dragoner-Regiment Nr. 21). Aged 15, he fought with the Ottoman Sixth Army at Baghdad, at Kut-el-Amara, and in Palestine. While stationed in Turkey, he rose to the rank of Feldwebel (sergeant-in-chief) and at 17 was the youngest non-commissioned officer in the army. Wounded three times and a victim of malaria, he was awarded the Iron Crescent, the Iron Cross first and second class and other decorations. Höss also briefly commanded a cavalry unit. When the news of the armistice reached Damascus, where he was at that time, he and a few others decided not to wait for the British to arrest them as prisoners of war, but instead to try to ride all the way back home. This involved traversing the enemy territory of Romania, but they eventually made it back home to Baden.
After the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Höss completed his secondary education and soon joined some of the Freikorps, first the East Prussian Volunteer Corps, and then the Free Corps "Rossbach" in the Baltic area, Silesia and the Ruhr. Höss participated in the defence against the Polish armed terrorist attacks against German citizens during the Silesian insurrections, and fought against the French invasion during their Occupation of the Ruhr. After hearing a speech by Adolf Hitler in Munich, he joined the NSDAP in 1922 (member number 3240) and renounced his affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. On 1 April 1934 Höss joined the SS, on Himmler's effective call-to-action, and in the same year moved to the SS-Totenkopfverbände.
WWII and the Holocaust
Höß joined the Waffen-SS in 1939 and took part in the invasion of Poland. He excelled in that capacity, and was recommended by his superiors for further responsibility and promotion. On 18 January, 1940 he was appointed head of the protective custody camp at Sachsenhausen. Höss was subsequently dispatched to evaluate the feasibility of establishing a concentration camp in western Poland. His favorable report led to the creation of Auschwitz and his appointment as its commandant. The camp was built around an old Austro-Hungarian (and later Polish) army barracks near the town of Auschwitz. Höss commanded the camp for three and a half years, during which the original facility was expanded into a sprawling complex known as the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp (Birkenau was about a mile distant from the old camp). Höss had been ordered "to create a transition camp for ten thousand prisoners from the existing complex of well-preserved buildings" which also contained the camp administrative blocks. Höss lived at Auschwitz I in a villa with his wife and five children.
At its peak, Auschwitz comprised three separate facilities: Auschwitz I (the original camp), Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz). The latter provided labour for the nearby I.G. Farbenindustrie AG factory, and later some other industries. Included were many satellite sub-camps, and the entire camp was built on about 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres).
After being replaced as the Auschwitz commander by Arthur Liebehenschel, on 10 November 1943, Höss assumed Liebehenschel's former position as the head of Amt D I in Amtsgruppe D of the SS Main Economic and Administrative Office (WVHA); he also was appointed deputy of the inspector of the concentration camps under Richard Glücks. On 8 May 1944, Höss returned to Auschwitz until November when he was posted to Ravensbrück concentration camp. He moved there with his family who lived close by.
In the last days of the war Höss adopted the alias of "Franz Lang" working as a gardener and living in Gottrupel, Schleswig-Holstein with his family. He evaded Allied arrest for nearly a year. In 1946, Hanns Alexander, a German Jew who had fled to England in 1936 and became a Nazi hunter working for the British government's "No. 1 War Crimes Investigation Team", managed to discover Höss's location. Alexander, who was then a Captain in the Royal Pioneer Corps, travelled to Höss's residence with a group of British soldiers, many of whom were also Jewish. Alexander's men unsuccessfully interrogated Höss's daughter Brigitte for information; according to Brigitte, the soldiers subsequently started to beat her brother Klaus, leading to Höss's wife to give up his location. Höss initially denied his identity, "insisting he was a lowly gardener", but Alexander saw his wedding ring and ordered Höss to take it off, threatening to cut off his finger if he did not. The soldiers accompanying Alexander began to beat Höss with axe handles. After a few moments Alexander pulled the ring off. Höss' name was inscribed inside.
Höß' different "confessions"
Following his capture, while imprisoned Höß allegedly signed or wrote several different "confessions". In one case he even signed a "confession" written in English. At the Nuremberg Trials, excerpts from one of these "confessions" were read aloud by another person, with Höß at intervals being asked if this was what he had written. Höß in each case answered affirmatively (usually only with the one word "Jawohl", an affirmative response, but with the implication of being a response to an order). In one case he made "a two sentence response (containing an obvious error about the Hungarian Jews supposedly having been killed at Auschwitz as early as 1943 even though the first convoy of them did not arrive at Auschwitz until May 2 of 1944)". No one asked Höß any further questions.
See the article "How the British Obtained the Confessions of Rudolf Höss" in the "External links" section regarding more details on the different versions.
Tortured to gain a "confession"
While being a prisoner in Communist Poland, Höß allegedly wrote his memoirs. Robert Faurisson has written on "The texts generally collected under the title Commandant in Auschwitz. Höss is alleged to have written these texts in pencil under the watchful eye of his Polish-Communist jailers, while in a prison at Cracow awaiting his trial. He was condemned to death on 2 April 1947 and hanged at the Auschwitz concentration camp fourteen days later. The world had to wait 11 years, until 1958, for the publication in German of his alleged memoirs. They were edited by the German historian Martin Broszat without regard for scholarly method. Broszat went so far as to suppress several fragments which would have too clearly made it appear that Höss (or his Polish jailers) had offered outrageous statements which would have called into question the reliability of his writings in toto. [...] In his memoirs Höss recounts the circumstances of his arrest and what followed. The treatment that he underwent was particularly brutal. At first sight it is surprising that the Poles allowed Höss to make the revelations he did about the British military police. On reflection, we discover that they might have done so out of one or more of the following motives:
- to give the confession an appearance of sincerity and veracity;
- to cause the reader to make a comparison, flattering for the Polish Communists, between the British and Polish methods, Indeed Höss later said that during the first part of his detention at Cracow, his jailers came very close to finishing him off physically and above all morally, but that later they treated him with "such decent and considerate treatment" that he consented to write his memoirs;
- to furnish an explanation for certain absurdities contained in the text (NO-1210) that the British police had had Höss sign".
Höß stated that "On March 11, 1946, at 11 p.m., I was arrested. […] I was treated terribly by the (British) Field Security Police. […] During the first interrogation they beat me to obtain evidence. I do not know what is in the transcript, or what I said, even though I signed it, because they gave me liquor and beat me with a whip. It was too much even for me to bear. […] Minden on the Weser River […]. There they treated me even more roughly, especially the first British prosecutor, who was a major. […] I cannot really blame the interrogators [at the IMT] – they were all Jews. I was for all intents and purposes psychologically dissected. […] They also left me with no doubt whatsoever what was going to happen to me."
1983 account on use of torture to gain a "confession"
A 1983 "anti-Nazi" book by Rupert Butler included an interview the Jewish-British Bernard Clarke, who was one of the interrogators of Höß. Faurisson stated in a description of the book that "Bernard Clarke shows no remorse. On the contrary, he exhibits a certain pride in having tortured a "Nazi." Rupert Butler, likewise, finds nothing to criticize in that. Neither of them understands the importance of their revelations. They say that Höss was arrested on 11 March, 1946, and that it took three days of torture to obtain "a coherent statement." They do not realize that the alleged "coherent statement" is nothing other than the lunatic confession, signed by their quivering victim on the l4th or l5th of March 1946, at 2:30 in the morning, which was to seal Höss' fate definitely, a confession which would also give definitive shape to the myth. The confession would also shape decisively the myth of Auschwitz, the supposed high-point of the extermination of the Jews, above all due to the alleged use of homicidal gas chambers."
Criticisms of Holocaust testimonies
The testimonies of Höß have been criticized for argued problems, such as:
- Höß stated 3 million killed at Auschwitz under his command. This fits in with the official Soviet version of a total of 4 million victims at Auschwitz. It has later been admitted that this number is by far too high. Politically correct sources now states much lower numbers. See also Holocaust demographics: 4 million killed at Auschwitz claim.
- In order to make this number realistic, he exaggerated the numbers living in various European countries by an approximate factor of ten.
- Höß mentioned "Wolzec" as another “extermination camp”, despite that there was no camp named Wolzec/Wolzek. Faurisson states that it was "a place which never existed on any Polish map: "Wolzek near Lublin"; confusion with Belz is not possible since Höss talks about three camps: "Belzek (sic), Tublinka (sic) and Wolzek near Lublin.""
- Höß stated that these three camps were already in operation by June 1941, but Belzec began operating in March 1942 and Treblinka in July 1942.
- Höß stated that he received orders to begin murdering Jews in June 1941, at which time he stated that gassings began at Auschwitz. Established historiography, however, dates the alleged “final solution” orders in the autumn of 1941, with the alleged gassings not beginning until early in 1942.
- Höß stated that the members of the prisoner’s cremation detail had no need for gas masks while "immediately" removing the corpses from the gas chambers after the gassing period ended.
- Höß mentioned technically inappropriate, even absurd methods of disposing of the corpses, such as blowing them up with dynamite.
- "an obvious error about the Hungarian Jews supposedly having been killed at Auschwitz as early as 1943 even though the first convoy of them did not arrive at Auschwitz until May 2 of 1944."
The Holocaust revisionist Carlos Porter has criticized various Nuremberg and Polish claims and documents associated with Höß, many contradictions in claims allegedly made by Höß, instances when Höß made statements such as "the aim wasn't to have as many dead as possible or to destroy as many detainees as possible. The Reichsfuhrer was constantly concerned with the problems of engaging all forces possible in the armament industry", and punishments of Germans for any mistreatment of prisoners.
Porter has also written that "It is not true that Höss's court appearance at Nuremberg consisted chiefly of assenting to his affidavit [...] Instead, Höss appeared to testify, and, as usual, contradicted his affidavit and himself as much as possible [...] Höss's motivation appears to have been to protect his wife and 3 children, and to save the lives of others by testifying that only 60 people knew of the mass killings. Höss attempted to save Kaltenbrunner by implicating Eichmann and Pohl, who had not yet been apprehended. [...] Höss's famous "autobiography" Kommandant in Auschwitz, probably prepared in question and answer from through interrogation like a gigantic "affidavit", then written up to be copied in his handwriting [...] The Polish "translation" of this book, published prior to the publication of the German "original text", seems to agree with the German text, except that place names and dates are missing, indicating that the Polish was probably written first, these details being inserted later in the German translation."
In the book Commandant of Auschwitz—Rudolf Höss, His Torture and His Forced Confessions by the Holocaust revisionist Carlo Mattogno, "Using various British documents, the author of the present study pieces together an almost minute-by-minute recounting of how the British managed to find Höss in his hiding place, and how they abused him after his capture to extract various “confessions” from him. To separate truth from fiction, the author next presents essential excerpts from all the statements made by Höss after his capture: 85 individual documents in total (affidavits, memos, essays, interrogation protocols, etc.). By analyzing them meticulously, he demonstrates that Höss’s statements about the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” contradict one other and are refuted by historical facts established by solid documentation and material evidence. Höss, the author concludes, initially “was a coerced liar, but then he found a taste for the grandiloquent lie.”"
Alleged writings by Höß published by Communist Poland mentioned Soviet atrocities known to the Germans. This has been seen as evidence against the writings being Communist fabrications. Regarding this, see Holocaust motivations: Some of the Allies allowing criticism of other Allies and not emphasizing Jewish Holocaust uniqueness.
On 17 August 1929, Höß married Hedwig Hensel (1908–1989), whom he met in the Artaman League. Between 1930 and 1943 they had five children: two sons (Klaus and Hans-Rudolf) and three daughters (Ingebrigitt, Heidetraut and Annegret). Ingebrigitt was born on a farm in northern Germany in 1934 after Heidetraut, Höss's eldest daughter, was born in 1932; and Annegret, the youngest, was born at Auschwitz in November 1943. It was during this time that he became acquainted with Heinrich Himmler.
Promotions (day, month, year)
- 20.9.1933 SS-Anwärter
- 1.4.1934 SS-Mann
- 20.4.1934 SS-Sturmmann
- 28.11.1934 SS-Unterscharführer
- 1.4.1935 SS-Scharführer
- 1.7.1935 SS-Oberscharführer
- 1.3.1936 SS-Hauptscharführer
- 13.9.1936 SS-Untersturmführer
- 11.9.1938 SS-Obersturmführer
- 9.11.1938 SS-Hauptsturmführer
- 30.1.1941 SS-Sturmbannführer
- 18.7.1942 SS-Obersturmbannführer
Awards and decorations
- Iron Cross (1914), 2nd and 1st Class
- Badische Tapferkeitsmedaille
- Eiserner Halbmond (Gallipoli Star)
- Wound Badge (1918) in Black and Silver
- Baltenkreuz (Freikorps)
- Allgemeines Gau-Ehrenzeichen "1925"
- Ehrenkreuz für Frontkämpfer
- Hungarian World War Commemorative Medal (Ungarische Kriegs-Erinnerungs-Medaille) with Swords
- Honour Chevron for the Old Guard (Ehrenwinkel der Alten Kämpfer)
- SS Long Service Award (SS-Dienstauszeichnung) in Silver for 12 years
- Police SS Long Service Award (Polizei-Dienstauszeichnung) for 18 years
- German Reich Sport Badge (Deutsches Reichssportabzeichen) in Bronze
- SA Sports Badge (SA-Sportabzeichen) in Bronze
- SS-Julleuchter (de)
- Totenkopfring der SS
- Ehrendegen „Reichsführer-SS“
- War Merit Cross (1939), 2nd and 1st Class with swords
The criticisms mentioned above are just some examples of the many criticisms and deconstructions of obvious lies made by Holocaust revisionists. See the "External links" section below regarding many other criticisms.
- How the British Obtained the Confessions of Rudolf Höss
- Rudolf Höss: Pillar of the Holocaust extermination thesis
- Rudolf Hoess: The Legal Implications of his Forced Confession
- On Rudolf Höss alleged visit to Treblinka
- Death Dealer: The Memoirs of the SS Kommandant at Auschwitz. A Review
- British Torture: What Does it Mean for Revisionism?z
- Rudolf Hoess
- NOT GUILTY AT NUREMBERG: The German Defense Case - detailed descriptions and criticisms of the alleged evidence against each of the accused and witnesses at the IMT
In downloadable books
- Commandant of Auschwitz—Rudolf Höss, His Torture and His Forced Confessions
- The Hoax of the Twentieth Century—The Case Against the Presumed Extermination of European Jewry - Chapter 4: Auschwitz: The Höss ‘Confession’
- Lectures on the Holocaust—Controversial Issues Cross Examined - 4.5.4. Rudolf Höß, also page 330-331
- The Real Case for Auschwitz—Robert van Pelt’s Evidence from the Irving Trial Critically Reviewed - Part Three: The Witnesses Henryk Tauber and Rudolf Höss
- Auschwitz: A Judge Looks at the Evidence - Chapter Three: Testimony and Personal Accounts: The Cracow Memoirs of Rudolf Höss, Commandant of Auschwit
- Eyewitness Reports and Perpetrator Confessions of the Holocaust—30 Gas-Chamber Witnesses Scrutinized - Chapter 3.1. Rudolf Höss
Note that besides the external sources listed here, an alleged Holocaust confessor/witness may be extensively discussed in the external sources listed in the articles on the particular Holocaust camps and/or other Holocaust phenomena the individual is associated with.
- Holocaust Handbooks, Volume 15: Germar Rudolf: Lectures on the Holocaust—Controversial Issues Cross Examined 2nd, revised and corrected edition. http://holocausthandbooks.com/index.php?page_id=15
- "Nazi hunter: Exploring the power of secrecy and silence". The Globe and Mail. 7 November 2013. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/nazi-hunter-exploring-the-power-of-secrecy-and-silence/article15311820/.
- Thomas Harding (31 August 2013). "Was my Jewish great-uncle a Nazi hunter?". The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/aug/31/german-jewish-nazi-hunter-auschwitz.
- Thomas Harding (7 September 2013). "Hiding in N. Virginia, a daughter of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/hiding-in-n-virginia-a-daughter-of-auschwitz/2013/09/06/1314d648-04fd-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html.
- Richard Overy (9 September 2013). "Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding, review". The Telegraph.
- Zimmerman, John C. (11 February 1999). How Reliable are the Höss Memoirs?.
- Robert Faurisson (1986) How the British Obtained The Confessions Of Rudolf Höss, The Journal for Historical Review Winter 1986 Volume 7', page 389. http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v07/v07p389_Faurisson.html
- NOT GUILTY AT NUREMBERG: The German Defense Case http://cwporter.com/innocent.htm
- Rudolf Höss, Carlo Mattogno: Commandant of Auschwitz—Rudolf Höss, His Torture and His Forced Confessions http://holocausthandbooks.com/index.php?main_page=1&page_id=35
- Re: quora.com / Tim O'Neill: Nazis never denied 'holocaust' https://forum.codoh.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=8165&start=60#p66296