He was a lonely child with no playmates his own age until he entered elementary school; all of his companionship came from adults. He claimed in his autobiography that he was briefly abducted by Gypsies in his youth. His father, a former army officer who served in German East Africa , ran a tea and coffee business; he brought his son up on strict religious principles and with military discipline, having decided that he would enter the priesthood. During his early years, there was a constant emphasis on sin, guilt, and the need to do penance.
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He openly confesses that he personally arranged to have 2,, persons shot or gassed… While in prison awaiting his execution, he was ordered to record his memories. Its authenticity cannot be gainsaid.
What was revealed at Nuremberg bears it out. Stories of survivors do likewise… It is a fiendish recital. That is also what makes it an important work. The English translation was made from this edition. Martin Broszat, who wrote the introduction to the German edition. He was interrogated by Field Security on March 13 and The trial did not take place until the following March.
He was condemned to death, and executed in April What Hoess wrote in prison, the greater part of which is translated and reproduced here, falls into two parts. There is his autobiography, which constitutes pages 29 to and which is given in its entirety so far as it is legible. This was written in January and February of , that is to say, after the preliminary inquiries had been completed, but before he faced trial.
The remainder of this book, here given in the form of appendices, was written in connection with that preliminary inquiry or with other inquiries being simultaneously carried out by Dr. Jan Sehn, the examining judge. These documents are of varying interest, and are not all reproduced in full here. The other documents are in most cases typewritten, some being stenographic transcriptions, but internal evidence proves them to be certainly genuine as well. Broszat, who has fully tested its authenticity.
These documents were first published, in part, in , in a Polish translation edited and introduced by the well-known Polish criminologist, Dr. Stanislaw Batawia, who had had some thirteen conversations with Hoess in Cracow prison, and who had then suggested to him that he write his autobiography.
This edition contained all the autobiography and a selection of the other documents. Jan Sehn. In the German edition the autobiography has been broken up and given chapter headings; but in this English edition it has been considered better to print the text exactly as Hoess wrote it. Furthermore, the German edition is not unabridged. For example, the incident of the Romanian prince has been omitted, presumably for reasons of squeamishness. Here the autobiography is given in its entirety: where there are gaps, indicated by…, this is in all cases save one because such brief gaps, all of only a few words, exist in the transcribed typescript and are due to the illegibility of the original manuscript.
The translator would like to express his personal gratitude to Mr. Andrew Foster-Melliar for his help both in preparing the first draft of this translation and in correcting the proofs. Within a few weeks of his coming to power in , Hitler introduced what was called Schutzhaft, or protective custody, into the legal system. At the outbreak of war there were six concentration camps in Germany containing about 20, prisoners. During the war probably not less than twelve million men, women, and children from the invaded and occupied territories were done to death by the Germans.
At a conservative estimate, eight million of them perished in concentration camps. Of these, not less than five million were Jews. It would not, therefore, necessarily be an exaggeration to say, wrote Professor Frumkin, that over five million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.
The real number, however, will never be known. Murder conducted like some mass-production industry in the gas chambers and the ovens of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Maidanek and Oranienburg.
Some had been deported as slave labor and were no longer considered fit for work. Had the Germans successfully invaded and occupied the British Isles many thousands of British would have been included in this category. The deterrent effect of the concentration camp upon the public in Germany before the war was considerable and had been carefully planned.
Originally the veil of secrecy and officially inspired rumors were both employed to deepen the mystery and heighten the dread. There were many who did not know all that went on behind those barbed-wire fences but few who could not guess. It was not intended that this veil of secrecy should ever be wholly lifted. A privileged few were allowed an occasional peep, and the many civilians who were employed in concentration and labor camps must have passed on to their relatives and friends some account of what they saw within.
The world has since learned the full tragedy of the story. The survivors have told of their experiences, and the camps themselves have given testimony of the horrors of which their very walls were silent witnesses. Those who were the first to enter these camps will be forever haunted by the horror of what they saw. One of the worst of these camps was situated just outside the little Polish town of Auschwitz Oswiecim , about miles southwest of Warsaw and before the war quite unknown outside Poland.
Before the end of the war not less than three million men, women, and children had met their death there by gassing and other means. This book is the autobiography of Rudolf Hoess who was commandant of the camp from May until December In the late afternoon of March 16, , two officers of the War Crimes Investigation Unit of the British Army of the Rhine left Headquarters to interview a German war criminal who had been on the wanted list for over eight months.
His name was Rudolf Hoess. After his arrest near Flensburg, on the frontier between Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein, he had been taken to the War Crimes Investigation Center in the historic old town of Minden. He had been taken prisoner in May with hundreds of thousands of other Germans, but as his real identity was not then known he was soon released to go and work on a farm. There he had remained for eight months until at last justice caught up with him.
They did not, however, ask him any questions except to make sure of his identity. The senior of the two had been working on the Auschwitz Camp and other concentration camp cases for many months and had accumulated a great deal of evidence. They needed little, if anything, to complete the picture. Before leaving the Investigation Center, however, to return to Rhine Army Headquarters the officer in charge of the investigation told the former Commandant of Auschwitz exactly what the British already knew about the wholesale exterminations carried out there and of the part he played in them.
He then told Hoess in dignified but unmistakable language exactly what he thought about him and those like him, and warned him that in due course he would stand trial by a military court. Before the interview ended, however, Hoess was asked for one piece of information: how many people had he been responsible for putting to death by gassing during the time when he was the Commandant of Auschwitz?
After some thought he finally admitted to two million and signed a statement to that effect. On being asked whether the number was not larger he agreed that the total number of gassings was higher than that, but stated that he had left the camp in December to take up an SS administrative appointment and was not, therefore, responsible for what happened subsequently. I personally arranged on orders received from Himmler in May the gassing of two million persons between June-July and the end of , during which time I was Commandant of Auschwitz.
Signed, Rudolf Hoess. On the following day the two investigation officers returned and a detailed interrogation of Hoess took place. He was extremely co-operative and gave a very full account of his stewardship and displayed an amazing memory for detail. At the end of three or four hours his statement was condensed to eight typewritten pages which he read through and signed.
It is noteworthy that this document differs little, and in no material details, from what Hoess later stated in evidence at the Nuremberg Trial of Major War Criminals and wrote in his autobiography in Cracow nearly twelve months later.
He certainly never sought to hide anything that he had done, and was more prone to exaggerate than understate, for he regarded it as a compliment to his zeal, capacity for work, and devotion to duty to have carried out his gruesome orders with such dispatch and efficiency. Auschwitz was to be an important camp, principally for the suppression of opposition to the Nazi occupation of Poland, to which the inhabitants of that unhappy country were not taking too kindly.
So an efficient commandant had to be found. Hoess possessed the necessary qualifications. This force was raised in that year by a number of desperadoes from the German Army who refused to be bound by the Versailles Treaty and regarded Philip Scheide-mann, who signed it, as a traitor. The members of this organization committed many acts of sabotage and murder against the lives and property of those whom they considered collaborators with the Allied Commission and the Government of Friedrich Ebert.
While in command of an SS mounted squadron in Pomerania in he was noticed during an inspection by Himmler, who thought that his experience and bearing fitted him for an administrative appointment in a concentration camp. From then onward his future was assured. In , Himmler inspected Auschwitz and gave instructions that it was to be enlarged and the surrounding swamps drained. At the same time a new camp was established nearby at Birkenau for , Russian prisoners.
From this time the number of prisoners grew daily although the accommodation for them was unsatisfactory. Medical provisions were inadequate and epidemic diseases became common. In , also, the first intake of Jews arrived from Slovakia and Upper Silesia, and from the first those unfit for work were gassed in a room in the crematorium building. Persecution of the Jews in the countries which the Nazis invaded and occupied since had already been on a stupendous scale, but it cannot have taken by surprise anyone who had followed the rise of the Nazis to power in or their Party program.
A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race. The Jews were to be regarded as foreigners and have no rights of German citizenship. It was used by the Nazis as one of the means of implementing their master-race policy.
Commandant of Auschwitz, Was an Affectionate Dad Hugged & Kissed His Kids Before Going to Work
Some arrived in June , and were told they would not survive more than three months. Farbenindustrie AG , and later other German industries. The main purpose of Monowitz was the production of buna, a form of synthetic rubber. The prisoners were unloaded in the Birkenau camp; those fit for labor were marched to barracks in either Birkenau or one of the Auschwitz camps, while those unsuitable for work were driven into the gas chambers. At first, small gassing bunkers were located deep in the woods to avoid detection.
Nevertheless, the reasons behind the extermination program seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out. Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I lacked the necessary breadth of view. In his view, the mass genocide of the Jewish people was merely another task that had to be completed—he was simply following orders, as he so very clearly stated so many times during his captivity. And that he did with industrial precision. It was almost like he was running a factory, and what he manufactured—or, better said, destroyed—were nothing more than mere products to him. In effect, he was a quota-man who did his utmost to achieve what he had been tasked to achieve.