Read Kommandant In Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen by Rudolf Höss Online

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An extraordinary and unique document: Hoess was in charge of the huge extermination camp in Poland where the Nazis murdered some three million Jews, from the time of its creation (he was responsible for building it) in 1940 until late in 1943, by which time the mass exterminations were half completed. Before this he had worked in other concentration camps, and afterwards hAn extraordinary and unique document: Hoess was in charge of the huge extermination camp in Poland where the Nazis murdered some three million Jews, from the time of its creation (he was responsible for building it) in 1940 until late in 1943, by which time the mass exterminations were half completed. Before this he had worked in other concentration camps, and afterwards he was at the Inspectorate in Berlin. He thus knew more, both at first-hand and as an administrator, about Nazi Germany's greatest crime than did any save two or three other men.Taken prisoner by the British, he was handed over to the Poles, tried, sentenced to death, and taken back to Auschwitz and there hanged. During the period between his trial and his execution, he was ordered to write his autobiography. This is it. Hoess repeatedly says he was glad to write the book. He enjoyed the work. And finally the most careful checking has shown that he took great pains to tell the truth. Here we have, painted by his own hand, a vivid and unforgettable self-portrait of one of the great monsters of all time. To this are added portraits of some of his more spectacular fellow-criminals. The royalties from this macabre but historically important book go to the fund set up to help the few survivors from the Auschwitz camps....

Title : Kommandant In Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen
Author :
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ISBN : 9783423301275
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 183 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Kommandant In Auschwitz. Autobiographische Aufzeichnungen Reviews

  • Antonius Block
    2018-10-14 01:49

    Ovo bi moralo da bude obavezno štivo za srednju školu: da se pročitaju zločini Drugog svetskog rata iz perspektive počinitelja i shvate zamke ideologije. Kad sam čitala ovu knjigu pre šest godina, znam da sam tvrdoglavo nastavljala poglavlje po poglavlje, iako sam dobila temperaturu i glavobolju; i mislim da je, iako ispunjena užasima i izaziva želju da je spališ posle čitanja, jedna od najkorisnijih knjiga koje sam ikada pročitala.

  • Jenna
    2018-10-01 01:09

    Did I give this book five stars because I agree with what he did? With the persecution of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, etc? With the slaughter of millions of lives? Of course not. The book deserves five stars because it gets you into the mind of a cruel man who can carry out cruel actions and still be able to play the martyr. In this book, you will heard countless times how it wasn't Hoess's fault. How he was always striving for the best he could get his prisoners. How hard he was done by! He even goes as far as to suggest that the work his prisoners had to do day in and day out was good for them; it kept them psychologically sane. At times it even felt like he was trying to vilify the prisoners in the sonderkommando!This book was truly horrific in content and at times I simply couldn't believe what I was reading. Was I supposed to just accept that the extermination of millions of people was just your typical job? Hoess in clever in the way he builds up his story so that it flows into a "logical" way of thinking. But his little tricks won't work on any self-thinking human being. He can say as many times as he likes that being the commandant meant that he wasn't directly responsible for the disgusting conditions of prison life or the gassing of prisoners. He can blame Himmler all he likes for making the orders nothing but orders. He is not apologetic for what he did and the only thing he does regret is getting caught. I recommend this book for anyone interested in WW2, in the running of a concentration camp or for those who want to understand what goes through the mind of evil. Hoess is a definite liar with his thoughts and feelings but at least he was honest with fact.

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau
    2018-10-18 01:51

    Rudolf Höss was a linchpin in the machinery that drove the gears of the Holocaust. As such his perspective (although biased) needs to be examined - to prevent such perspectives in the future.

  • Niklas Pivic
    2018-10-23 06:56

    This book is, as Primo Levi says in the introduction, filled with lies and shirks, but never the less, it is an extremely important document of The Final Solution, the extermination machine, Auschwitz, Birkenau, the bureaucracy, the corruption and the insanity that existed in the top ranks and among the SS in Auschwitz.While Höss details his life from growing up until the end, he intersperses the story with very important details on how Auschwitz grew, how the sub-camps worked, he also writes about his family, mass exterminations, day-to-day activities, hardships, etc.Remember: Höss joined the nazi party and the SS voluntarily. And he is considered by many to be the most cruel commandant of Auschwitz.All in all, as Levi writes, Höss' prejudice and idiocies stick out like "flies in milk", but viewed with a critical eye, this is a must read for anybody who wants more insight into the horrors of The Final Solution.

  • Julie
    2018-10-15 04:12

    (Because you can’t give a Nazi 5 stars)“Rudolph Hoss’s memoirs are perhaps the most important document attesting to the Holocaust, because they are the only candid, detailed, and essentially honest description of the plan of mass annihilation from a high-ranking SS officer intimately involved in the carrying out of Hitler’s and Himmler’s plan.” (from the book’s preface). I think that is a pretty accurate depiction of what this book is. Hoss was forthright in conveying his own personal history, his role in the Nazi machine, and his position as Kommandant of Auschwitz. His formative years during WWI, his 6 years in prison, and his early years in the SS all led up to the position he would be most notorious for. I learned a lot about SS hierarchy, especially in regards to concentration camp administration. The pre-war and pre-final solution camps were mainly for political prisoners (ENEMIES OF THE STATE). They eventually evolved to become death factories, as Hoss reflected, “…who could imagine the horrible tasks that would be assigned to the concentration camps during the war.” When he was finally given the assignment to establish and build Auschwitz, he adamantly vented his frustration toward his subordinates. “A person can fight active opposition but is powerless against passive resistance.” He was definitely an if-you-want-something-done-right-you-have-to-do-it-yourself kind of guy. The worst possible fate for a Jew at Auschwitz would be Sonderkommando, herding fellow Jews into gas chambers, removing the bodies, liberating them of their gold teeth and hair, and feeding the corpses into the furnaces. “It often happened that Jews from the Sonderkommando discovered close relatives among the bodies [dug up after being in mass graves] and even among those who went into the gas chambers.” Good Lord. Hoss seemed remorseful when recalling the atrocities he witnessed, though he admitted he had to maintain a fiercely indifferent façade and portray himself as unaffected. He was responsible for developing Zyklon B, which would be the vehicle that allowed the Nazi’s to fulfill the Final Solution at such a rapid pace. And he stood by as millions were led into the gas chambers. His excuse follows the typical Nazi adage that they were just following orders. “Hoss was a man who needed something to believe in and, more importantly, someone to tell him what to do.” (from epilogue)His own account, and especially his final letters to his family almost make him sympathetic. ALMOST. No doubt he was monstrous, but there is a sense of humanity beneath his Nazi uniform and ideology. His complicacy in “spilling the beans” to prosecutors attests to that. “Hoss was one of the few who could, and also would give precise information about every aspect of the mass killings. In fact, he answered everything asked of him.” No doubt this is a historically significant book. It also offers supplementary material, like Hoss’s recollections of his collegues (I didn’t read all of them, only major, recognizable players like Himmler) and Wannassee conference minutes. Overall it was a chilling, if necessary glimpse at life inside the Nazi regime and concentration camps.

  • Paola
    2018-09-23 03:07

    Haunting book - the memoirs that Höss, Auschwitz commander for two years, wrote while in jail awaiting execution. This Italian edition (for one in English see Death Dealer: The Memoirs Of The Ss Kommandant At Auschwitz) comes with a lucid preface by Primo Levi (himlsef an Auschwitz survivor) - Hoss sees himself simply as somebody who wants to do his job properly, or at least this is the justification he is putting out to the world. In his allucinated perspective, perfecting ways to "process" large numbers of inmates becomes almost an act of kindness to his prisoners: "Death would overcome [them] in the crowded cells just after the gas had been pumped int. A short cry, immediately muffled, and all was over" [my translation] - and Hoss is greatly conforted by the success of gasing Russian prisoners, as he had worried about not being able to carry out the orders of the mass extermination of the Jews in the near future. He is simply a guy doing his job, and he cares about doing it properly. As compelling as it is horrifying.

  • Leah Hess
    2018-09-25 09:09

    Commandant of Auschwitz is a true account from the Auschwitz Commandant's perception of all the events taking place in Auschwitz and other concentration camps.I've had this book, which consists of only 235 pages, on my bookshelf for a while now. It should, theoretically, be a quick, easy read. But it isn't. My stomach was churning with every page. The accounts of what happened sickened me. I applaud Hoess for his honest recollection while in prison waiting to be murdered for the events in Auschwitz. Not one group in the camp goes unexamined by Hoess, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, women, and homosexuals.A particularly disturbing excerpt from the book reads:" By will of the Reichsfuhrer SS, Auschwitz became the greatest human extermination center of all time. When in the summer of 1941 he himself gave me the order to prepare installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place, and personally to carry out these exterminations, I did not have the slightest idea of their scale or consequesnces. It was certainly an extraordinary and monstrous order. 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."Hoess continues to describe, in great detail, the look, function, and activity taking place in gas chambers. He estimates numbers killed (which never made it to the millions, because Hoess believed there was no way there had been millions murdered).This novel is an incredible first-person account of Auschwitz. I recommend it to anyone interested in the events of World War II in Germany.

  • Alan Mauldin
    2018-10-14 03:56

    This alleged human is scary. In writing his memoirs he revealed a lack of awareness, emotion and responsibility that is breathtaking. The SS guards he was assigned, the poor medical care, lack of supplies and indifferent higher officers all caused the brutal and deadly conditions at Auschwitz. He struggled mightily to rectify the situation, but could not manage due to everyone conspiring against him. There was nothing he could do to stop the sadistic guards from encouraging the mistreatment of prisoners or killing them.But then he admits the Kommandant who followed him fixed the problem of prisoner beatings in no time.The worst is his reaction to his role in killing perhaps three million or more people. It was an order like any other. He was just the instrument fate put in place to carry it out.He is almost moved when a mother, one of the few he witnessed killed who knew her fate ahead of time, calmed her children and told them everything would be fine, but whispered in his ear as she passed: How can you kill all these beautiful children?He never answers that question, as he rattles off his account of unimaginable horror in an almost trivial manner. He discusses how his lot was terrible, what with no one he can depend on to properly assist him, with directives to supply so many prisoners to work as slaves building weapons for the Nazi arms manufacturers and the never-ending supply of trains bringing Jews that he has to routinely gas to death and then burn. That he doesn't seem to realize the enormity of what he's done -- and why it should be considered so horrible -- is the most frighting aspect of it all.

  • Linda Munro
    2018-10-09 04:06

    An amazing book; anyone in the field of psycology should read it for sure! How is it that a person who feels so deeply for his own family can put hundreds of thousands of humans to death. The denial in thi man as to what he could have, should have done as Kommadant of Auschwitz and what he actually did has helped me to understand more about what is happening in America. Those within the states who are carrying out Union stripping bills may want to read this book, or maybe they have, since the last huge Union stripping measures occured in Germany between WWI & WWII with all of the 'free-thinking' people who lead the Unions and/or refused to give up their Union ideals having been sent to concentration camps. After having researched the rise of the KKK during the 1920's; I predicted they would rise again once Obama was elected, and I was correct; only this time they are called tea-party members. After reading this book, I suggest that every person who is poor, blue collar or disabled make a mass exodus of the U.S.; after all tea party candidate have already suggested concentration camps (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvlKMg...) People are evil, with some of the worse offenders against humanity being those who cause their authrocities in the name of their religion! READ THIS BOOK!!!

  • Gretchen
    2018-10-03 01:51

    I read this book quickly...I wanted to read it but not to linger on it any more than necessary because I felt such disgust and dirtiness just touching the pages. But I think its still imporant to understand the perpetrator mentality...and try to understand what makes people do things?The question of the book: Is Hoss completely delusional and fanatical and believing everything he says? Or is he diabolical, evil, clever and trying to write a persuasive account so that his life or at least his reputation be saved?I have to say its the latter. He writes articulately and with intelligence yet contradicts himself constantly and tries to paint himself as "Poor me, I had to carry out orders that made me sad". He claims to not be racist yet spouts off ridiculous assumptions and insults. He claims he had no other choice yet he signed up and easily extricates himself when he wants to. These are clearly the purposeful and deceitful writings of someone with no remorse.Still, despite all the revulsion that comes with reading this bnook, it is worth the read. If only because we cannot be educated enough on the potential horror and evil that can burst forth in our world and come out of seemingly normal people.Depressing and terrible, yes. But an educational, psychological study of cowardice, brutality, denial and weakness? That as well.

  • Chaim
    2018-09-28 02:58

    This book is downright disturbing! Rudolph Hoess, who oversaw the Auschwitz camps during the time that the crematoriums were built, during the time when millions of Jews and other human beings were exterminated there, finds it within himself to spend an entire book explaining why he's at no fault at all, and shows no regret whatsoever. The blame seems to lay all around him (he blames his superiors as well as his subordinates) but somehow manages to escape him.What's even more disturbing is how he fills entire pages questioning the moral standards of the prisoners who were part of the "special detachment" (sonderkommando), or the kapos. Failing to admit that these ppl, though truly behaved badly, were a product of his doing (besides, how does someone like him get to judge anyone). By reading this book, one can see how an ordinary person with a "soldier" mentality can be sucked into a system of evil. Because unfortunately, Rudolph Hoess does not come across as an evil man, which makes it all so incomprehensible.

  • Ashley Jacobson
    2018-10-13 04:56

    It's been almost 10 years since I read this book, but it was eye opening. It was factual and so interesting on a moral level. I still felt as if he was a despicable man, but it was interesting to read about the camps from a different perspective. It was obvious he did not feel remorse for what he did and continued to claim that he was doing the right thing. But this isn't a repentant man admitting he was fooled into doing horrible things. He still believes what he did was right. This is an important piece of literature for any complete study of the Holocaust !!

  • James
    2018-10-05 03:47

    If you had any doubts about the Holocaust this book will change your mind. Reading this book is very scary and upsetting. He treats the Jews and others as vermin to be killed. If you belive Hilter did not know what was going on this book will end that notion.

  • Mr Norton
    2018-10-03 07:53

    The Greek philosopher Socrates used to win his arguments not by attacking his adversaries but by instead asking them open, seemingly innocent questions. In their confident answering of such intellectual trojan horses, his sophist opponents would have the frailties of their logic exposed. I’m not sure if the British captors of Rudolf Hoess were aware of the socratic technique when they forced him to write his autobiography but, in getting Hoess to write this horrible, self-aggrandising book, similar results are achieved.Predictably, ‘Commandant of Auschwitz’ is dripping with denial. Hoess even has the audacity to claim that all he ever wanted to do was to live the life of a farmer with his wife and children (the romantic Nazi ideal), but that the lure of being a soldier again after the first world war was too much. When urged by old comrades to return, he found he just could not say no to joining the SS. Chance, sliding doors and it-could-happen-to-anyone is Hoess’s first insult to the reader’s intelligence.Most of his rationalisations, however, are suggested indirectly. Hoess attempts to manipulate the reader through describing the most excruciating banalities about the difficulties of running a concentration camp. It is within the very ordinariness of the detail offered that the reader is lured into unwittingly normalising Hoess. He bemoans, for instance, the difficulties of procuring barbed wire in a war as if he were a housewife during the blitz worrying about rations. The quality of guard allotted to him is another of his gripes. His own ‘goodwill and all the best intentions were doomed to be dashed to pieces against the human inadequacy and sheer stupidity of most the officers and men posted to [him].’ Hoess himself, he claims, wanted ‘to obtain the willing cooperation of the prisoners.’ The brutality of the camp being due to circumstances beyond his control is the tacit but clear implication.It will come as no surprise to learn that Hoess is no writer. Ironically however, once he gets to the minutiae of the mass murdering of prisoners his turgid, matter-of-fact style becomes a blow for the truth and hoists him by his own petard. His unapologetic and banal detailing of events unwittingly makes for a crucial historical primary source. The passages concerned disturb all the more for the lack of awareness in their teller, but they should be required reading for all holocaust deniers. This is an odious book and a difficult read but is nevertheless a compelling read: the holocaust should be understood fully, and hearing it from a Nazi is part of such a process. In his lies, myriad defences and inadequate acknowledgements, Hoess illustrates not just the evils of Nazism with which we are already familiar but also, its mean-spiritedness and poverty of imagination. Recommended.

  • Bernie Weisz
    2018-10-23 07:48

    Review Written By Bernie Weisz Historian, Pembroke Pines, Fl USA Contact: [email protected] of Review: A Disturbing Description by a "Super-Sociopath" This is a memoir that exemplifies the true meaning of a sociopath, a man who kills without conscience. Rudolf Hoess was history's greatest mass murderer, the architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp of "Auschwitz" (located in Poland), whose name has come to symbolize humanity's ultimate, abject descent into evil. Responsible for exterminating over 2.5 million people (primarily Jews, as well as Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Russians), he was a mild-mannered, happily married man who enjoyed normal family life with his five children despite his view of the crematorium chimney stacks from his bedroom window. At peak efficiency, Auschwitz had the capacity to murder 10,000 people in 24 hours, as Hoess would testify during the War Crimes trials at Nuremburg after World War II. Witness after witness, as well as mass documents produced irrefutable evidence of the crimes committed, and no witness was more shocking than Rudolf Hoess, who calmly elucidated how he had come to exterminate 2.5 million people. He further expounds upon this in "Commandant of Auschwitz". Rudolf Franz Hoess was born in 1900 and joined Adolf Hitler's Gestapo (the "SS") in 1933. In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau. Then, on August 1st, 1938, he was adjutant of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp until his appointment as Commandant of the newly built camp at Auschwitz in early 1940. This was located near the provincial Polish town of Oshweicim in Galacia. In May, 1941 the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler explained to Hoess that Adolf Hitler had given the orders for the final solution for the Jewish question. The "Final Solution' was Hitler's plan to implement Aryian racial purity and rid the continent of any contaminants of Germanic, pure blood Nordic origins, particularly by killing Jews. Hoess details in his book how he converted Auschwitz into an extermination camp and installed gas chambers and crematoriums. Auschwitz became the largest killing center where the greatest number of European Jews were slaughtered. Detailed in this story, Hoess explains how after an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of primarily Jews utilizing "Zyklon-B" gas commenced at Auschwitz, whereupon extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with 2.5 million innocent men, women and children were eventually butchered through mostly poison gassing, but also through barbaric methods such as starvation, disease, shooting and burning. At Auschwitz "so called" camp doctors i.e. German physicians and scientists performed vile and potentially lethal medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, tortured Jewish and Gypsy children and many others. "Patients" were put into pressure chambers, tested with drugs (lethal gasoline injections), castrated, sterilized, frozen to death and exposed to various traumas. In late 1943 Hoess was appointed chief inspector of all German Concentration camps and worked hard to improve the efficiency of them all. At the end of W.W. II, with Germany's eminent collapse, Hoess describes how he fled at the approach of the Russian Red Army and went into hiding in Germany under the name "Franz Lang". He was arrested by British military police on March 11, 1946. His wife had told the British where he could be found, fearing that her son, Klaus, would be shipped off to Russia. Handed over to the Polish authorities, he was tried in 1947. While awaiting sentencing, Hoess penned this book. He was sentenced to death, and was returned to Auschwitz to be hanged on the gallows outside the entrance to the gas chamber. John J. Hughes, in his book "A Mass Murderer Repents:The Case of Rudolf Hoess" wrote that four days before he was hung, Hoess sent a message to the state prosecutor. His emotionless veneer cracked as he sent the following message to the state prosecutor stating: "My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the "Third Reich" for human destruction. In doing so I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I have caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done". The execution was carried out on April 16, 1947. Although never executed, compare Hoess's aforementioned statement with the following. William Calley, the convicted commander of an American fighting unit that on March 16, 1968 entered the South Vietnamese hamlet of "My Lai" and massacred 400 unarmed women children and old men during the Vietnam War, had this to say about his guilt and conscience. This is quoted out of his autobiography. "As a professional soldier I had been taught and instructed to carry out the orders that were issued by the superiors-my lieutenant, my commanding officer, the captain. At no time did it ever cross my mind to disobey or to refuse to carry out an order that was issued by my superiors. I felt that they (Charlie Company) were able to carry out the assigned task, the orders, that meant killing small kids, killing women, because they were soldiers, they were trained that way. I feel that we carried out the orders in a moral fashion, and the orders of destroying the village, of killing the people in the village, and I feel we did not violate any moral standards." Was Calley a sociopath like Hoess? Hoess was also following orders, issued by Adolf Hitler. Were was his conscience? What happened to God's commandment "Thy Shalt Not Kill? Where was Hoess and Calley's guilt? Another mass murderer, Ted Bundy, a sadistic monster and mass manipulator whose grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead, had this to say about guilt: "Guilt? It's this mechanism we use to control people. It's an illusion. It's a kind of social control mechanism-and it's very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior rather than the extraordinary use of guilt. Now, some people could listen to what I just said and say "see, he's a sociopath." or whatever term they use. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt." Killing another human being is wrong any way you look at it. Whether it is done on a mass scale such as was done by Hoess and the Nazi's during the Holocaust, or by a serial killer like Ted Bundy, or even using the excuse of a "Holy War", i.e. flying commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001 and killing all those innocent occupants of the Twin Towers in N.Y.C. Regardless, Hoess's book is an examination into the mind of a cold, sterile killer, a deed that history, or myself will never forgive nor forget. Do yourself a favor, read this book objectively and pray that this never occurs again for eternity's sake!

  • Bernie Weisz
    2018-10-12 03:05

    Review Written By Bernie Weisz, Historian Pembroke Pines, Fl USA Contact: [email protected] December 21, 2008 Title of Review: "A Disturbing Description by a "Super-Sociopath!" This is a memoir that exemplifies the true meaning of a sociopath, a man who kills without conscience. Rudolf Hoess was history's greatest mass murderer, the architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp of "Auschwitz" (located in Poland), whose name has come to symbolize humanity's ultimate, abject descent into evil. Responsible for exterminating over 2.5 million people (primarily Jews, as well as Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Russians), he was a mild-mannered, happily married man who enjoyed normal family life with his five children despite his view of the crematorium chimney stacks from his bedroom window. At peak efficiency, Auschwitz had the capacity to murder 10,000 people in 24 hours, as Hoess would testify during the War Crimes trials at Nuremburg after World War II. Witness after witness, as well as mass documents produced irrefutable evidence of the crimes committed, and no witness was more shocking than Rudolf Hoess, who calmly elucidated how he had come to exterminate 2.5 million people. He further expounds upon this in "Commandant of Auschwitz".Rudolf Franz Hoess was born in 1900 and joined Adolf Hitler's Gestapo (the "SS") in 1933. In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau. Then, on August 1st, 1938, he was adjutant of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp until his appointment as Commandant of the newly built camp at Auschwitz in early 1940. This was located near the provincial Polish town of Oshweicim in Galacia. In May, 1941 the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler explained to Hoess that Adolf Hitler had given the orders for the final solution for the Jewish question. The "Final Solution' was Hitler's plan to implement Aryian racial purity and rid the continent of any contaminants of Germanic, pure blood Nordic origins, particularly by killing Jews. Hoess details in his book how he converted Auschwitz into an extermination camp and installed gas chambers and crematoriums. Auschwitz became the largest killing center where the greatest number of European Jews were slaughtered. Detailed in this story, Hoess explains how after an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine.By mid 1942, mass gassing of primarily Jews utilizing "Zyklon-B" gas commenced at Auschwitz, whereupon extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with 2.5 million innocent men, women and children were eventually butchered through mostly poison gassing, but also through barbaric methods such as starvation, disease, shooting and burning. At Auschwitz "so called" camp doctors i.e. German physicians and scientists performed vile and potentially lethal medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, tortured Jewish and Gypsy children and many others. "Patients" were put into pressure chambers, tested with drugs (lethal gasoline injections), castrated, sterilized, frozen to death and exposed to various traumas. In late 1943 Hoess was appointed chief inspector of all German Concentration camps and worked hard to improve the efficiency of them all. At the end of W.W. II, with Germany's eminent collapse, Hoess describes how he fled at the approach of the Russian Red Army and went into hiding in Germany under the name "Franz Lang". He was arrested by British military police on March 11, 1946. His wife had told the British where he could be found, fearing that her son, Klaus, would be shipped off to Russia.Handed over to the Polish authorities, he was tried in 1947. While awaiting sentencing, Hoess penned this book. He was sentenced to death, and was returned to Auschwitz to be hanged on the gallows outside the entrance to the gas chamber. John J. Hughes, in his book "A Mass Murderer Repents:The Case of Rudolf Hoess" wrote that four days before he was hung, Hoess sent a message to the state prosecutor. His emotionless veneer cracked as he sent the following message to the state prosecutor stating: "My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandant of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the "Third Reich" for human destruction. In doing so I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I have caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done".The execution was carried out on April 16, 1947. Although never executed, compare Hoess's aforementioned statement with the following. William Calley, the convicted commander of an American fighting unit that on March 16, 1968 entered the South Vietnamese hamlet of "My Lai" and massacred 400 unarmed women children and old men during the Vietnam War, had this to say about his guilt and conscience. This is quoted out of his autobiography. "As a professional soldier I had been taught and instructed to carry out the orders that were issued by the superiors-my lieutenant, my commanding officer, the captain. At no time did it ever cross my mind to disobey or to refuse to carry out an order that was issued by my superiors. I felt that they (Charlie Company) were able to carry out the assigned task, the orders, that meant killing small kids, killing women, because they were soldiers, they were trained that way. I feel that we carried out the orders in a moral fashion, and the orders of destroying the village, of killing the people in the village, and I feel we did not violate any moral standards." Was Calley a sociopath like Hoess?Hoess was also following orders, issued by Adolf Hitler. Were was his conscience? What happened to God's commandment "Thy Shalt Not Kill? Where was Hoess and Calley's guilt? Another mass murderer, Ted Bundy, a sadistic monster and mass manipulator whose grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead, had this to say about guilt: "Guilt? It's this mechanism we use to control people. It's an illusion. It's a kind of social control mechanism-and it's very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior rather than the extraordinary use of guilt. Now, some people could listen to what I just said and say "see, he's a sociopath." or whatever term they use. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt." Killing another human being is wrong any way you look at it. Whether it is done on a mass scale such as was done by Hoess and the Nazi's during the Holocaust, or by a serial killer like Ted Bundy, or even using the excuse of a "Holy War", i.e. flying commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001 and killing all those innocent occupants of the Twin Towers in N.Y.C. Regardless, Hoess's book is an examination into the mind of a cold, sterile killer, a deed that history, or myself will never forgive nor forget. Do yourself a favor, read this book objectively and pray that this never occurs again for eternity's sake!

  • Ian
    2018-10-15 00:58

    This was a fascinating insight into the heart and mind of the camp commander of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess. An ardent Nazi, he was captured in 1946 and at the behest of his Polish captors, wrote a collection of memoirs outlining his early life, military career, working at Auschwitz, and snapshots of various members of the S.S. that he knew and worked with. At times, I almost felt sorry for him, but you can also see through his writing that he really didn't "get it". Although he felt badly for killing innocent men, women, and children by the millions he was so steeped in the Nazi ideology of following every order of the Fuhrer and eliminating Europe of the "parasitic" Jews that he he seemed to have learned to shove aside and bury his deepest concerns and fears in life. He personally believed this was due to his father's upbringing and his early military experiences, a character flaw that he ultimately regretted. Or so he said...Hoess also maintained that had he had better personnel and more help and resources from his superiors, the conditions at the camps would have been much better and much fewer people would have died due to the abhorrent conditions. He had no resources from Himmler, only platitudes and orders. On the other hand, the poor folks sent to the gas chamber were regrettably just part of his job that couldn't be avoided....A pain and sadness, which he couldn't show to others, especially the officers under his command.Although, a fair amount of his recollections are self serving and steeped in a military honor perverted by Nazism, I do think that he was ultimately affected by the kindness of his Polish captors at the very end. Perhaps, just perhaps, there was somewhat of a reconciliation or understanding that he had received fair justice for his failures to act differently at Auschwitz. He paid for those fatal character flaws of being unable to express his deepest fears and doubts.I remember that I didn't really recognize the name when our guide through the camps told us about him, and I made a point of finding out more about this man who got handed one of the worst, amoral assignments in all military history. Having been to Poland and visited Auschwitz last spring, it was fascinating to read his accounts of what his life and activities were like there. But at the time of my visit as I stood at the small gallows where he was executed, right beside the first gas chamber of Auschwitz, I wondered about who this man was and how he could allow all of these horrors to happen under his direction ...Now I know more, but still cannot quite understand it. I doubt I ever will.

  • Lolo
    2018-09-25 00:47

    Comme le titre l'indique, il s'agit d'un mémoire rédigé par Rudolf Hoess après la guerre, pendant son dernier séjour en prison et avant sa pendaison à Auschwitz. SS spécialisé dans l'administration des camps de concentration (qui deviendront des camps d'extermination), il livre de nombreux éléments ou détails qu'ils soient techniques, organisationnels, sociologiques ou politiques. Pour ma part, cette lecture a fait suite au roman de Robert Merle inspiré de la vie et des confessions de R. Hoess. Et, effectivement, le mémoire de ce dernier offre un éclairage encore différent sur le personnage qu'il incarne. On y trouve — et c'est troublant — un homme qui ne semble pas fortement névrosé ou déviant et pas non plus fanatique ni religieux ni politique. On voit un homme effectivement antisémite et nationaliste, croyant à l'hégémonie allemande, et qui l'assume ; on voit aussi un militaire passionné doublé d'un patriote de la première heure ; en sus, il s'agit effectivement d'un homme qui a le souci sérieux d'accomplir ses missions et d'atteindre ses objectifs comme de proposer un commandement irréprochable. Autant d'aspects d'une personnalité qui ne sont pas des raretés et qui font habituellement un bon soldat. D'ailleurs, il semble que la ligne de défense de Hoess était de ne pas se distinguer de ceux qui étaient au front (ce qu'il a toujours voulu faire). Cette lecture m'a souvent mis mal à l’aise, car cet homme qui a accompli un travail monstrueux à l'extrême, n'est apparemment pas aussi anormal, inhumain ou bon à interner que ce à quoi on pourrait et voudrait s'attendre. La préface, la postface et les notes apportent d'autres détails et parfois des contrepoints intéressants. Entre autres, je citerais le fait qu'une grande partie du peuple allemand avait connaissance de l'extermination des juifs, mais qu'elle y était indifférente. Tout cela m'amène à adhérer à l'idée qu'une poignée de leaders du régime nazi a effectivement donné des ordres, proposé ou imposé une doctrine, mais que tout n'aurait pas été possible sans le peuple allemand qui a très largement adhéré à ce système, que ce soit comme Hoess en ne le remettant pas en cause et en acceptant de mener à bien des missions comme l'extermination, ou comme 1/3 au moins de la population en y étant indifférent. Une lecture parfois difficile, car éveillant de nombreux sentiments ou questions, mais instructive.

  • Charles Mournet
    2018-10-06 05:17

    Rudolph Hoess a commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp has a story that I have never seen before. We have all read books about the harsh treatment of Jews and others who were sent to concentration camps by Hitler but this was the first time I ever read a book from the other side, the first time I ever read a story about an SS. This book details the life of Rudolf Hoess who grew up as a misfit young boy who was never able to fit in. As a child he was in love with animals from his horse who was basically his best friend. When he a young teen he signed up and went into the army after his parents died and he gave up on becoming a priest. He did as good as one could do in war but eventually it came to an end and he started a family. He lived a regular life up until the point when Nazi germany began. He became an SS and eventually moved to Auschwitz as a commandant when he opened it. He ordered out deaths and he in truth did it all because of his horror of the higher power. He was scared to say he wanted out and that got him even deeper in. Rudolph Hoess was a regular guy he went to war fighting for the rights of his country like many. He was blind, he was not able to see everything that was wrong with becoming an SS and torching the gassed bodies of thousands whether they were mothers or daughters, fathers or sons, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. I think this shows me how blind people can be, In his personal accounts he explains how he thinks that he has done everything with the knowledge that it wasn't that bad. We see thought that as he comes older he understands a little more what he is doing but he is never willing to do anything. All it is for him is it is just a job. This leads me to ask the bigger question is this how oblivious is everyone else. Are the organized crime groups this oblivious, do they think that killing people over a couple hundred dollars is right. I will say this is one of the first books I have read that has lead me to think on a greater level and actually examine what the conflict is.

  • Lauren
    2018-09-23 08:56

    Another book that I was prompted to read after having watched a six-part series about Auschwitz on the AHC network. This is the memoir of the man, Rudolf Höss, who served as the Kommandant of Auschwitz during most of its operation. I hesitate it helps to "understand" the minds and thinking of the Nazi's that perpetrated such horrendous crimes against humanity, as I'm not sure one could ever really understand. But, it does give great insight into the manner in which Höss, and many other Nazi leaders, approached their "jobs," and how in some measure they attempted to balance the need to be "numb" to the massive killings while at the same time express concern about the soldiers under their charge and deal with the demands of their superiors. Above all, despite all I already knew about the Holocaust, I found my self continually stunned at the magnitude of their actions.

  • Staci
    2018-10-15 03:04

    So far, it's just scary in a million ways. The total disconnect from what he was doing. The justifications. The blame put on others (he was working on "building Auschwitz" and others were in charge of the prisoners, and they didn't follow his directions)...I could go on and on. Scary. Scary. Have I said how scary it is??? **OK, I finished. Let me say how relieved I am (!!!!) that he "realized" at the end that what he did was just wrong. That it didn't help the cause of anti-Semitism. That the Jews are closer to their goal (controlling the world, I think?) because of the sympathy they get as a result of what was done.OMG, this book was scary. WOW.

  • EricW
    2018-10-06 04:04

    Because this memoir is something one reads as an historical curiosity rather than for literary merit, giving it a star rating seems a little pointless. Some of the chapters are intersting, but it definitely isn't a book most people will read cover to cover. Some details are horrific (as one would expect), other parts were quite tedious. One sentence that jumped out at me, from a chapter entitled The Gassings: "And yet, I really had no reason to complain about being bored at Auschwitz." Jesus. Glad to hear you weren't bored, Rudolf.

  • Bellatrix
    2018-10-14 05:11

    A report by an evil man who even in facing death could not tell the truth and blamed everyone else for the atrocities that he perpetrated. His 'surprise' at being part of the final solution is both disgusting and insulting to the dead, the survivors and their descendants. The world is better for having lost this sick evil man and sadly he wasn't lost to this world earlier in his life.

  • Timon Böse
    2018-10-21 06:53

    As a historian I highly recommend this book for everyone to understand what was going on in the minds of the men who were responsible for the mass murders and the concentration camps of the "Third Reich".It takes courage to look deep into the thoughts of the man who was commanding Auschwitz. You will have far less hope for mankind (if you had any before reading) after this bitter lecture.

  • Lene Poulsen
    2018-09-30 01:02

    :/

  • Stuart Smith
    2018-09-28 03:12

    For the most part an honest account of his crimes.

  • Heather
    2018-09-24 08:04

    Most of the book is him expressing how he did nothing wrong.

  • Lori Schafer
    2018-10-06 04:05

    Commandant of Auschwitz combines the autobiography that Rudolf Hoess wrote while awaiting trial at Nuremberg as well as a number of official statements he gave to his interrogators regarding other SS personnel with whom he had significant contact. (Please note that all references are to the original 1951 edition, which isn't listed on Goodreads.) There is a lot I could say about this book, because Hoess, rather surprisingly, has a number of interesting ideas and observations, particularly in regards to the concept and execution of imprisonment and the lesser-known victims of the concentration-camp system, but for the moment I’ll confine myself to what he has to say about conducting the affairs of Auschwitz.Hoess makes no bones about his political beliefs; he unwaveringly avers his continued allegiance to the Nazi Party, and, unlike many Nazis, who denied complicity with the concept behind or execution of the Holocaust, even suggests that he would have been in favor of it were it vital to the cause: “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.” p. 160.However, what is most fascinating about the book is that as it progresses, it becomes clear that Hoess was, generally speaking, against the customary Nazi treatment of the Jews, not out of compassion for their situation or any sense of wrongdoing in causing their suffering, but for purely bureaucratic reasons. Thus he complains about the nature of the site, which lacked sufficient water, drainage and building materials for the size it was later to assume; he argues against the massive overcrowding, which caused disease to run rampant and had terrible psychological effects upon the inmates, which he believed led to rapid deterioration in their health; against the incompetence and maliciousness of the guards under his control, whose approach to corporal punishment he felt was detrimental to the objective of maintaining peace in the camp while it conducted its operations. He berates the Food Ministry for constantly reducing rations during the course of the war, not because he had pity for the starving concentration-camp dwellers, no, but because it prevented him from maintaining an adequately-functioning work force. The selection process itself, he argues, was faulty at its core:“If Auschwitz had followed my constantly repeated advice, and had only selected the most healthy and vigorous Jews, then the camp would have produced a really useful labor force and one that would have lasted.” p. 176.The implication is that more Jews should have been sent immediately to the gas chambers rather than being corralled into the work details if the goal of attaining adequate war-workers was to be achieved. In other words, if Hoess had had his way, the concentration camps would have contained a large contingent of healthy, well-fed Jews and many more dead ones.Hoess relates anecdotes of the desperate starvation of the camp residents; of inmates being attacked and beaten by their fellows for a crust of bread, of cannibalism among Russian prisoners-of-war. He assures us that his war-time prisoners became little different from civilian criminals, not hesitating to sacrifice their fellows in order to improve their own condition or to get an edge on survival. He speaks of the attachment of the Jews to the members of their own families; of the efforts of the mothers to calm their children as they walked into the gas chambers or to throw them out of the doors, pleading for their young lives, just before they are sealed. And then he tells a story of one Special Detachment Jew who had been assigned to the burning of corpses. When the man pauses for a moment in the course of his labors, Hoess inquires of the Capo in charge as to the cause. The Capo informs him that one of the dead in the pile is the man’s wife.But following his moment’s pause, the man has already gone back to work. And that is when it struck me, that in spite of the distinction between the powerful and the powerless, what a terrible similarity exists between the Commandant and the prisoner. The Commandant does not deal with people; he deals with issues, problems, supply chains, bureaucracy. He is almost entirely detached from the suffering of those under his care. And likewise the inmate has detached himself from his own suffering; he is unable to acknowledge or permit it to penetrate him. Instead he merely attends to his work, the work that, ironically, makes him free, even as the sign above the gate so illusively promised. Detachment means survival; and the ability to detach oneself from one’s circumstances is perhaps a necessary adaptation. For as long as people are able to view one another without acknowledging their humanity, their personhood, they will treat their fellows cruelly. And in order to endure that cruelty, those who suffer from it will have to become like their oppressors: empty of compassion and feeling, intent only on bare survival.It is now well-known that many Nazis who were recruited into concentration-camp or extermination services were unable to endure it; indeed, many were transferred, upon request, from participation in the brutalities that accompanied occupation and deportation into other branches of service. Considerable care and effort were expended in making exterminations tolerable for the executioners as well as their victims; as horrendous as the mass gassings were, they were viewed as more humane, less wearing on the soul than the mass shootings that had theretofore been employed. Hoess describes how numerous of his subordinates approached him, expressing deeply-troubled thoughts over the exterminations; how he deemed it his duty to appear unmoved. Not all of the Nazis were able to view their captives as chattel, as mere bodies to be fed and housed and employed and killed and burned, any more than some of their victims were able to forget the essential humanity of their captors. Consider Hoess’ description of the Allied air raids, which brought terror to the skies over Germany and the occupied lands:“Attacks of unprecedented fury were made on factories where prisoners were employed. I saw how the prisoners behaved, how guards and prisoners cowered together and died together in the same improvised shelters, and how the prisoners helped the wounded guards.During such heavy raids, all else was forgotten. They were no longer guards or prisoners, but only human beings trying to escape from the hail of bombs.” p. 183.Humans, one and all. Hoess is not one of the Nazis who viewed the Jews as somehow less than human, and therefore worthy of extinction. He sincerely believes that they were a threat to what he sees as the truly German way of life, and that the measures that were taken against them were necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the nation. He is therefore offended by the vicious propaganda propagated by publications such as Der Sturmer, believing its exaggerated attacks upon Jewish morals and behavior capable of backfiring and creating sympathy for the Jews. He argues that the nations conquered by Germany during the Second World War should have been treated with greater respect and kindness, which would have unmanned much of the resistance that grew following the invasion. And finally, in the ultimate expression of utter disregard for the unadulterated evil imposed upon the unoffending peoples of the world, Hoess at last concedes that the Holocaust should not have occurred. But listen to his reasons why:“I also see now that the extermination of the Jews was fundamentally wrong. Precisely because of these mass exterminations, Germany has drawn upon herself the hatred of the entire world. It in no way served the cause of anti-Semitism, but on the contrary brought the Jews far closer to their ultimate objective.” p. 198.The Holocaust was wrong, according to Hoess, not owing to fundamental human principles of kindness and decency, or compassion for one’s fellows, but because it did not serve the Nazi cause. Which eerily implies that he believes that it would have been “right” had it only served the purpose for which it was intended. Is that, too, an essentially human characteristic? To be able to justify the means, if they achieve what is perceived to be a desirable end? That kind of thinking certainly didn't begin or end with the Nazis; it's been at the basis of every violent human conflict since the dawning of the species.A very worthwhile read, and one that will make you consider Nazi thought from an entirely different perspective. Because in spite of the unparalleled horrors he helped to perpetrate, Hoess was not, himself, unique, and arguably not even evil; he was one of many such men who convinced themselves that they were doing "the right thing" and sought merely to accomplish their goals by the best means necessary. And that, to me, is what makes this book truly terrifying. http://lorilschafer.blogspot.com/

  • Bernie Weisz
    2018-10-24 07:06

    Written by Bernie Weisz e mail:[email protected] Title of review: A Disturbing Description by a "Super-Sociopath" April 10, 2010I read this book many years ago in college and decided to reread it recently under the title "Commandant of Auschwitz". This book exemplifies the true meaning of a sociopath, a man who truly kills without conscience. Rudolf Hoess was history's greatest mass murderer, the architect and SS Commandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp of "Auschwitz" (located in Poland), whose name has come to symbolize humanity's ultimate, abject descent into evil. Responsible for exterminating over 2.5 million people (primarily Jews, as well as Gypsies, Homosexuals, and Russians), he was a mild-mannered, happily married man who enjoyed normal family life with his five children despite his view of the crematoriam chiminy stacks from his bedroom window. At peak efficiency, Auschwitz had the capacity to murder 10,000 people in 24 hours, as Hoess would testify during the War Crimes trials at Nuremburg after World War II. Witness after witness, as well as mass documents produced irrefutable evidence of the crimes committed, and no witness was more shocking than Rudolf Hoess, who calmly elucidated how he had come to exterminate 2.5 million people. He further expounds upon this in "Commandant of Auschwitz". Rudolf Franz Hoss was born in 1900 and joined Adolf Hitler's Gestapo (the "SS") in 1933. In 1934 he was attached to the SS at Dachau. Then, on August 1st, 1938, he was adjutant of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp until his appointment as Commandant of the newly built camp at Auschwitz in early 1940. This was located near the provincial Polish town of Oshweicim in Galacia. In May, 1941 the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler explained to Hoess that Adolf Hitler had given the orders for the final solution for the Jewish question. The "Final Solution' was Hitler's plan to implement Aryian racial purity and rid the continent of any contaminants of Germanic, pure blood Nordic origins, particularly by killing Jews. Hoess details in his book how he converted Auschwitz into an extermination camp and installed gas chambers and crematoriums. Auschwitz became the largest killing center where the greatest number of European Jews were slaughtered. Detailed in this story, Hoess explains how after an experimental gassing there in September 1941 of 850 malnourished and ill prisoners, mass murder became a daily routine. By mid 1942, mass gassing of primarily Jews utilizing "Zyklon-B" gas commenced at Auschwitz, whereupon extermination was conducted on an industrial scale with 2.5 million innocent men, women and children were eventually butchered through mostly poison gassing, but also through barbaric methods such as starvation, disease, shooting and burning. At Auschwitz, "so called" camp doctors i.e. German physicians and scientists performed vile and potentially lethal medical experiments on concentration camp inmates, tortured Jewish and Gypsy children and many others. "Patients" were put into pressure chambers, tested with drugs (lethal gasolene injections), castrated, sterilized, frozen to death and exposed to various traumas. In late 1943 Hoess was appointed chief inspector of all German Concentration camps and worked hard to improve the efficiency of them all. At the end of W.W. II, with Germany's emminent collapse, Hoess describes how he fled at the approach of the Russian Red Army and went into hiding in Germany under the name "Franz Lang". He was arrested by British military police on March 11, 1946. His wife had told the British where he could be found, fearing that her son, Klaus, would be shipped off to Russia. Handed over to the Polish authorities, he was tried in 1947. While awaiting sentencing, Hoess penned this book. He was sentenced to death, and was returned to Auschwitz to be hanged on the gallows outside the entrance to the gas chamber. John J. Hughes, in his book "A Mass Murderer Repents:The Case of Rudolf Hoss" wrote that four days before he was hung, Hoss sent a message to the state prosecuter. His emotionless veneer cracked as he sent the following message to the state prosecuter stating: "My conscience compels me to make the following declaration. In the solitude of my prison cell I have come to the bitter recognition that I have sinned gravely against humanity. As Commandand of Auschwitz I was responsible for carrying out part of the cruel plans of the "Third Reich" for human destruction. In doing so I have inflicted terrible wounds on humanity. I have caused unspeakable suffering for the Polish people in particular. I am to pay for this with my life. May the Lord God forgive one day what I have done". The execution was carried out on April 16, 1947. Although never executed, compare Hoess's aforementioned statement with the following. William Calley, the convicted commander of an American fighting unit that on March 16, 1968 entered the South Vietnamese hamlet of "My Lai" and massacred 400 unarmed women children and old men during the Vietnam War, had this to say about his guilt and conscience. This is quoted out of his autobiography. try to find the book entitled "Body count: Lieutenant Calley's story, as told to John Sack" There, you will find the following quote: "As a professional soldier I had been taught and instructed to carry out the orders that were issued by the superiors-my lieutenant, my commanding officer, the captain. At no time did it ever cross my mind to disobey or to refuse to carry out an order that was issued by my superiors. I felt that they (Charlie Company) were able to carry out the assigned task, the orders, that meant killing small kids, killing women, because they were soldiers, they were trained that way. I feel that we carried out the orders in a moral fashion, and the orders of destroying the village, of killing the people in the village, and I feel we did not violate any moral standards." Was Calley a sociopath like Hoess? Hoess was also following orders, issued by Adolf Hitler. Were was his conscience? What happened to God's commandmant "Thy Shalt Not Kill? Where was Hoess and Calley's guilt? Another mass murderer, Ted Bundy, a sadistic monster and mass manipulator whose grisly killing spree left at least 30 innocent young women dead, had this to say about guilt: "Guilt? It's this mechanism we use to control people. It's an illusion. It's a kind of social control mechanism-and it's very unhealthy. It does terrible things to our bodies. And there are much better ways to control our behavior rather than the extraordinary use of guilt. Now, some people could listen to what I just said and say "see, he's a sociopath." or whatever term they use. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt." Ted Bundy : Conversations with a Killer Killing another human being is wrong any way you look at it. Whether it is done on a mass scale such as was done by Hoss and the Nazi's during the Holocaust, or by a serial killer like Ted Bundy, or even using the excuse of a "Holy War", i.e. flying commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11th, 2001 and killing all those innocent occupants of the Twin Towers in N.Y.C. The 2001 World Trade Center Attack (Code Red) Regardless, Hoess's book is an examination into the mind of a cold, sterile killer, a deed that history, or myself will never forgive nor forget. Do yourself a favor, read this book objectively and pray that this never occurs again for eternity's sake!

  • Tim
    2018-10-17 08:09

    War crimes trials are a 20th Century invention. Although a vehicle for punishment and, perhaps, the reestablishment of the rule of law, one has to wonder the extent to which individual defendants truly acknowledge any real guilt. This is seen in the autobiography written by Auschwitz camp commander Rudolf Hoess while in prison following the war. Hoess' several hundred page work was first published some 50 years ago and has since appeared in a variety of editions and under varying titles. The latest is The Commandant, a condensed volume edited by Jürg Amann, a Swiss author and dramatist. Amann edited Hoess' writings down to about 100 pages, what he terms a 16-part monologue conceived for the stage and as a radio play. Yet even The Commandant provides a singular view into the operations and psychology of the Nazi killing machine.Whether an intentional construction or a reflection of a psychological compartmentalization employed by those running the death camps, Hoess almost simultaneously defends his actions, accepts a slight form of, what is to him, responsibility for what occurred, and claims to have been greatly disturbed by them. As Ian Buruma notes in an afterword, these internal inconsistencies leave us with a man who might exemplify what Hannah Arendt had in mind when she referred to "the banality of evil."It doesn't take long for Hoess to lay the groundwork for thee so-called "Nuremberg defense," the claim that "I was just following orders." In the first chapter, Hoess tells us, "Even from childhood on up, I was trained in a complete awareness of duty. Attention to duty was greatly respected in my parents' home, so that all orders would be performed exactly and conscientiously." In other words, it was impossible for him to have acted any differently when told to kill Jews.Of course, that trait was reinforced by his belief in the Nazi party. When the orders for Hoess to create a mass killing center to annihilate the Jews came down, he recognized them as "something extraordinary, something monstrous." But he didn't give them a thought or form an opinion about them. Why? It was not his place to be "second guessing" the Fuhrer. According to Hoess, when Himmler issued orders in Hitler's name, those orders "were holy. There was no reflection, no interpretation, no explanation about these orders. Whatever the Fuhrer or Himmler ordered was always right."Still, given a chance in prison to consider those orders and express an opinion on them, he says they were "absolutely wrong." Yet his reasoning is insightful. It was not morals, decency or even justice that rendered the orders wrong. Instead, he objects because "[i]t was exactly because of this mass extermination that Germany earned itself the hatred of the entire world. The cause of anti-Semitism was not served by this act at all, in fact, just the opposite."What is also disturbing is the empathy Hoess claims to have had for the prisoners. In the 1920s, Hoess was among a group of people who, invoking "an unwritten law," killed someone they considered a traitor. Hoess suggests that the six years he spent in prison for his role in the murder allowed him to understand what concentration camp inmates were going through. "I had been a prisoner for too long for me not to notice their needs," he wrote. "It was not without inner sympathy that I faced all of the occurrences in the camp. Outwardly I was cold, even stone-faced, but inwardly I was moved to the deepest." It also was empathy that caused him to be encouraged by the efficacy of gassing Jews rather than shooting them. He felt that would alleviate the stress that was leading to suicides of SS Special Action troops "who could no longer mentally endure wading in the bloodbath." Hoess doesn't say whether this was less psychologically stressful for the victims.This reflects Hoess' odd view of culpability. He claims his "guilt' began when he was first assigned to Dachau. At that point, Hoess claims it was clear to him he was not suited for concentration camp duties because he didn't agree with the conditions and the practices followed in them. He even asserts that even though he followed orders, "I never became insensitive to human suffering. I always saw it and I felt it." In fact, Hoess claims he used "every means" at his disposal" to halt "the horrible tortures" at Auschwitz but could not stop them. Why? "One person is no match for such viciousness, depravity, and cruelty." It perhaps goes without saying that this is especially so when the cruelty stems from what the person considers "holy" orders.We do not know whether these fractured rationalizations reflect the mindset of those involved in "the Final Solution' or represents Hoess trying to somehow portray himself as merely a cog who felt sorry for his victims. However, there is no doubt Hoess ultimately agreed with the Nazi program. He believed in the need for concentration camps to lock up "enemies of the state" and professional criminals. Likewise, he seeks to "emphasize" that he "personally never hated the Jews." Instead, he just "considered them to be the enemy of our nation." The fact that certain results flow from those positions seems utterly inconsequential to Hoess.Given the subject, both individually and topically, I don't see wanting to sit in a theater to hear Hoess expound on his life and thoughts. Still, the 16 chapters Amann extracts from the original, lengthier writings are a concise recap of Hoess' life and the concentration camp system. More important, they provide stark insight into the nature of many of those responsible for the Holocaust.(Originally posted at A Progressive on the Prairie.)