The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/h/hoess.rudolf.ferdinand/hoess.02

Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: Hoess - Captured on the run.... 
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Auschwitz,Hoess,I.G. Farben,Kaltenbrunner

Archive/File: camps/auschwitz hoess.02 people/h/hoess.rudolf.ferdinand hoess.02 
Archive/File: holocaust/germany/hoess hoess.02
Last-Modified: 1992/10/17

"...He joined the Nazi party in 1922 and, in the next year, was implicated
in the murder of a school teacher. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he was
release in a general amnesty in 1928, into the arms, as it were, of Adolf
Hitler. He was trained in apprenticeship positions at Dachau and
Sachenhausen and, in 1940, having amply demonstrated his loyalty, he was
given the commandant's post at Auschwitz. He managed its murder machine
until December 1943, when his record earned him appointment as chief of the
Central Administration for Camps.

As the inevitability of the German defeat became clear even to the Nazi
elite, the concern to escape retributive punishment that overwhelmed the
Nazis in the other camps took priority at Auschwitz too. It was imperative
to destroy all implicating evidence and simultaneously kill off as many
inmates as possible. The rest were to be shipped to camps that had not yet
been endangered by the Allied sweep. As early as November 1944, the gas
chambers that had choked out the lives of millions were closed and blown
up. Incriminating documents were shredded and burned. In his autobiography,
written later in prison, Hoess described how, having been promoted to an
office in Berlin, he had tried to get back to Auschwitz to help supervise
the transport of the Jews. Thwarted, or perhaps realizing the folly of
moving toward the Russians, Hoess joined in the exodus toward the
Schleswig-Holstein border of Denmark on the northwest. He wrote: `It was
a gruesome journey, from one clump of trees to the next, as the enemy's low
flying planes continually machine-gunned the escape route.' <2> The roads
were clogged with dying prisoners, disoriented civilians, and deflated SS
warriors and soldiers. En route, the villages were pillaged for food; but
the civilian inhabitants, fully aware that they could expect no quarter
from the Russians, had already turned tail, loaded down with whatever they
could carry. When the news was flashed that the Fuehrer himself had
committed suicide, all discipline collapsed.

Hoess was captured in May 1945, along with several hundred thousand Germans
and collaborators. He escaped early recognition and took work on a farm
near Flensburg, but was rearrested by the British some months later. He had
carried, as did all high-ranking Nazis, a poison phial, but claimed it had
been broken, and so he was denied the honorable exit of suicide.

Hoess was a key witness in Nuremberg at the trial of one of his chiefs,
Ernst Kaltenbrunner, who was to be convicted and executed in October 1946.
He also testified at the trial of the tycoons of I.G. Farben, Germany's
leading industrial firm, indicted for their slave labor activities during
the war. In may he was delivered to the Poles, who had been waiting
impatiently to deal with him.

Hoess's incarceration lasted almost a year. He used this enforced leisure
to write a ramblinb autobiography in which, though he denied responsibility
for many crimes attributed to him, he damned himself out of his own mouth.
He claimed to have been a `cog in the wheel of the great extermination
machine created by the Third Reich.' Occasionally in the narrative there
were expressions of astonishment at the mild treatment he experienced from
his captors and at the fairness of his judges, `though they were nearly all
Jews.' There was also recognition that his acts were not benevolent, as
when he described the gassing of nine hundred Russians with Zyklon B. `It
made me uncomfortable: I shuddered.'<3>

Hoess took pride in his exemplary family life, the devotion to his children
and his pets. He recalled, wistfully, how he had been obliged to tear
himself away from a Christmas gathering to attend to duties at the gas
chambers. The daily death quota then was still a mere 1,500, but he was
eager to make sure it was met. When one of his lieutenants was condemned to
death for his part in the Auschwitz murders, Hoess and his family lamented
`Such a compassionate man, too. When his pet canary died, he tenderly put
the body in a small box, covered it with a rose, and buried it under a rose
bush in the garden.'<4>

The evidence given at Hoess's trial repeated, in good measure, what he had
written. He described, with the dispassion of a robot, how he had gradually
stepped up executions, beginning with a few hundred a day and then, as
methods were perfected, rising to 1,200. By mid-1942, facilities had been
sufficiently enlarged to dispatch 1,500 people over a twenty-four-hour
period for the smaller ovens, and up to 2,500 for the larger ones. By 1943,
when the Hungarian Jews were shipped in, a new daily peak of 12,000 was
achieved. Hoess described the final routines of the extermination process.
These were assigned to squads of Jewish prisoners, the Sondercommandos.
They marched the victims to the gas chambers, helped to undress them,
removed the corpses after the gassing, extracted gold from their teeth and
rings from their fingers, searched the orifices of their bodies for hidden
jewelry, cut off the hair of the women, and then carted the bodies to the
crematoria. Usually after several weeks of such service they were executed,
first because they were Jews but also so that they would not be witnesses
if ever testimony were required. One of the survivors, Dora Klein, who
served as a nurse, wrote 1I had a feeling that I was in a place which was
half hell and half lunatic asylum.'"

Hoess was tried in Warsaw, in March of 1947, and condemned to death. He was
hanged on April 7.

<2> Hoess, Rudolf. Commandant of Auschwitz: Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess.
    p. 190
<3> Ibid., p. 24
<4> ibid., p. 25

Extracted from--------------------------------------------------- 
"THE REDEMPTION OF THE UNWANTED", Abram L.  Sachar (New York: St.
Martin's/Marek, 1983.

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