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September 9, 2013

The daughter of Auschwitz Commandant Rudolf Höss says he “did it because he had to”

Filed under: Germany, Holocaust — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 1:08 pm
Rudolf Hoess at the Nuremberg IMT

Rudolf Hoess at his trial

The caption on the photo above, which is included in a New York Daily News article, reads: “Rudolf Höss on the first day of his trial for war crimes committed at Auschwitz.”  Höss was put on trial in Poland, but not at Nuremberg.  He was a defense witness for Ernst Kaltenbrunner at Nuremberg. You can read the confession of Rudolf Höss at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/10/12/the-confession-of-rudolf-hoess-the-commandant-of-auschwitz/

I previously blogged about Rudolf Hoess and the reason that he confessed here: https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/why-did-the-commandant-of-auschwitz-confess-to-the-gassing-of-millions-of-jews/

Rudolf Hoess, photographed at the Auschwitz camp

Rudolf Hoess, photographed at Auschwitz

Rudolf Höss was a handsome man before he was tortured, to within an inch of his life, in order to force him to confess to the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz. In the photo above, he looks like a nice man, who wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Update, Sept. 13, 2013:

An alert reader of my blog wrote this in a comment:

[Brigitte Höss] did not give an interview to the New York Daily News. [The story] was just picked up by them from her interview with a nephew of the man who captured her father, who has written a book about it. Thomas Harding [the nephew] found [Brigitte] and so she agreed to talk to him. [The interview] was published in the Washington Post Magazine.

Continue reading my original post:

This quote is from a news article in the online New York Daily News about 80-year-old Brigitte Höss, the daughter of Rudolf Höss, the Commandant of Auschwitz, who is shown in the photo above:

Höss is convinced her father was a good man, despite the atrocities he committed.

“He had to do it,” she said. “His family was threatened. We were threatened if he didn’t. And he was one of many in the SS. There were others as well who would do it if he didn’t.”

Very clever.  David Boroff, who wrote this article which was published on Sept. 9, 2013, has implied that the father of Brigitte Höss “had to [ gas the Jews]” and that she admits that he did it.

Did Rudolf Höss have to gas prisoners to death at Auschwitz because his family was threatened if he didn’t?  Or did he have to give a fake confession because his family was threatened if he didn’t?

There were “others as well who would do it if he didn’t”?  DO WHAT?  Confess to the gassing of prisoners at Auschwitz?

This quote is also from the article, written by David Boroff in the online New York Daily News:

A Nazi monster who admitted killing one million Jews “was the nicest man in the world,” his daughter said in a revealing interview published this weekend.

Brigitte Höss, who lived in comfort at three different concentration camps while innocents were getting slaughtered just yards away, still hides her real identity from the public while living in northern Virginia with her son.

Affidavit signed by Rudolf Hoess on May 14, 1946

Affidavit signed by Rudolf Hoess on May 14, 1946

On May 14, 1946, the former Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rudolf Höß, also known as Rudolf Hoess, signed a sworn affidavit in which he stated that two million Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1941 and 1943 while he was the Commandant. This did not include the period, during which Hoess was not the Commandant, when over 300,000 Hungarian Jews were gassed during a period of 10 weeks in the Summer of 1944, according to the Auschwitz Museum.

The English translation of the German text in the affidavit, shown above, reads:

“I declare herewith under oath that in the years 1941 to 1943 during my tenure in office as commandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp 2 million Jews were put to death by gassing and a 1/2 million by other means. Rudolf Hoess. May 14, 1946.”

The confession was signed by Hoess and by Josef Maier of the US Chief of Counsel’s office.

The Confession of Rudolf Hoess is displayed at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC

The Confession of Rudolf Hoess is displayed at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC

The original affidavit, signed by Rudolf Hoess, is displayed in a glass case in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The photo that is displayed, along with the affidavit, shows Hungarian Jewish women and children walking to one of the four gas chambers in the Birkenau death camp on May 26, 1944, carrying their hand baggage in sacks. Brigitte Höss objects to having a Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.  The Holocaust didn’t happen in America and was not perpetrated by Americans, so why should there be a Holocaust Museum in the capital of the United States of America?

The caption underneath the photo above, which hangs in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, reads:

On May 14, 1946, Rudolf Hoess, the former commandant of Auschwitz, signed a declaration stating that during his tenure in office, 2 million Jews had been gassed at Auschwitz and another 500,000 killed in other ways. Hoess overestimated the number of Jews gassed by about 1 million.

There have been allegations that this confession was obtained from Rudolf Hoess by means of torture. Rupert Butler wrote in his book entitled Legions of Death, published by Arrow Books in London in 1983, that Hoess had been beaten for three days by a British team of torturers under the command of Jewish interrogator Bernard Clarke.

Rudolf Höss  gave several confessions in which he admitted to “killing Jews.”  The first confession signed by Höss was labeled by the Allies as Nuremberg Document No-1210. It was an 8-page typewritten document written in German. Höss wrote the date 14.3.1946 2:30 (March 14, 1946 2:30 a.m.) next to his signature. This date was three days after his capture on March 11, 1946. Höss had been beaten half to death; alcohol had been poured down his throat, and he had been kept awake for three days and nights before he finally signed this confession at 2:30 in the morning.

A second affidavit signed by Rudolf Höss on April 5, 1946 was labeled by the Allies at the Nuremberg IMT as document PS-3868. It was a typewritten document, about 2 and a quarter pages long, written in English. A second document, also labeled PS-3868, was purported to be the English translation of the original deposition given by Höss in German. The second document was the one that was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT.

During his cross-examination of Rudolf Höss at the Nuremberg IMT, American prosecutor Col. Harlan Amen quoted from the second affidavit which was alleged to be the English translation of a deposition given by Höss in German. After reading each statement made by Höss in his affidavit, Col Amen asked Höss if this was what he had said and Höss answered “Jawohl.”

In 1946, Rudolf Höss was put on trial in Poland; he was charged with the murder of “around 300,000 people held at the camp as prisoners and entered into the camp’s records and around 4,000,000 people, mainly Jews, who were brought to the camp in transports from other European countries for immediate extermination and thus not listed in the camp’s records.” During his trial, Höss changed the figure in his confession to a total of 1,130,000 Jews that were gassed but declared “During my tenure at Auschwitz, millions of people died, whose exact number I cannot determine.”

Rudolf Höss wrote in his autobiography that Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann and his deputy were the only ones who knew the total number of Jews that were gassed at Auschwitz-Birkenau because Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had ordered the records to be burned after every special action. The Nazis always used code words when talking about the genocide of the Jews: a mass gassing was called a “special action.”

In the last days of World War II, shortly before Berlin was surrounded by Soviet troops, Eichmann told Höss that 2.5 million Jews had been murdered at Auschwitz Birkenau. Eichmann was an SS Lt. Col. who was the head of Department IV, B-4, the section of the Reich Central Security Office (RSHA) in Berlin, which was responsible for deporting the Jews. It was Adolf Eichmann who was in charge of deporting the Jews on the trains to the death camps.

According to the Auschwitz Museum, no records of the number of prisoners who died at Auschwitz-Birkenau have ever been found. In an article on the official Auschwitz website, Franciszek Piper wrote the following:

When the Soviet army entered the camp on January 27, 1945, they did not find any German documents there giving the number of victims, or any that could be used as a basis for calculating this number. Such documents (transport lists, notifications of the arrival of transports, reports about the outcome of selection) had been destroyed before liberation. For this reason, the Soviet commission investigating the crimes committed in Auschwitz Concentration Camp had to make estimates. […]

The absence of the most important of the statistical sources that the Germans kept in Auschwitz made it practically impossible for historians to research the issue of the number of victims. The reluctance to research this issue also resulted from a conviction of the impossibility of drawing up a full list of transports reflecting the total number of deportees, and above all of the people who were consumed by the gas chambers and crematoria with no registration or records.

In his book entitled IBM and the Holocaust, Edwin Black wrote that the Nazis tracked the prisoners by using IBM Hollerith machines which sorted punch cards that were coded with information about each prisoner. The numbers on the tattoos that were put on the arms of the Auschwitz prisoners, starting in 1943, were originally the prisoner’s code number on his Hollerith card.

The following is a quote from the book IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black:

It was not just people who were counted and marshaled for deportation. Box cars, locomotives and intricate train time tables were scheduled across battle-scared borders – all while a war was being fought on two fronts. The technology had enabled Nazi Germany to orchestrate the death of millions without skipping a note.

According to Edwin Black, the prisoners were not tracked with an IBM punch card until they were registered in a camp, so there are no records of those who arrived at Auschwitz, but were not registered. Of the millions of Hollerith punch cards used by the Nazis, only around 100,000 survived the war, according to Edwin Black.

The generally accepted figure of 1.3 million who were deported to Auschwitz is not based on the train records kept by the Germans, but rather an estimate made by Franciszek Piper, the former head of the Auschwitz Memorial Site, who wrote the following in his article on the official Auschwitz web site:

After an overall analysis of the original sources and findings on deportation to Auschwitz, I concluded that a total of at least 1,300,000 people were deported there, and that 1,100,000 of them perished. Approximately 200,000 people were deported from Auschwitz to other camps as part of the redistribution of labor resources and the final liquidation of the camp.

One of the most distinguished Holocaust researchers, Raul Hilberg, published a separate work (Auschwitz and the Final Solution) on the number of Auschwitz victims. His findings reaffirmed both the figure of 1,000,000 Jewish Auschwitz victims that he had arrived at as long ago as 1961, as well as my own conclusions.

The IBM Hollerith punch cards kept by the Germans for the  Jews, Russians and Gypsies, who were registered in the camp and later killed in the gas chambers, were coded as F-6 for “special treatment” or as “evacuations” according to Edwin Black, the author of IBM and the Holocaust. The code for “execution” was D-4.

In 2002, Edwin Black wrote the following in an article regarding the IBM Hollerith punch card machines in Krakow which were used by the Nazis to keep track of the Auschwitz prisoners:

The machines almost certainly did not maintain extermination totals, which were calculated as “evacuations” by the Hollerith Gruppe in Krakow.

On April 12, 1947, just before his execution, Rudolf Höss signed the following Final Statement, in which he admitted his shame for committing Crimes Against Humanity and for participating in the genocide perpetrated by the Third Reich:

My conscience is forcing me to make also the following assertion: In the isolation prison I have reached the bitter understanding of the terrible crimes I have committed against humanity. As a Kommandant of the extermination camp at Auschwitz, I have realized my part in the monstrous genocide plans of the Third Reich. By this means I caused humanity and mankind the greatest harm, and brought unspeakable suffering, particularly to the Polish nation. For my responsibility, I am now paying with my life. Oh, that God would forgive me my deeds! People of Poland, I beg you to forgive me! Just now in the Polish prisons have I recognized what humanity really is. In spite of everything that happened I have been treated humanely, which I had never expected, and this has made me feel deeply ashamed. Would to God…that the fact of disclosing and confirming those monstrous crimes against mankind and humanity may prevent for all future ages even the premises leading to such horrible events.

Was Rudolf Höss also forced to write the above quote?  Did he write the above quote because he was tortured again?

I previously blogged about the son of another child of Rudolf Höss at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/the-grandson-of-rudolf-hoess-is-still-bothered-by-the-shame-associated-with-his-family-name/

October 12, 2012

The Confession of Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz

Filed under: Holocaust — Tags: — furtherglory @ 10:29 am

A reader of my blog provided a link to this page on his website, which explains how a confession was obtained from Rudolf Hoess after he was captured by the British at the end of World War II.

Hoess after he was captured by British soldiers and The Jewish Brigade

After Rudolf Hoess was beaten and tortured, and alcohol was forced down his throat, he finally signed a deposition in which he confessed to the gassing of prisoners, and listed the “death camps.”  Hoess made numerous errors of fact in his deposition. Did Hoess make these errors deliberately in order to communicate to future generations that these things never happened?  Or was he totally clueless about what was really happening in the Nazi camps?

The following quote is from the Hoess deposition. My comments are in brackets like this […].

In November 1938 I was made Schutzhaftlagerführer holding the rank of a SS- Hauptsturmführer until my transfer to Auschwitz on 1 May 1940.  

I was given the order by a higher authority, to transform the former Polish Artillery Barracks near Auschwitz into a quarantine camp for prisoners coming from Poland.

After Himmler inspected the camp in 1941, I received the order to enlarge the camp and to employ the prisoners in the, to be developed, agricultural district, and to drain the swamps and inundation area on the Weichsel [river].

Furthermore he ordered [me] to put 8 to 10,000 prisoners at the disposal of the building of the new Buna Works of the I.G. Farben [company]. At the same time he ordered the erection of a POW Camp, for 100,000 Russian prisoners, near Birkenau.

The number of prisoners grew daily in spite of my repeated interventions that billets were not sufficient, and further intakes were sent to me. Epidemic diseases were unavoidable because medical provisions were inadequate. The death rates rose accordingly, as prisoners were not buried, crematoriums had to be installed.  

In 1941 the first intakes of Jews came from Slovakia and Upper Silesia. People unfit to work were gassed in a room of the crematorium in accordance with an order which Himmler gave me personally.

I was ordered to see Himmler in Berlin in June 1941 and he told me, approximately, the following:

The Führer ordered the solution of the Jewish question in Europe. [Actually, Hermann Göring ordered Reinhard von Heydrich to hold a conference at Wannsee on January 20, 1942 to plan “the final solution of the Jewish question.”] A few so called Vernichtungslager [extermination camps] are existing in the General Government [occupied Poland]: 

Belzec near Rawa Ruska Ost Polen [not in operation until March 1942]

Treblinka near Malkinia on the River Bug [not in operation until July 1942]

Wolzek near Lublin [no camp with that name ever existed]

The Buna Works [the Auschwitz III camp at Monowitz which was not opened until 1942]

These camps come under the Einsatzkommando of the Sicherheitspolizei under the leadership of high SIPO officers and guard companies. These camps were not very efficient and could not be enlarged. I visited the camp Treblinka in spring 1942 to inform myself about the conditions. [The Treblinka camp was not in operation until July 1942.] The following method was used in the process of extermination. Small chambers were used equipped with pipes to induce the exhaust gas from car engines.

This method was unreliable as the engines, coming from old captured transport vehicles and tanks, very often failed to work. Because of that, the intakes could not be dealt with according to the plan, which [was] meant to clear the Warsaw Ghetto.

According to the Camp Commandant of Treblinka, 80,000 people have been gassed in the course of half a year.

For the above mentioned reasons, Himmler declared the only possibility to extend this camp, in accordance with this plan, was Auschwitz, as it was a railway junction of four lines and, not being thickly populated, the camp area could be cut off completely. This is the reason why he decided to do the mass exterminations in Auschwitz and I had to make the preparations at once.

He wanted the exact plan in accordance with this instruction in four weeks. Furthermore he said this task is so difficult and important that he cannot order just anybody to do it and he had the intention to give this task to another high ranking SS officer but he did not consider it advisable to have two officers giving orders whilst on a construction job.  

I was then given the definite order to carry out the destruction of the intakes sent from RSHA [Reich Security Head Office]. I had to get in touch with SS Obersturmbannführer Eichmann of Amt 4 (Dienststelle) commanded by Gruppenführer Muller [Mueller] concerning the sequence of incoming transports.  

At the same time transports of Russian P.O.W. arrived from the area of the Gestapo Leitstelle Breslau, Troppau, and Kattowitz, who, by Himmler’s written order to the local Gestapo leaders, had to be exterminated.

As the new crematoriums were only to be finished in late 1942 [Krema II was not finished until March 1943 and Krema III was not finished until April 1943], the prisoners had to be gassed in provisionally erected gas-chambers [the little red house and the little white house] and then had to be burned in pits. I am now going to explain the method of gassing.

The sick and people unfit to walk were taken there in lorries. In front of the farmhouses [little red house and little white house] everybody had to undress behind walls made from branches. On the door was a notice saying “Disinfectionsraum.”

The Unterführer on duty had to tell the prisoners to watch their kit in order to find it again after having been deloused; this prevented disturbances.

When they were undressed, they went into the room according to size, 2 to 300 at a time. The doors were locked and one or two tins of zyklon B were thrown into the room through holes in the wall.  

It consisted of a rough substance of Prussic acid. It took, according to the weather 3 to 10 minutes. After half an hour the doors were opened and the bodies were taken out by the commando of prisoners, who were permanently employed there, and burned in pits. Before being cremated, gold teeth and rings were removed.

Firewood was stacked between the bodies and when approximately 100 bodies were in a pit, the wood was lighted with rags soaked in paraffin. When the fire had started properly, more bodies were thrown on to it.  

The fat which collected in the bottom of the pits was put into the fire with buckets to hasten the process of burning when it was raining. The burning took 6 to 7 hours.

The smell of the burned bodies was noticed in the camp even if the wind was blowing from the west. After the pits had been cleaned, the remaining ashes were broken up. This was done on a cement platter where prisoners pulverized the remaining bones with wooden hammers.  

The remains were loaded on lorries and taken to an out of the way place on the Weichsel and thrown into the river. After the erection of the new big crematorium, the following method was used. After the first two big crematoriums [Krema II and Krema III] were finished in 1942 (the other two were finished half a year later) mass transports from Belgium, France, Holland and Greece started. [The other two were Krema IV and Krema V]

The following method was used:

The transport trains ran alongside an especially built ramp [the Judenrampe] with three lines which was situated between the crematorium, store and camp Birkenau. The sorting out of the prisoners and the disposing of the luggage was done on the ramp.

Prisoners fit to work were taken to one of the various camps, prisoners to be exterminated were taken to one of the new crematoriums. There they first went to one of the big underground rooms to address [undress]. This room was equipped with benches and contraptions to hang up clothing and the prisoners were told by interpreters that they were brought here to have a bath and be deloused and to remember where they put their clothing.

Then they went on to the next room which was equipped with water pipes and showers to give the impression of a bath. Two Unterführers remained in the room until the last moment to prevent unrest.

Sometimes it happened that prisoners knew what was going to be done. Especially the transports from Belsen [Bergen-Belsen] knew, as they originated from the East, when the trains reached Upper Silesia, that they were most likely [being] taken to the place of extermination.

When transports from Belsen arrived, safety measures were strengthened and the transports were split up into smaller groups which we sent to different crematoriums to prevent riots. SS men formed a strong cordon and forced resisting prisoners into the gas-chamber. That happened very rarely as prisoners were set at ease by the measures we undertook.  

I remember one incident especially well.

One transport from Belsen arrived, approximately two-thirds, mostly men were in the gas- chamber, the remaining third was in the dressing room. When three or four armed SS Unterführers entered the dressing room to hasten the undressing, mutiny broke out.

The light cables were torn down, the SS men were overpowered, one of them stabbed and all of them were robbed of their weapons. As this room was in complete darkness, wild shooting started between the guard near the exit door and the prisoners inside.

When I arrived, I ordered the doors to be shut and I had the process of gassing the first party finished and then went into the room together with the guard carrying small searchlights, pushing the prisoners into a corner from where they were taken out singly into another room of the crematorium and shot, by my order, with small calibre weapons.  

It happened repeatedly that women hid their children underneath their clothing and did not take them into the gas chamber. The clothing was searched by the permanent commando of prisoners under the supervision of the SS and children who were found were sent into the gas-chamber.  

After half an hour, the electric air conditioner was started up and the bodies were taken up to the cremating stove by lift. The cremation of approximately 2,000 prisoners in five cremating stoves took approximately 12 hours.  

In Auschwitz [actually Birkenau] there were two plants [Krema II and Krema III]; each of them had five double stoves. Furthermore there were another two plants [Krema IV and Krema V], each having four bigger stoves and provisional plants [the two farm houses] as described above. The second provisional plant [actually, the first provisional plant, which was the little red house] had been destroyed. All clothing and property of prisoners was sorted out in the store by a commando of prisoners which was permanently employed there and was also billeted there.  

Valuables were sent monthly to the Reichsbank in Berlin. Clothing was sent to armament firms, after having been cleaned, for the use of forced labour and displaced persons. Gold from teeth was melted down and sent monthly to the medical department of the Waffen-SS. 

The man in charge was Sanitaetsfeldzeugmeister SS ­Gruppenführer Blumenreuter. I personally never shot anybody or beat anybody.

Owing to the mass intakes, the number of prisoners fit to work grew immensely. My protests to the RHSA to slow down the transports, which means to send fewer transports, was rejected every time. The reason given was the Reichsführer-SS [Heinrich Himmler] had given an order to speed up extermination and every SS Führer hampering same will be called to account.

Owing to the immense over populating of existing barracks and owing to the inadequate hygienic installations, epidemic diseases like spotted fever [typhoid], typhus, scarlet fever and diphtheria, broke out from time to time, especially in the camp Birkenau.  

Doctors came under the camp commandant from a military point of view. As far as medical decisions went, they had their own routine and came under the Chef des Sanitatswesens des WVHauptamtes Standartenführer Dr. Lolling, who again came under Reichsarzt Dr Gravitz.  

In one respect the above mentioned rule has been broken; local Gestapo leaders were given orders by RHSA to get in touch with me. Prisoners which were kept in concentration camps for the Gestapo and who have not been sentenced out of political reasons were allowed to be removed by any other means.

I received the names of the persons, personally, from the leader of the Gestapo and I passed them on again to the respective doctor for finishing off. This, usually was an injection of petrol. The doctor had orders to write an ordinary death certificate. Regarding the reason of the deaths, he could put any illness.

During the time as Commandant, we made the following experiments:

Professor Clauberg, chief of the Women’s Hospital, Konigshutte, in Upper Silesia, made sterilization experiments. This was done as follows. He got in contact with the doctor of the women’s camp to find him suitable persons.

They were put in a special ward of the hospital. Under a special x-ray screen, he gave them a syringe with a special liquid, which went through the womb into the ovary. This liquid, as he said, definitely blocked the ovary and caused an inflammation. After a few weeks, he gave them another injection which could tell him that the ovary was definitely blocked.

These experiments were made by order of the Reichsführer-SS [Heinrich Himmler].  

Signed: Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss

Note that Hoess mentioned the incident when a transport arrived from Bergen-Belsen.  I previously blogged about this incident here.

On May 14, 1946, Hoess signed a sworn affidavit in which he confessed that 2 million Jews had been gassed to death at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1941 and 1943, and that 1/2 million more were put to death by other means. The 2.5 million figure did not include an estimated 400,000 Hungarian Jews who were gassed to death during a period of 10 weeks in 1944 when Hoess was not the Commandant.

Affidavit signed by Rudolf Hoess on May 14, 1946

The Confession of Rudolf Hoess is displayed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The photo that is displayed at the USHMM shows women and children marching to one of the four gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, carrying their bundles.

By confessing to the gassing of Jews at Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess saved his wife and children from being sent to Siberia, or perhaps an even worse fate.  His grandchildren are ashamed of their grandfather, Rudolf Hoess, as I previously blogged about here, but they shouldn’t be.

Another Hoess confession, which was quoted by William L. Shirer in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, is discussed on this website.

 

February 27, 2012

Has the gallows, on which Rudolf Hoess was hanged at Auschwitz, been moved?

I’ve been reading more here about the recent trip to Auschwitz made by British students on a Holocaust Education Trust tour.  I was intrigued by the following information in the article written by Mike Pyle, a reporter who accompanied the students on the trip:

We stood outside the house of Rudolf Hoss, (sic) effectively the manager of the camp, where he lived with his family just a few hundred yards from Block 11.

Outside it stands the gallows he was hanged from in 1947. Our HET educator for the day, Nicole Sarsby, challenged us to think of how this man was able to bring up his family in such circumstances.

The name of the first Commandant of Auschwitz was Rudolf Hoess. (In German the name is spelled Höß or Höss.) Hoess was an officer in the SS; he had received his training at Dachau and had then been assigned to the Sachsenhausen camp before becoming the Commandant of Auschwitz in May 1940.  You can read here about the numerous statements made by Rudolf Hoess in which he confessed that millions of Jews were gassed at Auschwitz.

The house where Rudolf Hoess lived is shown in the two photos below.

The rear of the house where Rudolf Hoess lived with his family at Auschwitz

The front of the house where Rudolf Hoess lived at Auschwitz

The house where Rudolf Hoess formerly lived with his wife and children is now occupied by new residents.  I took the photo above in October 2005.  I wonder what the current residents think about the hundreds of British students parading past their home, gawking at the reconstruction of the gallows where Rudolf Hoess was hanged.  Note that I took the photo from across the street, so as not to invade the privacy of the current occupants.

The article written by Mike Pyle mentions that the house where Rudolf Hoess lived was “just a few hundred yards from Block 11.”  The photo below, which I took in September 1998, shows Block 11.

Block 11 was the prison block at the Auschwitz main camp

The rear of Block 11 faces the street where Hoess lived

When I visited Auschwitz in 2005, a reconstructed model of the gallows on which Rudolf Hoess was hung, was located near the gas chamber building in the main Auschwitz camp.

Reconstructed gallows near the gas chamber building in Auschwitz main camp

The photo above shows the reconstructed gallows on which Rudolf Hoess, the Commandant of Auschwitz, was hanged on April 16, 1947. The steps on the far right in the photo are the original steps of the building which housed the Political Department (Gestapo branch office). One can see the outline of where the building once stood. The reconstructed gallows stands on the spot where the Political Department building used to be.

The small hole in the ground with an arched covering over it, located next to the street, is a one-man air raid shelter for an SS guard to jump into, in case there was no time to make it into the air raid shelter in the former gas chamber. There are several of these shelters scattered around the Auschwitz I camp. During air raids the prisoners would take cover in the basements of the barracks buildings.

The Auschwitz complex was targeted by the Allies, not because the Jews were being gassed there, but because the factories near the camp were extremely important to the German war effort. In 1944,  the Auschwitz main camp received a direct hit from Allied bombs and one of the barracks buildings was damaged.

Close-up of the reconstructed gallows

I’m confused.  Has the reconstructed gallows now been moved from this spot?  Was it moved because tourists are now shuffled through the gas chamber from the other side of the building, not from the door on the side where the reconstructed gallows was located when I visited the camp in 1998?  The photo below shows the door into the gas chamber building that was constructed when the gas chamber was converted into an air raid shelter.  When I visited Auschwitz in 1998, I was told that this was the door through which the victims entered the gas chamber. At that time, tour guides were still telling visitors that the gas chamber was original, not a reconstruction done by the Soviet Union.  The door shown in the photo below was not there when the gas chamber was in operation.

Visitors to Auschwitz in 1998 were told that this was the door into the gas chamber

Here is another quote from the article about the student trip to Auschwitz:

Our day started, after an early flight into Krakow, in the nearby town of Oswiecim. The Nazis chose to build Auschwitz there because it had one of the largest Jewish populations in the country – 68 per cent of the population, around 7,000 people.

Wait a minute! The Nazis chose to build the Auschwitz camp in Oswiecim because there were already 7,000 Jews there and they would not have to transport them to another place?  I don’t think so.

Before the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, Oswiecim was a town with a population 12,000, of which 7,000 residents were Jewish. The Jews, who had lived for over 500 years in the town, which they called Oshpitzin, were evacuated by the Nazis to three different ghettos in 1941, but eventually ended up back at Auschwitz, where most of them perished in the Auschwitz II death camp.

The plan to establish a concentration camp at Auschwitz was first announced by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler on April 27, 1940.  Konzentrationslager Auschwitz, the main camp, was originally opened on June 14, 1940, as just another concentration camp, in the former Polish military garrison in Zazole, a district of the town of Auschwitz. Thirty German criminals, who were prisoners in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, were brought to Auschwitz in May 1940 to convert the garrison into a prison camp. Throughout its existence, the Nazis called Auschwitz a concentration camp, not an extermination camp or Vernichtungslager. The term “extermination camp” was coined by the Allies and initially, it applied to all the Nazi camps.

At first, the Auschwitz main camp, known as the Stammlager, was only a camp for Polish political prisoners, including some Jews, and German common criminals, who assisted the Nazis in supervising the other prisoners. The first transport to the Auschwitz concentration camp consisted of 728 Polish inmates of the Gestapo prison at Tarnow. They were mostly university students, including a few Jews, who had joined the Polish Resistance. The Polish Army never surrendered to the Germans and no Armistice was ever signed. The Poles continued to fight during World War II, but as insurgents or illegal combatants, not as soldiers on the battlefield. When captured, the Polish resistance fighters were sent to Auschwitz or other concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Dachau.

Hoess was relieved of his duties as Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau in 1944 and sent to Oranienburg to replace Arthur Liebehenschel as the Senior Director of WVHA, the SS Economic Department. On December 1, 1944, Liebehenschel became the new Commandant of Auschwitz, but only the Auschwitz I camp, not the whole Auschwitz-Birkenau complex.

Hoess was fired because he was allegedly having an affair with a woman prisoner in Block 11 at the Auschwitz I camp. The woman, Eleanore Hodys, told her story to the American liberators at Dachau and it was included in a book entitled Dachau Liberated, The Official Report by The U.S. Seventh Army. In the book, she was identified only as E.H.

Dr. Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS judge who was assigned to investigate corruption in the Auschwitz camp, allegedly learned of the affair and fired Hoess from his position as Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau.  Hoess returned to Auschwitz in April 1944 to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz II, aka Birkenau.  He was the one who ordered that the train tracks be extended inside the Birkenau camp, right up to the gas chambers in Krema II and Krema III.

Railroad tracks were extended into Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in 1944

I have deduced that the British students are given the standard spiel of misinformation about Auschwitz, including all the common mistakes included in the Holocaust story.  They are probably told that Rudolf Hoess was put on trial at Nuremberg and that he confessed.  I doubt that the students are told that Hoess was tortured by the British until he confessed.

Photo of Rudolf Hoess after he was captured by the Jewish Brigade

Rudolf Höss was arrested by the British near Flensburg, Schleswig- Holstein, Germany on March 11, 1946. He was turned over to the Supreme National Tribunal in Poland on May 25, 1946 and was put on trial in 1947. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Three months after he was hanged at the main Auschwitz camp, the former camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau officially became the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.

The British were able to find Rudolf Hoess, after he had been hiding on a farm for eight months, because they contacted his family and threatened to turn his son over to the Soviet Union to be sent to Siberia unless they revealed his hiding place.

The following quote is from page 179 of the book entitled “Death Dealer,”  allegedly written by Rudolf Hoess and edited by Steven Paskuly; it was first published in 1992:

On March 11, 1946, at 11 p.m., I was arrested. My vial of poison had broken just two days before. The arrest was successful because I was frightened at being awakened out of a sound sleep. I assumed that it was a robbery because there were a lot of them occurring in the area.

I was treated terribly by the [British] Field Security Police. I was dragged to Heide and, of all places, to the same military barracks from which I had been released eight months before by the British. I do not know what was 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. The whip was my own. By chance it had found its way into my wife’s luggage. My horse had hardly ever been touched by it, much less the prisoners. Somehow one of the interrogators probably thought that I had constantly used it to whip the prisoners.

After a few days I was taken to Minden on the Weser River, which was the main interrogation center in the British zone. There they treated me even more roughly, especially the first British prosecutor, who was a major. The conditions in the jail reflected the attitude of the first prosecutor.

Surprisingly, after three weeks I was shaved, my hair was cut, and I was allowed to wash myself. My handcuffs had not been opened since my arrest. The next day, I was taken by car to Nuremberg together with a prisoner of war who had been brought over from London as a witness in Fritsche’s defense. Compared to where I had been before, imprisonment with the IMT [International Military Tribunal] was like staying in a health spa.

At the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal, Rudolf Hoess was called as a defense witness by Kurt Kauffmann, the lawyer for Ernst Kaltenbrunner, on April 15, 1946. This “opened the door” for an affidavit signed by Hoess to be entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT and gave the prosecution the opportunity to cross-examine Hoess on the witness stand on April 15, 1946.

The first confession signed by Hoess was labeled by the Allies as Nuremberg Document No-1210. It was an 8-page typewritten document written in German. Hoess wrote the date 14.3.1946 2:30 (March 14, 1946 2:30 a.m.) next to his signature. This date was three days after his capture on March 11, 1946. Hoess had been beaten half to death; alcohol had been poured down his throat, and he had been kept awake for three days and nights before he finally signed this confession at 2:30 in the morning.

A second affidavit signed by Rudolf Hoess on April 5, 1946 was labeled by the Allies at the Nuremberg IMT as document PS-3868. It was a typewritten document, about 2 and a quarter pages long, written in English. A second document, also labeled PS-3868, was purported to be the English translation of the original deposition given by Hoess in German. The second document was the one that was entered into the proceedings of the Nuremberg IMT.

During his cross-examination of Rudolf Hoess, American prosecutor Col. Harlan Amen quoted from the second affidavit which was alleged to be the English translation of a deposition given by Hoess in German. After reading each statement made by Hoess in his affidavit, Col Amen asked Hoess if this was what he had said and Hoess answered “Jawohl.” [the English equivalent would be “Yes, indeed.”]

A copy of one of the confessions given by Hoess, after he was tortured half to death, is displayed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  The photo shows Jews walking to the gas chamber, carrying their bundles.

The confession of Rudolf Hoess displayed at the USHMM