Rudolf Hoess

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Rudolf Hoess [Rudolf Höß, Rudolf Höss] (1900-1947) was a Nazi SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer who commanded the Sachsenhausen (1938 -1940) and Auschwitz Concentration Camps (4 May 1940 to 10 November 1943).

He testified extensively at the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg), and was executed by a Polish court in 1947. While awaiting the Nuremberg testimony, he was interviewed extensively by the prison psychologist, G.M. Gilbert.[1]

Early life and career

Born into a Catholic, lower-middle-class merchant family. his father became intensely devout, to the annoyance of his son, after contracting a disease. Gilbert interpreted this as creating a "revulsion toward religion and a rather withdrawn and submissive personality generally." He had occasional violent outburst, confessed one to his priest, but, that night, was awakened by his father, who confronted him over secrets of the confessional.

"His faith thus broken, he avoided confession thereafter and made up his mind to be a soldier." Running away from home at age sixteen, he joined a cavalry regiment and served, during the First World War, in Iraq and Palestine. "I was wounded twice, had malaria, was cited several time." He had his first sexual experience in 1917, but grew increasingly dysfunctional sexually.[2]

When he joined the SS in 1933, "I was on an estate as a leader of an Artamanen[3] group at the time the Reichs Fuehrer SS [Himmler] summoned me and sent me to Dachau."

| title = Testimony of Rudolf Hoess
| url =
| journal = International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg)
| date = 1 April 1946}}</ref>

Concentration camps

In addition to direct camp command, he worked in the WVHA concentration camp main office in Oranienburg, after his first assignment at Auschwitz.


He was Adjutant at Sachsenhausen.

First Auschwitz

A member of the SS-WVHA, he was in overall charge, commander of the Totenkopf-SS garrison and the director of the SS economic enterprises.

Special projects

After going to the head office in November 1943, on 9 May, 1944, he came back "to Auschwitz to be the Commander of the SS men at Auschwitz and to supervise the gassing of the Hungarian Jews. According to Laurence Rees, in his book "Auschwitz, a New History," Höss was also given authority over the Commandants of the Auschwitz II and Auschwitz III camps when he came back in May 1944."[4]

Trial and punishment

At the International Military Tribunal (Nuremberg), he testified

I have been constantly associated with the administration of concentration camps since 1934, serving at Dachau until 1938; then as Adjutant in Sachsenhausen from 1938 - 5/1/1940, when I was appointed Kommandant of Auschwitz. I commanded Auschwitz until 12/1/1943 and estimate that at least 2.5 million victims were executed and exterminated there by gassing and burning, and at least another half million succumbed to starvation and disease making a total dead of about 3 million. This figure represents about 70-80% of all persons sent to Auschwitz as prisoners, the remainder having been selected and used for slave labor in the concentration camp industries; included among the executed and burned were approximately 20,000 Russian prisoners of war (previously screened out of prisoner-of-war cages by the Gestapo) who were delivered at Auschwitz in Wehrmacht transports operated by regular Wehrmacht officers and men. The remainder of the total number of victims included about 100,000 German Jews, and great numbers of citizens, mostly Jewish, from Holland, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Greece, or other countries. We executed about 400,000 Hungarian Jews alone at Auschwitz in the summer of 1944.


  1. G.M. Gilbert (1950), SS-Colonel Hoess, The Psychology of Dictatorship, Ronald Press Company, at 240-261
  2. Gilbert, pp. 241-243
  3. Artamanen was a nationalistic male youth group in the 1920's that was folded into the Hitler Youth movement in 1934.
  4. "Rudolf Hoess and the Hungarian Jews", Auschwitz-Birkenau, 11 January 2010