Hoess (1900-1947), Rudolf

27 February, 2009
Bovy Daniel

Known as commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Hoess started his career, like other high rank Nazi functionaries, as a member of Freikorps (freebooters) that were responsible for the death of many democrats. In 1922, Hoess affiliated to the Nazi party. In 1923, he killed his former schoolteacher, Walter Kadow, because he had denounced a member of the Freikorps, Leo Schlageter, who was executed for sabotage. Hoess was condemned to ten years imprisonment. Martin Borman, his partner in crime, was condemned to one year. In 1928, Hoess was released under a general amnesty. On Himmler’s demand, Hoess became member of the SS. From 1934 to 1938, he was one of Dachau’s staff members. In 1938, a promotion led him to Sachsenhausen then to Auschwitz where he was ordered to organize the construction of a concentration camp. On November 9, 1943, he was appointed manager of the department “concentration camps” within the D service of the economic administration of the SS. Hoess came back to work on the improvement and the industrial finalization of the assassination of Jews with the Zyklon B gas. In 1944, he organized together with Eichmann the Final Solution for the 400,000 Hungarian Jews deported from May to July. Hoess was arrested in 1946. At the Nuremberg tribunal, Hoess declared that he did nothing bad and only obeyed orders. On May 25, 1946, he was transferred to the Polish authorities. He was hanged on April 16 in front of the house where he lived with his wife and children. His testimony, full of omissions and mistakes, constitutes at first sight the typical example of the perfect clerk who only obeyed orders without asking himself questions, but a more detailed analysis of his career inside the Nazi political system shows that Hoess was much more than that.


HOESS, R., 2005, Le commandant d'Auschwitz parle. Paris: La Découverte.

Cite this item

Bovy Daniel, Hoess (1900-1947), Rudolf, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, [online], published on: 27 February, 2009, accessed 17/02/2020, http://bo-k2s.sciences-po.fr/mass-violence-war-massacre-resistance/en/document/hoess-1900-1947-rudolf, ISSN 1961-9898
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