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Commandant of Auschwitz : The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess Paperback – September, 2000
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Original Language: German
About the Author
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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.
Adolph Hitler was the leader of the Third Reich, but there is hardly any evidence to show that he regularly visited the concentration camps in which his desire for extermination of certain ethnic groups was carried out.
Hence it cannot be said that Hitler alone did all of this. Here we find details of how the commanding officers and their charges handled the day to day killing of other human beings, even of their own kind. It happened so we cannot say that it is not possible or that it is rare. We are left to confront ourselves to find out if any of us would have done any of this, if we are to magically switch places with these agents of horror.
Hoess in this confession as he saw it, safely eases himself out of culpability by saying that he got orders which had to be obeyed, order which mostly were signed by Himmler. In this way Hoess never confronts his own conscience. He never had to judge himself because to him he was not the origin of the commands or the person who should have questioned the orders.
He actually believed all along that the Germans were the most superior race. You have to read this to believe it and when this is internalized, then you have to own up to see if you would have done exactly the same time if you were in the same position.
He does at times make it sound as though he were a principal perpetrator in mass murder out of kindness of his heart, being in an impossible situation where murder was the most compassionate thing to do. He describes the gassings as though they were an almost pleasant way for the victims to sleep away, and how upon opening of the gas chambers there were no sign of struggle or convulsion to be seen, no blood, no bruises. Anyone who has read any of the historical accounts knows he is lying.
For as long as the reader keeps in mind that this is not a truthful account, this book is a fascinating read: What kind of story does this man *make up* to excuse himself. And why is it so important for him (as, I suppose it might be for us all) to even as he is waiting for his execution, to lie to make himself seem not quite as bad.
If you are curious as to how a man who has confessed to murdering two million people tries to explain things so as to seem less evil, read this book. If you are looking for an accurate account, this is not the book you should read.
On a side note, just to give some conceivable scale on what this man has done -- he has confessed to killing of some two million people. The number of characters, or printed letters on all the pages of this book is about half million -- you would have to read this book four times over before you will have seen as many letters as this man has committed murders. Keep this in mind -- If at any point you should feel any slightest touch of empathy or understanding while reading this book, save it so someone who deserves it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Being very interested in WWII, this book will be another great read. Just saw a special on the CHILDREN of these 'monsters'. So am anxious to read it.Published 1 month ago by Boo
Very good book. Enjoyed very much learning about this man and his role in Hilter's government.Published 1 month ago by Gayle Seal-Blanchette
I couldn't believe how he tried to justify the horrors he was responsible for. It was interesting to read about the point of view of the criminal.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A despicable human being writes his memoirs. He just never got it, did he.Published 5 months ago by Linda's Lookout
Interesting reading, I cannot understand the mind-set of these people. They consider what they did perfectly OK.Published 5 months ago by wilsonhope656
Several times while reading “Commandant of Auschwitz” I was inclined to throw it in the trash. Not because it was poorly written, but out of sheer revulsion regarding the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Timothy
Excellant book, it is everything I would hoped it to be and more.Published 10 months ago by F. E. Gerlach