Hoess and extermination

Rudolf Hoess’s attitudes toward the extermination of human beings is
one of the most unsettling aspects of his deposition at Nuremberg.
Because of this I placed in a separate thread.

[From the Nuremberg interrogation page 26:]

Q: Did he [Himmler] tell you anything else. Did you go there
immediately after your talk with him on your tour of inspection?

A: No, at first I returned to Auschwitz. He explained to me that it
was not his habit to discuss such matters with inferiors; however,
this case was so important and of such great significance that he had
decided to explain to me his reasons and they were as follows: he said
to me that if the extermination of Jewry did not take place at this
time the German people would be eliminated by the Jews.

Q: Did he explain to you how the Jews would be able to eliminate the
German people?

A: No.[ . . .]

[page 30:]

Q: Now I understand from your statement that the people – men, women
and children had to strip themselves completely naked, am I right?

A: Yes.

Q: And the women carried their babies with them into the chambers?

A: Yes.

Q: And they knew what was going to happen to them?

A: Yes, I assume so.

Q: Did they know what was going to happen to them?

A: Yes, they did.

Q: And what was your reaction?

A: I did not consider this a problem, or the means, or the manner in
which it was conducted because in my opinion they knew it was going to
happen to them.

Q: But you found it lawful and right that they were to be
exterminated. It was only the manner you objected to?

A: Yes, according to my discussions with Himmler it was they way you
just stated.

[So in order to handle this objection we must read page 32:]

A: At the beginning I had to improvise because I didn’t have the
necessary buildings. Signs were installed reading “To Delousing” “To
Disinfecting” “To Bath” “To Showers”, etc. In addition to that,
inmates helped the new arrivals with undressing and gave them
instructions as to where to place their clothing so that they would
find it upon their return. It was done in order to avoid exciting them
in any way or to give them an inkling of actually what was going to

[page 36 about selection and Hoess’s attitudes:]

Q: And two doctors examined them?

A: Yes, they filed by them.

Q: So the examination never really took place; they just had a look?

A: Yes.

Q: And according to which plan was the decision taken?

A: According to the order as to whether or not a man or a woman was
strong and healthy.

Q: And what about the children? Were all the children killed?

A: That depended upon their stature. Some of the 15 and 16-year old
children also went to work, if they were strong.

Q: In other words, children below 15 were exterminated.

A: Yes.

Q: Just because of Himmler’s order?

A: Yes.

Q: And because they were dangerous to the German people?

A: Yes.

Q: So a child of three or four years old was dangerous to the German

A: No, it isn’t quite that way. I should have elaborated perhaps a
little more on my statement before of Himmler’s explanation. He said
the German people would not have carried rights unless the Jewish
people were exterminated.

Q: So that is really a confirmation of what you said. The German
people would not rise at all because of the four year old Jewish

A: Yes.

[ . . .]

By now maybe the reader is understanding that possibly Hoess was asked
these questions for the very first time. He was asked to consider what
his actions and thoughts were about the reasons he was given for
building the methods to exterminate a whole group of people. He was
asked to face those matters he chose not to face in the past.

What did he do while at Auschwitz? Hoess had his family living there
as did other commandants. His family quarters were like a separate
entity from what was going on the other side of his hedges. The wife,
children, and parents became a purity that was opposite from the
Auschwitz filth which one doctor [Kremer] called “anus mundi.” The
wife Kommandant Kramer said that everyone knew people were being
gassed and murdered.

Reading Hoess’s final letter to his wife is enlightening also. It
comes after a period of much inner research on the part of the human
being Rudolf Hoess. Here’s a portion taken from _Death Dealer_

“. . . Without realizing it, I had become a cog in the terrible German
extermination machine. My activities in performing my task were out in
the open. Since I was the Kommandant of the extermination camp
Auschwitz I was totally responsible for everything that happened
there, whether I knew about it or not. Most of the terrible and
horrible things that took place there I learned only during this
investigation and during the trial itself. I cannot describe how I was
deceived, how my directives were twisted, and all the things they had
carried out supposedly under my orders. I certainly hope the guilty
will not escape justice.

It is tragic that, although I was by nature gentle, good-natured,
and very helpful, I became the greatest destroyer of human beings who
carried out every order to exterminate people no matter what. The goal
of many years of rigid SS training was to make each SS soldier a tool
without its own will who would carry out blindly all of Himmler’s
plans. That is the reason why I also became a blind, obedient robot
who carried out every order.”

To his oldest son he writes [page 194]:

“Learn to think and judge for yourself, responsibly. Don’t accept
everything without criticism and as absolutely true, everything which
is brought to your attention. Learn from life. The biggest mistake of
my life was that I believed everything faithfully which came from the
top, and I didn’t dare to have the least bit of doubt about the truth
of that which was presented to me.
Walk through life with your eyes open. Don’t become one-sided;
examine the pros and cons in all matters.”

This is quite a difference from what he wrote concerning his initial
feelings in his autobiography.

>From _KL Auschwitz Seen By the SS_ page90:

“When in the summer of 1941 he himself gave me the order to prepare
installations at Auschwitz where mass exterminations could take place,
and personally carry out these exterminations, I did not have the
slightest idea of their scale or consequences. It was certainly an
extraordinary and monstrous order. Nevertheless the reasons behind the
extermination programme seemed to me right. I did not reflect on it at
the time: I had been given an order, and I had to carry it out.
Whether this mass extermination of the Jews was necessary or not was
something on which I could not allow myself to form an opinion, for I
lacked the necessary breadth of view.”

Could it be that Hoess grew a little bit as a man, if not as a human
being, as a result of his being a witness. Had he never been forced to
face the horrors he created he would have never had to face them.
Many of his fellows did take the suicidal route to avoid facing their
crimes against humanity. I suspect Hoess never would have allowed
himself to face them on his own. When he was executed for his crimes
he had only just begun to face them. It could be that he was hung far
to soon.

Mike Curtis

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From: [email protected] (Mike Curtis)
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Subject: Hoess and Extermination
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