The grandson of the commander of Auschwitz ATTENDING A conference ON Wednesday in Hayange
The grandson of the commandant of the Auschwitz camp, Rainer Höss, will come to Hayange and Serémange-Erzange on Wednesday to testify to this heavy legacy and his commitment against racism and anti-Semitism.
Yes, my family had a good life in Auschwitz... "That's just one of many sentences Rainer Höss discovers in his grandfather's memoirs. Born in 1965, Rainer is the grandson of Rudolf Höss, commander of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp from 1940 to 1944, where more than one million men, women and children were exterminated by the Nazis.
Rainer Höss never knew his grandfather. Faced with the silence of his father, a violent man, and his grandmother who remained faithful to Nazi ideology, it was only as a teenager that he discovered this terrible reality. It took me years to appreciate the horror of my grandfather's memories," he says.
Once he is an adult, with all ties severed with his family, he will never cease to learn about this man who abhors him and what was hidden from him as a child. Rainer Höss then became actively involved in the duty to remember, against racism and anti-Semitism.
"There is something worse than evil itself, indifference to evil" (Elie Wiesel)
In 2016, worried about the rise of extreme right-wing parties in Europe, Rainer Höss published L'Héritage du commandant (The Heritage of the Commander) in which he recounted his grandfather's itinerary.
Invited to Hayange by the Popular University (Upop) of the Fensch, this Wednesday, he will testify to this heavy family heritage but also to how the Nazi ideology hid in some families. Killers exist in power in the depths of each of us, we can simply consider ourselves lucky that no one comes to take them out of their lair," quotes Rainer Höss at the end of his book.
"Unfortunately, current events reinforce the importance of this type of testimony," says Marc Olénine, head of the Upop. Rainer Höss will also be the guest of two classes at the Maryse-Bastié vocational school.
Rainer Höss, born on 25 May 1965 in Ludwigsburg (Germany), is known as one of the grandsons of Rudolf Höss, who was the main commander of the Auschwitz extermination camp. Disgusted by his family's past, he carries out numerous actions as part of his duty to remember the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis
Rainer Höss,son of Hans-Jürgen Höss (born 1937), himself the youngest son of Rudolf Höss. Rudolf Höss, a convinced Nazi, was the main commander of the Auschwitz camp, where he helped to increase the exterminating capabilities of the facility: he was arrested and tried by the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1946, and hanged in 1947.
Rainer Höss therefore did not know his grandfather, but his grandfather's wife, his grandmother Hedwig, was spared and continued to share the beliefs of Nazism, as did the rest of his family and friends(1). Rudolf Höss thus remains considered a hero in the family, and the young Rainer never hears of the atrocities for which he was responsible before the age of twelve his father Hans-Jürgen is violent towards his wife and son to preserve the memory of the Nazi commander. All this led Rainer Höss to leave his family home in 1981, at the age of 16, then to cut ties with his family in 1985 before becoming actively involved in the duty of remembrance from 2009, the year he visited the Shoah Memorial in Berlin for the first time in the company of Thomas Harding, author of a biography on his grandfather(3).
Rainer Höss, who had been researching his origins for many years, refused to change his name and felt linked to his grandfather's actions. He gives several dozen lectures each year in German schools and wears a pendant in the shape of a star of David that a Jewish woman entrusted to him, making him promise never to part with it. He also had this symbol, as well as prisoner numbers from the camps, tattooed on his chest. A survivor of the Auschwitz camp also symbolically adopt him as her grandson.
Rainer Höss, openly showing his distrust towards the extreme right, agreed to appear in the Swedish Social Democratic Workers' Party's election clip for the 2014 European elections. He is publicly concerned about the rise of neo-Nazi parties in Greece (Golden Dawn) and Hungary (Jobbik), National Front (France) and in all European countries now.