Das Erbe des Kommandanten

Whether all the perpetrators or the Third Reich, the one of the millionfold contract killer Rudolf Höß is probably one of the most disturbing. A man who attests to himself "a soft, feeling heart" and at the same time with cold meticulousness operates and described the production process or mass destruction at his place of action, the Auschwitz concentration camp.

His writings, edited in abridged form in 1958 by the contemporary historian Martin Broszat, describe only a fraction of his extensive life confession. Rudolf Höß's strangely stiff and deeply sentimental letters to his wife Hedwig, as well as the farewell letters to her and his five children, among many other writings, not included. Until a few days before his death, Rudolf Höß cool handwritten testimony on 224 double-sided DiN-A4 sheets about his youth, his career and his role as commander as well as private man and father of a family. Since then, unlike the survivors of many Nazi greats, the public has heard almost nothing more from the Höß family.

A Kinship of Purpose: Thoughts on Tolerance and Hope in Remembrance of the Past 

Simon Bell and Rainer Hoess have different backgrounds. Rainer carries the burden of a family history associated with one of the greatest crimes against humanity. His grandfather was not just a Nazi, he was the commander of Auschwitz and bore personal responsibility for creating a facility at which a million people died. There are more questions and answers than could be accommodated in a large library. This book does not seek to address them all, and probably only scratches the surface. Simon and Rainer refer to their own kinship of purpose, but believe that this is a kinship many good a decent people share.


Rainer Hoess became widely known as the general public when he was featured in the 2011 documentary Hitler's Children. He has learned to live with his family heritage or being the grandson of Rudolf Hoess, the commander of Auschwitz. Rainer has dedicated his life to challenging hatred and intolerance. He lectures widely across Europe and elsewhere. He gives interviews to news outlets across the world and speaks out against the rise of the far-right, particularly in Germany and continental Europe.