Rainer Hoess - Germany
Founder of Footsteps Foundation
Rainer is the grandson of the Auschwitz Commander, Rudolf Höß. However, first and foremost Rainer is dedicated to challenge intolerance, hatred and discrimination. It's because if these believes that and Jessica founded Footsteps, Simone soon joined after. In that spirit he's been educating students and adults alike on the Holocaust and what happens when hate becomes a weapon.
Rainer has devoted the past 15 years of his life to exposing the truth about Nazism. Along with this mission, Rainer is also dedicated to providing anti- genocide education. In this capacity, he helped to create The Footsteps Foundation, whose mission it is to honour, and to learn from, the victims of the Holocaust and other genocides. Rainer was featured in the outstanding 2011 documentary, “Hitler’s Children,” which shows how the descendants of Nazis have adapted to the onerous legacy of their predecessors.
He is one of the founder members of Footsteps and hopes that Footsteps will become a non- profit organization in due course. He visits schools and universities around the world to help to educate about crimes against humanity in the hope that they will not be repeated. Rainer has visited the Auschwitz memorial on very many occasions, sometimes with students, and sometimes to help with documentaries. He is an honorary ambassador for organizations including Canadians Remember (Ontario, Canada), and the Zachor Holocaust Remembrance Foundation (Las Vegas, USA), Loud Against Nazis (Hamburg, Germany), and the International Remembrance and Peace Festival (Berlin, Germany). In 2014 Rainer was invited to Hungary where he was given the ‘March of the Living’ award in honor of his work in remembrance of the victims of the Holocaust. Rainer broke all ties with his birth family (apart from his mother) in 1985 and no longer has contact with them. Rainer acknowledges that he is the grandson of Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess, the most infamous commandant of Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp, in German occupied Poland, that functioned between 1940 and 1945. This was such the largest camp that ever existed.
Simone Boersma - Netherlands
Director of the Footsteps Foundation
Simone is a pedagogue with over more than 10 years of experience at primary schools and within special education and is the director of Footsteps.
In 2016 she started her final research to graduate as a pedagogue. From the beginning it was crystal clear that the subject would be trauma of children and youth in discrimination and prejudice within the current generation. She has been fortunate to meet and exchange correspondence with refugees, survivors, historians and others who shared this interest. As a pedagogue with an ecological vision, Simone believes understanding different ideals, and their origin is of importance if you want to be able to interact with each other.
Over the years Simone was involved in many projects within Footsteps and became the director in 2019. As a mother and world citizen she sees it as hear duty to create awareness within the new generations, using different ways of reaching out, if it is by lectures, making documentaries, films or theatre plays. History tells the story of the establishment of democracy and she sees it as challenge to plant the seeds by youngsters to become, and stay curious. To ask critical questions about society, values and acting.
Jessica Clark - United Kingdom
Co-Founder Footsteps Foundation
A graduate of English Literature and Education, Jessica grew up with a passion for history. During the research into the Second World War she became more focused on the Holocaust. This steered towards researching the experiments that tortured innocent men, women and children. Jessica's research focus was Josef Mengele and his experiments involving twins. Believing that the beginning of the euthanasia within the hospitals, the doctors and their cruel experiments were not spoken enough about, she took it into her own hands to write about the horrors of the experiments. This lead to meeting Rainer and co-founding The Footsteps Team at the age of twenty-two.
Looking deeper into the experiments, it became clear that it was not spoken enough about, and if it was, it was only a small detail. She dived deeper into the experiments and the euthanasia program (Aktion T4) which was the beginning of the mass genocide, where innocent men, women and children from Germany were being thrown into the back of trucks and gassed for being disabled; physically or mentally. During this time, she had connected with Rainer Hoess, together with a group of friends travelled to Poland for the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz, forming The Footsteps team in 2015. Emotionally driven to speak out to the world about how hatred and discrimination can lead to destruction.
After university. she became a teacher, travelling around the world, living in South Korea for three years, before returning to the United Kingdom to re-join the Footsteps team as their expert in the Nazi Doctors and as the IT specialist of the group. As the youngest member of the Footsteps team, she wants to connect with the younger generations to make sure that the Holocaust is never forgotten.
Giuseppe Leone - Germany
Due to his many years of work in the fashion and retail sector, for example with labels such as Tommy Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, etc., he has been working for many years. Where, as director for the whole of Italy, he was confronted with different groups of people from all over the world with their views, and was at times attacked
because of the fact that he is homosexual. This inspired Giuseppe to take up and confront this
worldwide problem. He was actively involved in the care of AIDS patients with the aim of educating them against exclusion and discrimination. Giuseppe has become a part of Footsteps. Thanks to his long-standing personal friendship with Rainer Höß and Simon Bell. Giuseppe's main focus at Footsteps is the persecution, discrimination, exclusion and murder of homosexuals in National Socialism, and the hostility that community still faces today.