Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz
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WINNER OF THE WINGATE PRIZE
The “compelling,” untold story of the man who brought one of Nazi Germany’s most notorious war criminals to justice—“fascinates and shocks” (The Washington Post).
May 1945. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first British War Crimes Investigation Team is assembled to hunt down the senior Nazi officials responsible for the greatest atrocities the world has ever seen. One of the lead investigators is Lieutenant Hanns Alexander, a German Jew who is now serving in the British Army. Rudolf Höss is his most elusive target. As Kommandant of Auschwitz, Höss not only oversaw the murder of more than one million men, women, and children; he was the man who perfected Hitler’s program of mass extermination. Höss is on the run across a continent in ruins, the one man whose testimony can ensure justice at Nuremberg.
Hanns and Rudolf reveals for the very first time the full, exhilarating account of Höss’s capture, an encounter with repercussions that echo to this day. Moving from the Middle Eastern campaigns of World War I to bohemian Berlin in the 1920s to the horror of the concentration camps and the trials in Belsen and Nuremberg, it tells the story of two German men—one Jewish, one Catholic—whose lives diverged, and intersected, in an astonishing way. This is “one of those true stories that illuminates a small justice in the aftermath of the Holocaust, an event so huge and heinous that there can be no ultimate justice” (New York Daily News).
2001 Zeit article, titled Flensburger Kameraden. This article goes on to say that Rudolf left behind a few articles in the barn, including his black leather coat and his briefcase: ‘The coat was later used as a painter’s smock by one of the villagers, the briefcase of the mass murderer found employment as a book-bag for school-children.’ 202 ‘Rudolf spent the rest of the autumn . . .’ This information on Rudolf Höss’ movements during his time in Gottrupel was given by Rudolf to his British
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1916, Rudolf left home, telling his mother that he intended to visit his grandparents. As soon as he was outside the town limits, he contacted a local captain, an old friend of his father’s, and, lying about his age, enlisted. He was just fourteen years old. It was not that rare for such a young person to join the army. Officially, the minimum age of enlistment in Germany during the First World War was seventeen. This limit had been in place since the creation of the German Constitution of 16
will take a hell of a time yet.’ Most of all he wanted to return to England, find a job and resolve matters with Ann. ‘Personally I don’t mind if I get sent home tomorrow, I have had enough.’ Another matter troubling Hanns was his long-term future. Still officially stateless, he was eager to find out if Britain would offer him and his brother citizenship. In a letter to his parents, he reported a conversation with the officer responsible for thewelfare of Pioneer Corps soldiers. Hanns had asked
of Captain Alexander’s character, he is invariably chosen for the most hazardous tasks, and in fact at the moment has been detailed by me to carry out a priority investigation into a German harem. This will, of course, entail working at high pressure by day and night, but in spite of working single handed, it is anticipated that with Captain Alexander’s enthusiasm and drive the job should be completed in time for a well earned rest at Christmas in order that he may replenish the lead in his