Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess

27.12.2011 ( Last modified: 27.05.2016 )
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Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Hoess was born on 25 November 1900 in Baden-Baden, Germany. He grew up in a Catholic Family and attended grammar school in Mannheim. By the age of 15 he vounteered to join the army during World War I. He, then, fought at the Turkish, and later, at the Palestinian front, where he was promoted to corporal and he received a couple of military rewards. After the war defeat he fought in the free corps at the Baltics, in Upper Silesia and in the Ruhr region. In 1923, Hoess, already a member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP), was convicted to ten years of jail because of murdering (so-called revenge killing or extra-judicial murder) the teacher Walter Kdow. However, in 1928 he was granted amnesty and released from prison. In 1929 he married Hedwig Hensel, with whom he had five children.

In 1933 Rudolf Hoess joined the SS and he was called up to the Totenkopf-SS (Skull-SS) by Himmler. In 1936 he became roll-call leader in the concentration camp Dachau. After having worked for two years in the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, he was appointed commander in the concentration camp Auschwitz in 1940.

In the following years Rudolf Hoess established, according to the visions of Himmler, the biggest extermination facility for humans of all time. In March 1941, acting under the order of Himmel, he contributed to the construction of the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. After Himmel informed him about the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, he ordered to construct four big crematoria with gas chambers and he used, for the first time, the gas Cyclone B, a highly poisonous form of cyanhydric acid, to exterminate Jews, as he deemed the execution by gun to be inefective and costly. The introduction of gas chambers in the showers in order to ensure gasification without a rebellion is also attributed to Rudolf Hoess.

On average death through gasification occurred after approximately three to ten minutes, whereupon Cyclone B caused severe pain. After valuables were taken away from the dead, the bodies were deposited holes, where gasoline was sprayed on them. It is estimated that up to 10.000 human beings were killed like this on a daily basis.

After the implementation of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question, Rudolf Hoess supervised the inhuman and iniquitous actions on Polish Resistance fighters, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war, and victims of pseudo-medical experiments.

In November 1943, after a corruption scandal Hoess was recalled from Auschwitz and employed as head of the Administrative Unit D in the SS- Economical and Administrative Office, an entity responsible for concentration camps, and later, he became the deputy head of the SS-Economical and Administrative Office.

In May 1944, at the request of Himmler, Rudolf Hoess returned to the concentration camp Auschwitz in order to take care of the extermination of Hungarian Jews. Under his command and supervision the killing of more than 400’000 people was prepared.

After the end of WWII, Hoess used the name Franz Lang, boatman of the navy and after his release from a detention camp he worked in agriculture. In 1946 he was recognised and detained in Flensburg by the British Military Police.

Rudolf Hoess was detained in Flensburg on 11 March 1946 by the British Military Police. After being tortured, he revealed his true identity.

legal procedure

Rudolf Hoess was detained in Flensburg on 11 March 1946 by the British Military Police. After being tortured, he revealed his true identity.

The Allies freed the people in Auschwitz in January 1945 and started looking for the perpetrators, among them also Hoess. The investigation unit of the 21st Troop and the Secret Service of the British military assumed that Hoess had changed his identity. That is why they searched for Hedwig Hoess, who, as his wife, was in contact with Rudolf Hoess.

Under the British custody he was interrogated various times about the incidents in Auschwitz. He never denied that he had committed the criminal action that was accused of but he claimed that he had merely executed orders.

On 15 April 1946 Rudolf Hoess was a witness for the defence in the trial of Ernst Kaltenbrunner and Oswald Pohl before the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal and he confirmed his testimony which he had made before.

On 25 May 1946 Hoess was transferred to the Polish authorities and flown to Warsaw.

The trial started on 11 March 1947 in the auditorium of the Union of Polish Teachers in the district Powiśle in Warsaw. During the hearing repeated a couple of times that he merely had executed orders and justified his actions with the compulsion to obey orders. The highest Polish Public Court sentenced him to death to be hanged on 2 April 1947.

Rudolf Hoess was hanged in front of his former house in the concentration camp Auschwitz on 16 April.

In 1958 his autobiography, which he allegedly had written in detention, with the title: “Rudolf Hoess, the commander of Auschwitz“ was released. Historians of the revisionist school are wary with the information presented therein, as the autobiography was written under torture. Nevertheless the autobiography is deemed to be a historically valuable document.


After the Second World War numerous trials against war criminals and those responsible for Nazi crimes took place in Germany and other countries. It is not possible here to give an overview of all the trials. Below are the main facts concerning the major trials of war criminals at Nuremberg.


The German armed forces surrendered unconditionally on 7-8 May 1945. The Allies (USA, Soviet Union, Great Britain and France) took over all governmental functions in Germany, instituted the Allied Control Council and divided Germany into four zones of occupation.

After the adoption of the London Charter of 8 August 1945, the Allies set up the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in order to judge the major German war criminals. Annex III of the Agreement contains the Statute of the International Military Tribunal (IMT Statute [2]).


According to Articles 1-3 of the London Charter, war criminals with offenses having no particular geographical location were to be judged by the IMT. However in accordance with Articles 4 and 6 of the Convention, the principle of territoriality was to apply to the other German war criminals, with the courts of those states where crimes had been committed having the competence to try these criminals on the basis on their national laws.

Crimes within the jurisdiction of IMT:

– Crimes against peace;

– War crimes and

– Crimes against humanity (Article 6 of IMT Statute).

The IMT was composed of four judges and four substitutes who were appointed by the four Allied powers (Article 2 IMT Statute). In application of Article 13 of the IMT Statute, the Tribunal drew up its own Rules of Procedure

The IMT indicted 24 people in total. The trials took place from 14 November 1945 until 1 October 1946. Twelve defendants were sentenced to death, three were acquitted and seven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment. In one case, the procedure was suspended for health reasons and in another the defendant committed suicide before his trial.