The Hunted becomes the Hunter….

Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of AuschwitzHanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz by Thomas Harding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The author has gone back into the early childhood and adult years to give a little insight into the character of Höss. Most of the men in powerful positions during the Nazi era were the same age and I wonder if there is any correlation between their possible involvement in live warfare during WW1 and their propensity to commit acts of savagery without any sense of wrongdoing. That isn’t an excuse of course, but we are talking about normal men from everyday walks of life, who ordered and committed atrocious acts of cruelty upon their fellow human beings.
Although Höss was given the assessment/title of psychopath (in this book) by a medical professional I would argue that the person diagnosing him was probably not impartial enough for that title to be definitive without further assessment by other professionals.
Deeming him a person with psychopathic tendencies makes it easier for the lay person to accept that someone, or any person, would help create and perfect a killing system of such proficiency the likes of which has never been seen before and I hope never is again. Instead of accepting the reality that the majority of the people in charge were just Tom, Dick and Harry’s and nice girls from next door.
What I admired most about the way the author described Hanns Alexander was the way he didn’t hide the anger. He didn’t try to be diplomatic or hide what he really felt. Hanns wore his anger on his sleeve.
These criminals took his home, his city and some of his family. Why wasn’t anyone looking for justice for the victims? Forgotten during the war, despite reports of mass murder, and forgotten after the war, because punishing the criminals didn’t take precedence over post-war power struggles. So Hanns ended up acting like a vigilante to get the information he wanted and he let his anger control his actions.
None of us can say how we would react to seeing the horrors and live evidence of the suffering in the aftermath of the liberation.
The writing suffered now and again from the literal translation, which was evident in the sentence structure.
Aside from that this book is a powerful reminder that some of the perpetrators were actually hunted down and punished. Unfortunately the reality is that only a few received their dues and the majority of the murderers were allowed to live a full life, unlike their many victims.
Historical accounts like this should serve as a reminder never to forget.
I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

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One thought on “The Hunted becomes the Hunter….

  1. I read Hoss’ memoirs a few months back. It was really odd how normal he sounded.

    It was the same when I read Albert Speer’s journal – I even found myself feeling sorry for him in places.

    Like

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