Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss (1901-1947) was the first of three successive commandants of Auschwitz, and later head of all the German concentration camps during World War II. Lt. Commander Whitney Harris, an American prosecutor at Nuremberg who spent three days interrogating Höss, described Höss as a “plain, little man” who reminded him of a “grocery clerk.” Harris commented that, in appearance, Höss did not impress him as someone who murdered or could murder a million people.
Höss has also been described by other people as one of the greatest mass murderers in world history. Steven J. Paskuly, for example, writes: “By the judgment of history and by his own admission, Rudolf Höss is the greatest mass murderer of all time.” On March 17, 1946, an article in the New York Times called Höss “probably the greatest individual killer in the history of the world.”
This article examines the life of Rudolf Höss, and whether he deserves to be called one of the greatest mass murderers in world history.
John Wear Archive
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