Rudolf Hoss or Hoess was appointed Commandant of Auschwitz in 1940. In April 1947 he was hanged on the grounds of the camp adjacent to Crematorium I, the barracks and barbed wire, and near the home where he raised his family in sight of the camp. While he was held in prison he wrote this autobiography.
Hoss portrays himself as an able administrator concerned with the larger issues in running the camp. This is not a candid memoir, nor does Hoss evidence guilt or remorse for his role as a mass murderer. Nevertheless, there are moments in the book when the reality of his function breaks through into his consciousness. A prisoner confronts him and Hoss is confronted with the extinction not of mass death but of a single human being. The episode must have etched itself into his memory. Hoss' autobiography gives us a partial insight into the mind of an SS officer.
Hoss writes: "I noticed that women who either guessed or knew what awaited them nevertheless found the courage to joke with the children to encourage them, despite the mortal terror visible in their own eyes."
And: "One woman approached me as she walked past and, pointing to her 4 children who were manfully helping the smallest ones over the rough ground whispered, 'How can you bring yourself to kill such beautiful, darling children. Have you no heart at all?'"
And: "One old man, as he passed by me, hissed: 'Germany will pay a heavy penance for this mass murder of the Jews.' His eyes glowed with hatred as he said this. Nevertheless, he walked calmly into the gas chamber, without worrying about the others."