Architect of Death at Auschwitz

A Biography of Rudolf Höss


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About the Book

Rudolf Höss has been called the greatest mass murderer in history. As the longest-serving commandant of Auschwitz, he supervised the killing of more than 1.1 million people. Unlike many of his Nazi colleagues who denied either knowing about or participating in the Holocaust, Höss remorselessly admitted, both at the Nuremberg war crimes trial and in his memoirs, that he sent hundreds of thousands of Jews to their deaths in the gas chambers, frankly describing the killing process. His “innovations” included the use of hydrogen cyanide (derived from the pesticide Zyklon B) in the camp’s gas chambers. Höss lent his name to the 1944 operation that gassed 430,000 Hungarian Jews in 56 days, exceeding the capacity of the Auschwitz’s crematoria.
This biography follows Höss throughout his life, from his childhood through his Nazi command and eventual reckoning at Nuremberg. Using historical records and Höss’ autobiography, it explores the life and mind of one of history’s most notorious and sadistic individuals.

About the Author(s)

John W. Primomo is a retired United States Magistrate Judge for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio.

Bibliographic Details

John W. Primomo
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 251
Bibliographic Info: 46 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8146-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3942-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi
Preface  1
Introduction  4
I. Escape and Capture  13
II. Early Years  28
III. The SS  39
IV. Creation of Auschwitz  48
V. The Code of Barbarism  66
VI. Entrance Into Hell  74
VII. Life Within the Wire  85
VIII. Crystal Death  110
IX. Property, Corruption and the Inspectorate  148
X. Justice  157
XI. Responsibility and Atonement  169
XII. Execution  188
XIII. Conclusion  198
Appendix I: Höss Statement of March 14, 1946  205
Appendix II: Höss Affidavit of April 5, 1946  210
Appendix III: Photos of Child Victims  214
Chapter Notes  219
Bibliography  233
Index  237

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “A marvelously rigorous account of a notorious war criminal, edifying and moving.”—Kirkus Reviews