Höss first interrogation

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Eddy Marz
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Höss first interrogation

Post by Eddy Marz » 15 May 2007 18:25

Hi all;
A pic of Rudolf Höss, shortly after his arrest, interrogated by Colonel Gerald Draper of the British War Crimes Group.
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Post by Ship of Fools » 15 May 2007 20:04

Interesting to think that interrogations took place in the open air without the presence of a stenographer.

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Post by Eddy Marz » 15 May 2007 20:11

From what I gather, this was an initial confrontation, very soon after arrest, when Draper finally managed to secure Höss' formal admission to not being 'Rudolf Lang' and being Auschwitz's Kommandant. Official interrogation took on from there.
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Post by Ship of Fools » 15 May 2007 20:36

I vaguely recall a recent BBC documentary on Auschwitz regarding the arrest of Hoess.

With dramatisations based on sources I think the arrest took place at night and there were claims that Hoess was beaten up straight away, with a doctor intervening saying if they didnt stop they would soon be interviewing a dead man.

Hopefully someone will correct my recollection if I am mistaken in parts.

Hoess doesn't look so badly beaten, at least not around the face. Although he is looking fairly stressed.

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Post by Eddy Marz » 16 May 2007 07:29

Hi Ship of Fools;
Höss's arrest took place at 11:30 pm. in a Flensburg farm. He was woken up and immediately roughed-up by the UK Field Security Police. He was also beaten during his first questioning, then, after a few days, driven to Minden on Weser the UK zone interrogation center. There exists (in this forum) another small pic of Höss taken immediately before or after the above pic (as the brick wall proves) where he seems to be bleeding heavily from the nose. As you rightly point out, the pic with Draper definitely shows that there's a heavy conversation going on between the two.
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Post by Eddy Marz » 16 May 2007 09:23

Here's another of Höss. I would say it was taken the same day as the one with Colonel Gerald Draper, even if the brick wall behind isn't the same one and there's no barbed-wire. Shirt looks the same, three day beard, haggard face... Although Höss says in his memoir that he was only allowed to wash three weeks after his arrest.
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lisset
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Hoess.

Post by lisset » 21 May 2007 18:54

Given what Hoess knew he had been part of and what he would have to answer for
I would think that Hoes had every reason to be "stressed".
If he was knocked about by the MP's who arrested him - I don't have a great deree of pity for Herr Ex-Kommandant Hoess - and his subseqwuent treatment although harsh was a darn sight better than he himself gave to others , others less fortunate than himself.

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Post by Michael Miller » 21 May 2007 19:22

Given what Hoess knew he had been part of and what he would have to answer for I would think that Hoes had every reason to be "stressed".
If he was knocked about by the MP's who arrested him - I don't have a great deree of pity for Herr Ex-Kommandant Hoess - and his subseqwuent treatment although harsh was a darn sight better than he himself gave to others , others less fortunate than himself.



I just wish they'd physically left him alone, rather than giving the modern day "revisionists" fuel to discredit his confessions. Those who hold criminals in custody have a sacred duty to follow the rules. When they give in to their emotions and knock their prisoners about, they do a grave disservice to the cause of justice. Another case in point- the reduction of all the Malmedy Trial sentences.

~ Mike

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Post by lisset » 22 May 2007 06:18

Michael Miller
I just wish they'd physically left him alone

Whilst I have no sympathy for Hoess , I do appreciate your point and agree with you in respect of revisionist views of his later confessions and his account of his time at Auschwitz which he wrote of his own free will .

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Post by nickterry » 22 May 2007 12:24

The first night of interrogation, Hoess was purely asked about the whereabouts of other WVHA men, not about Auschwitz. That was a deliberate decision on the part of the field security section who captured him. He was only asked about Auschwitz in subsequent days - by then, of course, he was shellshocked from being captured, and having been kept up for a while. But the core data of his first interrogation is so detailed that there can be no question of him being tortured into making false statements, as is claimed by revisionists. There is also no way that the interrogators - a bunch of sergeants and captains - could have scripted the story they were being told. There is too much inside info that only Hoess could have known.

What is remarkable is how relatively consistent Hoess was with *everyone*, from G.M. Gilbert, Leon Goldensohn, the first British interrogations, the Nuremberg interrogations by the US, the Gegenueberstellung at Nuremberg with Otto Moll (published in Overy, Interrogations), subsequent Polish interrogations and then his memoirs. The only thing that significantly changes is he revises the guesstimate regarding Auschwitz's death toll down - after having repeatedly shifted the source of the higher figure onto others, and then thinking over what he knew about the transports.

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Post by Ship of Fools » 22 May 2007 18:30

The first night of interrogation, Hoess was purely asked about the whereabouts of other WVHA men, not about Auschwitz. That was a deliberate decision on the part of the field security section who captured him.


The reason for that is probably similar to the same strategy Camp 020 employed with Kaltenbrunner. Namely to ask such questions before the subject was either utterly disorientated and/or uncooperative. With Kaltenbrunner the British were careful not to put any Mauthausen or atrocity related questions until they had thoroughly extracted all intelligence material.

I am not sure why Hoess named all the SS men correctly means he was not coerced in his Auschwitz affadavit. Perhaps Nick Terry can elaborate on that point?

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Post by nickterry » 22 May 2007 22:39

Ship of Fools wrote:
The first night of interrogation, Hoess was purely asked about the whereabouts of other WVHA men, not about Auschwitz. That was a deliberate decision on the part of the field security section who captured him.


The reason for that is probably similar to the same strategy Camp 020 employed with Kaltenbrunner. Namely to ask such questions before the subject was either utterly disorientated and/or uncooperative. With Kaltenbrunner the British were careful not to put any Mauthausen or atrocity related questions until they had thoroughly extracted all intelligence material.

I am not sure why Hoess named all the SS men correctly means he was not coerced in his Auschwitz affadavit. Perhaps Nick Terry can elaborate on that point?


No, that doesn't follow from what I said. The first night, Hoess was pumped for the whereabouts of his former comrades. There is little indication he knew precisely where they were anyhow. The report does not then say 'now we have a lead on so-and-so'.

Coercion as alleged by deniers in the Auschwitz interrogations _by the British_ is ruled out by the low rank of the interrogators, who were clearly not primed with a script, the lack of information available to the British concerning Auschwitz and especially from the perspective of the camp commandant. WRB was never published in the UK, for example, and the Vrba-Wetzler report sat in an FO file uncirculated to the field interrogation units as a 'script'. The highest-ranking Auschwitz officers who had been in British captivity had either committed suicide (Wirths) or not been present throughout the camp's history (Kramer, Aumeier).

Further coercion at Nuremberg is improbable because Hoess freely talked to a psychiatrist and a psychologist entirely independently of formal interrogations, telling one he had been maltreated by the British (being denied socks...), and then confronting Otto Moll, a condemned prisoner for entirely different crimes, not Auschwitz-related, in a separate interrogation.

Then the guy gets transported to Poland, has time to write an extensive memoir and contradicts several of the Polish-Soviet hobbyhorses in the process.

The real bone of contention, the 2.5 million figure he mentions, may well be a product of disorientation at first - but is swiftly qualified to 'Eichmann told me' and then when he has the chance, he lowers it to the accurate level of just over 1 million, first to G.M. Gilbert and then in his memoirs. I think when he was first interrogated, he elided the source of the 2.5 million figure, then remembered it, before his mind went over what he knew and realised that this could not possibly be right. It is quite possible that Eichmann told Hoess about the total number of deportations, which were of the order of 2.5 million, and Hoess confabulated this to Auschwitz alone, before he remembered the different actions in more detail.

Not very sporting of the British to contradict the Soviets who were dead sure it was 4 million in 1945-46. Indeed not very sporting of the Poles to tell the British that they thought it was 2 million, in their request for Hoess's extradition. Or of the historical expert Nachman Blumental to say 1.5 million at Hoess's trial. Nobody knew precisely how many nor did they have the materials to make any sensible calculation. Under the circumstances it's unsurprising that Hoess's memoirs got the sums more nearly right than anybody else of the witnesses present at the camp.

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Post by lisset » 22 May 2007 23:09

My good God , does this mean that ......the revisionists were at work in Britain and Poland in 1945/46. :lol:
And the West did tell the Soviets that they would not be accepting any evidence from them without it being subject to question.

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Post by michael mills » 25 May 2007 02:04

The first published English translation of the written materials produced by Hoess in Polish imprisonment, both as part of his interrogation by Judge Sehn and later while awaiting trial, contains a foreword by Lord Russell of Liverpool that gives some detail of the process of interrogation of Hoess by British Intelligence officers prior to his delivery to Nuremberg as a witness.

According to that foreword, Hoess was asked by the two British Intelligence officers who had been sent to Minden to interrogate him how many Jews had perished at Auschwitz. Hoess gave a figure which is not recorded, but that figure was rejected by his interrogators who stated that it was too low. As a result of the interrogation, Hoess signed a statement in which he claimed that the total was of the order of 3 million; he also made the point about his original figure having been rejected by the two interrogators.

The circumstances suggest that the figure contained in the first written statement by Hoess was given to him by his interrogators, and agreed to by Hoess because those interrogators simply would not accept his own figure on the basis of its being too low.

The really interesting issue is where the two interrogators got their figure. Most likely it was the figure claimed by Vrba and Wetzler in the statements made by them after their escape in April 1944, with an extra half-million or so added on to take account of the Hungarian deportation which occurred after those two persons had given their statements.

The most likely interpretation is that in his various statements made to British and United States interrogators, Hoess gave greatly inflated totals that had originally been fed to him by his first British interrogators (and in which those interrogators manifestly believed), and reverted to his own initial estimate only when in Polish imprisonment, an estimate that was of the right order of magnitude even if exaggerated in some respects (eg his claim that 100,000 French Jews had arrived at Auschwitz).

The whole story about Eichmann having given him a figure of 2.5 million is probably a fiction devised by Hoess to substantiate the exaggerated total he had agreed to at the insistence of his interrogators. The course of events was probaly like this:

1. Hoess gives his two British interrogators a figure that is not recorded, but was probably of the order of one million.

2. The interrogators reject that figure on the grounds that it is too low, and suggest a figure of the order of three million, consisting of a figure of around 2.5 million derived from a number of sources including reports by the Polish Underground and statements by escapees such as Vrba and Wetzler, and an additional figure of around 0.5 million to take account of the Hungarian deportation.

3. Hoess agrees to the figure insisted on by his interrogators simply in order to get a break from the pressure.

4. The interrogators require Hoess to provide substantiation of the figure he has agreed to. Hoess casts around for an explanation, and then claims that he had heard the 2.5 million figure (probably suggested to him by his interrogators) mentioned by Eichmann (the latter being an obvious source to name, since he had been in charge of the deportations to Auschwitz). It is unlikely that Eichmann would have stated a figure like 2.5 million, since his office had organised the deportation of only around one million Jews, primarily to Auschwitz.

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Post by David Thompson » 25 May 2007 03:45

In his IMT testimony and affidavit, Hoess said he got the figure of 2 million from Adolf Eichmann:

viewtopic.php?p=667873#667873

but his personal estimate of the deaths was 2.5 million:

viewtopic.php?p=667874#667874

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