I, personally, refuse to be a part of this denial and disownment. Not all Nazi offspring are victims of history or of a Jewish refusal to forgive and forget, as could wrongly be understood from the film “Hitler’s Children”, which was broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV on the eve of Holocaust Day.
A year and a half ago I contacted Rainer Höß, the grandson of Rudolf Höß - commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps. It happened after the grandson, who is my age, contacted Yad Vashem and offered to sell some of his grandfather´s personal belongings.
Yad Vashem was appalled by this insensitive initiative. I contacted Rainer Höß and asked him to explain his motives. In that conversation he didn´t deny his intent to sell the items. He also said that the person who advised him to contact Yad Vashem was the son of another senior Nazi.
After this story was published by Yedioth Ahronoth and gained a lot of attention in Israel and Germany, the "adviser” denied any connection to Rainer Höß. I believe the "adviser”.
Today, after the grandson understood the damage caused to him by contacting Yad Vashem with his offer caused him, he dares to claim that the initiative to buy his grandfather´s inheritance came from Yad Vashem. Those are only two of many lies I heard from Rainer Höß since meeting him.
Recently I decided to put an end to any contact between us, after I found out that Rainer Höß continues trying to trade with his family´s belongings dating back to the Holocaust. These details were unfortunately not included in “Hitler´s Children”, thus harming the film's credibility in my opinion. Rainer Höß´s character could have been presented in a more accurate way, with all of its problematic aspects.
In interviews given recently, Rainer höß continues to claim that Yad Vashem contacted him first. This made me understand that his words about feelings guilty regarding his grandfather´s crimes are devoid of meaning.
In front of the camera, he appears excited about meeting Israeli high school kids and a hug given to him by a survivor of his grandfather's death camps. In front of the camera, he says what is expected of him to say. But a person who cannot take responsibility for small sins he committed himself, cannot take responsibility for the much worse crime his grandfather committed.
Even if Rainer Höß did undergo a certain emotional experience in Auschwitz, the fact that he continues to trade his family´s villainous past and tries to profit from it must not be ignored.
'A Jew named Kastner collaborated with Nazis'
Our first meeting was held shortly after the report on his sale offer to Yad Vashem. He told me then that he was forbidden to visit Auschwitz because of his last name. It sounded so absurd to me, that I immediately suggested that we travel to this death camp together. He agreed.
During the 24 hours we spent in Auschwitz I was amazed to see that his main interest was the villa, the home of the Höß family located 200 meters from the first gas chamber built in the camp.
He brought along photographs showing the good life of his family in the shadow of hell and wanted to compare them with way the villa looks today. When I couldn´t understand this sick interest in his “family's possession”, Höß claimed he wanted to find out what his family really knew about what had happened on the other side of the villa's walls – in the murder camp.
I wanted to believe it, although I still felt uncomfortable, even more so by the fact that he avoided showing any interest in photos I brought along of my family, most of which was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz and elsewhere.
He also didn´t want to visit the nearby camp of Birkenau. He just wanted to see the villa and go back home, even without seeing the infamous rampe, without entering the prisoners' sheds, without seeing how people lived and died under his grandfather's commands. He agreed to enter Birkenau only after I pleaded with him.
When we went to Auschwitz again to film “Hitler's Children”, I reminded him that his grandfather was returned to Auschwitz in 1944 to command the extermination of Hungarian Jews in the very last months of the war. In response, he mentioned "a Jew named Kastner, who collaborated with the Nazis”. He mentioned Kastner as if his attempts to save Hungarian Jews were equal to Rodulf Höß´s murder of almost half a million of those Hungarian Jews.
It was as if he was trying to wave the exclusivity of his family´s ownership of this horrific place. I lashed out at him in anger, which I had kept inside me for a long time. This scene too was not included in the movie.
Recently, we visited Israel together after he kept claiming he always wanted to meet with Holocaust survivors but encountered refusal or other difficulties. For me, the ideal place for such a meeting seemed to be Israel, as proof to the fact that there is a Jewish life after the Holocaust.
He wanted to publicize this visit. I refused. And so, far from the cameras, we met survivors. Rainer Höß didn´t bother listening to their stories. When we visited Yad Vashem, he walked around showing no interest whatsoever.
When we again met the high school kids, who showered him with love in Auschwitz, some of them told him they were tired of “constantly dealing with the Holocaust”. His response was, “I came here to see ordinary Israelis. I am fed up with the Holocaust as well."
Of course, it's his right not to want to deal with the Holocaust. The thing is that throughout our acquaintanceship he showed great knowledge in everything that had to do with the Nazis. He wouldn't stop trying to gather new information about his grandfather and his family, and every time he received information that gave him some kind of moral "discount", he would use it as proof that his grandfather and family were not that bad.
Seeking fortune and glory
In the past years I have met many offspring of Nazis, who dealt and deal seriously with the crime of their ancestors. Of all of them, Rainer Höß is the only one who claimed to have hired the services of a PR agent, who would help him make a profit out of his family's “legacy”. He is the only one who asks for money in return for access to his story.
For the sake of decency, I must say that he didn’t ask me or Yedioth Ahronoth to pay him money. This is one of the reasons I believed that eventually there could be a change in his attitude towards the Holocaust, the survivors and the sons and grandsons of Holocaust victims and survivors.
It didn't happen.
Maybe someday Rainer Höß will change his ways. Maybe, someday, he will tell the whole truth about his personal past. For example, he told me he used to be a senior member of a European neo-Nazi group and he maintains contacts with it until today. In public he doesn’t mention it.
Today I have no doubt that Rainer Höß is motivated by pure opportunism, which drives him to try to use his last name as a tool for seeking fortune and glory. Höß´s grandson is not responsible for the crimes and actions of his grandfather and the rest of his family. He is only responsible for his own. And they are unforgivable.
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