Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Vera Atkins: WWII Spy Boss

Meeting Proud Mass Murderer Rudolf Höss


Rudolf Hoss<em>(Public Domain Image)</em>
Rudolf Hoss(Public Domain Image)
While searching for missing agents, Vera became involved in the interrogation of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoss. The specifics of how he was apprehended vary. Vera said he was arrested on the pretense that he was a suspected of stealing a bicycle!

The Nazi commandant had tried to disguise himself by growing a thick, flowing mustache. He had been working on a farm when police took him in. He appeared relaxed when brought to a room at a jail for interrogation. A British war crimes investigator named Gerald Draper asked Hoss if his name was the false name he had been using and if he worked at the farm at which he had been arrested. Hoss replied yes to both queries.

Then Draper asked, "And you did an absolutely dastardly thing, you stole a bicycle from a poor Polish foreign worker?"

"No! I never did such a thing!" Hoss exclaimed.

Draper then said, "We think you are Rudolf Hoss, ex-camp commandant of Auschwitz."

"No, I'm not," Hoss said.

Draper told a sergeant, "Remove this gentleman's mustache."

Hoss was taken into another room where it was shaved off.

Vera said that when Hoss returned, his knees were literally knocking in terror. He was shown photographs of himself and admitted his true identity -- and his wartime genocide.

A questioner asked if he had killed one and a half million people and the Nazi corrected it upwards.

"Oh, no, 2,345,000," he said.

Draper replied, "There is no reason to boast, you have no cause to boast. In any case, you are by far and away the greatest murderer, including Nero of antique fame. So why do you say this number?"

Hoss said it was because he knew what number had been killed when he took over and what number killed when he left. His entire statement attesting to his camp murders was taken down and he signed it.

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