After the first Commandant of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Rudolf Höß, had provided his
evidence to the International Military Tribunal in the proceedings against the principal defendants
at Nürnberg in the spring of 1946 (appearing as a defence witness for Kaltenbrunner),
he was handed over to the Poles on 25 May 1946.
His process was held in Warszawa, but during the preliminary investigations, Höß
was kept in prison in Krakow.
In jail he wrote a total of 34 records on different themes, including some concerning his superiors,
his staff in Auschwitz-Birkenau and conditions in the concentration camps (these records
consist of ca. 120 pages handwritten on both sides of sheets of paper).
These records were made from October 1946 to January 1947 during the preliminary investigations.
In addition, Höß made detailed records about his life under the title ”Meine Psyche.
Werden, Leben und Erleben”. In this text he wrote a description of his life from childhood until
his capture by the British. Höß wrote this in the break between the preliminary
proceedings and the beginning of the process on 11 March 1947.
Höß was probably urged to write his memoirs by the Polish criminologist and psychiatrist,
Stanislaw Batavia, who had numerous talks with him.
His so-called memoirs were published for the first time in a Polish journal in 1951, but it was not
until 1956 that they appeared in book form. This edition contained both his memoirs and his other
texts. In 1958 Höß’ memoirs were also published in the West. The leading edition by
Martin Broszat (Institut für Zeitgeschichte in München) that was used by almost all later
editors, did not include the individual portraits or records that Höß had made.
That is why these are hard to find in western publications. Some, but not all, of the portraits
were published in the English edition of 1959.
On the whole one can assume that Höß made an effort to write the truth.
But nonetheless his subjective point of view and attitude are evident. This is clearly
seen in his
portrait of Odilo Globocnik
Höß’ memoirs and records are an important source, not only for understanding
the manner in which Auschwitz-Birkenau operated, but also for an insight into the mentality
of certain leading Nazis.
Höß,Rudolf: Kommandant in Auschwitz
, udg. Therkel Stræde, København 2004
Deselaers, Manfred: Und Sie hatten nie Gewissensbisse?
, Leipzig 2001
© ARC 2006