Men of Hatred
by Erin Vohryzek-Bolden
Researching the topic of Auschwitz was very easy for me to choose. Since a large portion of my motherís side of the family was sent to and killed in Auschwitz, it sparked a great deal of interest for me (link to about the author). I was able to find sources at both the library and in my class reader. The two sources I used were "Kommandant of Auschwitz" and "Anatomy of Auscwitz." These two sources enabled me to find very detailed information about the horrors of Auschwitz and the killers within.
Background on Rudolf Höss
Rudolf Franz Ferdinand Höss was born on November 25, 1900 in Baden-Baden Southwest Germany. His father Franz Xaver Höss was a successful merchantís clerk and his mother Pauline Höss was a housewife. Rudolf was only son out of three children. He was privately tutored until he went to grade school as a young boy. He was never faced with money problems so he was able to live very comfortable. When he was a young man he heard Hitler speak. After seeing Hitler speak only one time, he was so moved that he joined the Nazi party right away. Once joining the Nazi party, his reign of terror would begin.
The Birth of Auschwitz
After Heinrich Himmler gave the order to turn the Polish army barracks of Auschwitz into a Holocaust death camp in 1940, Rudolf Höss was shortly thereafter appointed Commandant of the new camp on May 1, 1940. Höss was given the job after Walter Eisfeld saw great difficulties in organizing the camp and declined the position of Commandant. Once the camp was ready for its purpose of eradicating Jews, the first gassing was to be taken place. On September 3, 1941, with the orders from Rudolf Höss, 600 soviet POWs and 250 camp prisoners were killed by way of the gas chamber. Although Hoss was not present at this time, he later found out of the success and showed no sign of remorse on his face for the murders in which he commited. Hoss had complete control over the thousands of SS guards who passed through the gates at Auschwitz.
Beginning in 1940, there were only a mere 500 SS guards assigned to the camp at Auschwitz. By 1942 that number of 500 had raised dramatically to 2,000 SS guards and later in 1945, just before the evacuation of the camp, the number of SS guards hit its peak of 4,481 men and 71 SS women supervisors. This sudden increase in SS guards was due to the increase in crematoriums. When Himmler ordered Höss to expand the camp to enable the Nazis to hold and kill more prisoners, Höss turned two village homes into crematoriums to allow more Jews per day to be killed.
SS Views and Actions towards the Jews
The SS guards had little to no remorse towards the Jewish prisoners. Guards would purposely toy with the minds and bodies of the aching Jews for personal pleasure. Jews who were lucky enough to work in the camp and possibly extend their lives were beaten and punished for the simple reason of hatred towards the religion and culture. The actions toward the Jews by the SS were both merciless and sporadic; any Jew in the camp could be the victim of an SS guardís power trip. The SS did not need orders from superiors to kill Jews during their time at the camp. SS guards were never questioned for their treatment to the prisoners, they were simply always right.
The SS had a view towards the Jews that they were the dirt of the earth and deserved to be stepped on. The guards did not see the Jews as much as people as they did animals and it showed in their treatment towards women, children and all Jews alike. The SS guards as well as Rudolf Hossís attitudes showed a deep hatred towards an innocent victim. The Jews were hated and killed simply because they were of Jewish religion.
Before the Jews were sent to the gas chambers to be murdered, many of the SS guards would play mind games with them, telling them that they will be fine and all they needed to do was shower to clean themselves of any diseases. The guards got great pleasure out of fooling these poor, innocent Jews before sending them to their deaths in the gas chamber. Once the Jews would enter the shower, many of the SS men would watch with the rest having a sadistic joy brought upon them.
Many of the Jews murdered in Auschwitz were not killed by way of gas chamber, but rather by beatings and firing squads. SS men were regularly shooting Jews for acting up against the authority of the guards.
The Results of Auschwitz and the End of the Horror
From May 1, 1940 through January15, 1945, SS guards and officials had brutally murdered approximately 1.2 million people, and nobody was there to stop it. For these few years, close to 7,000 men and 200 women served in the camp at one point in time. Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoss, and his SS will forever be known as the largest most bloody camps of the Holocaust.