Hiding in N. Virginia, a daughter of Auschwitz

tags: Holocaust



Thomas Harding is the author of “Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz” (Simon & Schuster Hardcover; September 2013). To comment on this story, e-mail wpmagazine@washpost.com.

Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She is retired now, having worked in a Washington fashion salon for more than 30 years. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences.

Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz.

It was Rudolf Höss who designed and built Auschwitz from an old army barracks in Poland to a killing machine capable of murdering 2,000 people an hour. By the end of the war, 1.1 million Jews had been killed in the camp, along with 20,000 gypsies and tens of thousands of Polish and Russian political prisoners. As such, Brigitte’s father was one of the biggest mass murderers in history.

For nearly 40 years she has kept her past out of public view, unexamined, not even sharing her story with her closest family members....




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