HANNS AND RUDOLF : THE TRUE STORY OF THE GERMAN JEW WHO TRACKED DOWN AND CAUGHT THE KOMMANDANT OF AUSCHWITZ
by Thomas Harding
The funeral of Hanns Alexander in 2006 was impressively attended. Over three hundred people crowded into the synagogue. His two nephews gave the eulogy. Hanns had grown up in Berlin. His family lived a comfortable life until the Nazis came to power and they had to leave moving to England. Hanns joined the British Army and rose through the ranks. When World War II was over, Hanns caught one of the most wanted men of that era: Rudolph Hoess, the brutal Kommandant of Auschwitz. For Thomas Harding, this was a revelation. His family never talked about the war; they were never allowed to ask any questions. So, he finds out at his great-uncle's funeral that Hanns hunted for Nazis.
In Hanns and Rudolf you get dual biographies: two for the price of one. The chapters switch on-and-off between Hanns and Rudolf that describes their lives from birth until death. Harding's writing is quite masterful and the story of these two men is very compelling. It took him twelve years to finally finish but the sources he used were amazing. Some of the interviews that Harding had was with a daughter of Rudolf (I wonder what she told him since after Rudolf died the family was in denial); the grandson of Rudolf (he provided family photographs); the American prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials; and a Polish guy who cut Rudolf's hair. Harding also used unpublished letters of both the Alexanders and the Hoess family. Between the above and declassified documents, files on other high-ranking Nazis, archives in Holocaust museums all over the world, criminal records, transcripts of Hoess's testimonies, his research is mind-boggling impressive.
How fitting that a German Jew captured the German monster of mass extermination.
Very highly recommended.