The unrepentant daughter of Auschwitz


hossEven though Brigitte Höss, now 80, has lived (not that far from here) in the hum of democracy for decades, she retains the monstrous logic of a Nazi.

But after all, her father is Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz, who was responsible for the murder of 1.1 million Jews, 20,000 Roma and tens of thousands of Polish and Russian prisoners. 

Thomas Harding, author of Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz, peels back Brigitte’s personality by letting her own words hang her in an interview.

Reading an excerpt from Harding’s book in the Washington Post, it’s hard to know what is more disturbing:

How Brigitte grew up? We find out that Brigitte and her siblings were raised on the edge of death camps in lovely homes and gardens surrounded by luxuries — and crematoria. (Once, Harding writes, the Höss children dressed up as prisoners, pinning yellow stars to their shirts, then chased each other until their father told them to stop the game).

Or the fact that she’s been “hiding” in the U.S. capital all this time? Brigitte moved to the D.C. area in 1972 and managed to keep her identity a secret from her grandchildren, coworkers and clients. She worked in a fashion salon for 35 years, helping the wives of senators and congressmen. Her employer, a Jewish woman who was forced to flee Nazi Germany, did not fire her when she learned who Brigitte’s father was. Why? Her employer said Brigitte couldn’t be blamed for her father’s crimes. Her employers’ son says simply, “I am proud to be their son.”

But, after all this time, Brigitte has learned nothing. She is not only a Holocaust denier, the daughter of the Nazi oppressor has turn herself into the victim — of the Jews. Let us end with Brigitte’s own words, which can best explain her absurd and twisted world view:

“I am still scared here in Washington,” she says. “There are a lot Jewish people, and they still hate the Germans. It never ends.”

Now a resident of northern Virginia, she continues to hide her past because “there are crazy people out there. They might burn my house down or shoot somebody.”

Brigitte does not deny that atrocities took place or that Jews and others were murdered in the camps, but she questions that millions were killed. “How can there be so many survivors if so many had been killed?” she asks.

She’s never visited the Holocaust museum. “They always make things worse than it is,” she says. “It is so awful, I can’t stand it.”



Brigitte, laughing, and her siblings enjoyed living in a beautiful villa on the edge of Auschwitz, where servants included concentration camp prisoners.