It started with a very innocent online correspondence. One day, about six months ago, Rena Jacob, from Wertheim, a town in Southern Germany, got a request for friendship on facebook – from a man, she had not known before. Mrs. Jacob, a woman in her early sixties, is engaged in many issues related to Germany’s Nazi past. Nevertheless she took her time to respond to the request by Rainer Höß, the grandson of Rudolf Höß – founder and commander of the Auschwitz extermination camp.
„First of all I read, what he published on his facebook-wall,“ says Mrs. Jacob. „He sent a message, telling me of his activities against the extreme right, impressing facts about his family history and that he wants to do something good. I accepted the friend request and we corresponded for several months now and then.“ Rena Jacob has a very complicated personal background of her own. She was born as a result of prohibited relationship within her family. Her grandfather, who was a political activist in the Social DemocraticParty and survived several Nazi concentration camps, was also her father. This secret was kept strictly confidential, partly due to the good political relations of her grandfather. After her mother had died of tuberculosis, Mrs. Jacob grew up with her grandparents. She also suffered sexual abuse by the grandfather – the father. Up until she realized that his actions are wrong and intolerable. She threatened him with a knife. He did not dare to touch her again. „I once was a victim, and I will not be anyone’s victim again,“ she explains.
This is why she is determined to prosecute the grandson of the commander of Auschwitz.
Over the course of years Rena Jacob learned, not to hide the terrible circumstances of her childhood. After all – her grandfather was a Social Democrat – she was brought up to see the importance of political awareness and the need to keep the memory of the past. Her grandfather was a German, who had suffered under the Nazis. So the relationship with Rainer Höß, the grandson of the commander of Auschwitz, challenged her. He read that Mrs. Jacob wanted to start a Blog of her own, dealing with values and culture of memory. He suggested that both should create a joint website. He would deal the third generation of World War II and the Holocaust. „He spoke articulately, and it seemed important to him to be doing something and set accents.He also told me about the suffering he went through in his childhood as ‚grandson of‘. He mentioned all sorts of interviews to various media outlets around the world and that his films are going to be broadcasted and introduced himself as a “VIP”.The common website ‚Wider des Vergessens’ (against forgetting) started by the request of Höß on May, 1st this year, on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day. It was the day, when Chanoch Zeevi’s film „Hitler’s Children“ was broadcasted on Channel 2 in Israel, featuring Rainer Höß.
This movie, that displays the grandson of the commander of Auschwitz as the descendant of a Nazi, struggling with the criminal acts of his grandfather, plays an important role in Höß’s plans for a better future. Rainer Höß, who wanted to sell the personal effects of his grandfather to Yad Vashem two years ago – and was rejected out of hand – is in a very difficult financial situation, according to information obtained by „Yediot Ahronot”. He had been previously sentenced to prison and got heavy fines for forgery, fraud, theft, burglary, physical violence.Past punishment, it seems, had no deterrent effect to Höß, 46, as he is still continuing his criminal actions – this time taking advantage of „lineage“ of the family and memory of the Holocaust. „Yediot Ahronot“: document by a credit investigation company: Rating level ranges from 1 (no motive for granting credit) to 6 (a man with the most negative credit rating). Rainer Höß has the lowest rating, awarded to people with criminal records and most heavy debts.
Shortly before the start of the new website, Höß informed Mrs. Jacob about his plan to set up a fund – to combat the extreme right, for the expansion of knowledge about the Holocaust among students. Höß invited Rena Jacob, her son and her husband to visit him at home, near Calw / Baden Württemberg, where he lives with his wife, and gave them more details about his plan establishing the fund. Among other things he told them, the foundation will also support study tours for German students to the former extermination camp in Poland.Rena and her family thought, it would be better to found an association, because the establishment of a fund requires investing and amounts of initial capital. To calm the fears, Höß invented a story about banking documents, he received. He talked about a huge sum of approximately ten million Euros for the „Estate of Höß“ – those personal effects, he wanted to sell to Yad Vashem. Höß added, that „there will be no problem, to get even 50 million Euros by Arab acquaintances“ for running the fund.Now suspicion was aroused in Rena and her family. A recently conducted investigation shows, that the bank document is a fake. It is likely that it shall help the grandson of the commander of Auschwitz to trap potential donors for the the establishment of an imaginary fund.
In retrospect there is a suspicion that this is a “mainspring“ and that Höß, who is heavily in debt, tries to get the fund for his personal needs.The false document (alleged bank deposit account), that was handed over to Rena Jacob, notes that Höß possesses 9.750.000 Euros for the sale of rights of the grandfather’s estate, his name is not mentioned. Another document shows that the money is deposited in account closed for a period of time.Date of deposit, Höß allegedly received for the estate, by a notary office in Stuttgart is from January 22nd 2009, a few months before Höß suggested his sales proposal to Yad Vashem. Conversely, the number of the deposit contract is from 2010. Notary’s office in Stuttgart said in response to display the deposit account, that there does not exist a document in their hands with a number like that on the account or included a client named Rainer Höß. „Since there is no such document and we do not have a client Rainer Höß, the possibility that the document is false, is very high,“ said one of the notaries – noting that he was considering to hand it over to the police. It turns out, that Höß told a large number of people about his plan to establish „a fund to combat the far right, on behalf of Holocaust remembrance“ in recent months. Höß, living on the dole for years (probably illegal), is systematically getting in contact with people engaged in commemorating the Holocaust via Internet – especially through „facebook“. He tells them about „ideas“ to commemorate the Holocaust. He also boasted, that the management of the Auschwitz camp asked him to guide „exclusive tours“ through the museum grounds of the former extermination camp. A number of people, from Israel and abroad, also got in contact with Höß after the broadcasting of „Hitler’s Children“ in Israel and Blogs.
Rena Jacob estimates that Höß had sent the fake money deposit document to her as proof, that he possesses the necessary sources to establish the fund, although he has no access to a large amount of money.„He sent me the document of deposit by email, two minutes after we finished the phone call about,“ says Mrs. Jacob. „In other words, the document was prepared in advance. I decided to break with the relationship, before he could ask me for money to run the foundation. But it was not the deliberately false document that strengthened me at last to stop this connection. Much worse were the ongoing lies. I caught him in many lies. Now, as we know this was a forged document, it is clear that the man was involved in criminal acts, and apparently still is, we are pleased, that the story came to an end that way“.
At the same time, it turned out, that Höß never had a legal right to sell the estate of his grandfather to anyone. In contrast to the assertion, that it was given to him by inheritance, we hear the words of his family: the estate belongs legal to Höß’s mother, Irene. She is divorced from one of the sons of Rudolf Höß (Hans-Jürgen).
Rainer Höß took the estate from his mother slyly, telling her, he wanted to transfer it to an expert to confirm the authenticity of those historical objects.
In retrospect, he took them out to the market place, offering them for sale. He maintained the contact to the Institute for the Study of German History „(IFZ) in Munich, while presenting the false legal heir of the estate and setting strict conditions for awarding access to researchers and historians to the historical items placed at the disposal, including mainly pictures of the former Höß family villa, of his grandfather and his family near the walls of Auschwitz. This deception was revealed recently, when one of the relatives of Rainer Höß told, that his mother deposited at the historic estate.Members of the Höß family say explicitly, that Rainer Höß stole these things from his mother. She went to the Historical Institute in Munich, presented official documents proving estate property and demanded the return to her. The Historical Institute, who found themselves in great embarrassment, were eventually able to convince the mother to keep things in their hands. „Today, access to these items is much more free, and this is the most happy development,“ one of the institute’s researcher told “Yedioth Ahronoth“. However – even though he had involved them in criminal activities, institute officials continue to maintain close contact with Rainer Höß.
Another German, Höß contacted her through „facebook“ on Holocaust Memorial Day, recalls: „At first he sounded very sympathetic. We mostly talked about his grandfather. I was very surprised to hear from a descendant of the Höß´ family, knowing that for a long time the family was avoiding all exposure. I was very astonished, that he showed little involvement on memory of the Holocaust, but on the other hand showed great interest to join lectures for students in schools. Later, he began to talk about his private life. At one point I got the feeling, that he was exaggerating his stories. He invented stories, like: the Federal President of Germany will give him the Federal Cross of Merit and he was requested to guide groups in Auschwitz Memorial. I knew that the Museum of Auschwitz only employs professional, serious guides. He is provocatively toying with his familiar background und tells untrue stories He told me, that a book will be written about him, and the publishers had decided to release it in an edition of 25 million copies.“
Via Facebook he was in touch with a Jew – an American, whose parents survived the Holocaust. Höß asked that man for connections between wealthy Jews in the U.S., he wanted them to invite him to lecture. When nothing happened, he denounced him – as a descendant of Holocaust survivors – with anti-Semitic invectives. Recently astonishments are heard from people who were in contact with Rainer Höß about his many anti-Semitic remarks like: „All Jews are rich. I am tired of their stories.“
The German journalist, Gerda Marie Schoenfeld, who worked many years for the magazine „Stern“, planned to write a book, involving Rainer Höß, about his family. Recently, she decided to abandon the project, after it became clear to her, that he’s a compulsive liar. „The man is Borderliner, a man, that fantasizes himself an imaginary life – lying and lying and lying,“ says Schoenfeld. But his problem is not just his lies.During our visit to Israel, we sat in a restaurant at Lake Kinneret. An elderly couple sat a nearby table. They spoke German. It turned out, that the husband escaped from Berlin before the war, his wife survived the Bergen Belsen camp. They both talked about what they went through. Instead of listening, Höß had not stopped playing with a street cat under the table.The grandson of the commander of Auschwitz, who always told me, he wanted to meet survivors from the camp, was not interested in those or other survivors. “ „The situation worsened later, when we visited a teacher, who had invited two survivors of Auschwitz to tell about their martyrdom in the camp. Rainer Höß did not stop chewing gum, while the two talked about the torture, hunger and death in Auschwitz.” “During conversations I had with him throughout our acquaintance he surprised me every time again with astounding information:
The Jewish recommended to give him a medal, Israel wants to give him a Peace Prize, Elie Wiesel wants to see him in Auschwitz, and the villa of Rudolf Höß in Auschwitz belongs to him. He claimed, that he had the documents to prove it. But he added, that the Polish family, who lives there now, can continue to live at home. Rainer Höß builds up his new terrible imaginary identity using his family name. He presents himself as a hero, fighting neo-Nazis, and that he is respected throughout the world. What morbid fantasies.”
Recently, Höß began to spread a new story among people, who are in touch with him. He tells, that he plans to build a museum inside the former villa of the Höß family in Auschwitz and here he will feature „The man Rudolf Höß“. Others he told, that the Auschwitz memorial museum is interested to show, how his family lived within the horror. Höß adjusts the versions to his audience. Pawel Sawicki, spokesman Museum of Auschwitz, said in response „I do not know anything about such an idea. We have priorities, and we won´t spend money buying a villa and establish a museum. Rainer Höß contacted us and asked to be a guide, but we rejected his request“.
translated by Claudi Simon photo 1 by Eldad Beck · photo 2 by Claudi Simon
Leipzig in Germany: At the 18th of October you will see him how he acts as a good German grandson in the movie by Chanoch Ze’evi “hitler´s children”: Their names alone provoke horror: Himmler, Frank, Göring and many others. This is a film about the descendants of the most powerful figures of the Nazi regime: men and women who were left a legacy that will forever link them to one of the greatest crimes in history. How do they feel about bearing a name that inevitably evokes associations of murder and genocide? How do they cope with being the children of … – literally and not just metaphorically? We are present when they look accusingly into each other’s eyes, open their hearts and agree that it’s time to look forward at last.
Why do you think the press is quiet about it in Germany?
Why does a director show this man so good-naturedly?
Why does nobody feel responsible to stop his action?
I have a lot of questions, but no answers …… (what kind of world …)