The Commandant

The Commandant

An Account by the First Commanding Officer of Auschwitz

Introduction by: Ian Buruma
Editor: Jurg Amann
Translator: Andrew Pollinger

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9781468300918
  • 112 Pages
  • Overlook Books
  • Adult


Rudolf Hoess was the notorious Commandant of Auschwitz. Imprisoned and awaiting execution after the war, Hoess wrote a long memoir, a self- serving account of his life and approaches to management. The amoral sensibility Hoess displayed regarding all that went on in the charnal factory where the industrialization of death was practiced–where probably 3 million people were literally worked to death, shot or quickly gassed–is still almost beyond belief today.

Jurg Amann has taken Hoess’ text and produced a work imaginatively new, always using Hoess’ own words; The Commandant is a book Hoess would certainly not have approved–an excruciating insight into Hitler’s Final Solution and the nature of evil itself through the prism of the Nazis’ totalitarian system, one Hoess and so many others felt no requirement to question. Ian Buruma’s introduction sets this frightening work within a both moral and historical context.


"Its brevity makes it no less stomach churning. The monolog describes Hoess’s rise in the SS directly under Heinrich Himmler’s tutelage and shows Himmler as the most brutally efficient of functionaries, so vile and so lacking human sensibilities as to be in danger of being rendered as a cartoon character." — Library Journal

"Amann, via his editorial craftsmanship, is able to capture an utterly soulless individual whose respect for life and capacity for authentic love were destroyed at a very early age . . . Jurg Amann has done a great service by making Hoess’s memoir available to students of the Holocaust but, most importantly, to the young of the current and future generations. The Commandant is a must read for all social scientists and clinicians seeking a graphic and compelling self portrait of the evolution of ideological and bureaucratic sociopathy." — Jewish Book World