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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story
"Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz" by Thomas Harding is a well researched and documented account of two men's lives.
We learn about Rudolf Hoess, commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the man responsible for millions of deaths, from his childhood to the rise within the SS, his running...
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a thriller
This is essentially a historical book concerning the men in the title. One a German Jew, the other a German Nazi. It is a very interesting account of the two men's lives and of elements of the second world war and the holocaust. It is not a thriller as it seems to be marketed as but is certainly very engaging and often harrowing book.
Published 2 months ago by Edward Morris


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, 7 Sep 2013
"Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the Kommandant of Auschwitz" by Thomas Harding is a well researched and documented account of two men's lives.
We learn about Rudolf Hoess, commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp, the man responsible for millions of deaths, from his childhood to the rise within the SS, his running of the camp, his life in hiding and his capture.
Hanns Alexander, a Berlin Jew who fled to London with his family, joined the British Forces and then went on to capture Hoess.
The book is very informative and gave a great account of what the people behind the names might have been like. Either lives are incredible and Harding has done a great job at venturing an educated guess at looking into the minds of these two people.
Having read several books of similar themes I found this book to be shining with its credibility and objectivity.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent personal account of one man's search for justice, 28 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
For anyone who finds the post-war accounts of the search for justice interesting, this is a must. It has a great personal touch in that the writer's admiration for his great-uncle Hanns shines through. I found the comparison between Hanns' and Rudolf's lives very interesting and thought the book was balanced in its views and in conveying the facts to the reader.

The writer had a healthy approach and did not veer towards outright condemnation of the Nazi, though his views were clear in that regard. He saw him as a flawed human being who had subscribed to and embraced a dangerous doctrine.

Well written, thought provoking and an enduringly interesting subject matter.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable story of how a final solution was served on the main agent of the Final Solution, 25 Sep 2013
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A. Hunter (Merstham, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
This is a highly readable account of two Germans of much the same age: one who had to flee his privileged Berlin background and become immersed in a new country, culture and language; the other who rose from a more humble provincial background to be responsible for one of the most efficient extermination camps of all. That the former became responsible for bringing the latter to justice makes a fascinating story in itself, but the author, nephew of the hunter, has done a brilliant job of exploring the attitudes and motives of each, while keeping them firmly rooted in the events and influences of the time. The result is a more individual view of how Nazi Germany escalated it's attack on its own Jewish countrymen to the 'final solution' of mass murder, and the hasty rush in the immediate aftermath to bring the perpetrators to justice. It also explains how ground-breaking the Nurenburg trials were. The paradox is how Hess wrote up his story prior to his execution while Hanns generally refused to talk about it for the rest of his life.
This is a well researched and readable biographical study that is also a fine tribute to the author's uncle.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tale of two Germans, 9 Feb 2014
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Chris Pearson - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
Two Germans. One Jewish, one not. Both grow up affected by the rise of the Nazis. Hanns flees to London whilst Rudolf, a family man, becomes Kommandant of Auschwitz.

Harding's storytelling is compelling, and the book is real page-turner.

The war ends, and Hanns, as a member of the British Forces, goes to Europe to track down war criminals. Ironically tracking down Gustav Simon, the Gauleiter of Luxembourg proves a challenge, whereas locating and capturing Hoess is much simpler.

You're rooting for Hanns, yet trying to comprehend why family man Rudolf initiated and oversaw such atrocities.

It's a very moving book, and reminds us of the horrors of the Holocaust, its impact and why we can't forget it.

Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent balancing act, 17 July 2014
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Rosemary (Geneva, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
I thought this was an excellent book. It's certainly not the first I've read about the Holocaust, but it's impressed me for a particular reason. The author, Thomas Harding, is the great-nephew of Hanns Alexander, the eponymous German Jew. Given what his family went through during the Third Reich, it would not be unreasonable to expect him to succumb to the temptation of painting a one-dimensional portrait of his great-uncle as the perfect hero and Rudolf Hoess as the blackest of black villains. Yet, remarkably, he doesn't. While he doesn't hesitate to describe in harrowing detail the mass murders and appalling 'lesser' crimes for which Rudolf Hoess was responsible, and his utter lack of real, genuine remorse for them as opposed to for their consequences for him and his family, he also reflects the other side of the man - the obedient, hard worker and loving father. In equal detail he describes the sometimes wilful child that his great-uncle was, and writes openly of his prolonged procrastination towards the girl who was later to become his wife. I was especially struck by how Hanns and his twin brother Paul, both as children and adults, teased children in an almost bullying way that left me feeling rather uncomfortable. I couldn't help wondering how that trait might have developed had they later found themselves in circumstances where it could have been given free rein and encouragement - running a concentration camp, for example. It's very much to Mr Harding's credit, especially given how emotionally involved he must be in the story - that he gave us a picture of both Mr Hoess and Mr Alexander as human beings, with all the qualities and the flaws that every human being has. I think that added a great deal to the awful fascination of their stories, and it makes it almost impossible to finish the book without wondering 'what might I have done?' - in either Mr Hoess's or Mr Alexander's position. A very, very good read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thought provoking, 28 Sep 2013
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M. Notman "northernfag" (sheffield uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
Really enjoyed this. It starts off with the ordinary backstories of both men, shows their increasingly divergent paths and choices and brings them back together with one as the pursuer and one the pursued- and the very different fates that await them. Hoess is presented as human- which he was, there is no such thing as monsters his evil was of the purely human variety- and its fascinating (yet very disturbing)descriptions of his family and home life amidst slaughter are important in rounding him out as a character and as a man- rather than a nazi sterotype. I cant begin to comprehend how someone who clearly adored their children could do such things to other peoples. On the other side of the coin Hanns story is also fascinating (if a bit embarrassing as a Brit that we didnt do more) and isnt something id read about before- this quiet unassuming man did quite extraordinary things in his youth, helping to fight for his adopted homeland and bringing to justice those who had deemed his people worthless. Fascinating.
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How An Ordinary German Helped To Achieve The Final Solution, 24 Aug 2013
By 
Dr Barry Clayton (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
In April 1943 Admiral Horthy,the Hungarian Regent asked Hitler 'What should we do with the Jews?'. He was told 'They are to be treated like tubercular bacillus'.

This excellent book by Thomas Harding tells the remarkable story of Hans Alexander, a German Jew who as a British officer tracked down Rudolf Hoss, the Commandant of Auschwitz while serving in the war crimes investigation unit.

Some of the photographs in Harding's book are very disturbing. These are not ones of emaciated Camp Jews or the piles of dead Jews they are photographs of Hoss's young children playing on a slide, eating a picnic or simply playing in the famliy garden. The family garden was in the middle of the death camp where their father daily slaughtered men, women, children and babies. The happy children had pets and numerous Jewish servants who would in due course be murdered. A few yards away from the garden with its apple trees Jewish children were being gassed and shoved into ovens.

The book, like many others, emphasises the sheer ordinariness of men and women like Hoss. Like many other killers he was of average intelligence, a devoted father, and a loving husband. Like thousands of ordinary Germans he was an admirer of Hitler and his henchmen. He was the son of a merchant and he had intended entering the Church until service in WW1 changed his mind. In the 1920's he was befriended by Himmler.

As the author points out Hoss was not a psychopath. Like all too many Germans after 1933 he was nevertheless only too willing to do what he was told. In 1939 he became a very obedient part of the German killing machine.

The man who tracked him down was altogether different. Hanns Alexander was the son of a doctor who was a friend of Einstein. Seeing the dangers once Hitler became Chancellor the family fled to Britain.

When Himmler told Hoss to increase the murder rate at Auschwitz Hoss said 'I thought no more of it at the time-I had been given an order, I had to obey it'. He therefore had two more buildings converted into gas chambers in order to 'solve the problem'. Meanwhile, his children and wife had tea in their garden.

When the war ended Hoss hid until he was found by Hanns working on a farm under the name Franz Lang. He was severely beaten by the soldiers who were with Hanns. Under questioning Hoss revealed he was one of Hitler's willing-very willing-executioners. He was found guilty of war crimes and sentenced to death.

This riveting account demonstrates yet again what Arendt called the 'banality of evil'. Before he was hanged at the death camp where he had organised the massacre of hundreds of thousands before returning to the family home for tea-one frequently wonders with monsters like Hoss, and their wives, what they discussed at the table-he admitted that 'I never gave much thought to whether it was wrong'.

Harding tells us that some 60 years later Hoss's grandson paid a visit to the death camp to see where his father had played not knowing that just over the garden wall thousands of innocent people were being slaughtered daily.

Of all the numerous books on the Holocaust this is by far the most disturbing for it demonstrates how the ordinary German, not just the SS fanatic, was willing to commit mass murder on a daily basis before returning to the family hearth.

On 5 September 2013 Rochus Misch, for 5 years Hitler's courier, telephonist and bodyguard, died. He said working for Hitler was the best time of his life. He was an unquestioning admirer and servant of Hitler. He described Hitler as 'a perfectly ordinary man'. He was, he said 'a normal man with nice words'. Like all too many he claimed to know nothing of the Holocaust, despite listening to Hitler's telephone conversations. In his memoirs 'The Last Witness' he spoke of 'his unconditional loyalty to Hitler'. His daughter refused to have anything to do with him. He was one of the many thousands of 'ordinary' Germans who never regarded the actions of Hitler and his brood of evil doers as 'out of the ordinary'. Like them he developed a convenient amnesia after the war. He denied being a fanatic or a member of the Nazi Party.

Sir Richard Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University, a leading historian of the Third Reich, has recently written that Misch was 'an unrepentant Nazi and SS man'. His claim that he, like others, knew nothing of the murder of millions of Jews is 'a downright lie'.

Misch is an example like Hoss of the culpability of ordinary Germans for the systematic annihilation of millions. They willingly drove the trains to the death camps. They kept the meticulous records of the industrialised butchery, and then like Hoss went home to have tea and biscuits with the family.

When the war ended Misch became a painter and a shop manager. Not far away worked former SS men as carpenters, dentists and lawyers, a common occurrence.

This month, German State Prosecutors have been requested to bring charges against another 30 Auschwitz death camp guards who until now have escaped justice. Like many, once the war ended they had re-entered German society posing as ordinary citizens. In many proven cases, despite their ghastly secrets being known, people like them were protected by friends and neighbours. There were and still are many, many like Hoss and Misch.

Do read this remarkable and disturbing book.

Do read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a fantastic book., 12 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz (Hardcover)
Hanns's words have been written in a wonderfully sympathetic way and the life of Rudolf and his wife and children made me squirm. The whole scenario seems like madness in today's Europe, and to think that this is what our parents and grandparents fought against makes the entire book a valuable piece of history. As the words go ... lest we forget.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a real page turner!, 6 Dec 2013
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Having been to Auschwitz last year, I was very interested to read this publication. An excellent book that highlights the lives of two very different people - Hanns the son of a wealthy Jewish doctor from Berlin and Rudolph, the designer and Kommandant of Auschwitz. Hanns' story may well have remained untold if not for this book and it is a story that is so important. Without Hanns, Rudolph Hoess may never have been caught and tried. Many hundreds of senior Nazi's may well have escaped trial and conviction if Hoess had escaped. His testomy was so important. He was a stickler for keeping records which assisted in the downfall of his superiors and cohort. The way the book is written is almost like a novel, therefore making it likely a wider readership will be ensured than if it was just another "stuffy" biography. Whilst the style is "light", it does not make the subject matter any less difficult, but what it does do is perhaps encourage a wider readership of the lives of such an important pair of individuals - one working for good, the other for evil.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and extraordinarily moving, 21 Feb 2014
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By focussing on the personal experiences of two protagonists, brilliantly interwoven, Thomas Harding brings the full horrors of the Holocaust and its aftermath to life. This tragic story is utterly compelling. A must for both Jewish and non-Jewish readers.
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