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Apr 23rd

I expected more

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Reading anything Holocaust-related is emotionally difficult. Reading the riveting, recently published Hanns and Rudolf by Thomas Harding, is no different. Yet, something sets this book apart. I read it in one sitting this past Sunday.

Echoing the style of another riveting book, Lawrence and Aaronsohn by Ronald Florence, Hanns and Rudolf is a dual biography, interweaving the personal stories of Nazi SS officer Rudolf Hoss (whose name is spelled in various ways) and a Jewish German turned captain in the British army, Hanns Alexander. The books leads up to the convergence of these two parallel  lives.

Although the book is researched meticulously and is a historical record, it is a history veiled as a series of vignettes with the pace of a thriller, even though you know in advance what the outcome will be.

The contrast of two men, who dedicated their lives to precise opposites, is a striking dichotomy. Here are two biographies side by side, one of a Nazi sadist, a mass murderer, and the other of a German Jew caught in the clutches of pre-Holocaust Germany who escapes in the nick of time. He returns to Germany one final time, this time not as a refugee, but as a Nazi hunter for the British.

As soon as I completed the book, I thought to myself: This might just be another “Schindler’s List” in the making. I became curious about the Nazi in the book, Rudolf Hoss, kommandant of Auschwitz, under whose watchful eye the final solution was systematically carried out.

The rest of this article is available in the IJN's print edition only. Contact Carol to order your copy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or subscribe to our new online e-Edition.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:47 )  

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