BERLIN — About a decade ago, Rainer Hoess began making media appearances to discuss the actions of his grandfather Rudolf, the longest-serving commander of the Auschwitz death camp.
Eloquent and unwavering, Hoess became a sensation, and outlets such as CNN and the Wall Street Journal prominently featured his reckoning with his family’s legacy.
Eva Mozes Kor, a prominent Holocaust survivor who passed away in 2019 and preached forgiveness for Nazi war criminals, was particularly close with him. (Her son, Alex Kor, told JTA that she cut ties with Hoess in 2015 because she had realized that “he had issues that were too complex.”)
According to an exposé published July 24 in Israel Hayom, Hoess, 55, has engaged in multiple fraud schemes over the years.
Hoess has been convicted in criminal court 13 times since 1991 for various offenses ranging from fraud to threats and assault, the report says.
The judge in a recent civil case for fraud called him a “liar.”
The latest ruling came last month, and convicted Hoess of defrauding Peter Rosch, a shoe store owner, out of roughly $20,000.
Rosch had given Hoess the money as a loan, supposedly to produce a film about Hoess’ story titled “The Grandson” for a Serbian television station.
The film exists, but Hoess took the money while having no part in its production.
Attempts by JTA to contact Rainer Hoess on his last known cellular telephone number for a reaction have not been successful.
Hoess’ older brother Kai, an evangelical pastor from Stuttgart, confirmed the details of the case to Israel Hayom.
Kai Hoess also said that his brother sold his late mother’s home in 2017 and stole the money after emptying her bank accounts.
Kai Hoess, 58, said he decided to give his first interview to media to warn others about his brother.
“I just want him to stop defrauding people using the names and ashes of millions of Holocaust victims,” Kai, 58, said of his brother.
“I think it’s important he be put in a place that would make him stop doing these things.”
CNN star reporter Christiane Amanpour last interviewed Hoess in 2016 about the republication of Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf. Hoess had “devoted his life to combating his own grandfather’s poisonous ideology,” she said in that interview.