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  • Published: 18 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448150915
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 384

Hanns and Rudolf

The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz


The extraordinary true story of the Jewish investigator who pursued and captured one of Nazi Germany's most notorious war criminals.


'A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history.' JOHN LE CARRÉ
Hanns Alexander was the son of a prosperous German family who fled Berlin for London in the 1930s, becoming an investigator of war crimes.

Rudolf Höss was a farmer and soldier who became the Kommandant of Auschwitz Concentration Camp and oversaw the deaths of over a million men, women and children.

The hunt was on.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first British War Crimes Investigation Team is assembled to hunt down the senior Nazi officials responsible for the greatest atrocities the world has ever seen. Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Höss his most elusive target.

In this book Thomas Harding reveals for the very first time the full account of Höss' capture. Moving from the Middle-Eastern campaigns of the First World War to bohemian Berlin in the 1920s, to the horror of the concentration camps and the trials in Belsen and Nuremberg, Hanns and Rudolf tells the story of two German men whose lives diverged, and intersected, in an astonishing way.

  • Published: 18 August 2013
  • ISBN: 9781448150915
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 384

About the author

Thomas Harding

Thomas Harding is an author and journalist who has written for the Financial Times, the Sunday Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, among other publications. He co-founded a television station in Oxford, England, and for many years was an award-winning documentary maker. He also ran a local newspaper in West Virginia, winning the West Virginia Association of Justice’s Journalist of the Year Award, before moving back to England in 2011, where he now lives with his family. He is the author of Hanns and Rudolf, a Sunday Times bestseller and winner of the JQ-Wingate Prize; the internationally acclaimed Kadian Journal: A Father’s Story; The House by the Lake, a Costa Biography Award and Orwell Prize nominee; and Blood on the Page, winner of the 2018 Golden Dagger Award for Non-Fiction.

Also by Thomas Harding

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Praise for Hanns and Rudolf

A remarkable book: thoughtful, compelling and quite devastating in its humanity. Thomas Harding's account of these two extraordinary men goes straight to the dark heart of Nazi Germany.

Keith Lowe, author of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

In this electrifying account, Thomas Harding commemorates (and, for the tired, revivifies) a ringing Biblical injunction: Justice, justice, shalt thou pursue.

Cynthia Ozick

This fascinating book, based on the gripping story of one man's unrelenting pursuit of Rudolf Höss in his search for justice, confirms my belief that much of the most important knowledge of the Holocaust, comes from the personal accounts of those involved. Hanns and Rudolf vividly brings to life, not only the impact of Hitler's anti-Semitic policies on the author's German Jewish family, forced to flee Berlin in the 1930s; but shows how an ordinary German farmer became one of the most feared and notorious war criminals in history, implementing with chilling efficiency the extermination of over a million Jews in Auschwitz. As awareness of the full horror of these dark years continues to advance, this book fills a unique and vital role.

Lyn Smith, author of Heroes of the Holocaust

This important and moving book describes the unlikely intersection of two very different lives - that of Hanns Alexander, the son of a prosperous German family in Berlin who became a refugee in London in the 1930s, and Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Well-researched and grippingly written it provides a unique insight into the fate of Germany under National Socialism.

Antony Polonsky, Albert Abramson Professor of Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Brandeis University

Thomas Harding has written a book of two intersecting lives: His great uncle, a German Jew and potential Nazi victim, and Rudolf Höss, Kommandant of Auschwitz. In a neat historical irony, his uncle became a British officer who tracked down war criminals, including one of the world's worst mass murderers. A fascinating account, with chunks of new information, about one of history's darkest chapters.

Richard Breitman, Author of The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and The Final Solution and Editor-in-chief of the U.S. Holocaust Museum's Holocaust and Genocide Studies

A fascinating, well-crafted book, entwining two biographies for an unusual and illuminating approach to the history of the Third Reich, its most heinous crime and its aftermath.

Roger Moorhouse

Its climax as thrilling as any wartime adventure story, Hanns and Rudolf is also a moral inquiry into an eternal question: what makes a man turn to evil? Closely researched and tautly written, this book sheds light on a remarkable and previously unknown aspect of the Holocaust - the moment when a Jew and one of the highest-ranking Nazis came face to face and history held its breath.

Jonathan Freedland

A gripping thriller, an unspeakable crime, an essential history.

John Le Carré

Only at his great uncle's funeral in 2006 did Thomas Harding discover that Hanns Alexander, whose Jewish family fled to Britain from Nazi Germany in the 1930s, hunted down and captured Rudolf Höss, the ruthless commandant of Auschwitz, at the end of World War Two. By tracing the lives of these two men in parallel until their dramatic convergence in 1946, Harding puts the monstrous evil of the Final Solution in two specific but very different human contexts. The result is a compelling book full of unexpected revelations and insights, an authentic addition to our knowledge and understanding of this dark chapter in European history. No-one who starts reading it can fail to go on to the end.

David Lodge

Thomas Harding has shed intriguing new light on the strange poison of Nazism, and one of its most lethal practitioners... Meticulously researched and deeply felt.

Ben Macintyre, The Times, Book of the Week

This is a stunning book...both chilling and deeply disturbing. It is also an utterly compelling and exhilarating account of one man's extraordinary hunt for the Kommandant of the most notorious death camp of all, Auschwitz-Birkenau.

James Holland

Written with the verve of a writer and the sure touch of an historian, Thomas Harding's Hanns and Rudolf is a fascinating, fresh, and compelling work of history.

Jay Winik

Fascinating and moving...This is a remarkable book, which deserves a wide readership.

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

A highly readable detective story . This is really a book about the world of Hanns Alexander.[and it is] well worth reading ... Harding has researched it thoroughly.

Richard Overy, Sunday Telegraph

A vivid account of the pursuit of justice and what happened to two men who found themselves in the chaos of evil of Adolf Hitler's Germany.

Sunday Business Post

Thomas Harding . tells the story with great verve.

Financial Times

Absorbing ... Thomas Harding narrates, in careful, understated prose, the story of how his great uncle Hanns Alexander hunted down the man who vaingloriously identified himself as 'the world's greatest destroyer': Rudolf Höss, the Bavarian-born Kommandant of Auschwitz.Harding balances with scrupulous care the stories of the pursuer and the pursued . Le Carré is quite correct. The last section of Harding's book does indeed read like a gripping thriller.

Miranda Seymour, Spectator

An astonishing and moving story.[an] excellent book

Britain at War magazine

An extraordinary tale deriving from meticulous research - the story of how a young Jew after 1945 almost single-handedly hunted down the Kommandant of Auschwitz.

Frederick Forsyth

A remarkable book, which deserves a wide readership.

The Oldie

fascinating, intelligent, compelling, dramatic and intimate... The style is open, clear, forthright, and sprightly. It seeks - and finds - clarity at all times, whether to events or character, and delivers everything it manages to pick out of the private archives, classified documents and more just brilliantly.

The Bookbag

Remarkable . A beautifully balanced double biography, admirably measured but also gripping, which offers a fresh perspective on a much-examined subject

Good Book Guide

Hanns and Rudolf is a magnificent book. In an era where WWII is passing from living memory and into history, it offers both, and does so in a way which is spellbinding, poignant and harrowing.

Nudge Me Now

Harding builds a compelling, remarkable picture of war and its aftermath

Sunday Times

Hoss's life is grimly fascinating . Hanns and Rudolf is written with a suppressed fury at the moral emptiness of men like him

The Times

Perhaps one of the finest books on the Holocaust and the Second World War that I have read in a long time.

Adam Cannon, The Jewish Telegraph

Hanns and Rudolf is a masterpiece. The detail is amazing, the restrained narrative brilliantly judged. It's a classic of Holocaust history, telling of the rise of evil and the ultimate triumph of good.

Daniel Finkelstein

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