Self Just Can’t Believe It

Self has gotten to p. 237 of her book, (A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of World War II) and there’s an account of an interview with Rudolf Hoss, the commander in charge of Auschwitz, who’d been hiding out in a farm. So they brought him in (the camp where he was interrogated had the improbable-sounding name of “Tomato”), and he had great big moustaches. And at first the British interrogators pretended to believe his alias, but at some point they grew impatient and told a soldier: Take him out and shave off his moustache. And the soldier did, and when Hoss was brought back in, his knees were knocking. And they confronted him with what they knew, about the number of deaths he had supervised at Auschwitz, and they came up with a figure of “a million and a half.”

And Hess said:

“Oh, no, 2,345,000.”

At this point, a British officer said to Hoss:

“There is no reason really to boast. You have no cause to boast. In any case, you are by far and away the greatest murderer, including Nero of antique fame. So why do you say this number?”

He replied: “Because when I took over the number was so-and-so, and when I left the number was so-and-so. So I know.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.


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