22 APR 2016
“You can't choose your family," says Rainer Höss, political activist and grandson of Auschwitz Commander, Rudolf Höss.
Rainer Höss, the activist grandson of Rudolf Höss (1901-1947), Commandant of Auschwitz, where 2.5 million people died a tragic death during World War Two, renounces the actions and ideology of his grandfather. He will be at the Onassis Cultural Centre on 22 April 2016 to discuss the rise of Neo-Nazism with the historian, Tassos Sakellaropoulos.
What impression does a lecture on Nazism make, what emotions can it stir, seventy years after the end of World War Two and the defeat of Germany? What does it feel like to listen to the grandson of a man who commanded a horrific concentration camp where millions of people were exterminated talking about his grandfather's crimes, but also about his family’s denial and silence on the subject?
Rainer Höss, the grandson of the man who commanded Auschwitz for five years, has for some time now been an activist committed to fighting the rise of Neo-Nazism in Europe. Every year, he attends numerous events staged to spotlight the risk of a resurgence of Nazism and gives speeches in schools, universities and cultural institutions to inoculate our collective memory against Nazism and Holocaust denial.
In his lectures, Höss makes public his family history and his relatives’ reactions to that history, but also own first-hand experience of punishments he suffered for being a close relative of a man who annihilated and oversaw the deaths of millions. Through his action, he links family trauma with modern European history and does everything in his power to halt the whitewashing of Nazism by insistently recalling the catastrophe born of their racial hatred and totalitarianism.
Rainer Höss was born in 1966. In 1985, along with his mother, he split from his father’s side of the family and their stance on his grandfather. Increasingly, his activities came to focus on condemning Nazism and the tolerance with which Neo-Nazi phenomena are now treated. His every effort seeks to reinforce an anti-Nazi stance which is no longer self-evident.
Curated by: Afroditi Panagiotakou
Organized by: Elisavet Pantazi, Pasqua Vorgia
Watch the conversation on video.
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