• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Nazi chief grandson in Swedish election film

AFP/The Local · 19 May 2014, 11:44

Published: 19 May 2014 11:44 GMT+02:00

Entitled "Never Forget. To Vote", the campaign launched by the Swedish Social Democratic Youth League (SSU) ahead of the May 22-25 vote sees the ballot box as the best defence against resurgent far-right extremism.

The film features Rainer Höss, who was 12-years-old when he learned he was the grandson of a man who oversaw the murder of a million people as commandant of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

"For a 12-year-old boy it's huge information," he said to AFP.

Now aged 48, Höss has turned his family burden into the driving force of a full-time commitment to fighting right-wing extremism and the SSU film is part of this cause. Höss visited Sweden recently to promote the campaign against the rise of neo-Nazi movements across Europe.

"Right-wing extremists are not stupid," he said. "They are growing, gaining ground, very slowly but very effectively."

While the SSU film is formally part of the party's EU election campaign it carries a broader message regarding the importance of voting and in defence of human rights.

"To have Rainer at the front of this initiative is a way to show that he can never forget and we should never either," SSU head Gabriel Wikström said. Growing up in post-war Germany, Höss failed to understand why his school gardener -- a Holocaust survivor -- was consistently harsh towards to him, until a teacher revealed the terrible truth.

Rudolf Höss was the longest-serving commandant of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland that became an enduring symbol of Nazi Germany's genocide of European Jews.

One million Jews were killed at Auschwitz from 1940 to 1945 along with more than 100,000 non-Jewish Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and anti-Nazi partisans before the camp was liberated on January 27th, 1945.

Rudolf Höss experimented with different methods of mass killing, eventually settling on the use of the pesticide Zyklon B to gas his victims.

He went into hiding after World War II but was captured by the Allies in 1946 and hanged the year after near the infamous Auschwitz crematorium.

"He brings a lot of pain in our family, not only for his children but over decades," his grandson told AFP.

"Generation after generation we bear the same cross he put on our shoulders."

Story continues below…

Through his own research, Rainer Höss has met many Holocaust survivors, even travelling to Israel to take part in a documentary -- a delicate undertaking, he admits.

"It was a little bit tricky, as the grandchild of a mass murderer to go to Israel."

While there he was asked by a group of Jewish students what he would have done if he had met his grandfather.

His impulsive reply -- which he now thinks overly emotional: "I would have shot him."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish woman bumps into bear near pub

If you go down to the pub tonight...

Stockholm school segregates boys and girls
A gym class for first-graders. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

“Some of our girls want to be able to take off their veils and wear shorts and T-shirts in their classes," a teacher explained.

This Brit moved to Sweden and opened his dream café
Härnösand café owner Shaun Corby. Photo: Johanna Corby

Shaun Corby tells The Local how following his Swedish wife to Härnösand turned out to be the best move he ever made.

Missing Swedish billionaire found dead
In the early 1980s, Ericsson was known as the ’Golden boy’ of the west coast. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Swedish entrepreneur and billionaire Christer Ericsson, who went missing during a fishing trip two months ago, has been found dead on the west coast.

Sweden Democrats try to woo pensioners
The party says the minimum pension ought to be raised by 10 percent. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

Sweden’s far-right party on Saturday vowed to fight for the elderly, saying it will only support a government that is prepared to significantly hike pensions for those who struggle financially.

Swedish hikers found after missing for six days
The only trace is currently a mobile phone found in the area and which is believed to belong to one of the men. Photo: Henrik Montgomery /TT

Swedish police on Saturday found two elderly hikers who went missing in the Abisko mountain range six days ago.

Winds leave thousands of Swedes without power
The winds are also expected to blow away the warm weather that the Swedes have been blessed with in the past few days. Photo: Peter Arwidi / TT file picture

Strong gusts, forecast to reach up to 21 metres per hour, left thousands of people without power in Sweden’s northern regions on Saturday.

Migration agency ’to get rid of LGBT experts’
Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

An internal report looking at ways to make Sweden’s Migration Agency more efficient has proposed the agency gets rid of specialists dedicated to LGBT-related issues. The move has prompted the country’s main gay rights group to see red.

Sweden's Spotify hits 39 million subscribers
Spotify is gaining listeners. Photo: Erik Mårtensson/TT

Spotify has grown by nine million paying subscribers in five months, fending off competition from rivals.

Prosecutor wants asylum stabber convicted of murder
Prosecutor Linda Wiking. Photo: Adam Ihse/TT

The man was convicted of aggravated manslaughter for stabbing a worker to death at a home for young refugees in Sweden.

Sponsored Article
Malmö to host global skateboard championship
Travel
What are Sherpas doing on Sweden's highest mountain?
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Gallery
People-watching: August 24th
The Local Voices
'I want to be a businesswoman but I don’t care about money'
Blog updates

23 August

A Summer in Sweden (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"For our first year here in Sweden we decided to have all our holidays in Sweden.…" READ »

 

22 July

After the horror, carry on regardless (Globally Local) »

"This time last week, we were just digesting the horror of the Nice killings, in which…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
The mystique of Asia - in the middle of Stockholm
National
Experts: Gothenburg grenade blast is 'part of a cycle of violence'
Sponsored Article
Why you should learn to trade (and just how easy it is)
Gallery
Property of the week: Karlsborg
National
Why Sweden could change its criticised detention laws
National
Watch this dog's reaction when she tries Swedish fermented herring
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Gallery
People-watching: August 19th-21st
Sponsored Article
'Sweden's Lauryn Hill' touches the country's musical soul
National
How to find student housing in Sweden
National
VIDEO: Swede films first Northern Lights of the season
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Gallery
People-watching: August 17th
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Swedish population nears ten million
The Local Voices
This Syrian artist found love in a Swedish library
Sponsored Article
Five easy ways to travel more often
National
Sex pigs halt traffic after laser attack on Pokémon teens. Only in Sweden.
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Property of the week: Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Society
Drunk knight detained in Stockholm
National
Can you solve this Swede's strange Star Wars mystery?
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Gallery
People-watching: August 12th-14th
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Swedes cheer first snow of the season
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Gallery
People-watching: August 10th
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
The Local Voices
Syrian presenter: Swedish media should make more shows in Arabic
Sponsored Article
6 simple travel hacks that will make your life easier
Travel
Watch the meteor shower in Sweden
Lifestyle
How to survive a crayfish party
The Local Voices
Gabriel mastered Swedish and got accepted onto a medicine degree in just 7 months
3,335
jobs available