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September 9, 2013 3:02 pm

Daughter of Auschwitz Kommandant, Modeled for Balenciaga, Then Worked at Jewish Owned Shop for 35 Years

avatar by Zach Pontz

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Rudolf Höss at Auschwitz. Photo: Wikipedia.

One of the daughter’s of Auschwitz Kommandant Rudolf Höss once capitalized on her beauty to walk the runway as a model for dress maker Balenciaga, then, in the U.S., worked for a Jewish shop owner in Washington D.C. for 35 years,  The Washington Post reports.

Brigitte Höss, 80, who refused to allow her married name to be published, has spent much of her life trying to forget her family history.

“It was a long time ago,” she told the Post. “I didn’t do what was done. I never talk about it — it is something within me. It stays with me.”

Rudolf Höss, her father, designed and lorded over Auschwitz, where 1.1 million Jews were killed, along with 20,000 gypsies and tens of thousands of Polish and Russian political prisoners. He was later captured and handed over to the Polish, who executed him.

Brigitte managed to leave Germany and make a new life for herself in Spain in the years following the war, working for Balenciaga for three years. There she met an Irish American engineer working for a Washington-based communications company.

In 1972 they moved to Washington. While working for a small boutique she was approached by a Jewish lady, who, enamored  with her style, asked her to come and work in her fashion salon.

Soon after she was hired, Brigitte got drunk with her manager and confessed that her father was Rudolf Höss. The manager told the store’s owner, but the owner told Brigitte that she could stay, as she had not committed any crime herself. This, despite the fact that the store owner and her husband were Jewish and had fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Brigitte worked at the store for 35 years. The son of the owners of the store told the Post that his parents had employed Brigitte out of a sense of  “humanity.”

“She was not responsible for her father,” he said.

Reflecting on his parents’ decision, he says, “I am proud to be their son.”

Though Brigitte’s son knew of the family’s past, and her daughter is no longer alive, she has not disclosed the family history to her grandchildren. She doesn’t want to “upset them,” she told the Post, and she worries that the information becoming public could put them at risk. “I am still scared here in Washington,” she says. “There are a lot Jewish people, and they still hate the Germans. It never ends.”

But Brigitte isn’t entirely a victim, her remorse at times tendentious. She questions the extend of her father’s crimes, doubting the number of Jews killed at Auschwitz. “How can there be so many survivors if so many had been killed?” she asks.

When confronted with the fact that her father confessed to being responsible for the death of more than a million Jews, she says the British “took it out of him with torture.”

And she remembers Rudolf fondly, with the sentimental air of a woman whose father wasn’t one of the greatest mass murderers in history. “He was the nicest man in the world,” she says. “He was very good to us.”

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  • HallieL

    Brigitte has learned nothing.

  • Mel

    Brigitte and her employers were a perfect match: Liberal Thinkers all. Liberal Thinkers possess the ability to divorce themselves from reality at will. Rational thought is mostly subservient to subconscious emotion. Those that cannot suppress their emotions may fill Insane Asylums, but not necessarily among the patient population.

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      The problem which Mel does not realize is that while I think his comment is accurate for extreme left liberals who by no means are all liberals, they apply with equal or greater strength to conservatives and the further to the right the more insignificant is rational thought. If Mel doesn’t appreciate this then he is just a polemicist.

  • Jenny P

    While I agree that as Jews we do not hold the child guilty for the sins of the parent, still the denial and the question of numbers is quite hurtful. The witnesses, footage and pictures do not lie. People suffered endlessly…sure it’s hard to admit your father was an animal, but not as hard as watching your father be shot, stoned, beaten or thrown into an incinerator. People need to feel collective guilt. Still, I commend the people for hiring her, and bestowing true Jewish values.

  • Andrea

    She is still scared, living in Washington? “It never ends”? Oh my heart bleeds for your hardships, lady.

  • Chaim Pinczewski

    I am a son of a survivor of Auschwitz who never knew his grand parents because of people like Hoss and to even suggest that so many Jews did not die makes her no better then her father. May the almighty avenge the blood he spilled.

  • Sandy Brown

    When I worked in the News, I transcribed the tapes of Rudolph Hoess (Hoss), Commandant of Auschwitz. It was for the 60th Anniversary of Auschwitz. It was about the use of Cyclone B gas and what was done to the people there. When he was asked why he had killed all those people, Hoess said “Because it was my duty!” He used to use the Jewish women as nannies and then send them to their deaths and then just get another Jewish woman for the kids to look after them! I have also written a book which has a lot about it in there. I am just doing my last re-write. Glad they hanged him there at the camp after the camp was set free.

  • Carol

    I don’t think the child should be held guilty for the parent’s sins, however after reading the last three paragraphs of this article, I would never hire her.

  • ricardo

    Her questioning is called “normalcy bias”. Nobody likes to think that their parent is as evil as is publicly stated.

  • They were always so nice to her family. I hate that she questions the numbers: sounds too much like Holocaust deniers, and they’re sure to pounce on that line.

  • Jack

    Unless they have been abused by them, no one wants to think ill of their parents.

  • EthanP

    As Jews, we do not hold the child guilty for the sins of the parent.