Rudolf and Hedwig Höss’ Kids: Where Are They Now?

Jonathan Glazer’s historical drama film ‘The Zone of Interest’ opens a window into the personal life of Rudolf Höss, the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, and his wife Hedwig Höss. The couple lives with their five children in a big house right next to the concentration camp. The kids spend their time in the place with their father, who takes them for baths in the nearby river, or playing in and around the garden their mother takes care of. After the end of World War II, most of Rudolf and Hedwig’s children separated from their parents to lead their respective lives!

Klaus Höss Died in Australia

Klaus Höss, born in February 1930, was the eldest son of Rudolf and Hedwig. In the mid-1960s, Klaus moved to Australia with his German wife Lisolet (Lilo). “Uncle Klaus’ only skill was that of a chemist’s assistant, and they weren’t in big demand at the time,” Rainer Höß, Rudolf’s grandson, told Exberliner. “According to family legend, the Höß family came up with a half million Deutschmarks as a bond so that Klaus could emigrate to Australia. But Hedwig, as the widow of a convicted war criminal, was unable to get a war pension and the family lived in extreme poverty. […] So, the money can only have come from the old Nazi network that flocked around her,” he added.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Klaus and Lilo then settled in Sydney, where their only daughter Christine Höß grew up. The couple eventually got divorced. Klaus worked as a baggage logistics specialist in airline companies such as Pan Am and Qantas, which enabled him to visit Germany for family functions regularly. “Uncle Klaus even brushed his teeth with Jim Beam whiskey in the morning. But he was the father I never had. He was the sort of guy you could physically touch and have fun with, unlike my own father, Hans-Jürgen. […] I never heard him say anything racist about anyone. He even had an Afro-American friend during his time working at a US military base in Stuttgart,” Rainer added.

Klaus died in 1986, at the age of 55 or 56, due to liver cirrhosis as a result of chronic alcohol abuse. He is survived by Lilo, Christine, and several nephews and nieces.

Heidetraut Höss Died of Cancer

Rudolf and Hedwig’s eldest daughter Heidetraut avoided the spotlight for a while. According to Rainer’s Exberliner interview, Heidetraut lived somewhere in northern Germany with dementia. A 2020 Israel Hayom interview with Rainer states that she died of cancer “a few years ago.” As per Rainer, Heidetraut dealt with the baggage of being the daughter of a Nazi. “This type of indoctrination certainly worked with my father Hans-Jürgen. I think it did too with Aunt Inge-Brigitt. My aunt Heidetraut got her portion as well. Only her [Hedwig’s] youngest daughter Annegret didn’t seem to get so infected with all this baggage,” Rainer added.

Inge-Brigitt Höss Lives in Northern Virginia

In the 1950s, Inge-Brigitt Höss AKA Brigitte left Germany for Spain, where she worked as a model with long blond hair, a slender figure, and a “don’t mess with me” attitude, as per Thomas Harding, the author of ‘Hanns and Rudolf.’ She was a part of the Balenciaga fashion house for three years. She then met an Irish American engineer who was working for a Washington-based communications company in the Spanish capital of Madrid. They got married in 1961 and welcomed a daughter and a son. Since her husband traveled all across the world for his work, she visited several countries such as Liberia, Greece, Iran, and Vietnam.

Brigitte revealed her family’s history to her husband, who accepted her. “I was at first a little bit shocked. But then as I discussed more and more with her, I realized that she was as much a victim as anybody else,” he told Harding for The Washington Post. The couple settled in Washington in 1972 as he took a senior job with a transportation company. The husband and wife also bought a house in Georgetown. Brigitte worked in a Jewish woman’s fashion salon for 35 years.

Since the 1960s, Brigitte’s mother Hedwig regularly visited her. Hedwig died in Brigitte’s house in Washington in September 1989. Brigitte and her husband divorced in 1983. Her son lives with her but her daughter passed away. Her grandchildren often visit her. Although Brigitte’s son knows who his grandfather is, he has not expressed much interest in knowing the entire family history. Even after the divorce, Brigitte kept her ex-husband’s last name, which is something she hasn’t publicized yet.

“There are crazy people out there. They might burn my house down or shoot somebody,” Brigitte told Harding about the need to keep her identity a secret. As per the 2014 interview, she lives “on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia.” She was diagnosed with cancer and since her retirement, she has been dealing with the medical consequences of her illness.

Hans-Jürgen Höss is a Member of Jehovah’s Witnesses

After growing up, Hans-Jürgen Höss trained to become a wholesale merchant. He eventually worked as a sales manager at a Volvo dealership in Stuttgart. Hans married his girlfriend Irene and the couple had two sons, including Rainer, who doesn’t remember him as a good father. He described Hans in the Exberliner interview as “a violent dictator at home as well as anti-Semitic.” “There was never any touching, never any warmth, with my father. It was like a boot camp at home,” he added. Irene suspected Hans of cheating on her and stabbed him.

Image Credit: Joe Leong/Find a Grave

Hans survived the attack but the incident marked the end of his marriage with Irene as they divorced in 1981. He moved from Swabia to the Baltic Sea with his new partner Marlies. His whereabouts were unknown to his own children until he called his son Kai Höß, a pastor in Stuttgart, after 36 years. For years, he has been a member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a denomination executed by the Nazis during the Third Reich. He joins the meetings of the congregation twice a week using his tablet. “God gives people time to prove themselves but before people wreck everything, he will intervene and destroy all that is destructive,” he told Die Zeit, a German national weekly newspaper.

“Until his [Hans’] second divorce, he was anti-Christian and claimed, the church was a bad thing, full of hypocrisy. Then a group of ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ came to his house and started talking to him. He told them he did not believe in the church, and they said, ‘Neither do we.’ At that moment the bond was formed. He listened to them and received love from them. It was a rescue for him. After he joined them, the whole family severed the bond with him,” Rainer told Israel Hayom about his father.

Annegret Höss Lives in Germany

Annegret, the youngest child of Rudolf and Hedwig, has chosen to stay away from the spotlight. As per reports, she lives with her family in Fulda, Germany. According to Harding’s interview with Brigitte, Annegret flies to Florida every year to meet her elder sister but the siblings don’t talk about the past. As per Hans’ son Rainer, Annegret severed her ties with his father after he became a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses. “My aunt Annegret and her family are devout Catholics, and they expelled him from the family,” Rainer added to Israel Hayom.

Read More: Movies Like The Zone of Interest