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Summary

Hanns Alexander was the son of a wealthy German family who fled Berlin for London in the 1930s. Rudolf Höss was a farmer and soldier who became Kommandant of Auschwitz and oversaw the deaths of over a million people. In the aftermath of World War II, the first British War Crimes Investigation Team is assembled to hunt down the senior Nazi officials responsible for the greatest atrocities the world has ever seen.

Lieutenant Hanns Alexander is one of the lead investigators, Rudolf Höss his most elusive target. In this book, Thomas Harding reveals for the very first time the full, exhilarating account of Höss' capture. Moving from the First World War to bohemian Berlin in the 1920s, to the horror of the concentration camps and the trials in Belsen and Nuremberg, it tells the story of two German men whose lives diverged, and intersected, in an astonishing way.

©2013 Thomas Harding (P) 2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

“A chilling portrait of the banality of evil” (Ben Macintyre, The Times Books of the Year)
“[an] extraordinary story...The tale of how he then doggedly tracked down Rudolf Hőss, the merciless commandant of Auschwitz is stunning - not just because it is so gripping, but because Harding interweaves Hanns’ life story fascinatingly with Hőss's... A compelling, remarkable picture of war and its aftermath.” ( The Sunday Times Books of the Year)
“Harding sketches the parallel lives of the SS officer with notable skill. The book is a moving reminder of what an extraordinary amount Britain gained by the Jewish flight from Europe in the 1930s.” (Max Hastings, Guardian Books of the Year)
“Hanns and Rudolf tells the mesmeric tale of his uncle's hunt for an arch perpetrator of the Jewish Holocaust.” (John le Carré, Telegraph Books of the Year)
“This superlative look at two men - one, Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz; the other, Hanns Alexander, the man who arrested him - makes for uncomfortable, but essential reading.” (Stuart Evers, Netgalley Books of the Year)
“The detective story approach worked well in Thomas Harding's Hanns and Rudolf” (Ben Shephard, Observer History Books of the Year)
“An unexpected delight... It is amazingly well researched, resists judgement, and above all is an utterly compelling read.” (David Shrigley, New Statesman Books of the Year)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • James
  • Bath, United Kingdom
  • 06-09-13

Moving, shocking and completely absorbing


Definitely one of the best things I've listened to this year, its part historical, part thriller, part biography...... Its the entwining of the lives of two extraordinary people (extraordinary for very different reasons) that make this book so mesmerising. It really gives a sense of scale to the evil that is within living memory.

Incredible audiobook!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very intertesing

I enjoyed this book,Very interesting and a good book. What an amazing man Hanns was.

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Amazing

An amazing true story and very thought - provoking. Well worth a listen along with the author's other work.

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Highly Engrossed Listening

I really enjoyed listening and reading this at the same time, each chapter swaps to each character. I had to remind myself that this was not fiction due to the pace once it gets going to the very end and how both characters came into each other’s lives.

I’m glad Mr Harding found out about this and decided to research it further as there has to be loads of stories like this about the subject of WW2 and the Holocaust which haven’t been told or found yet.

Highly recommend this audiobook if you are interested in the WW2 / Holocaust era.

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Superb

An amazing story, incredibly told by both the author and the narrator. I've listened more than once.

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Spellbinding Thriller...And All True

Would you listen to Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz again? Why?

I would listen again to pick up facts I may have missed on first hearing.

What other book might you compare Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz to, and why?

I would compare it to Ben McIntyre's books about espionage in the Second World War. Equally compelling and informative.

What about Mark Meadows’s performance did you like?

He read with conviction and empathy. And he kept the narrative going, never calling attention to himself, allowing the author's voice to come through.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

Any additional comments?

This is an exemplary audiobook.

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Excellent historical book

Where does Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of my favourite factual books

What other book might you compare Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz to, and why?

Hitlers furies along similar lines although I preferred hans & rudolf

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Good storytelling

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Definitely one of sadness and interest

Any additional comments?

Worth a read

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  • Gabriel
  • east kilbride, United Kingdom
  • 27-01-14

Great story of WWII parallel lives

If you could sum up Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz in three words, what would they be?

Tells the story of two families, one jewish and the other a concentration camp commanders and about there lives before, during and after WWII. Fascinating insight into two very different Germans paths crossed at the end of the war.

What did you like best about this story?

interesting and factual which brought to life the struggle of jewish families to escape nazi Germany and how those left behind had to live in constant fear of being sent to concentration camps.

What three words best describe Mark Meadows’s voice?

Reading was good compared with some non fiction books which can be heard to follow because of the use of facts and no personal feelings, but Mark Meadows with the help of a well written book made it easy to get inside the characters.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The story of the Torah is moving and made me find out some more information about is history.

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Familiar story well told

Many aspects of Nazi Germany are fairly familiar however this was a very new angle and it was so interesting. I happened to listen to this book around remembrance day, it was a very timely reminder of the appalling horror that was inflicted on very ordinary families and how it changed their lives for ever in the most brutal way possible. The narration is quite deadpan - almost journalistic style. This grated on me at first but as I got caught up in the compelling story it faded and I'm very glad I persevered. A story we should all know.

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Exceptional

Would you consider the audio edition of Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz to be better than the print version?

Ive not read it

What did you like best about this story?

It was interesting throughout. What you read in the blurb does happen but although it happens towards the end of the book, it remains thoroughly interesting throughout. I pause before using the word "enjoy" to describe a book of this context but i did. It had humour bits (early pranks) and does a wonderful job of showing how two different people ended up where they did without being judgmental. It makes you think about the wars and soldiers today, although i am making this book sound dull, it is not.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

This must be made into a film or at least inspire the writing of one. Possibly about rudolf's wife. We see them struggling, with rags on their feet, people hating them when they walk around (in a "we need to talk about kevin" esq way) the plot is slowly revealed through flash backs and makes us reconsider our sympathy.

Any additional comments?

If my film idea happens. Id like a credit: jonathan r brock.

Thanks.

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  • Scott
  • 12-12-13

Rudolf a more compelling story than Hans

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Parallel narratives between the rise and fall of Rudolf Hoess, infamous commandant of Auschwitz and the fall and rise of the Jewish refugee who led the hunt converge in the Nazi's ultimate capture. Hoess' tale has been told before but the story of his pursuer, a distant relative of the author, adds a fatalistic element. Will appeal to those with an interest in the how the Nazi war criminals we're brought to justice as well as those who like a decent true life detective story.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

The fate of Hoess won't come as a surprise but the pursuit and how he was captured might. The fact that Hans was a relative of the author and how this impacted him brings a nice personal element to the telling.

What does Mark Meadows bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Hans' backstory and the subtle reminder that the generation who lived to tell this tale will soon no longer be with us.

Was Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz worth the listening time?

I enjoyed it. There are some interesting and suspenseful elements in Hoess' evasion and pursuit. My one complaint is that as heroic as Hans was and as vile as Hoess was, it was Hoess' narrative line that was more compelling and interesting sad to say.