US woman reveals she is daughter of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss
The daughter of infamous Auschwitz death camp commandant Rudolf Höss has disclosed that she spent the last 40 years living in anonymity in Washington DC where she worked as a fashion assistant.
Between the ages of seven and 11 Brigitte Höss was brought up in a luxurious villa next to Auschwitz, where she remembered her father had seemed "the nicest man in the world" and used to read her the story of Hansel and Gretel.
During her extraordinary childhood she also lived at concentration camps in Dachau between the ages of one and five, and Sachsenhausen from ages five to seven, as her father climbed the ranks of the SS.
Now aged 80, she lives in a leafy side street in northern Virginia and revealed her identity to British author Thomas Harding, whose great-uncle Hanns Alexander captured Rudolf Höss near the Danish border in 1946. The episode is recounted in Mr Harding's book "Hanns and Rudolf."
Höss confessed at Nuremberg and was later hung at Auschwitz.
His daughter fled Germany in the 1950s and initially worked as a model in Spain before moving to Washington in 1972. There she worked in a fashion salon owned by a Jewish couple who had fled Germany after the Kristallnacht attacks in 1938.
She confessed her identity to them but the couple kept her secret, deciding that she should not be punished for the atrocities committed by her father.
Brigitte went on to serve the wives of senators and congressmen. She now suffers from cancer and did not reveal her married name for fear of reprisals.
In an interview with Mr Harding, published in the Washington Post, she said: "There are crazy people out there. They might burn my house down or shoot somebody."
She added: "If somebody asks about my dad, I tell them that he died in the war. It was a long time ago. I didn't do what was done. I never talk about it. It is something within me. It stays with me."
At Auschwitz, where she lived from 1940 to 1944, the villa had a pond and picnic table, and she could see the prison blocks. Her mother Hedwig once described it as a "paradise" where they were waited on by cooks, nannies and chauffeurs, some of whom were inmates. The home included furnishings and art work taken from Jewish prisoners headed for the gas chambers.
On Sundays Höss would take Brigitte and her four siblings to see the horses and German Shepherds. She remembered men with black-and-white striped uniforms working in the garden She still sleeps with her parents' wedding photograph above her bed, and told Mr Harding: "I'm sure he (her father) was sad inside. It is just a feeling. The way he was at home, the way he was with us, sometimes he looked sad when he came back from work.
"There must have been two sides to him. The one that I knew and then another."