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The Quarterly Journal of St. Philaret’s Institute

ISSN: 2658-7599 (print)
2713-3141 (online)

The Likeness of God in a Mass Murderer? God and Evil in the Biography of Rudolf Hoss

Priest Manfred Deselaers, Ph.D. in Theology, The Member of the Education Department at the Center for Dialogue and Prayer in Oświęcim (Auschwitz)
pp. 140–154
DOI: 10.25803/SFI.2019.30.34613
Rooted in “theology after Auschwitz”, the article places the traditional question “where was God in Auschwitz?” before the question “where was God in the Auschwitz commandant’s life?”. The author analyses the social, historical, biographical, psychological conditions that influenced the formation of the commandant of Auschwitz Rudolf Hoss and raises the question of God and evil in his life. The article is based on the detailed analysis of Hoss’s autobiography “My Soul, Evolution, Life and Ordeals”, which allows tracing how God-likeness in Hoss’s inner world gradually faded away, since he betrayed the voice of the heart and replaced his conscience with National Socialist ideology, letting evil structures grow. He thus split his world into an inner and outer one and turned his life into a struggle against enemies who must be subjugated or destroyed. The theological question of preserving the “image of God” in a mass murderer is associated here with the biblical concept of “heart”, the existential center of the person, either open or closed towards the Other – God and man. In the conclusions, the author formulates the antinomy between the infinite mercy of God and his absolute justice. In the light of this antinomy, the question about the fate of criminals in eschatological reality can be raised.
Keywords: Rudolf Hoss, theology after Auschwitz, image of God, National Socialism, repentance.

Last Issue2024. Volume 16. Issue 2 (50)

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