I ran across a lecture given at Seton Hall University on March 25, 1998. I believe the lecturer was John Jay Hughes. The title was A Mass Murderer Repents: The case of Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz.
In this lecture is a detailed account of how Rudolf Hoess was raised in a very strict Catholic home, how he wanted to become a priest when he was young but apparently was betrayed by a priest which led to his disillusionment and ultimately his formal withdrawal from the Church, and how he then got caught up in Nazism. He built Auschwitz concentration camp and was responsible for the murders of thousands of people.
After the fall of the Third Reich, he tried to hide and was successful for a year or so until being located and arrested. His experience in a Polish prison proved to be a powerful influence on him. The prison was in Wadowice near the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. During his trial, he confessed openly to all his crimes. He was sentenced to death and he refused an appeal. As he awaited the day of execution, he asked to see a priest. A Jesuit priest, a Fr. Lohn who spoke German, went to him. Hoess made a formal profession of Catholic faith, made his confession, received absolution and the next day received Holy Communion. It is said that after having done so, he fell to his knees sobbing.
God’s love and mercy knows no bounds. His justice is beyond our comprehension.
Here was a man who I suspect was seriously disordered in terms of his personality, convictions and no doubt responsible for some of the most horrific crimes possible. Yet, he was forgiven.
To read the entire lecture, detailing this an many other aspects of Hoess’ case, click here: A Mass Murderer Repents