Rainer Hoess standing near the spot in which his grandfather, Nazi Rudolf Hoess, was hanged
The concept of the "black sheep" brings to mind stories of scandal and shame brought upon decent people by a lone, errant family member. But depending on who your family is, absolute rebellion and denunciation of them may just be a good thing. Take the case of Rainer Hoess, grandson of Auschwitz concentration camp commandant and high-ranking Nazi officer Rudolf Hoess. Rudolf, who lived in a stately home near the Auschwitz camp just a few minutes walk away from the gas chambers, killed 20,000 prisoners daily before going home to play the role of loving father to his family.
Rainer’s father Hans-Jurgen would play in the garden as thousands of people were simultaneously being killed just feet away. When Hans reached adulthood, he barred any of his family to say a single harsh word about Rudolf Hoess. Said Rainer, you had to “admire (my) grandfather like a hero.”
Despite his family's silence on the matter, by his teenage years, Rainer had learned the horrific truth that was his grandfather's legacy. Rainer's only sympathizer was his mother, who often bore the rage of her husband on the issue. At age 16, Rainer ran away from home, never to return. Since then, he's devoted his life to speaking out against extremism.
See a video of Rainer giving a tour of the Hoess house at Auschwitz above, and read about other black sheep of famous families here.