HE had been forced from his homeland by the Nazis, and Jewish refugee Hanns Alexander was desperate for revenge.
A pivotal Nazi hunter, Alexander was the man who brought Rudolf Höss, one of Hitler’s highest ranking officers, to the noose in 1947.
It all started when the Jewish refugee fled to London in 1936, when his father, living in England already, heard dark rumblings of what was taking place in his native Germany.
Three years later, Britain declared war on Hitler’s Third Reich and 22-year old Alexander signed up to the army and set his sights on bagging Nazi top brass.
He served alongside his twin brother, Paul, in the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps – a unit made up of refugees who wanted to take the fight to the Nazis.
Alexander’s military career took him to Normandy for the D-Day landings in 1944, before going on to liberate the Bergen Belsen concentration camp the following year.
After distinguishing himself in the war, he was desperate to devote his time to hunting down the architects of the Holocaust.
In 1945, Alexander became a natural fit for a crack team of 12 men tasked with scouring Europe for Nazi war criminals – and bringing them to justice.
Before the unit had even been formed, Alexander had reportedly asked to help the Army in their hunt for Nazis, even taking on investigations in his own time.
Rumour had it that the fearless hunter once even drove across Europe with the corpse of an SS officer strapped to the roof of his car.
Motivated by his own persecution, Alexander rounded up the guards and administrators at the newly-liberated Bergen Belsen camp.
His interrogations yielded crucial information which laid bare the role of chief Nazi Rudolf Höss in orchestrating the Holocaust.
Now Alexander had a new mission: hunt down the sick colonel who relished in the extermination of Germany’s Jewish population.
Höss was the longest serving Kommendant in Auschwitz’s dark history, responsible for introducing the deadly Zyklon B gas to the camp’s execution chambers.
It was Höss’s sick drive for murderous efficiency which allowed SS guards at Auschwitz to kill 2,000 people an hour.
He was a monster, and he had to be found.
Desperate for information, Alexander begun to track Höss down after the fall of Auschwitz in 1945.
Auschwitz: Germany’s greatest shame
Auschwitz was not a single camp: it was a network of over 45 instillations built in occupied Poland.
The first Polish political prisoners were sent there in 1940, with the first exterminations taking place a year later.
An estimated 1.3 million people were sent to the camps between 1940 and 1945.
Around 1.1 million of those were killed.
The murders, by gas, starvation and medical experiments, were presided over by 7,000 SS officers.
Around 12 per cent of Auschwitz staff were convicted of war crimes.
The cowardly Nazi had fled with his family, and British intelligence managed to place the exiled monster in the Flensburg area of the Danish border.
An intercepted letter from Höss’s wife, Hedwig, offered proof that she knew where her husband was hiding.
So in 1946 Hedwig was hauled in for questioning, and Alexander was the one to crack her.
He brought in her eldest son, Klaus, and threatened to deport him if he didn’t get his information.
Sure enough, Hedwig caved – telling Alexander everything he needed to arrest Rudolf Höss on March 11, 1946.
The Nazi chief was stripped naked and beaten into submission, before being tried at Nuremberg and then in Poland, where he was found guilty of the murder of over one million people.
He was hanged at Auschwitz on April 16, while Captain Hanns Alexander returned to London to live out his days in peace.
Rudolf Höss: The calm and collected man who murdered millions
Rudolf Höss was handed over to investigators after Hanns Alexander’s unit captured him.
He was accused of presiding over three million deaths, many by deadly insecticide Zyklon B.
But the prosecutor who interrogated him at Nuremberg said he appeared chillingly “normal”.
Lawyer Whitney Harris said he seemed more like a “grocery clerk” than a mass murderer.
And even camp inmates said he always appeared calm and collected as he ended the lives of millions.
The monstrous natural killer was found guilty despite his calm demeanour, and hanged for war crimes.
The story has echoes in the film Inglorious Basterds, the 2009 Tarantino flick which follows a group of Jewish Nazi-hunters on their bloody quest for vengeance.
But unlike the brash Nazi hunters in the film, Alexander never once spoke about his instrumental role in bringing Rudolf Höss to justice.
It was only after his death aged 89 in 2006 when the war-hero’s descendants uncovered the truth.
His story was pieced together by his nephew Thomas Harding, who spent years delving into historical records in search of evidence about Alexander’s involvement in the war.
Eventually, Harding was able to uncover his uncle’s legacy, writing a book about him called Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz.
Previously, we told how the Nazis were so obsessed with the occult that they dedicated an entire SS division to hunting witches.
We also revealed how Hitler had planned to win World War Two by developing terrifying and ambitious “wonder weapons“ which could have turned the tide of the conflict.