Rainer Hoess, who sports a Star of David around his neck, is campaigning against right-wing extremism ahead of EU elections

Rainer Hoess was 12 years old when he learned he was the grandson of a man who oversaw the murder of a million people as commandant of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

Growing up in post-war Germany, Hoess failed to understand why his school gardener — a Holocaust survivor — was consistently harsh towards to him, until a teacher revealed the terrible truth.

“I knew nothing about Auschwitz, I knew nothing about my family, I only knew that my grandfather was in the war like thousands of other grandfathers were,” Hoess told AFP.

Rudolf Hoess was the longest-serving commandant of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland that became an enduring symbol of Nazi Germany’s genocide of European Jews.

“For a 12-year-old boy it’s huge information,” his grandson said.

Now aged 48, Hoess has turned his family burden into the driving force of a full-time commitment to fighting right-wing extremism.

He was in Sweden recently to promote a campaign against the rise of neo-Nazi movements across Europe, launched Wednesday ahead of the upcoming European elections.

“Right-wing extremists are not stupid,” he said. “They are growing, gaining ground, very slowly but very effectively.”

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