Captain Victor Cross: Latest BBC World War II docuseries reveals hero 'Nazi hunter' from Northampton who played significant role in WWII
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In the tumultuous aftermath of World War II, while the world was still grappling with the horrors of the Nazi regime, a hero emerged from the heart of Northampton, a man named Victor Cross.
Cross was the main subject in the BBC’s hit docuseries ‘Rise of the Nazis’, where his story features heavily in the first episode of the third season, which can be watched here.
Following Cross’ mention on the docuseries, many people in Northampton had been Googling his name, presumably to find more information. However, there is, unfortunately, little to no information on the internet about Captain Cross.
BBC Documentary: Rise of the Nazis
Before the war, 32-year-old Cross was a leather trader in Northampton, but after the conflict, he would become the head of a small field security section, leading the relentless hunt for high-ranking Nazis who had evaded capture.
As revealed in the BBC documentary, "Not all high-ranking Nazis have been captured. The job of tracking them down and finding evidence of their crimes falls to Allied soldiers."
Cross's mission was succinctly described by General Sir Mike Jackson in the documentary. General Jackson said: "The field security section, a bridge between military intelligence and civil policing. They basically go Nazi hunting."
According to the BBC documentary, "Allied HQ gave Cross a list of suspects to find, the worst of whom are implicated in the Nazi genocide." However, the list contained over 70,000 names.
General Jackson said: "The task is daunting, without doubt. The scale of the hunt for Nazi war criminals is without any parallel either before or since."
On this extensive list were names like Klaus Barbie, Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, and Rudolf Hoss, all notorious for their roles in the Nazi regime.
Cross received his first lead on Hoss, the commandant of Auschwitz, who was complicit in the murder of over one million people.
Captain Cross's pursuit of Rudolf Hoss began with a lead about Hoss's wife, who had been recognized working in a nearby sugar factory, according to the documentary.
Hoss's wife, despite being fully aware of the gas chambers and mass killings, did not give her husband's whereabouts up. As the documentary revealed: "Cross notices there's no photograph of her dead husband, something he'd expect her to have."
Months passed, and Hoss's location remained a mystery. As the documentary said: “over six months have passed since he first went into hiding, and Cross still doesn't know where to find him."
With time running out, Captain Cross made a decision to arrest Hoss's wife and eldest son. For five gruelling days, she was subjected to relentless questioning, repeatedly responding, "He is dead." .
Captain Cross refused to give up, and on the sixth day, he upped the pressure. As the documentary said: "Cross ups the pressure, his men have commandeered a train which now pulls up outside. Cross tells her that unless she gives her husband up, her son will be put on the train and sent to Siberia." At this point, she finally provided Cross with the name of a farm complex just 70 miles away where her husband is.
Captain Cross and his men raided the premises, with Hoss initially believing he was facing a burglary. The soldiers find an SS captain's blood group tattoo on Hoss's arm and are sure they have their man.
The situation turned violent as Cross’ soldier beat Hoss to a pulp. As the documentary mentioned, "Some of his soldiers turned to violence and badly beat Hoss." In a pivotal moment, Captain Cross intervened, making a decision that would prove to be significant.
Following Hoss's capture, he was transported to Nuremberg, where he suddenly found himself thrust onto the global stage as a last-minute witness at the Nuremberg Trials, according to the BBC.
Historian Christian Goeschel tells the BBC: "Hoss is the first senior Nazi who puts it on the record: 'We did it.'
The documentary concludes that Hoss's testimony provides unprecedented insight into the systematic mass murder used in the death camps, unveiling the planning, infrastructure, and policies that underpinned the Holocaust.
Captain Victor Cross's determination and relentless pursuit of justice, as documented by the BBC, played a pivotal role in bringing one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals to account.
On 16 April 1947 Höss was hanged. At the request of former camp prisoners, the execution was carried out in Auschwitz, the camp he once commanded.
Captain Cross and the 92 field security section continued to hunt Nazi war criminals, according to the BBC.
After his demobilisation, Cross returned to the family leather business and rarely spoke of his role in bringing Hoss to justice, according to the BBC.
To watch the documentary in full, click here.
If you have any further information on Captain Cross then feel free to get in touch with this newspaper.