Rudolf was born in Limburg an der Lahn, Hesse. In 1983 he took his Abitur in Remscheid, then studied chemistry in Bonn, graduating in 1989 with a Master's degree. As a student, he joined the A.V. Tuisconia Konigsberg zu Bonn and the K.D.St.V. Nordgau Prag zu Stuttgart, Catholic fraternities belonging to the Cartellverband. After supporting the CSU/CDU, he became a member of the Republicans.
After his military service with the Luftwaffe, in October 1990 he joined the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research at Stuttgart, where he prepared a PhD thesis.
Rudolf was a believer in the story of gas chambers at Auschwitz until he examined the sites and made his own analysis. He then began to challenge the accepted history. In 1991 he began to write a paper entitled Report on the formation and verifiability of cyanide compounds in the Auschwitz "gas chambers" on behalf of the Dusseldorf attorney Hajo Herrmann, a former Luftwaffe pilot. In 1993 this work was reported in the media, and Rudolf was told not to enter the Max Planck Institute again without permission. When he did so, his employment was terminated without notice. In 1994 this dismissal was converted into a termination by mutual agreement. In 1996, the University of Stuttgart asked Rudolf to withdraw his application for a final PhD examination, or it would be denied, rendering his PhD thesis worthless. The legal basis for this is a German law which allows universities to deny or withdraw academic degrees where the candidate has used his academic credentials or knowledge to commit a crime. Rudolf subsequently withdrew his application.
Between 1991 and 1994, Herrmann and other lawyers used Rudolf's Auschwitz report to defend several clients, among them Otto Ernst Remer, a former Wehrmacht officer charged with inciting hatred. Rudolf knew his work would be associated with a Holocaust denier, but insisted that even Remer had a right to a legal defense. Rudolf stated that his findings at Auschwitz and Birkenau "completely shattered his world view". Among other things, Rudolf's report claims that only insignificant traces of cyanide compounds can be found in the samples taken from Auschwitz. However, Richard Green and Jamie McCarthy from The Holocaust History Project have criticized the report, saying that like Fred Leuchter in the Leuchter report, Rudolf did not discriminate against the formation of iron-based cyanide compounds, which are not a reliable indicator of the presence of cyanide, so that his experiment was seriously flawed.
In 1995, Rudolf was sentenced to 14 months in prison for inciting racial hatred by the district court of Stuttgart because of the "Rudolf Report", as Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany. Rudolf avoided prison by fleeing to Spain, England, and finally to the United States. His first marriage was to a German national with whom he had two children, and they settled at Hastings in England, until his wife divorced him and returned to Germany with their children.
Meanwhile, criminal investigations continued in Germany. In August 2004, the district court of Mannheim distrained a bank account in an attempt to confiscate 55% of Rudolf's business turnover from the years 2001-2004, some €214,000, but at that time the account contained only some €5,000. Rudolf and his associates had earned this money by selling publications which are banned in Germany, but Rudolf's business was in the UK and the US.
On September 11, 2004, Rudolf married a US citizen and settled in Chicago, and they later had a child. He applied for political asylum, or at least for the right not to be expelled, but this was turned down in November 2004 on the basis that the application had no merits and was "frivolous." Rudolf appealed against this ruling, and in early 2006 the US Federal Court in Atlanta found that his application was not frivolous, but upheld the decision that it had no merit. The Immigration Services stated that Rudolf did not have a right to file an application to remain with his family. On November 14, 2005, Rudolf was deported to Germany where he was wanted for inciting racial hatred and "disparaging the dead". On arrival there he was arrested by the police and transferred to a prison in Rottenburg, then to another in Stuttgart in Baden-Wurttemberg. On March 15, 2007, the Mannheim District Court sentenced him to two years and six months in prison for inciting hatred, disparaging the dead, and libel. Rudolf accepted the verdict, and copies of his "Lectures on the Holocaust" were confiscated and destroyed. The prosecution's initial request to confiscate €214,000 was reduced to €21,000, the total turnover from the sales of the book. He was released from prison on July 5, 2009 and now lives in the US with his wife and daughter.
After Rudolf was dismissed from the Max Planck Institute, he started to publish several books promoting Holocaust denial. He founded Castle Hill Publishers in Hastings, England with Theses & Dissertations Press as its American outlet. In 2000 Rudolf launched his English language "Holocaust Handbooks Series", a series of Holocaust denial titles which, as of 2013, encompassed 25 titles. Furthermore, Rudolf is closely associated with the Belgian Holocaust denial organization Vrij Historisch Onderzoek (VHO). Until his arrest in late 2005, he published the now defunct "Vierteljahreshefte fur freie Geschichtsforschung" (Quarterly journal for free historical research), described by the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution as "a right-wing extremist organ."
Following the release in 1989 of original concentration camp records by the Russian Central Archives, Rudolf published in English Official German Record of Prisoners in Auschwitz Concentration Camp, May 1940 through December 1944.
Dissecting the Holocaust was edited and coauthored by Rudolf under the pseudonym Ernst Gauss PhD. The German language publication with the title Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte resulted in further indictments being filed against Rudolf. Among the contributors to the work are other Holocaust deniers such as Robert Faurisson, Jurgen Graf, Carlo Mattogno, Udo Walendy and Friedrich Paul Berg. Included as an appendix is a defense of the work used at the trial by Joachim Hoffmann.
In July 2003, according to his own published articles, Rudolf conducted limited experiments in the use of cell phones from an airliner while in flight. He reports mixed results and has left the question open. His stated reason for conducting these experiments is to verify or deny a widely circulated claim that it is impossible to make cell phone calls from an airliner at cruising height.Auschwitz-Lies: Legends, Lies, and Prejudices on the Holocaust, with Carlo Mattogno (Theses & Dissertations Press, 2005), ISBN 1591480213
Dissecting the Holocaust: The Growing Critique of Truth and Memory (Theses & Dissertations Press, 3rd edition, 2003), ISBN 0967985625
The Rudolf Report: Expert Report on Chemical and Technical Aspects of the Gas Chambers of Auschwitz (Theses & Dissertations Press, 3rd edition, 2003), ISBN 096798565X