Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (Heß in German; 26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987) was a German politician and a leading member of the Nazi Party (NSDAP) of Nazi Germany. Appointed Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler in 1933, Hess served in that position until 1941, when he flew solo to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the United Kingdom during World War II. He was taken prisoner and eventually convicted of crimes against peace, serving a life sentence until his suicide.

Hess enlisted as an infantryman at the outbreak of World War I. He was wounded several times over the course of the war and was awarded the Iron Cross, 2nd class in 1915. Shortly before the war ended, Hess enrolled to train as an aviator, but he saw no action in that role. He left the armed forces in December 1918 with the rank of Leutnant der Reserve.

In 1919, Hess enrolled in the University of Munich where he studied geopolitics under Karl Haushofer, a proponent of the concept of Lebensraum ("living space"), which became one of the pillars of Nazi ideology. Hess joined the NSDAP on 1 July 1920 and was at Hitler's side on 8 November 1923 for the Beer Hall Putsch, a failed Nazi attempt to seize control of the government of Bavaria. While serving time in jail for this attempted coup, he assisted Hitler with Mein Kampf, which became a foundation of the political platform of the NSDAP.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Hess was appointed Deputy Führer of the NSDAP and shortly received a post in Hitler's cabinet as Minister without Portfolio. He was also appointed in 1938 to the Cabinet Council and in 1939 to the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich. Hitler decreed in 1939 that Hermann Göring was his official successor, and named Hess as next in line. In addition to appearing on Hitler's behalf at speaking engagements and rallies, Hess signed into law much of the legislation, including the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which stripped the Jews of Germany of their rights in the lead-up to the Holocaust.

On 10 May 1941, Hess made a solo flight to Scotland, where he hoped to arrange peace talks with the Duke of Hamilton, whom he believed to be a prominent opponent of the British government's war policy. Hess was immediately arrested on his arrival and was held in British custody until the end of the war, when he was returned to Germany to stand trial in the Nuremberg Trials of major war criminals in 1946. During much of the trial, he claimed to be suffering from amnesia, but he later admitted this was a ruse. He was convicted of crimes against peace and conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes and was transferred to Spandau Prison in 1947, where he served a life sentence. The Soviet Union blocked repeated attempts by family members and prominent politicians to win his early release. While still in custody in Spandau, he died by hanging himself in 1987 at the age of 93. After his death, the prison was demolished to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.

Rudolf Hess
Rudolf Heß
Bundesarchiv Bild 146II-849, Rudolf Heß
Deputy Führer of the Nazi Party
In office
21 April 1933 – 12 May 1941
FührerAdolf Hitler
Preceded byNone (office established)
Succeeded byMartin Bormann (as Chief of the Party Chancellery)
In office
LeaderAdolf Hitler
Personal details
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess

26 April 1894
Alexandria, Egypt
Died17 August 1987 (aged 93)
Spandau, West Berlin
Cause of deathSuicide by hanging
Political partyNazi Party (1920–1941)
Ilse Pröhl (m. 1927)

(22 June 1900 – 7 September 1995)
ChildrenWolf Rüdiger Hess
(18 November 1937 – 14 October 2001)
Alma materUniversity of Munich
Rudolf Hess's signature
Military service
Allegiance German Empire
Branch/service Imperial German Army
Years of service1914–1918
RankLeutnant der Reserve
Unit7th Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment
1st Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsIron Cross, 2nd class

Early life

Hess, the oldest of three children, was born on 26 April 1894 in Alexandria, Egypt, into the ethnic German family of Fritz Hess, a prosperous merchant from Bavaria, and Clara Hess (née Münch). His brother, Alfred, was born in 1897 and his sister, Margarete, was born in 1908.[1] The family lived in a villa on the Egyptian coast near Alexandria, and visited Germany often from 1900, staying at their summer home in Reicholdsgrün (now part of Kirchenlamitz) in the Fichtel Mountains. Hess attended a German language Protestant school in Alexandria from 1900 to 1908, when he was sent back to Germany to study at a boarding school in Bad Godesberg. He demonstrated aptitudes for science and mathematics, but his father wished him to join the family business, Hess & Co., so he sent him in 1911 to study at the École supérieure de commerce in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. After a year there, Hess took an apprenticeship at a trading company in Hamburg.[2][3]

World War I

Within weeks of the outbreak of World War I, Hess enlisted in the 7th Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment. His initial posting was against the British on the Somme;[4] he was present at the First Battle of Ypres. On 9 November 1914 Hess transferred to the 1st Infantry Regiment, stationed near Arras. He was awarded the Iron Cross, second class, and promoted to Gefreiter (corporal) in April 1915. After additional training at the Munster Training Area, he was promoted to Vizefeldwebel (senior non-commissioned officer) and received the Bavarian Military Merit Cross. Returning to the front lines in November, he fought in Artois, participating in the battle for the town of Neuville-Saint-Vaast. After two months out of action with a throat infection, Hess served in the Battle of Verdun in May, and was hit by shrapnel in the left hand and arm on 12 June 1916 in fighting near the village of Thiaumont. After a month off to recover, he was sent back to the Verdun area, where he remained until December.[5][6]

Hess was promoted to platoon leader of the 10th Company of the 18th Bavarian Reserve Infantry Regiment, which was serving in Romania. He was wounded on 23 July and again on 8 August 1917; the first injury was a shell splinter to the left arm, which was dressed in the field, but the second was a bullet wound that entered the upper chest near the armpit and exited near his spinal column, leaving a pea-sized entry wound and a cherry stone-sized exit wound on his back.[7] By 20 August he was well enough to travel, so he was sent to hospital in Hungary and eventually back to Germany, where he recovered in hospital in Meissen. In October he received promotion to Leutnant der Reserve and was recommended for, but did not receive, the Iron Cross, first class. At his father's request, Hess was transferred to a hospital closer to home, arriving at Alexandersbad on 25 October.[8]

While still convalescing, Hess had requested that he be allowed to enroll to train as a pilot, so after some Christmas leave with his family he reported to Munich. He received basic flight training at Oberschleissheim and Lechfeld Air Base in March to June 1918 and advanced training at Valenciennes in France in October. On 14 October, he was assigned to Jagdstaffel 35b, a Bavarian fighter squadron equipped with Fokker D.VII biplanes. He saw no action with Jagdstaffel 35b, as the war ended on 11 November 1918, before he had the opportunity.[9]

KarlHaushofer RudolfHess
Hess (right) with his geopolitics professor, Karl Haushofer, c. 1920

Hess was discharged from the armed forces in December 1918. The family fortunes had taken a serious downturn, as their business interests in Egypt had been expropriated by the British.[10] Hess joined the Thule Society, an antisemitic right-wing Völkisch group, and the Freikorps of Colonel Ritter von Epp,[11] one of many such volunteer paramilitary organisations active in Germany at the time.[12] Bavaria witnessed frequent and often bloody conflicts between right-wing groups such as the Freikorps and left-wing forces as they fought for control of the state during this period.[13] Hess was a participant in street battles in early 1919 and led a group which distributed thousands of antisemitic pamphlets in Munich.[14][15] He later said that Egypt made him a nationalist, the war made him a socialist, and Munich made him an antisemite.[16]

In 1919, Hess enrolled in the University of Munich, where he studied history and economics. His geopolitics professor was Karl Haushofer, a former general in the German Army who was a proponent of the concept of Lebensraum ("living space"), which Haushofer cited to justify the proposal that Germany should forcefully conquer additional territory in Eastern Europe.[17][14] Hess later introduced this concept to Adolf Hitler, and it became one of the pillars of Nazi Party ideology.[15][18] Hess became friends with Haushofer and his son Albrecht, a social theorist and lecturer.[14]

Ilse Pröhl, a fellow student at the university, met Hess in April 1920 when they by chance rented rooms in the same boarding house. They married on 20 December 1927 and their only child, Wolf Rüdiger Hess, was born ten years later, on 18 November 1937.[19][20] His name was, at least in part, to honour Hitler, who often used "Wolf" as a code name.[21] Hess nicknamed the boy "Buz".[22]

Relationship with Hitler

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1969-054-53A, Nürnberg, Reichsparteitag
Rudolf Hess (to the left of Adolf Hitler) was an early supporter of the NSDAP.

After hearing the NSDAP leader Hitler speak for the first time in 1920 at a Munich rally, Hess became completely devoted to him. They held a shared belief in the stab-in-the-back myth, the notion that Germany's loss in World War I was caused by a conspiracy of Jews and Bolsheviks rather than a military defeat.[23][15] Hess joined the NSDAP on 1 July as member number 16.[24] As the party continued to grow, holding rallies and meetings in ever larger beer halls in Munich, he focused his attention on fundraising and organisational activities. On 4 November 1921 he was injured while protecting Hitler when a bomb planted by a Marxist group exploded at the Hofbräuhaus during a party event. Hess joined the Sturmabteilung (SA) by 1922 and helped organise and recruit its early membership.[25]

Meanwhile, problems continued with the economy; hyperinflation caused many personal fortunes to be rendered worthless. When the German government failed to meet its reparations payments and French troops marched in to occupy the industrial areas along the Ruhr in January 1923, widespread civil unrest was the result.[26] Hitler decided the time was ripe to attempt to seize control of the government with a coup d'état modelled on Benito Mussolini's 1922 March on Rome.[27] Hess was with Hitler on the night of 8 November 1923 when he and the SA stormed a public meeting organised by Bavaria's de facto ruler, Staatskommissar (state commissioner) Gustav von Kahr, in the Bürgerbräukeller, a large beer hall in Munich. Brandishing a pistol, Hitler interrupted Kahr's speech and announced that the national revolution had begun, declaring the formation of a new government with World War I General Erich Ludendorff.[28] The next day, Hitler and several thousand supporters attempted to march to the Ministry of War in the city centre. Gunfire broke out between the Nazis and the police; fourteen marchers and four police officers were killed. Hitler was arrested on 11 November.[29]

Hess and some SA men had taken a few of the dignitaries hostage on the night of the 8th, driving them to a house about 50 kilometres (31 mi) from Munich. When Hess left briefly to make a phone call the next day, the hostages convinced the driver to help them escape. Hess, stranded, called Ilse Pröhl, who brought him a bicycle so he could return to Munich. He went to stay with the Haushofers and then fled to Austria, but they convinced him to return. He was arrested and sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in the attempted coup, which later became known as the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was sentenced to five years imprisonment, and the NSDAP and SA were both outlawed.[30][31]

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1972-001-07, München, Zirkus Krone, Rede Hitler
Hitler speaks at a party rally in Munich, 1925

Both men were incarcerated in Landsberg Prison, where Hitler soon began work on his memoir, Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"), which he dictated to fellow prisoners Hess and Emil Maurice. Edited by publisher Max Amann, Hess and others, the work was published in two parts in 1925 and 1926. It was later released in a single volume, which became a best-seller after 1930.[32][33] This book, with its message of violent antisemitism, became the foundation of the political platform of the NSDAP.[34]

Hitler was released on parole on 20 December 1924 and Hess ten days later.[32] The ban on the NSDAP and SA was lifted in February 1925, and the party grew to 100,000 members in 1928 and 150,000 in 1929.[35] They received only 2.6 per cent of the vote in the 1928 election, but support increased steadily up until the seizure of power in 1933.[36]

Hitler named Hess his private secretary in April 1925 at a salary of 500 Reichsmarks per month, and named him as personal adjutant on 20 July 1929.[24][37] Hess accompanied Hitler to speaking engagements around the country and became his friend and confidante.[32] Hess was one of the few people who could meet with Hitler at any time without an appointment.[38] In December 1932 Hess was named party Political Central Commissioner.[39]

Retaining his interest in flying after the end of his active military career, Hess obtained his private pilot's licence on 4 April 1929. His instructor was World War I flying ace Theodor Croneiss. In 1930 Hess became the owner of a BFW M.23b monoplane sponsored by the party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter. He acquired two more Messerschmitt aircraft in the early 1930s, logging many flying hours and becoming proficient in the operation of light single-engine aircraft.[40]

Deputy Führer

Kfz-Standarte Rudolf Heß
Vehicle standard for Hess while serving as Deputy Führer

On 30 January 1933, Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor, his first step in gaining dictatorial control of Germany.[41][42] Hess was named Deputy Führer (Stellvertreter des Führers) of the NSDAP on 21 April and was appointed to the cabinet, with the post of Reich Minister without Portfolio, on 1 December.[43] With offices in the Brown House in Munich and another in Berlin, Hess was responsible for several departments, including foreign affairs, finance, health, education and law.[44] All legislation passed through his office for approval, except that concerning the army, the police and foreign policy, and he wrote and co-signed many of Hitler's decrees.[45] An organiser of the annual Nuremberg Rallies, he usually gave the opening speech and introduced Hitler. Hess also spoke over the radio and at rallies around the country, so frequently that the speeches were collected into book form in 1938.[46] Hess acted as Hitler's delegate in negotiations with industrialists and members of the wealthier classes.[47] As Hess had been born abroad, Hitler had him oversee the NSDAP groups such as the NSDAP/AO that were in charge of party members living in other countries.[48] Hitler instructed Hess to review all court decisions that related to persons deemed enemies of the Party. He was authorised to increase the sentences of anyone he felt got off too lightly in these cases, and was also empowered to take "merciless action" if he saw fit to do so. This often entailed sending the person to a concentration camp or simply ordering the person killed.[49] Hess was given the rank of Obergruppenführer in the Schutzstaffel (SS) in 1934, the second-highest SS rank.[50]

The Nazi regime began to persecute Jews soon after the seizure of power. Hess's office was partly responsible for drafting Hitler's Nuremberg Laws of 1935, laws that had far-reaching implications for the Jews of Germany, banning marriage between non-Jewish and Jewish Germans and depriving non-Aryans of their German citizenship. Hess's friend Karl Haushofer and his family were subject to these laws, as Haushofer had married a half-Jewish woman, so Hess issued documents exempting them from this legislation.[51][52]

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-B01718, Ausstellung "Planung und Aufbau im Osten"
Hess, Heinrich Himmler, Phillip Bouhler, Fritz Todt, Reinhard Heydrich, and others listening to Konrad Meyer at a Generalplan Ost exhibition, 20 March 1941

Hess did not build a power base or develop a coterie of followers.[53][54] He was motivated by his loyalty to Hitler and a desire to be useful to him; he did not seek power or prestige[43][51] or take advantage of his position to accumulate personal wealth. He lived in a modest house in Munich.[20] Although Hess had less influence than other top NSDAP officials, he was popular with the masses. After the Invasion of Poland and the start of World War II in September 1939, Hitler made Hess second in line to succeed him, after Hermann Göring.[55][56] Around the same time, Hitler appointed Hess's chief of staff, Martin Bormann, as his personal secretary, a post formerly held by Hess.[57]

Hess was obsessed with his health to the point of hypochondria, consulting many doctors and other practitioners for what he described to his captors in Britain as a long list of ailments involving the kidneys, colon, gall bladder, bowels and heart. Like Hitler, Hess was a vegetarian, and he did not smoke or drink. He brought his own food to the Berghof, claiming it was biologically dynamic, but Hitler did not approve of this practice, so he discontinued taking meals with the Führer.[58]

Hess was interested in music, enjoyed reading and loved to spend time hiking and climbing in the mountains with Ilse. He and his friend Albrecht Haushofer shared an interest in astrology, and Hess also was keen on clairvoyance and the occult.[59] Hess continued to be interested in aviation. He won an air race in 1934, flying a BFW M.35 in a circuit around Zugspitze Mountain and returning to the airfield at Munich with a time of 29 minutes. He placed sixth of 29 participants in a similar race held the following year.[60] With the outbreak of World War II, Hess asked Hitler to be allowed to join the Luftwaffe as a pilot, but Hitler forbade it, and ordered him to stop flying for the duration of the war. Hess convinced him to reduce the ban to one year.[57]

Attempted peace mission

As the war progressed, Hitler's attention became focused on foreign affairs and the conduct of the war. Hess, who was not directly engaged in these endeavours, became increasingly sidelined from the affairs of the nation and from Hitler's attention; Bormann had successfully supplanted Hess in many of his duties and usurped his position at Hitler's side. Also concerned that Germany would face a war on two fronts as plans progressed for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union scheduled to take place in 1941, Hess decided to attempt to bring Britain to the negotiating table by travelling there himself to seek meetings with the British government.[61][62][63] He asked the advice of Albrecht Haushofer, who suggested several potential contacts in Britain. Hess settled on fellow aviator Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, the Duke of Hamilton, whom he had never met. On Hess's instructions, Haushofer wrote to Hamilton in September 1940, but the letter was intercepted by MI5 and Hamilton did not see it until March 1941. Hamilton was chosen in the mistaken belief that he was one of the leaders of an opposition party opposed to war with Germany, and because he was a friend of Haushofer.[64][65][66]

A letter Hess wrote to his wife dated 4 November 1940 shows that in spite of not receiving a reply from Hamilton, he intended to proceed with his plan. He began training on the Messerschmitt Bf 110, a two-seater twin-engine aircraft, in October 1940 under instructor Wilhelm Stör, the chief test pilot at Messerschmitt. He continued to practise, including logging many cross-country flights, and found a specific aircraft that handled well—a Bf 110E-1/N—which was from then on held in reserve for his personal use. He asked for a radio compass, modifications to the oxygen delivery system, and large long-range fuel tanks to be installed on this plane, and these requests were granted by March 1941.[67]

Flight to Scotland

After a final check of the weather reports for Germany and the North Sea, Hess took off at 17:45 on 10 May 1941 from the airfield at Augsburg-Haunstetten in his specially prepared aircraft.[68] It was the last of several attempts to depart on his mission; previous efforts had to be called off due to mechanical problems or poor weather.[69] Wearing a leather flying suit bearing the rank of captain, he brought along a supply of money and toiletries, a torch, a camera, maps and charts, and a collection of 28 different medicines, as well as dextrose tablets to help ward off fatigue and an assortment of homeopathic remedies.[61][70][71]

Initially setting a course towards Bonn, Hess used landmarks on the ground to orient himself and make minor course corrections. When he reached the coast near the Frisian Islands, he turned and flew in an easterly direction for twenty minutes to stay out of range of British radar. He then took a heading of 335 degrees for the trip across the North Sea, initially at low altitude, but travelling for most of the journey at 5,000 feet (1,500 m). At 20:58 he changed his heading to 245 degrees, intending to approach the coast of North East England near the town of Bamburgh, Northumberland. As it was not yet sunset when he initially approached the coast, Hess backtracked, zigzagging back and forth for 40 minutes until it grew dark. Around this time his auxiliary fuel tanks were exhausted, so he released them into the sea. Also around this time, at 22:08, the British Chain Home station at Ottercops Moss near Newcastle upon Tyne detected his presence and passed along this information to the Filter Room at Bentley Priory. Soon he had been detected by several other stations, and the aircraft was designated as "Raid 42".[72]

Rudolf Hess - Bf 110D Werk Nr 3869 - Wreckage - Bonnyton Moor
The wreckage of Hess's Messerschmitt Bf 110

Two Spitfires of No. 72 Squadron RAF, No. 13 Group RAF that were already in the air were sent to attempt an interception, but failed to find the intruder. A third Spitfire sent from Acklington at 22:20 also failed to spot the aircraft; by then it was dark and Hess had dropped to an extremely low altitude, so low that the volunteer on duty at the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) station at Chatton was able to correctly identify it as a Bf 110, and reported its altitude as 50 feet (15 m). Tracked by additional ROC posts, Hess continued his flight into Scotland at high speed and low altitude, but was unable to spot his destination, Dungavel House, so he headed for the west coast to orient himself and then turned back inland. At 22:35 a Boulton Paul Defiant sent from No. 141 Squadron RAF based at Ayr began pursuit. Hess was nearly out of fuel, so he climbed to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) and parachuted out of the plane at 23:06. He injured his foot, either while exiting the aircraft or when he hit the ground. The aircraft crashed at 23:09, about 12 miles (19 km) west of Dungavel House.[73] He would have been closer to his destination had he not had trouble exiting the aircraft.[74] Hess considered this achievement to be the proudest moment of his life.[75]

Before his departure from Germany, Hess had given his adjutant, Karlheinz Pintsch, a letter addressed to Hitler that detailed his intentions to open peace negotiations with the British.[76] He planned to initially do so with the Duke of Hamilton, at his home, Dungavel House, believing (falsely) that the duke was willing to negotiate peace with the Nazis on terms that would be acceptable to Hitler.[77] Pintsch delivered the letter to Hitler at the Berghof around noon on 11 May.[76] After reading the letter, Hitler let loose an outcry heard throughout the entire Berghof and sent for a number of his inner circle, concerned that a putsch might be underway.[78]

Hitler worried that his allies, Italy and Japan, would perceive Hess's act as an attempt by Hitler to secretly open peace negotiations with the British. Hitler contacted Mussolini specifically to reassure him otherwise.[78] For this reason, Hitler ordered that the German press should characterise Hess as a madman who made the decision to fly to Scotland entirely on his own, without Hitler's knowledge or authority. Subsequent German newspaper reports described Hess as "deluded, deranged", indicating that his mental health had been affected by injuries sustained during World War I. Some members of the government, including Göring and Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, believed this only made matters worse, because if Hess truly were mentally ill, he should not have been holding an important government position.[79]

Hitler stripped Hess of all of his party and state offices, and secretly ordered him shot on sight if he ever returned to Germany. He abolished the post of Deputy Führer, assigning Hess's former duties to Bormann, with the title of Head of the Party Chancellery.[79][80] Bormann used the opportunity afforded by Hess's departure to secure significant power for himself.[81] Meanwhile, Hitler initiated Aktion Hess, a flurry of hundreds of arrests of astrologers, faith healers and occultists that took place around 9 June. The campaign was part of a propaganda effort by Goebbels and others to denigrate Hess and to make scapegoats of occult practitioners.[82]

American journalist Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker, who had met both Hitler and Hess, speculated that Hitler had sent Hess to deliver a message informing Winston Churchill of the forthcoming invasion of the Soviet Union, and offering a negotiated peace or even an anti-Bolshevik partnership.[83] Soviet leader Joseph Stalin believed that Hess's flight had been engineered by the British. Stalin persisted in this belief as late as 1944, when he mentioned the matter to Churchill, who insisted that they had no advance knowledge of the flight.[84] While some sources reported that Hess had been on an official mission, Churchill later stated in his book The Grand Alliance that in his view, the mission had not been authorized. "He came to us of his own free will, and, though without authority, had something of the quality of an envoy", said Churchill, and referred to Hess's plan as one of "lunatic benevolence".[85]

After the war, Albert Speer discussed the rationale for the flight with Hess, who told him that "the idea had been inspired in him in a dream by supernatural forces. We will guarantee England her empire; in return she will give us a free hand in Europe."[86] While in Spandau prison, Hess told journalist Desmond Zwar that Germany could not win a war on two fronts. "I knew that there was only one way out – and that was certainly not to fight against England. Even though I did not get permission from the Führer to fly I knew that what I had to say would have had his approval. Hitler had great respect for the English people ..."[87] Hess wrote that his flight to Scotland was intended to initiate "the fastest way to win the war".[88]


Hess landed at Floors Farm, Eaglesham, south of Glasgow, where he was discovered still struggling with his parachute by local ploughman David McLean. Identifying himself as "Hauptmann Alfred Horn", Hess said he had an important message for the Duke of Hamilton. McLean helped Hess to his nearby cottage and contacted the local Home Guard unit, who escorted the captive to their headquarters in Busby, East Renfrewshire. He was next taken to the police station at Giffnock, arriving after midnight; he was searched and his possessions confiscated. Hess repeatedly requested to meet with the Duke of Hamilton during questioning undertaken with the aid of an interpreter by Major Graham Donald, the area commandant of Royal Observer Corps. After the interview Hess was taken under guard to Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow, where his injuries were treated. By this time some of his captors suspected Hess's true identity, though he continued to insist his name was Horn.[89][90]

Rudolph Hess BF-110
Part of the fuselage of Hess's Bf 110. Imperial War Museum (2008)

Hamilton had been on duty as wing commander at RAF Turnhouse near Edinburgh when Hess had arrived, and his station had been one of those that had tracked the progress of the flight. He arrived at Maryhill Barracks the next morning, and after examining Hess's effects, he met alone with the prisoner. Hess immediately admitted his true identity and outlined the reason for his flight. Hamilton told Hess that he hoped to continue the conversation with the aid of an interpreter; Hess could speak English well, but was having trouble understanding Hamilton.[91][92] He told Hamilton that he was on a "mission of humanity" and that Hitler "wished to stop the fighting" with England.[93]

After the meeting, Hamilton examined the remains of the Messerschmitt in the company of an intelligence officer, then returned to Turnhouse, where he made arrangements through the Foreign Office to meet Churchill, who was at Ditchley for the weekend. They had some preliminary talks that night, and Hamilton accompanied Churchill back to London the next day, where they both met with members of the War Cabinet. Churchill sent Hamilton with foreign affairs expert Ivone Kirkpatrick, who had met Hess previously, to positively identify the prisoner, who had been moved to Buchanan Castle overnight.[91][94] Hess, who had prepared extensive notes to use during this meeting, spoke to them at length about Hitler's expansionary plans and the need for Britain to let the Nazis have free rein in Europe, in exchange for Britain being allowed to keep its overseas possessions. Kirkpatrick held two more meetings with Hess over the course of the next few days, while Hamilton returned to his duties. In addition to being disappointed at the apparent failure of his mission, Hess began claiming that his medical treatment was inadequate and that there was a plot afoot to poison him.[95]

Hess's flight, but not his destination or fate, was first announced by Munich Radio in Germany on the evening of 12 May. On 13 May Hitler sent Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to give the news in person to Mussolini, and the British press was permitted to release full information about events that same day. On 14 May Ilse Hess finally learned that her husband had survived the trip when news of his fate was broadcast on German radio.[96]

Two sections of the fuselage of the aircraft were initially hidden by David McLean and later retrieved. One part was sold to the former assistant secretary of the Battle of Britain Association, who gave it to a war museum in the US; this 17.5 by 23 inches (44 by 58 cm) part was later sold by Bonhams at auction.[97] Part of the fuel tank and a strut were offered for sale via Bonhams in 2014.[98] Other wreckage was salvaged by 63 Maintenance Unit between 11 and 16 May 1941 and then taken to Oxford to be stored. The aeroplane had been armed with four machine guns in the nose, but carried no ammunition.[99] One of the engines is on display at the RAF Museum while the Imperial War Museum displays another engine and part of the fuselage.[100]

Trial and imprisonment

Prisoner of war

From Buchanan Castle, Hess was transferred briefly to the Tower of London and then to Mytchett Place in Surrey, a fortified mansion, designated "Camp Z", where he stayed for the next 13 months.[101][102] Churchill issued orders that Hess was to be treated well, though he was not allowed to read newspapers or listen to the radio. Three intelligence officers were stationed onsite and 150 soldiers were placed on guard. By early June, Hess was allowed to write to his family. He also prepared a letter to the Duke of Hamilton, but it was never delivered, and his repeated requests for further meetings were turned down.[103] Major Frank Foley, the leading German expert in MI6 and former British Passport Control Officer in Berlin, took charge of a year-long abortive debriefing of Hess, according to Foreign Office files released to the National Archives.[104] Dr Henry V. Dicks and Dr John Rawlings Rees, psychiatrists who treated Hess during this period, noted that while he was not insane, he was mentally unstable, with tendencies toward hypochondria and paranoia.[105] Hess repeated his peace proposal to John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon, then serving as Lord Chancellor, in an interview on 9 June 1942. Lord Simon noted that the prisoner's mental state was not good; Hess claimed he was being poisoned and was being prevented from sleeping.[106] He would insist on swapping his dinner with that of one of his guards, and attempted to get them to send samples of the food out for analysis.[107]

In the early morning hours of 16 June 1942, Hess rushed his guards and attempted suicide by jumping over the railing of the staircase at Mytchett Place. He fell onto the stone floor below, fracturing the femur of his left leg. The injury required that the leg be kept in traction for 12 weeks, with a further six weeks bed rest before he was permitted to walk with crutches. Captain Munro Johnson of the Royal Army Medical Corps, who assessed Hess, noted that another suicide attempt was likely to occur in the near future. Hess began around this time to complain of amnesia. This symptom and some of his increasingly erratic behaviour may have in part been a ruse, because if he were declared mentally ill, he could be repatriated under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.[108][109]

Hess was moved to Maindiff Court Hospital on 26 June 1942, where he remained for the next three years. The facility was chosen for its added security and the need for fewer guards. Hess was allowed walks on the grounds and car trips into the surrounding countryside. He had access to newspapers and other reading materials; he wrote letters and journals. His mental health remained under the care of Dr Rees. Hess continued to complain on and off of memory loss and made a second suicide attempt on 4 February 1945, when he stabbed himself with a bread knife. The wound was not serious, requiring two stitches. Despondent that Germany was losing the war, he took no food for the next week, only resuming eating when he was threatened with being force-fed.[110][111]

Germany surrendered unconditionally on 8 May 1945. Hess, facing charges as a war criminal, was ordered to appear before the International Military Tribunal and was transported to Nuremberg on 10 October 1945.[112]

Nuremberg Trials

Rudolf Hess in Landsberg Prison
Hess in his cell, November 1945 at Landsberg Prison awaiting trial

The Allies of World War II held a series of military tribunals and trials, beginning with a trial of the major war criminals from November 1945 to October 1946. Hess was tried with this first group of 23 defendants, all of whom were charged with four counts—conspiracy to commit crimes, crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, in violation of international laws governing warfare.[113]

On his arrival in Nuremberg, Hess was reluctant to give up some of his possessions, including samples of food he said had been poisoned by the British; he proposed to use these for his defence during the trial. The commandant of the facility, Colonel Burton C. Andrus of the United States Army, advised him that he would be allowed no special treatment; the samples were sealed and confiscated.[114][115] Hess's diaries indicate that he did not acknowledge the validity of the court and felt the outcome was a foregone conclusion. He was thin when he arrived, weighing 65 kilograms (143 lb), and had a poor appetite, but was deemed to be in good health. As one defendant, Robert Ley, had managed to hang himself in his cell on 24 October, the remaining prisoners were monitored around the clock.[116][117] Because of his previous suicide attempts, Hess was handcuffed to a guard whenever he was out of his cell.[118]

Almost immediately after his arrival, Hess began exhibiting amnesia, which may have been feigned in the hope of avoiding the death sentence. The chief psychiatrist at Nuremberg, Douglas Kelley of the US Military, gave the opinion that the defendant suffered from "a true psychoneurosis, primarily of the hysterical type, engrafted on a basic paranoid and schizoid personality, with amnesia, partly genuine and partly feigned", but found him fit to stand trial.[119][120] Efforts were made to trigger his memory, including bringing in his former secretaries and showing old newsreels, but he persisted in showing no response to these stimuli.[117][119] When Hess was allowed to make a statement to the tribunal on 30 November, he admitted that he had faked memory loss as a tactic.[121][122]

The prosecution's case against Hess was presented by Mervyn Griffith-Jones beginning on 7 February 1946. By quoting from Hess's speeches, he attempted to demonstrate that Hess had been aware of and agreed with Hitler's plans to conduct a war of aggression in violation of international law. He declared that as Hess had signed important governmental decrees, including the decree requiring mandatory military service, the Nuremberg racial laws, and a decree incorporating the conquered Polish territories into the Reich, he must share responsibility for the acts of the regime. He pointed out that the timing of Hess's trip to Scotland, only six weeks before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, could only be viewed as an attempt by Hess to keep the British out of the war. Hess resumed showing symptoms of amnesia at the end of February, partway through the prosecution's case.[123]

Rudolf hess
Hess (left) and Joachim von Ribbentrop in the defendants' box at the Nuremberg Trials

The case for Hess's defence was presented from 22 to 26 March by his lawyer, Dr Alfred Seidl. He noted that while Hess accepted responsibility for the many decrees he had signed, he said these matters were part of the internal workings of a sovereign state and thus outside the purview of a war crimes trial. He called to the stand Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, the man who had been head of the NSDAP/AO, to testify on Hess's behalf. When Griffith-Jones presented questions about the organisation's spying in several countries, Bohle testified that any warlike activities such as espionage had been done without his permission or knowledge. Seidl called two other witnesses, former mayor of Stuttgart Karl Strölin and Hess's brother Alfred, both of whom refuted the allegations that the NSDAP/AO had been spying and fomenting war. Seidl presented a summation of the defence's case on 25 July, in which he attempted to refute the charge of conspiracy by pointing out that Hitler alone had made all the important decisions. He noted that Hess could not be held responsible for any events that took place after he left Germany in May 1941. Meanwhile, Hess mentally detached himself from what was happening, declining visits from his family and refusing to read the newspapers.[124] Hess spoke to the tribunal again on 31 August 1946 during the last day of closing statements, where he made a lengthy statement.[125][126]

The court deliberated for nearly two months before passing judgement on 30 September, with the defendants being individually sentenced on 1 October. Hess was found guilty on two counts: crimes against peace (planning and preparing a war of aggression), and conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes. He was found not guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was given a life sentence, one of seven Nazis to receive prison sentences at the trial. These seven were transported by aircraft to the Allied military prison at Spandau in Berlin on 18 July 1947.[127][128] The Soviet member of the tribunal, Major-General Iona Nikitchenko, filed a document recording his dissent of Hess's sentence; he felt the death sentence was warranted.[129]

Spandau Prison

Spandau was placed under the control of the Allied Control Council, the governing body in charge of the military occupation of Germany, which consisted of representatives from Britain, France, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Each country supplied prison guards for a month at a time on a rotating basis. After the inmates were given medical examinations—Hess refused his body search, and had to be held down[130]—they were provided with prison garb and assigned the numbers by which they were addressed throughout their stay. Hess was Number 7. The prison had a small library and inmates were allowed to file special requests for additional reading material. Writing materials were limited; each inmate was allowed four pieces of paper per month for letters. They were not allowed to speak to one another without permission and were expected to work in the facility, helping with cleaning and gardening chores.[131] The inmates were taken for outdoor walks around the prison grounds for an hour each day, separated about 10 yards (9 m) apart. Some of the rules became more relaxed as time went on.[130]

Kriegsverbrechergefängnis Spandau - Wachablösung
Changing the guard at Spandau Prison, 1986

Visitors were allowed to come for half an hour per month, but Hess forbade his family to visit until December 1969, when he was a patient at the British Military Hospital in West Berlin for a perforated ulcer. By this time, Wolf Rüdiger Hess was 32 years old and Ilse 69; they had not seen Hess since his departure from Germany in 1941. After this illness, he allowed his family to visit regularly. His daughter-in-law Andrea, who often brought photos and films of his grandchildren, became a particularly welcome visitor.[132][133] Hess's health problems, both mental and physical, were ongoing during his captivity. He cried out in the night, claiming he had stomach pains. He continued to suspect that his food was being poisoned and complained of amnesia.[134][135] A psychiatrist who examined him in 1957 deemed he was not ill enough to be transferred to a mental hospital.[136] Hess attempted suicide again in 1977.[137]

Other than his stays in hospital, Hess spent the rest of his life in Spandau Prison.[138] His fellow inmates Konstantin von Neurath, Walther Funk, and Erich Raeder were released because of poor health in the 1950s;[139] Karl Dönitz, Baldur von Schirach, and Albert Speer served their time and were released; Dönitz left in 1956, Schirach and Speer in 1966.[140] The 600-cell prison continued to be maintained for its lone prisoner from 1966 until Hess's death in 1987, at an estimated cost of DM 800,000.[141] Conditions were far more pleasant in the 1980s than in the early years; Hess was allowed to move more freely around the cell block, setting his own routine and choosing his own activities, which included television, films, reading, and gardening. A lift was installed so he could easily access the garden, and he was provided with a medical orderly from 1982 onward.[133]

Hess's lawyer Alfred Seidl launched numerous appeals for his release, beginning as early as 1947. These were denied, mainly because the Soviets repeatedly vetoed the proposal. Spandau was located in West Berlin, and its existence gave the Soviets a foothold in that sector of the city. Additionally, Soviet officials believed Hess must have known in 1941 that an attack on their country was imminent.[142] In 1967, Wolf Rüdiger Hess began a campaign to win his father's release, garnering support from notable politicians such as Geoffrey Lawrence, 1st Baron Oaksey[a] in Britain and Willy Brandt in Germany, but to no avail, in spite of the prisoner's advanced age and deteriorating health.[143][144]

Death and aftermath

Hess died on 17 August 1987, aged 93, in a summer house that had been set up in the prison garden as a reading room. He took an extension cord from one of the lamps, strung it over a window latch, and hanged himself. A short note to his family was found in his pocket, thanking them for all that they had done. The Four Powers released a statement on 17 September ruling the death a suicide. He was initially buried at a secret location to avoid media attention or demonstrations by Nazi sympathisers, but his body was re-interred in a family plot at Wunsiedel on 17 March 1988; his wife was buried beside him in 1995.[145]

Hess's lawyer Alfred Seidl felt that he was too old and frail to have managed to kill himself. Wolf Rüdiger Hess repeatedly claimed that his father had been murdered by the British Secret Intelligence Service to prevent him from revealing information about British misconduct during the war. Abdallah Melaouhi served as Hess's medical orderly from 1982 to 1987; he was dismissed from his position at his local district parliament's Immigration and Integration Advisory Council after he wrote a self-published book on a similar theme. According to an investigation by the British government in 1989, the available evidence did not back up the claim that Hess was murdered, and Solicitor General Sir Nicholas Lyell saw no grounds for further investigation.[146] Moreover, the autopsy results support the conclusion that Hess had killed himself.[147][148][149] A report released in 2012 led to questions again being asked as to whether Hess had been murdered. Historian Peter Padfield claimed that the suicide note found on the body appeared to have been written when Hess was hospitalised in 1969.[150]

The town of Wunsiedel became a destination for pilgrimages and neo-Nazi demonstrations every August on the date of Hess's death. To put a stop to neo-Nazi pilgrimages, the parish council decided not to allow an extension on the grave site's lease when it expired in 2011.[151] With the eventual consent of his family, Hess's grave was re-opened on 20 July 2011. The remains were cremated and the ashes scattered at sea by family members. The gravestone, which bore the epitaph "Ich hab's gewagt" ("I have dared"), was destroyed.[152] Spandau Prison was demolished in 1987 to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.[147]

A myth that the Spandau prisoner was not actually Hess was disproved in 2019, when a study of DNA testing undertaken by Sherman McCall, formerly of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and Jan Cemper-Kiesslich of the University of Salzburg demonstrated an almost perfect match between the prisoner's DNA and that of a living male Hess relative.[153]

See also


Informational notes

  1. ^ Lord Oaksey had been the president of the judicial group at the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg.Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 195.


  1. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 17.
  2. ^ Hess 1987, pp. 26–27.
  3. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 2–3.
  4. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 4.
  5. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 4–6.
  6. ^ Hess 1987, p. 27.
  7. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 7.
  8. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 8–9.
  9. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 9–12.
  10. ^ Hess 1987, pp. 27–28.
  11. ^ Padfield 2001, p. 13.
  12. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 13–14.
  13. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 156–159.
  14. ^ a b c Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 14.
  15. ^ a b c Evans 2003, p. 177.
  16. ^ Gunther 1940, p. 73.
  17. ^ Bird 1974, p. 7.
  18. ^ Evans 2005, p. 345.
  19. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 15, 20.
  20. ^ a b Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 63.
  21. ^ Pick 2012, p. 36.
  22. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 146.
  23. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 15.
  24. ^ a b Hess 1987, p. 34.
  25. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 17.
  26. ^ Evans 2003, pp. 186–187.
  27. ^ Evans 2003, p. 186.
  28. ^ Evans 2003, p. 193.
  29. ^ Evans 2003, p. 193–194.
  30. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 18–19.
  31. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 70, 73.
  32. ^ a b c Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 19.
  33. ^ Evans 2003, p. 196.
  34. ^ Evans 2003, p. 197.
  35. ^ Evans 2003, p. 201, 211.
  36. ^ Evans 2003, p. 209, 282.
  37. ^ Bird 1974, p. 8.
  38. ^ Gunther 1940, p. 6.
  39. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 21.
  40. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 20–21.
  41. ^ Evans 2003, p. 307.
  42. ^ Shirer 1960, pp. 226–227.
  43. ^ a b Hess 1987, p. 39.
  44. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 21–22.
  45. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 47–48.
  46. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 37, 60, 62.
  47. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 39.
  48. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 67.
  49. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 51.
  50. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 25.
  51. ^ a b Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 22.
  52. ^ Evans 2005, pp. 543–544.
  53. ^ Evans 2003, p. 47.
  54. ^ Hess 1987, p. 36.
  55. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 599.
  56. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 47.
  57. ^ a b Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 28.
  58. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 63–67.
  59. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 94.
  60. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 24.
  61. ^ a b Evans 2008, p. 167.
  62. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 837.
  63. ^ Sereny 1996, p. 321.
  64. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 29–30.
  65. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 836.
  66. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 82.
  67. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 32–37.
  68. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 44.
  69. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 92.
  70. ^ Bird 1974, p. 15.
  71. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 39.
  72. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 46–51.
  73. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 52–58.
  74. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 101.
  75. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 97.
  76. ^ a b Evans 2008, p. 168.
  77. ^ Handwerk 2016.
  78. ^ a b Childers 2017, p. 478.
  79. ^ a b Shirer 1960, p. 838.
  80. ^ Evans 2008, p. 169.
  81. ^ Childers 2017, pp. 478–479.
  82. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 126–127, 131–132.
  83. ^ Knickerbocker 1941, p. 161.
  84. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 107–108.
  85. ^ Churchill 1950, p. 55.
  86. ^ Speer 1971, p. 241.
  87. ^ Boyes 2010.
  88. ^ Zwar 2010, p. 127.
  89. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 101–105.
  90. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 58–61.
  91. ^ a b Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 105–107.
  92. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 61–63.
  93. ^ Shirer 1960, p. 835.
  94. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 61–68.
  95. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 116–117, 124.
  96. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 119–120.
  97. ^ Bonhams 2014.
  98. ^ Bonhams 2015.
  99. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 72–73.
  100. ^ The Scotsman 2014.
  101. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 71.
  102. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 128.
  103. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 82, 88, 95.
  104. ^ Smith 2004.
  105. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 136.
  106. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 89.
  107. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 139–140.
  108. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 92–95.
  109. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 139–140, 149.
  110. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 95–97.
  111. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 142–145.
  112. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 97.
  113. ^ Evans 2008, p. 741.
  114. ^ Bird 1974, p. 34.
  115. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 151–152.
  116. ^ Sereny 1996, p. 573.
  117. ^ a b Bird 1974, pp. 37–38.
  118. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 153.
  119. ^ a b Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 154–155.
  120. ^ Chesler 2014.
  121. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 159.
  122. ^ Bird 1974, p. 43.
  123. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 162–163.
  124. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 165–171.
  125. ^ Bird 1974, p. 49.
  126. ^ Pick 2012, p. 282.
  127. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 173.
  128. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 98.
  129. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, p. 175.
  130. ^ a b Sereny 1996, p. 604.
  131. ^ Bird 1974, pp. 68–71.
  132. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 186, 195.
  133. ^ a b Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 100–101.
  134. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 186–187, 195.
  135. ^ Speer 1976, pp. 193, 197, 234, 305.
  136. ^ Speer 1976, p. 314.
  137. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 100.
  138. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 195, 200.
  139. ^ Speer 1976, pp. 258, 278, 310.
  140. ^ Speer 1976, pp. 300, 446.
  141. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 189, 197.
  142. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 189–192.
  143. ^ Manvell & Fraenkel 1971, pp. 192–195.
  144. ^ Hess 1987, pp. 325–327.
  145. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, pp. 101–103.
  146. ^ Milmo 2013.
  147. ^ a b Greenwald & Freeman 1987.
  148. ^ Nesbit & van Acker 2011, p. 132.
  149. ^ Bild 2009.
  150. ^ Rojas & Wardrop 2012.
  151. ^ Dowling 2011.
  152. ^ BBC News 2011.
  153. ^ Knapton 2019.


Further reading

  • Allen, Martin (2004). The Hitler/Hess Deception : British Intelligence's Best-Kept Secret of the Second World War. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-714119-7.
  • Allen, Peter (1983). The Crown and the Swastika: Hitler, Hess, and the Duke of Windsor. London: R. Hale. ISBN 978-0-7090-1294-8.
  • Boyes, Roger (7 June 2010). "How I got Hess talking: Australian journalist Desmond Zwar explains". The Australian. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  • Costello, John (1991). Ten Days that Saved the West. London: Bantam. ISBN 978-0-593-01919-1.
  • Douglas-Hamilton, James (1979). Motive for a Mission: The Story Behind Rudolf Hess's Flight to Britain. Edinburgh: Mainstream. ISBN 978-0-906391-05-1.
  • Haiger, Ernst (2006). "Fiction, Facts, and Forgeries: The 'Revelations' of Peter and Martin Allen about the History of the Second World War". Journal of Intelligence History. 6 (1): 105–117.
  • Hess, Rudolf; Hess, Ilse (1954). Prisoner of Peace. London: Britons. OCLC 1302579.
  • Hutton, Joseph Bernard (1971). Hess: The Man and His Mission. New York: Macmillan. OCLC 126879.
  • Le Tissier, Tony (1994). Farewell to Spandau. Leatherhead: Ashford, Buchan & Enright. ISBN 978-1-85253-314-4.
  • Leasor, James (1962). Rudolf Hess: The Uninvited Envoy. London: Allen & Unwin. OCLC 1373664.
  • Padfield, Peter (1991). Hess: Flight for the Führer. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 978-0-297-81181-7.
  • Rees, John R; Dicks, Henry Victor (1948). The Case of Rudolf Hess: A Problem in Diagnosis and Forensic Psychiatry. New York: Norton. OCLC 1038757.
  • Thomas, W. Hugh (1979). The Murder of Rudolf Hess. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 978-0-06-014251-3.
  • Schwarzwäller, Wulf (1988). Rudolf Hess: the Last Nazi. Bethesda, Md: National Press. ISBN 978-0-915765-52-2.

External links

André Hennicke

André Hennicke (born 21 September 1958) is a German actor. He has appeared in more than one hundred films since 1984.

Hennicke was born in Johanngeorgenstadt in Saxony. He was awarded a German television award for best actor for Something to Remind Me in 2002. He has appeared in the 2004 film Downfall as SS General Wilhelm Mohnke, 2005's Sophie Scholl – The Final Days as infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler, and the 2005 docudrama Speer und Er as Nazi leader Rudolf Hess. In 2009, he appeared as one of the primary antagonists in science-fiction thriller Pandorum, portraying the leader of a group of genetically mutated human-hybrids. In 2015 in Buddha's Little Finger plays role of Vasily Chapayev.

Beer Hall Putsch

The Beer Hall Putsch, also known as the Munich Putsch, and, in German, as the Hitlerputsch, Hitler-Ludendorff-Putsch, Bürgerbräu-Putsch or Marsch auf die Feldherrnhalle ("March on the Field Marshals's Hall"), was a failed coup d'état by the Nazi Party (NSDAP) leader Adolf Hitler—along with Generalquartiermeister Erich Ludendorff and other Kampfbund leaders—to seize power in Munich, Bavaria, which took place from 8 November to 9 November 1923. Approximately two thousand Nazis were marching to the Feldherrnhalle, in the city center, when they were confronted by a police cordon, which resulted in the death of 16 Nazis and four police officers. Hitler, who was wounded during the clash, escaped immediate arrest and was spirited off to safety in the countryside. After two days, he was arrested and charged with treason.The putsch brought Hitler to the attention of the German nation and generated front-page headlines in newspapers around the world. His arrest was followed by a 24-day trial, which was widely publicised and gave him a platform to publicise his nationalist sentiment to the nation. Hitler was found guilty of treason and sentenced to five years in Landsberg Prison, where he dictated Mein Kampf to his fellow prisoners Emil Maurice and Rudolf Hess. On 20 December 1924, having served only nine months, Hitler was released. Hitler now saw that the path to power was through legal means rather than revolution or force, and accordingly changed his tactics, further developing Nazi propaganda.

Christian Worch

Christian Worch (born 14 March 1956) is a prominent German neo-Nazi activist and chairman of the right-wing political party Die Rechte.

In 1974 Worch started a militant group called the Hansabande in Hamburg, along with Michael Kühnen. The group defaced Jewish graveyards, assaulted leftists and foreigners, and denied the Holocaust. Worch took part in one especially well-known campaign under the motto "I am an ass to believe that Jews were gassed in Germany" (Ich Esel glaube, daß in Deutschland Juden vergast worden sind). The group gradually became the Aktionsfront Nationaler Sozialisten (ANS, Action Front of National Socialists) in 1977. Worch and Kühnen were also close to the now-banned Wiking-Jugend (Viking Youth).

Kühnen was arrested in 1979 and Worch took over leadership of the ANS. In 1980 he was convicted, receiving a three-year prison sentence, despite being defended by Jürgen Rieger during his trial. In 1983, the organization, now known as the ANS/NA (Aktionsfront Nationaler Sozialisten/Nationale Aktivisten, Action Front of National Socialists/National Activists) was banned, so Worch joined the Free German Workers' Party (FAP) and became vice-chairman. As the Nationale Liste (National List) was founded in 1989, he became active in its executive committee. He edited its magazine, Index, until September 1991 and was especially active in Anti-Antifa work. In this campaign, lists of names and addresses of left-wing and anti-fascist activists and organizations were published; this led to attacks on some of the people listed. Worch was one of the main initiators of the campaign.

After Kühnen died in 1991, Worch, along with Winfried Arnulf Priem and Gottfried Küssel, took over the Gesinnungsgemeinschaft der Neuen Front (GdNF); this led to him receiving a two-year suspended sentence in 1994. He had to serve this jail time beginning in February 1996 because he continued the ANS/NA despite its having been banned, but he was released early in 1997.

For a short time in the 1990s, Worch had close relations with the National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD) and was a link between neo-Nazi groups and the NPD. In an interview, he defended his collaboration with the party, saying that "the NPD is as a party, of course, only a means to propagate our worldview". However, he has since distanced himself from the party.

Worch also collaborates with Gary Lauck's NSDAP/AO (1972), and is known as one of the main organizers of the Rudolf Hess Memorial March, which takes place once a year in Wunsiedel, Bavaria, where Rudolf Hess is buried, and is one of the most important events for European neo-Nazis.

Eugene K. Bird

Lieutenant Colonel Eugene K. Bird (11 March 1926 – 28 October 2005) was US Commandant of the Spandau Allied Prison from 1964 to 1972 where, together with six others, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess was incarcerated.

In March 1971, Bird’s superiors at the US Mission in Berlin became aware of Bird's cooperation with Hess in the writing of a book about Hess. He was put under house arrest and eventually made to resign his position as Commandant of Spandau Prison. This episode, in effect, also ended his military career.

Famous Last Words (novel)

Famous Last Words is a 1981 novel by Canadian author Timothy Findley, in which Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (originally from the Ezra Pound poem of the same name) is the main character.

In the book Findley poses a few ideas involving the flight of Rudolf Hess into Scotland.

Friends of New Germany

Friends of New Germany, sometimes called Friends of the New Germany, was an organization founded in the United States by German immigrants to support Nazism and Nazi Germany. Nazis outside of Germany made considerable efforts to establish an American counterpart organization. Recruiting commenced as early as 1924 with the formation of the Free Society of Teutonia.

In May 1933, the Nazi Deputy Führer, Rudolf Hess, gave German immigrant and German Nazi Party member Heinz Spanknöbel authority to form an American Nazi organization. The result was the creation of the Friends of New Germany in July 1933. Assistance was given to its formation by the German consul in the City of New York. The organization took over the membership of two older pro-Nazi organizations in the United States, the Free Society of Teutonia and Gau-USA. The new entity was based in New York City, but had a strong presence in Chicago, Illinois.The Friends of New Germany was led by Spanknöbel and was openly pro-Nazi, and engaged in activities such as storming the German language newspaper New Yorker Staats-Zeitung with the demand that Nazi-sympathetic articles be published, the infiltration of other non-political German-American organizations, and the use of propaganda to counter the Jewish boycott of businesses in the heavily German neighborhood of Yorkville, Manhattan. Members wore a uniform, a white shirt and black trousers for men with a black hat festooned with a red symbol. Women members wore a white blouse and a black skirt.In an internal battle for control of the Friends, Spanknöbel was soon ousted as leader, and in October 1933 he was deported because he had failed to register as a foreign agent.At the same time, Congressman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) was Chairman of the Committee on Naturalization and Immigration, where he became aware of the substantial number of foreigners legally and illegally entering and residing in the country, and the growing anti-Semitism along with vast amounts of anti-Semitic literature being distributed in the country. This led him to investigate independently the activities of Nazi and other fascist groups. This led to the formation of the Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities. Throughout the rest of 1934, the Committee conducted hearings, bringing before it most of the major figures in the US fascist movement. Dickstein's investigation concluded that the Friends represented a branch of German dictator Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party in America.The organization existed into the mid-1930s with a membership of between 5,000-10,000, consisting mostly of German citizens living in America and German emigrants who only recently had become citizens. In December 1935, Rudolf Hess recalled the group's leaders to Germany and ordered all German citizens to leave the Friends of New Germany. By March 1936, Friends of New Germany was dissolved and its membership transferred to a newly formed German American Bund, the new name being chosen to emphasise the group's American credentials after press criticism that the organisation was unpatriotic. The Bund was to consist only of American citizens of German descent.

Hess (surname)

Hess or Heß, a German and Ashkenazic surname, meaning somebody originally from the region of Hesse. Two alternative origins have been reported. Usage in the south of Germany may arise from a contraction of the personal name Matthäus, whereas appearance in Germany or The Netherlands may arise from a modification of the personal name Hesso.Notable people who share this surname include:

Adam Hess (born 1981), American basketball player

Adam Hess (Comedian), British Comedian

András Hess, Hungarian printer

Beat W. Hess (born 1949), Swiss businessman

Bernhard Hess (born 1966), Swiss politician

Bernhard von Hess (1792–1869), Bavarian Lieutenant General and War Minister

Carl von Hess (1863–1923), German ophthalmologist

Catherina Hess, (born 1985), German actress

Damian Hess aka MC Frontalot, nerdcore rapper

Dean Hess (1917-2015), American Air Force Colonel

Derek Hess, (born 1964), American artist

Elizabeth Hess (born 1953), Canadian actress

Elmar Hess (born 1966), German artist

Eric Hess, American wrestler

Erika Hess (born 1962), Swiss alpine skier

Fred Hess (1944–2018), American jazz musician

Fred Hess (Wisconsin) (1858-1925), American politician

Fred J. Hess (1848-1928), American politician

Germain Henri Hess (1802–1850), Russian-Swiss chemist

Gregory Hess (born 1962), 16th President of Wabash College

Hans-Georg Hess (1923-2008), German U-boat captain

John Jacob Hess (1584-1639), Swiss-German Anabaptist minister and martyr

Harry Hammond Hess (1906–1969), American geologist best known for his theories on sea floor spreading

Harry Hess, American college sports coach

Harvey Hess (1939-2012), American lyric poet

Heinrich von Heß (1788–1870), Austrian fieldmarshall

Heinrich Maria von Hess, German painter

Hieronymus Hess, Swiss drawer, painter, caricaturist (1799-1850)

Ilse Hess, German writer (1900-1995)

Jake Hess, American southern gospel vocalist

Jared Hess (born 1979), American writer and director of Napoleon Dynamite

Johann Hess (Hesse), (1490–1547), German theologian

Karl Hess (1923–1994), American speechwriter and author

Karl Hess (painter) (1801-1874), German painter

Leon Hess Founder, Chairman of the Board & CEO of Hess Corporation and the New York Jets NFL Football franchise until his death

Markus Hess, German hacker

Michael A. Hess (1952-1995), American lawyer

Moses Hess (1812–1875), Jewish philosopher and proto-Zionist

Myra Hess (1890–1965), British pianist

Nigel Hess, British composer

Ortwin Hess, British optician and physicist

Orvan Hess (1906–2002), doctor who invented the fetal heart monitor

Peter von Hess, German painter

Rudolf Hess (1894–1987), Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany

Rudolf Hess (1903–1986), Californian painter and art critic

Sara Whalen Hess (born 1976), American Olympic soccer player

Ursula Hess (born 1946), Swiss archer

Ursula Hess (psychologist) (born 1960), German psychologist

Victor Francis Hess (1883–1964), Austrian-American physicist who discovered cosmic rays

Walter Rudolf Hess (1881–1973), Swiss physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1949

Willy Hess (violinist) (1859–1939), German famous violin virtuoso

Willy Hess (composer) (1906–1997), Swiss musicologist, composer, and famous Beethoven scholar

Wolf Rüdiger Hess (Heß) (1937–2001), German architect, right extremist and son of Rudolf Hess

Ilse Hess

Ilse Hess, née Pröhl (22 June 1900 – 7 September 1995) was the wife of Rudolf Hess. After World War II she became a well-known author.


Mytchett is a small suburban village in Surrey, 30 miles (48 km) west-southwest of Charing Cross, London (geodesically) and centred 2 miles (3 km) east of the town centre of Farnborough, Hampshire.

National Socialist Movement of Norway

The National Socialist Movement of Norway (Norwegian: Norges Nasjonalsosialistiske Bevegelse, NNSB), formerly Zorn 88, is a Norwegian neo-Nazi group with an estimated fifty members, led by Erik Rune Hansen. Founded in 1988, it is a secretive group with tight membership regulation.The NNSB expresses admiration for Adolf Hitler and Vidkun Quisling, and is focused on historical revisionism and antisemitism, particularly Holocaust denial. It publishes the magazine Gjallarhorn, and in 1999 published The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Other recurrent topics include racial hygiene and Norse religion. Several of its members were active Nazis and members of Nasjonal Samling during World War II. The group has had ties to Erik Blücher and the magazine Folk og Land, and to Varg Vikernes. It has been part of international networks along with the World Union of National Socialists, the National Socialist Movement of Denmark, the (now-defunct) Swedish National Socialist Front, and Blood & Honour. Along with Scandinavian groups it has taken part in celebrations and memorials to Adolf Hitler and Rudolf Hess.In November 2007, a memorial ceremony at the German war cemetery in Oslo was attacked by anti-fascists, leaving five NNSB-members wounded, one severely. The NNSB pledged that it had no intentions of retaliating the attack.

Nazi Party Chancellery

The Party Chancellery (German: Parteikanzlei), was the name of the head office for the German Nazi Party (NSDAP), designated as such on 12 May 1941. The office existed previously as the Staff of the Deputy Führer (Stab des Stellvertreters des Führers) but was renamed after Rudolf Hess flew to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate a peace agreement without Hitler's authorization. Hess was denounced by Hitler, his former office was dissolved, and the new Party Chancellery was formed in its place under Martin Bormann.

Rudolf Hess (artist)

Rudolf "Rudi" Hess (1903 – 1986) was an American fine art painter, sculptor and art critic, based in Northern California. His work is of the German Expressionist school and the subject matter covers many genres including landscapes and nature, portraits and everyday city life.

SS-Oberabschnitt Süd

SS-Oberabschnitt Süd, often translated as "SS-District South" or "SS-Group South", was a division strength command of the Allgemeine-SS and the oldest SS-division in continuous existence from the inception of the SS in the late 1920s to the downfall of Nazi Germany in 1945. One of its most notable commanders was Rudolf Hess who served as an early SS leader after which he was better known as the Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany.

Spandau Prison

Spandau Prison was located in the borough of Spandau in western Berlin. It was constructed in 1876 and demolished in August 1987 after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess who had died from a suspected suicide aged 93, to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine. The site was later rebuilt as a shopping centre for the British forces stationed in Germany.

Thule Society

The Thule Society (; German: Thule-Gesellschaft), originally the Studiengruppe für germanisches Altertum ("Study Group for Germanic Antiquity"), was a German occultist and völkisch group founded in Munich right after World War I, named after a mythical northern country in Greek legend. The society is notable chiefly as the organization that sponsored the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP; German Workers' Party), which was later reorganized by Adolf Hitler into the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party). According to Hitler biographer Ian Kershaw, the organization's "membership list ... reads like a Who's Who of early Nazi sympathizers and leading figures in Munich", including Rudolf Hess, Alfred Rosenberg, Hans Frank, Julius Lehmann, Gottfried Feder, Dietrich Eckart, and Karl Harrer.Author Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke contends that Hans Frank and Rudolf Hess had been Thule members, but other leading Nazis had only been invited to speak at Thule meetings or they were entirely unconnected with it. According to Johannes Hering, "There is no evidence that Hitler ever attended the Thule Society."

Walter Rudolf Hess

Walter Rudolf Hess (March 17, 1881 – August 12, 1973) was a Swiss physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1949 for mapping the areas of the brain involved in the control of internal organs. He shared the prize with Egas Moniz.

Wolf Rüdiger Hess

Wolf Rüdiger Hess (Heß in German; 18 November 1937 – 24 October 2001) was the son of Rudolf Hess and Ilse Pröhl Hess.

The younger Hess gained prominence for criticising an investigation into his father's suicide while serving a life sentence in Spandau Prison. The younger Hess maintained that the investigation was a cover-up, and that the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) had murdered his father. He believed that they had done this to prevent his father's parole— which he believed to be imminent—because the British government was afraid that he would reveal embarrassing information about British actions during World War II. Wolf-Rudiger Hess and his father's lawyer, Alfred Seidl, arranged an autopsy.At the age of 63, Wolf-Rudiger Hess suffered a stroke and was taken to a Munich hospital.

In 2007 - six years after Wolf-Rudiger Hess's death - documents were published showing British support for his father's release on humanitarian grounds, and a British campaign against steadfast Soviet demands that he remain in prison.

Hess wrote three books: My Father Rudolf Hess (1986), Who Murdered My Father, Rudolf Hess? (1989) and Rudolf Heß: Ich bereue nichts (Rudolf Hess: I do not regret anything) (1994/1998).

Hess was head of the "Rudolf-Heß-Gesellschaft e.V." before his death. He left behind a widow and three children.


Wunsiedel is the seat of the Upper Franconian district of Wunsiedel in northeast Bavaria, Germany. The town became well known for its annual Luisenburg Festival and the Rudolf Hess Memorial March held there by Neo-Nazis until 2005.

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