April 26, 1894:
Walter Richard Rudolf Hess is born in Alexandria, Egypt, the son of a prosperous wholesaler and exporter of Bavarian extraction. He will not set foot in Germany until 1908.
Hess enlists in the 1st Bavarian Infantry Regiment during the First World War. He will be wounded twice and reach the rank of lieutenant. Note: Hess will serve, for a time, in the List Regiment, the same unit in which Adolf Hitler is serving, but the two will not meet until years later.
May 1, 1919:
Hess, a gifted brawler, is wounded while fighting to overthrow a Soviet regime in Munich.
May 10, 1920:
Munich University student Rudolf Hess, a decorated combat veteran who is a member of the Thule Society, as well as Ernst Röhm's Iron Fist, attends a Monday night meeting of the NSDAP, in the Sprechabend at the Sterneckerbrau. Hitler, the featured speaker, gives forth on the topic "The Worker and The Jews." Hess, who had been shot in the leg on May 1, 1919 while a member of a Freikorps unit battling for control of Munich, is hypnotized by Hitler's oratory.
Hess's 20-year-old girlfriend and future wife, Ilse Pröhl, describes Hess when he returned from hearing Hitler: "He was like a new man, lively, radiant, no longer gloomy, not despondent. Something completely new, something stirring must have happened to him."
May 11, 1920:
An enthusiastic Rudolf Hess drags his girlfriend off to see Hitler speak, at the Festival Hall of the Hofbrauhaus, on the topic "What We Want." Hitler puts the blame for the Ruhr troubles, the French occupation of Frankfort, etc., on "international Jewish high finance and the docile press." The Jewish Question cannot be avoided; it must be solved. There can only be one course of action." To rising, sustained applause, Hitler screams out his last lines: "The day will come, when it will come true. The people rise up, the storm breaks loose!"
From The Devil's Disciples by Anthony Read: Hess was dismayed by the general air of political disintegration and by the gangs of Red soldiers and sailors roaming the streets. He found refuge in the Thule Society, where he was soon drawn into extreme right-wing politics alongside future colleagues including Hans Frank, Rosenberg, and Eckart, becoming involved in recruitment, procuring weapons and organizing sabotage squads. Inevitably, in the Spring of 1919 he joined Epp's Freikorps for the battles against the Raeterepublik, proving himself a formidable street fighter capable of extreme and reckless brutality both then and later with the SA, despite being nicknamed "Fraulein Hess" by fellow storm-troopers because of his devotion to Hitler.
July 1, 1920:
Hess was an early and fanatical member of the party, falling instantly under Hitler's spell on his first visit to a meeting of what was still the DAP in May 1920. That night, he returned to his boarding house in Munich's bohemian Schwabing district in a state of high excitement, "a changed man, alive, radiant, no longer gloomy and morose," as his then girlfriend and future wife, Ilse Proehl, recalled. Bursting into her room, he blurted out: "A man--I've heard a man; he's unknown; I've forgotten his name. But if anyone can free us from Versailles, then it's this man. This unknown man will restore our honor!" It was a conviction he was never to lose.
Hess joins the Party.
Hess organizes a 100-man strong SA troop from his fellow students at Munich University. One of his professors at University is the pioneer in geopolitics, Professor Karl Haushofer, whose ideas Hess adopts enthusiastically. Later, Hess will introduce Haushofer to Hitler, and together they will formulate the theory of "Lebensraum." (Read)
November 9, 1923:
Hess takes part in the Hitler Putsch
, more commonly called the Beer Hall Putsch
or Munich Putsch
. He will subsequently do time with Hitler, and collaborate with him on writing Mein Kampf
From The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler by Robert Payne: Hitler dictated some of the opening chapters (of Mein Kampf) to his chauffeur, Emil Maurice, who had first come to his attention as a successful brawler in the early beer-hall meetings...but he had none of the makings of a good secretary. His position was taken over by Rudolf Hess. .... Like Maurice, he was one of those who first attracted Hitler's attention because he used his fists so successfully during the beer-house brawls. There the resemblance ended, for Hess had some pretensions to culture, had read widely, knew how to spell, and could put together a German sentence that was not entirely laughable. ....
December 20, 1927:
Hess' battered Remington typewriter could be heard at all hours of the day and night. The chapters were dictated, then read out at the regular meetings of the National Socialist prisoners, with Hitler inviting comments. Hitler was a speaker, not a writer, and most of the book reads like speeches taken down verbatim. .... Just as Hitler's speeches lack a sense of progression, for he is continually circling around a small, hard core of primitive ideas announced with complete conviction, so in Mein Kampf he disdains any reasoned argument but repeats his ideas ad nauseam, loudly, firmly, unhesitatingly, until the reader becomes deafened and almost paralyzed by the harsh music of those limited ideas.
Hess weds 27-year-old student Ilse Proehl.
May 1, 1931:
The Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP is founded. The purpose of the Auslands-Organisation is to hold together in an organized way the approximately 3,300 Party members living outside the boundaries of Germany at the time of the seizure of power.
From the IMT affidavit of Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, the leader of the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP: As a result of the knowledge of the situation abroad, no one knew better than the Auslandsdeutschen that any activity in the sense of a Fifth Column would be just as foolish as detrimental to the interests of the Reich. To my knowledge, moreover, the expression "Fifth Column" can be traced back to the Spanish Civil War. It is in any case a foreign invention. When Franco attacked Madrid with four columns of troops, it was asserted that a Fifth Column consisting of nationalist elements was doing its seditious work underground within the besieged city.
10. There is no basis whatsoever for applying the term "Fifth Column" to the Auslands-Organisation of the NSDAP. If this assertion were true, it would mean that members of the Auslands-Organisation working together with local oppositional elements in one or more foreign countries had been delegated, or had by themselves tried, to undermine this state from within. Any such assertion would be pure invention.
11. Neither from the former Deputy of the Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess, nor from me, as the leader of the Auslands-Organisation, has this organization or members of this organization in any way received orders the execution of which might be considered as Fifth Column activity. Even Hitler himself never gave me any directive in that respect. In summary, I can say that the Auslands-Organisation at no time, as long as I was its leader, displayed any activity in the sense of a Fifth Column. Never did the Deputy of the Fuehrer give orders or directives to the Auslands-Organisation which might have led to such activity. On the contrary, Rudolf Hess most urgently desired that members of the Auslands-Organisation should under no circumstances take part in the internal affairs of the country in which they were living as guests.
12. Of course, it is known that just as citizens of the then enemy countries, so also Germans were employed in the espionage and intelligence services abroad. This activity had however nothing at all to do with membership in the Auslands-Organisation. In order not to imperil the existence of the Auslands-Organisation groups, which worked legally and entirely in the open, I constantly demanded that members of the Auslands-Organisation would not be used for such purposes or that I should previously be given the opportunity to relieve them of their functions within the Auslands-Organisation.
From the IMT testimony of Ernst Wilhelm Bohle: (Hess was in charge of all matters concerning Germanism abroad) because he was born abroad. However, to my knowledge, he did not take charge of these matters in his capacity as Deputy to the Fuehrer. I do not believe that there was any connection. .... I assume that Hess took over these functions simply because he was familiar with foreign countries. .... We had no Party organization in the United States, because it had been dissolved by Rudolf Hess in April 1933. ....
January 31, 1933:
We merely had few Party members in the United States whose card index and membership fees had to be looked after in order to preserve their privileges as Party members. Political activity in the United States was forbidden and did not actually exist. .... The Deputy of the Fuehrer gave only general directives and left all the details to me because I had his complete confidence. In his general directives he impressed upon me repeatedly in the sharpest terms the fact that it was my duty to avoid any measures by the Auslands-Organization that might be detrimental to foreign relations.
The day after Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany, Hess writes to his wife:
April 21, 1933:
Am I dreaming or am I awake-—that is the question of the moment! I am sitting in the Chancellor's office in the Wilhelmsplatz. Senior civil servants approach noiselessly on soft carpets to submit documents "for the Reich Chancellor"...Outside, the public stands patiently, packed together and waiting for "him" to drive away—they start to sing the national anthem and shout "Heil" to the "Fuehrer"...and then I start to shake and I have to clench my teeth...
Hess is made Deputy Fuehrer.
December 1, 1933:
Hess is appointed Reich Minister without Portfolio, a position he will hold throughout the remainder of his time in Germany.
February 25, 1934:
At the first celebration of the Nazi holiday "Heroes' Memorial Day," Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hess leads an estimated one million Germans, throughout the Reich, in an oath of loyalty pledge to Adolf Hitler:
August 14, 1934:
Loyalty in character means absolute obedience that does not question the results of the order nor its reasons, but rather shows obedience for the sake of obedience itself. Such obedience is an expression of heroic character when following the order leads to personal disadvantage or seems even to contradict one's personal convictions. Adolf Hitler's strength as a leader is that he almost always works through the power of his persuasion; rarely does he command. He must know, however, that when he commands, or allows a command to be given, that it will be obeyed absolutely...
Rudolf Hess speaks in support of a referendum allowing for the merging of the office of the Presidency of the Reich with that of the Chancellor of Germany:
June 13, 1936:
I remember well even today a visit I made to Hitler in the small room he sub-let in Munich. He raged against a Munich newspaper that mocked him and his idea. "I will show them whether I am to be taken seriously or not," he exclaimed. Still, his opponents did not take him seriously then, or for many years after. Luckily so! For the most serious error his enemies made was that they did not recognize early enough what a danger he was to them. They missed the opportunity to destroy him and his small following when it was still possible. The mighty tree of today, able to withstand any storm, was then only a tender plant. But like so many other things in the Fuehrer's life, fate probably determined that those around him were blind enough to lose valuable time by fighting him only with ridicule. Providence, of which the Fuehrer often speaks with such faith, preserved him and his movement from destruction, preserving both for its purposes. I knew Adolf Hitler as he walked through the streets of Munich in a shabby gray coat, often hungry, accompanied only by a few friends, posting flyers. He was armed only with a thick oak walking stick, which he had to use only too often...
Hess speaks at the launching of the training ship Horst Wessel
October 11, 1936:
Because Horst Wessel was one of National Socialism's most effective fighters, they wanted him dead. But Horst Wessel's death only gave him greater strength. Shot by the leaders of the Marxist revolution, Horst Wessel became a symbol of the German Revolution, and a powerful model for German revolutionaries. Horst Wessel's lips fell silent, but his song became the song of the German Revolution, the song of the Germany the Revolution brought about. Horst Wessel died, but 'Horst Wessel' became immortal. Carry, oh ship, his immortal name across the seas, carry it under the flag for which Horst Wessel fought and died...
From a speech by Hess:
We are prepared in the future, too, if need be, at times to eat a little less fat, a little less pork, a few eggs less, since we know that this little sacrifice is a sacrifice on the altar of the freedom of our people. We know that the foreign exchange which we thereby save will benefit our armaments. The phrase still holds good today: "guns instead of butter." Note: The phrase "guns or butter" was previously coined by Goebbels, and used more famously by Goering.
January 16, 1937:
From a speech by Hess:
The organizations of the NSDAP will be used for the enlightenment of the people on questions concerning race and health with the aim of improving the latter and increasing the population...As at home, so in foreign countries, the Germans will be influenced in the National Socialist sense by the Landesgruppen or local groups of the Party. They will be educated to become again proudly conscious of their German origin, to stand together in mutual esteem and will be taught to place the German higher than any foreigner, irrespective of state or descent.
November 18, 1937:
Ilse gives birth to Hess's son, Wolf Ruediger Hess.
February 4, 1938:
Hess becomes a member of the Secret Cabinet Council.
June 26, 1938:
From Professor Albrecht Haushofer's report to Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, concerning his meetings with British politicians:
Britain has still not abandoned her search for chances of a settlement with Germany (perhaps on the basis of German leadership, but not conquest, in South-east Europe, frontier revisions through plebiscites, West African colonies, four-power pact, and armaments restriction). A certain measure of pro-German sentiment has not yet disappeared among the British people; the Chamberlain-Halifax government sees its own future strongly tied to the achievement of a true settlement with Rome and Berlin (with a displacement of Soviet influence in Europe). ....
July 16, 1938:
But the belief in the possibility of an understanding between Britain and Germany is dwindling fast. A new imperialism is suspected behind the pan-German program of National Socialism (with which one has become more or less reconciled). Here the Czech question assumes the significance of a decisive test case. A German attempt to solve the Bohemian-Moravian question by a military attack would under present circumstances present for Britain (and in British opinion also for France) a casus belli. In such a war the British Government would have the whole nation behind it. It would be conducted as a crusade for the liberation of Europe from German militarism. London is convinced that such a war would be won with the help of the USA (whose full participation, within days, not weeks, is anticipated) at the cost, of course, of an incalculable expansion of Bolshevism outside the Anglo-Saxon world. (SSN)
Haushofer writes to the Duke of Hamilton:
August 28, 1938:
Something on the tactical side: Your "inside" people know how to put a certain amount of pressure on the big man in Rome: they ought to start that pressure fairly soon. Something of the more general type: It is not enough for England to advertise herself as the big boss in the fire brigade, or to organize a fire insurance company with other nations (some of them--viz. Poland--not quite above playing with fire themselves): What Europe needs is a real British peace plan on the basis of full equality and with considerable (but strictly mutual) safeguards on the military side. I realise to the full that a strong system of safeguards will be necessary if your people are to be persuaded to meet even the slightest German wishes regarding European or colonial territory. But as long as your Government has not lost sight of the second part of their original programme--full security and peaceful change through negotiation--they might be able to test the second part early enough to secure a positive effect...
From a speech by Hess at the annual meeting of the Foreign Organization:
Today they (Sudeten Germans) also stand openly in our ranks. Proudly and happily they will march in the formation of the National Socialist movement past their Fuehrer in Nuremberg, this time with German citizens. With all our hearts we rejoice as we see them. They have fought a long and tough battle, a bathe against a treacherous and mendacious enemy...The German people look at the German racial comrades in Czechoslovakia with the profoundest sympathy for their suffering. No one in the world who loves his own people and is proud of his own people will find fault with us if from this place here we also turn our thoughts to the Sudeten German. If we say to them that, filled with admiration, we see how they are maintaining an iron discipline, despite the worst chicanery, despite terror and murder.
August 22, 1939:
From notes of an address made by Hitler to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces:
I have gradually brought about a change in our attitude towards Russia. In connection with the trade agreement, we got into a political conversation. Proposal of a non-aggression pact. Then came a general proposal from Russia. Four days ago I took a special step which had as a result that Russia answered yesterday she was ready for settlement. Personal contact with Stalin has been established. Von Ribbentrop will conclude the treaty the day after tomorrow. Now Poland is in the position in which I wanted her to be.
August 23, 1939:
The German-Soviet Non-aggression Pact is signed in Moscow. It is sometimes called the "Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of Non-aggression," or simply the "Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact."
August 27, 1939:
From a report of a speech by Hess:
Rudolf Hess, constantly interrupted with strong applause from the German citizens living abroad, as well as fellow countrymen from the District of Styria, stressed the unexampled forbearance shown by Germany towards Poland, in the magnanimous offer of the Fuehrer that had assured peace between Germany and Poland--an offer that Mr. Chamberlain seems to have forgotten, for he says he has heard nothing of Germany's having tried to solve certain acute present-day questions by peaceful discussion. What else was the German offer then, if it was not such an attempt?
August 30, 1939:
Hess becomes a member of the Council of Ministers for Defense of the Reich.
September 1, 1939:
After some delays, Hitler's forces invade Poland. Hess, now an Obergruppenfuehrer in the SS and in the SA, is appointed successor designate to the Fuehrer, after Goering.
September 3, 1939 Der Zweite Weltkrieg:
World War II begins as Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and France declare war on Nazi Germany.
September 17, 1939:
The USSR invades Poland from the East.
September 29, 1939:
The USSR and Germany divide Poland between them.
September 3, 1940:
Professor Karl Haushofer writes a letter to his son, Albrecht, lamenting the anticipated invasion of the British Isles by Germany. The Professor urges his son, who is a friend and advisor to Rudolf Hess, to make an entrance on "the larger stage" to "stop something which would have such infinitely momentous consequences." (Waller)
Hitler orders planning for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain.
November 30, 1939:
The USSR attacks Finland.
December 14, 1939:
The USSR is expelled from the League of Nations.
April 9, 1940:
German forces invade Norway and Denmark.
May 19, 1940:
The Germans invade France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands; Winston Churchill becomes British Prime Minister.
June 25, 1940:
An armistice is signed between France and Germany. Under its terms, the French army is to be disbanded and two thirds of France is to be occupied by the Germans.
August 1, 1940:
Hitler gives Goering the go-ahead for Operation Eagle, the Luftwaffe bombing campaign against Britain. Raeder reports to Hitler that the earliest possible date for an invasion of Britain is September 15. (Read)
September 8, 1940:
Professor Albrecht Haushofer writes the Duke of Hamilton: "You... may find some significance in the fact that I am able to ask you whether you could find time to have a talk to me somewhere on the outskirts of Europe, perhaps in Portugal." Haushofer makes reference to individuals in the British government who desire a "German-English agreement." He mentions two by name; Samuel Hoare and Rab Butler. (SSN)
September 8, 1940:
Professor Albrecht Haushofer visits Hess. Showing the Deputy Fuehrer his father's letter of the 3rd, he proposes that the two of them approach British politicians and nationals who feel, as they do, that the conflict between their respective nations should be brought to a negotiated end for the benefit of both. (Waller)
September 15, 1940:
From a report by Professor Albrecht Haushofer to Ribbentrop detailing a meeting between himself and Deputy Fuehrer Rudolf Hess:
On 8 September, I was summoned to Bad Godesberg to report to the Deputy of the Fuehrer on the subject discussed in this memorandum. The conversation which the two of us had alone lasted two hours. I had the opportunity to speak in all frankness.
September 19, 1940:
I was immediately asked about the possibilities of making known to persons of importance in England Hitler's serious desire for peace. It was quite clear that the continuance of the war was suicidal for the white race. Even with complete peace in Europe Germany was not in a position to take over the inheritance of the Empire. The Fuehrer had not wanted to see the Empire destroyed and did not want it even today. Was there not somebody in England who was ready for peace?
First I asked for permission to discuss fundamental things. It was necessary to realise that not only Jews and Freemasons, but practically all Englishmen who mattered, regarded a treaty signed by the Fuehrer as a worthless scrap of paper. To the question as to why this was so, I referred to the ten-year term of our Polish Treaty, to the Non-Aggression Pact with Denmark signed only a year ago, to the "final" frontier demarcation of Munich. What guarantee did England have that a new treaty would not be broken again at once if it suited us? It must be realised that, even in the Anglo-Saxon world, the Fuehrer was regarded as Satan's representative on earth and had to be fought.
If the worst came to the worst, the English would rather transfer their whole Empire bit by bit to the Americans than sign a peace that left to National Socialist Germany the mastery of Europe. The present war, I was convinced, shows that Europe has become too small for its previous anarchic form of existence; it is only through close German-English co-operation that it can achieve a true federative order (based by no means merely on the police rule of a single power), while maintaining a part of its world position and having security against Soviet Russian Eurasia. France was smashed, probably for a long time to come, and we had opportunity currently to observe what Italy is capable of accomplishing. As long, however, as German-English rivalry existed, and in so far as both sides thought in terms of security, the lesson of this war was this: every German had to tell himself: we have no security as long as provision is not made that the Atlantic gateways of Europe from Gibraltar to Narvik are free of any possible blockade. That is: there must be no English fleet. Every Englishman, must, however, under the same conditions, argue: we have no security as long as anywhere within a radius of 2,000 kilometres from London there is a plane that we do not control. That is: there must be no German Air Force. There is only one way out of this dilemma: friendship intensified to fusion, with a joint fleet, a joint air force, and joint defence of possessions in the world--just what the English are now about to conclude with the United States.
Here I was interrupted and asked why, indeed, the English were prepared to seek such a relationship with America and not with us. My reply was: because Roosevelt is a man who represents a Weltanschauung and a way of life that the Englishman thinks he understands, to which he can become accustomed, even where it does not seem to be to his liking. Perhaps he fools himself--but, at any rate, that is what he believes. A man like Churchill--himself half-American--is convinced of this. Hitler, however, seems to the Englishman the incarnation of what he hates that he has fought against for centuries--this feeling grips the workers no less than the plutocrats.
In fact, I am of the opinion that those Englishmen who have property to lose, that is, precisely the portions of the so-called plutocracy that count, are those who would be readiest to talk peace. But even they regard a peace only as an armistice.
I was compelled to express these things so strongly because I ought not--precisely because of my long experience in attempting to effect a settlement with England in the past and my numerous English friendships--make it appear that I seriously believed in the possibility of a settlement between Adolf Hitler and England in the present stage of development.
I was thereupon asked whether I was not of the opinion that feelers had perhaps not been successful because the right language had not been used. I replied that, to be sure--if certain persons, whom we both knew well, were meant by this statement--then certainly the wrong language had been used. But at the present stage this had little significance.
i was then asked directly why all Englishmen were so opposed to Herr von Ribbentrop. I suggested that in the eyes of the English, Herr von Ribbentrop, like some other personages, played the same role as did Duff Cooper, Eden, and Churchill in the eyes of the Germans. In the case of Herr von Ribbentrop, there was also the conviction, precisely in the view of Englishmen who were formerly friendly to Germany that--from completely biased motives--he had informed the Fuehrer wrongly about England and that he personally bore an unusually large share of the responsibility for the outbreak of the war.
But I again stressed the fact that the rejection of peace feelers by England was today due not so much to persons as to the fundamental outlook above. Nevertheless, I was asked to name those whom I thought might be reached as possible contacts...As the final possibility I then mentioned that of a personal meeting on neutral soil with the closest of my English friends: the young Duke of Hamilton.... (SSN)
Haushofer writes to Rudolf Hess, telling him of a letter he has sent to the Duke of Hamilton, suggesting a meeting in Lisbon. Haushofer's letter to Hamilton will be intercepted by MI5 and Hamilton will be persuaded to work as a double agent. Hamilton will be induced to write back to Haushofer, agreeing to meet him in Lisbon. Colonel 'Tar' Robertson, head of MI5's double agent section, will later write:
Hamilton at the beginning of the war and still is a member of the community which sincerely believes that Great Britain will be willing to make peace with Germany provided the present regime in Germany were superseded by some reasonable form of government... He is a slow-witted man, but at the same time he gets there in the end; and I feel that if he is properly schooled before leaving for Lisbon he could do a very useful job of work. (SSN)
October 9, 1940:
Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, the State Secretary of the Reich Foreign Office and a friend and confident of Hess, meets with the Deputy Fuehrer--at his request--in his Berlin apartment. Hess asks Bohle to join with him in a confidential secret project. The aim, to broker an understanding with Britain. From the account of Dr Robert Kemper, assistant to Justice Jackson and subsequently Deputy Chief Prosecutor under Telford Taylor, of his conversations with witness Bohle during the first Trial:
"I chose you," Hess said, "because you speak English, know the British and consider our war with Britain as much a mistake as I do." .... When I immediately agreed, he told me that above all others, my chief, Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, must not hear even a breath of this intention as he would sabotage it at once. Hess then explained that he wanted to write to the Duke of Hamilton, whom he had met on the occasion of the Olympic Games, and who had great influence in Britain, to suggest a private meeting in Switzerland. He handed me the draft of the first part of a letter and asked me to translate it, right away, in an office next door. Note: Hess will confer with professor of geopolitics Karl Haushofer for the next few months, and call Bohle every few weeks with further drafts of the letter. See: January 4, 1941. (Sereny)
December 18, 1940:
Hitler gives orders for the military preparations against the USSR.
Adolf Hitler, to Albert Speer:
When I talk with Goering, it's like a bath of steel for me; I feel fresh afterwards. The Reich Marshal has a stimulating way of presenting things. With Hess, every conversation becomes an unbearably tormenting strain. He always comes to me with unpleasant matters and won't leave off.
From the Nazi Party Year Book of 1941: By decree of the Fuehrer of 21 April 1933 the Deputy of the Fuehrer (Hess) received full power, to decide in the name of the Fuehrer on all matters concerning Party leadership. Thus, the Deputy of the Fuehrer is the representative of the Fuehrer, with full power over the entire leadership of the National Socialist German Workers Party. The office of the Deputy of the Fuehrer is therefore an office of the Fuehrer.
January 4, 1941:
In essence, it is the duty of the Deputy of the Fuehrer to direct the basic policies of Party work, to give directives, and take care that all Party work be done in agreement with National Socialist principles.
All the threads of the Party work are gathered together by the Deputy of the Fuehrer. He gives the final Party word on all intra-Party plans and all questions vital for the existence of the German people. The Deputy of the Fuehrer gives the directives required for all the Party work, in order to maintain the unity, determination, and striking power of the National Socialist German Workers Party as the bearer-of the National Socialist philosophy.
In addition to the duties of Party leadership, the Deputy of the Fuehrer has far reaching powers in the field of the State. These are:
1. Participation in national and state legislation, including the preparation of Fuehrer decrees. The Deputy of the Fuehrer in this way validates the conception of the Party as the guardian of National Socialist philosophy.
2. Approval of the Deputy of the Fuehrer of proposed appointments for officials and labor service leaders.
3. Securing the influence of the Party over the self-government of the regional administrations.
Ernst Bohle has his last contact with Hess, to transfer yet another draft of Hess's letter to the Duke of Hamilton.
From Dr Robert Kemper's account of his post-war conversations with Bohle: Later I (Bohle) heard that Hess had made a first attempt in mid-January to fly to England which, as well as the next one in February or March, he had to abandon for technical reasons. I had no idea that his intention was to fly directly to England. In fact, having served as his interpreter at a dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor some time before, I had asked him to take me along to Switzerland where I thought he was going to meet Hamilton. "If your plan comes to pass," I said to him, "please suggest to the Fuehrer that I accompany you." In his reply, he didn't mention Hitler, nor did he say that Hitler knew nothing about the plan, and I have always been of the opinion that Hitler was informed. (Sereny)
April 17, 1941:
From a letter from the Reich Minister of Justice to the Chief of the Reich Chancellery:
The aim to create a special law for Poles and Jews in the Eastern Territories was pursued further according to plan by the ordinance dated 6 June 1940. By this ordinance, German penal law, which had been used in the Eastern Territories already from the outset was formally made applicable . . . .
April 27, 1941:
The procedure for enforcing a prosecution has been abrogated for it seems intolerable that Poles or Jews should be able to force the German public prosecutor to launch an accusation. Poles and Jews have also been deprived of the right to prosecute in their own names or join the public prosecutor in an action. In addition to this special law in the sphere of procedure, some special conditions have been included in Article 2 of the introductory ordinance. These provisions were established in agreement with the Reich Minister of the Interior by reason of requirements which had arisen. From the beginning it was intended to augment the special conditions in case of need. This need, which had become apparent in the meantime, should be met by an executive and supplementary order to be added to the original ordinance and which was referred to in the letter from the Deputy of the Fuehrer. .... After I was informed of the express wish of the Fuehrer that, as a matter of principle, Poles and presumably the Jews, too, are to be treated differently from the Germans within this sphere of penal law, after preliminary discussions...I draw up the enclosed draft concerning criminal law and procedure against Poles and Jews . . . .
The draft represents altogether special law, both in the sphere of penal law and penal procedure. The suggestions of the Deputy of the Fuehrer have been taken into consideration to a far reaching extent. Number 1, Paragraph 3, contains a general crime formula on the basis of which any Pole or Jew in the Eastern Territory can in future be prosecuted and any kind of punishment can be inflicted on him for any attitude or action which is considered punishable and is directed against Germans . . . .
In accordance with the opinion of the Deputy of the Fuehrer, I started from the point of view that the Pole is less susceptible to the infliction of ordinary imprisonment. .... Under these new kinds of punishment prisoners are to be lodged outside prisons in camps and are to be forced to do heavy and heaviest labor. .... The introduction of corporal punishment, and that is either as penal punishment or as disciplinary measure, which the Deputy of the Fuehrer has brought up for discussion, has not been included in the draft. I cannot agree to this type of punishment because its infliction does not, in my opinion, correspond to the cultural level of the German people.
From the National Zeitung
A long while ago--it was still before the outbreak of the war--Rudolf Hess was once called the "Conscience of the Party." If we ask why the Fuehrer's Deputy was given this undoubtedly honorable title, the reason for this is plain to see. There is no aspect of our public life which is not the concern of the Fuehrer's Deputy. So enormously many-sided and diverse is his work and sphere of duty that it cannot be outlined in a few words; and it lies in the nature of the duties laid on the Fuehrer's Deputy that the public at large hears little of the work of Rudolf Hess. Few know that many government measures taken, especially in the sphere of war economy and the Party, which meet with such hearty approbation when they are proclaimed because they voice true public feeling, can be traced back to the direct initiation of the Fuehrer's Deputy.
From a speech by Hess at the Messerschmitt Works: "The German soldier must understand that for the uniqueness and abundance of his weapons and his material, he has to thank Adolf Hitler's untiring efforts of many years."
From Adolf Hitler by John Toland: Hess was sure that Hitler would welcome a novel peace venture but would never allow him to risk his life in the attempt. Hadn't he already refused to let Hess fly at the front? Therefore, secrecy was essential. It was the decision of a naive, not too bright acolyte who, according to Adjutant Wiedemann, was the Fuehrer's "most devoted and dedicated subordinate." A painfully shy man whose greatest ambition was to further his master's career, Hess hid behind tightly stern lips, heavy jowls, fanatic eyes and a fearsome pair of eyebrows. But this was no Teutonic Oliver Cromwell. Once he smiled, the severity vanished. It was this Parsifal who conjured up the dream of flight to the enemy, this man of culture without judgment, this completely devoted servant who convinced himself that he was carrying out the true will of his master . . . .
May 10, 1941:
His secretary, Hildegard Fath, noticed that Hess often did not listen to what she was saying. His wife was equally aware of his preoccupation. What surprised her even more was the unusual amount of time he spent with their four-year-old son, who bore Hitler's secret name, Wolf. Surprising too, in view of Hess's reluctance to pose for pictures, was his own recent suggestion that photographs of father and son be taken.
Hess rose early on the morning of May 10, a Saturday, and, upon learning that the weather forecast was good, made arrangements for the flight. Never had he been more gallant to his wife. After tea he kissed her hand and then stood gravely at the door of the nursery "with an air of one deep in thought and almost hesitating." She asked him when he was returning and, told it would be Monday at the latest, she bluntly said, "I cannot believe it. You will not come back as soon as that!" She guessed he was bound for a meeting with someone like Petain but he feared that he had guessed the truth. He turned "hot and cold in turns" and, before she could say anything more, he dashed into the nursery to take a last look at their slumbering son.
Hess flies to Glasgow, Scotland in a Messerschmitt ME-110. At 6,000 feet, Hess bails out and parachutes safely to the ground. He encounters a Scottish farmer and addresses him in English: "I have an important message for the Duke of Hamilton." Luftwaffe General Adolf Galland: If Hess went with Hitler's knowledge, and I have no reason to think he did, then certainly Hitler didn't let Goering in on it, because Goering told me in no uncertain terms to take up a squadron of fighters to pursue him and to shoot him down. Hitler was an actor--a very good one--but Goering not at all; if he told me to shoot Hess down, it was because he thought Hess was up there against the Fuehrer's orders or wishes, and that was that. (Sereny)
May 11, 1941:
Early this Sunday morning, Hess's adjutants, Karl-Heinz Pintsch and Alfred Leitgen, present Hitler with Hess's letter. The apparently surprised Fuehrer flies into a great rage and places them under arrest.
From Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth by Gitta Sereny: Once again, as so often at decisive moments, Speer happened to be at the Berghof, apparently waiting to show Hitler new designs. Hess's "pale and agitated aides," he writes with one of his not infrequent embellishments in Inside the Third Reich, putting himself more "in the know" than he actually was, "asked if I would let them see Hitler first: they had a personal letter from Hess to transmit to him." In the more factual draft (and in Below's memoirs) it is not Speer who allows them--or is asked for--precedence. The other guests, including Speer, are quickly herded up to the second floor, where they would wait for hours, in ignorance of the dramatic events downstairs. Hitler, having hurried down and perused the letter handed to him by General Karl Bodenschatz (Goering's liaison officer with Hitler), bellowed for Bormann, and ordered adjutant Pintsch into his presence. Hess's unhappy aides, having admitted that they knew the contents of the letter, were arrested and taken off to a concentration camp . . . .
May 11, 1941:
The concern over Italy's and Japan's goodwill led Hitler to issue an announcement that night that Hess's flight to Britain was the result of a mental breakdown, the symptoms of which had been noticed for some time. "My God," wrote Goebbels in his diary that night, "and that was the second man in the Reich. What will the world think of us?" Actually Hitler had to fear something considerably worse than the suspicion of his Axis partners and the mockery of "the world." This was the appalling prospect of Hess--voluntarily or by being drugged or otherwise coerced--giving away to the British the plans for Barbarossa, then scheduled for June 22, with which he was fully familiar. "I don't know how far advanced the British were with truth drugs then," Speer told me, "but voluntarily, Hess would never have betrayed Hitler, of that I am quite certain." In fact, in his letter to Hitler Hess had specifically promised silence, and he kept his promise.
Hess has an interview with the Duke of Hamilton:
On Sunday, May 11, I came to Maryhill Barracks with an Intelligence Officer, and there we first inspected the personal effects of the prisoner. Among these were a Leica camera, photographs of himself and a young child, some drugs, and visiting cards of Dr. Karl Haushofer and his son, Dr. Albert Haushofer. I entered the prisoner's cell accompanied by the Intelligence Officer and the officer in charge. The prisoner immediately asked if he could speak to me alone. I therefore asked the officers to retire. The German began by telling me that he had made my acquaintance during the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936 and that I had once dined in his house. "I don't know if you remember me," he said, "but I am Rudolf Hess." He said further that he had come on a mission for mankind: the Fuehrer did not wish to destroy England and wanted to end the war.
May 12, 1941:
His friend, Albert Haushofer, had told him that I was an Englishman who would appreciate his point of view. He went on to say that he had tried three times to fly to England, the first time in the previous December, but he turned back each time on account of bad weather. The Fuehrer, Hess also maintained, was convinced that Germany would win the war, possibly soon, but certainly in one, two, or three years. Hess himself wished to stop the futile carnage...He asked me if I could get together leading members of my party to talk over things with a view to making peace proposals. I replied that there was now only one party in this country. He then said he could tell me what Hitler's peace terms would be. First, he would insist on an arrangement whereby our two countries would never go to war again. I questioned him as to how that arrangement could be brought about; and he replied that one of the conditions, of course, is that Britain would give up her traditional policy of always opposing the strongest power in Europe.
J. R. Rees reports to Churchill:
Hess said he was horrified at the heavy raids on London in 1940, and loathed the thought of killing young children and their mothers. This feeling was intensified when he contemplated his own wife and child, and led to the idea of flying to Britain and arranging peace with the large anti-war faction he thought exited in this country...He was insistent that he would have no dealings with the "clique"--the government now in power--who would do everything possible to thwart him, but he was very vague as to what statesmen should replace them, and seemed to be extremely ill-informed as to the names and relative importance of our politicians.
May 12, 1941:
Professor Albrecht Haushofer is arrested by the Gestapo and taken to Berchtesgaden. He is ordered to write a full report on everything he knows about Hess's flight. Hitler then orders that Haushofer be sent to the Prince Albrecht Strasse Gestapo Prison in Berlin. He will be intensely interrogated by the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Mueller.
May 12, 1941:
Albrecht Haushofer's report to Adolf Hitler:
The circle of English individuals whom I have known very well for years, and whose utilization on behalf of a German-English understanding in the years from 1934 to 1938 was the core of my activity in England, comprises the following groups and persons:
May 13, 1941:
1. A leading group of younger Conservatives (many of them Scotsmen). Among them are: the Duke of Hamilton--up to the date of his father's death, Lord Clydesdale--Conservative Member of Parliament; the Parliamentary Private Secretary of Neville Chamberlain, Lord Dunglass; the present Under Secretary of State in the Air Ministry, Balfour; the present Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education, Lindsay (National Labour); the present Under Secretary of State in the Ministry for Scotland, Wedderburn. Close ties link this circle with the Court. The younger brother of the Duke of Hamilton is closely related to the present Queen through his wife; the mother-in-law of the Duke of Hamilton, the Duchess of Northumberland, is the Mistress of the Robes; her brother-in-law, Lord Eustace Percy, was several times a member of the Cabinet and is still today an influential member of the Conservative Party (especially close to former Prime Minister Baldwin).
There are close connections between this circle and important groups of the older Conservatives, as for example the Stanley family (Lord Derby, Oliver Stanley) and Astor (the last is owner of The Times). The young Astor, likewise a Member of Parliament, was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the former Foreign and Interior Minister, Sir Samuel Hoare, at present English Ambassador in Madrid. I have known almost all of the persons mentioned for years and from close personal contact. The present Under Secretary of State of the Foreign Office, Butler, also belongs here; in spite of many of his public utterances he is not a follower of Churchill or Eden. Numerous connections lead from most of those named to Lord Halifax, to whom I likewise had personal access.
2. The so-called "Round Table" circle of younger imperialists (particularly colonial and Empire politicians), whose most important personage was Lord Lothian.
3. A group of the "Ministerialdirektoren" in the Foreign Office. The most important of these were Strang, the chief of the Central European Department, and O'Malley, the chief of the South Eastern Department and afterwards Minister in Budapest. There was hardly one of those named who was not at least occasionally in favor of a German-English understanding. Although most of them in 1939 finally considered that war was inevitable, it was nevertheless reasonable to think of these persons if one thought the moment had come for investigating the possibility of an inclination to make peace.
Therefore when the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Reich Minister Hess, asked me in the autumn of...about possibilities of gaining access to possibly reasonable Englishmen, I suggested two concrete possibilities for establishing contacts. It seemed to me that the following could be considered for this:
A. Personal contact with Lothian, Hoare, or O'Malley, all three of whom were accessible in neutral countries.
B. Contact by letter with one of my friends in England. For this purpose the Duke of Hamilton was considered in the first place, since my connection with him was so firm and personal that I could suppose he would understand a letter addressed to him even if it were formulated in very veiled language. Reich Minister Hess decided in favor of the second possibility; I wrote a letter to the Duke of Hamilton at the end of September 1940 and its dispatch to Lisbon was arranged by the Deputy Fuehrer. I did not learn whether the letter reached the addressee. The possibilities of its being lost en route from Lisbon to England are not small, after all. (SSN)
Hess's injured leg is treated at Buchanan Castle Military Hospital near Drymen.
May 13, 1941:
Ernst Bohle attends a meeting with Hitler at Obersalzberg.
From Dr Robert Kemper's account of his post-war conversations with Bohle: I (Bohle) heard that Hess--who since the beginning of war seldom wanted to bother Hitler and thus saw him only rarely--had had a four-hour-long private meeting with him at the Chancellery shortly before he left. And on May 13 when Hitler received the "top men"--including me--on the Obersalzberg, he confirmed this meeting and said that Hess had asked him whether he still stood by his program of collaboration with Britain as stated in Mein Kampf. Hitler said he did. (Sereny)
May 13, 1941:
An official release of the German Information Office:
It is officially announced by the National Socialist Party that Party Member Rudolf Hess, who, as he was suffering from an illness of some years standing, had been strictly forbidden to embark on any further flying activity, was able, contrary to this command, again to come into possession of an aircraft. On Saturday, May 10, at about 6:00 PM, Rudolf Hess again set off on a flight from Augsburg, Bavaria, from which he has not yet returned. A letter left behind shows by its confusion traces of a mental disorder, and it is feared that he was a victim of hallucinations. The Fuehrer at once ordered the arrest of the adjutants of Party Member Hess, who alone had knowledge of these flights and did not, contrary to the Fuehrer's orders, of which they were fully aware, either prevent or report the flights. Under these circumstances it must be assumed that Party Member Hess either jumped from his aircraft or met with an accident.
From Khrushchev Remembers by Nikita Khrushchev, translated by Strobe Talbot: Stalin's face and behavior showed signs of his anxiety, but he rarely shared his anxiety with the rest of us or even asked our opinion about what should be done. I remember that when Hess flew to England and the Germans put out the canard that he had fled, I said to Stalin, "The Germans are hiding something. I don't think Hess's flight to England is really an escape from Germany at all. I think he must actually be on a secret mission from Hitler to negotiate with the English about cutting short the war in the West to free Hitler's hands for the push east." Stalin heard me out, and then said, "Yes, that's it. You understand correctly." He didn't develop his thoughts on the subject further. He just agreed. We had long since become accustomed to the practice that if you weren't told something, you didn't ask.
May 13, 1941:
A Nazi Party correspondent fills in some detail in a later edition:
From an examination of the papers left behind by Rudolf Hess, it seems that he harbored the delusion that, by a personal approach to English acquaintances, he could still bring about an understanding between Germany and England. In point of fact, a report from London states that he has bailed out of his plane over Scotland near the place he was seeking, and has been found there, apparently injured. Rudolf Hess, who for years had been known to suffer from severe pain, has lately had increasingly frequent recourse to all kinds of cures, to hypnotists, astrologers, and so forth. How far these persons are to blame for creating mental confusion in Hess is being investigated. But is it also conceivable that Hess has been deliberately lured into a trap by the English. The whole nature of his action confirms the fact mentioned in the first announcement, namely, that he suffered from delusions. He knew better than anyone else the numerous peace proposals put forward honestly by the Fuehrer. But apparently he has deluded himself into that, by personal sacrifice, he could prevent those developments which would end only with the complete destruction of the British Empire. Hess, whose duties, as we all know, lay exclusively within the Party, had no clear idea about this venture, still less of its consequences.
May 13, 1941:
Hess has an interview with Ambassador Mr. Kirkpatrick:
...At this point Hess tried to make my flesh creep by emphasizing that the avaricious Americans had fell designs upon the Empire. Canada would certainly be incorporated into the United States. Reverting to Hitler's attitude, he said that only as recently as May 3rd, after his Reichstag speech, Hitler had declared to him that he had no oppressive demands to make of England. The solution which Herr Hess proposed was that England should give Germany a free hand in Europe, and Germany would give England a completely free hand in the Empire, with the sole reservation that we should return Germany's ex-colonies, which she required as a source of raw materials. I asked, in order to draw him on the subject of Hitler's attitude to Russia, whether he included Russia in Europe or in Asia. He replied, "In Asia."
May 13, 1941:
I then retorted that under the terms of his proposal, since Germany would only have a free hand in Europe, she would not be at liberty to attack Russia. Herr Hess reacted quickly by remarking that Germany had certain demands to make of Russia which would have to be satisfied either by negotiation or as the result of a war. He added, however, that there was no foundation for the rumors now being spread that Hitler was contemplating an early attack on Russia. I then asked about Italian aims and he said that he did not know. I replied that it was a matter of some importance. He brushed this aside and said that he was sure that Italy's claims would not be excessive. I suggested that Italy scarcely deserved anything, but he begged to differ. Italy had rendered considerable services to Germany; and, besides, England had compensated defeated nations like Romania after the last war.
Finally, as we were leaving the room, Herr Hess delivered a parting shot. He had forgotten, he declared, to emphasize that the proposal could only be considered on the understanding that it was negotiated by Germany with an English Government other than the present British Government. Mr. Churchill, who had planned the war since 1936, and his colleagues, who had lent themselves to his war policy, were not persons with whom the Fuehrer could negotiate.
From an account of conversations between Ribbentrop, Mussolini and Ciano:
To begin with, the Reich Foreign Minister conveyed the Fuehrer's greetings to the Duce. He would shortly propose to the Duce a date for the planned meeting, which he would like to take place as soon as possible. As the place for the meeting he would probably prefer the Brenner. At the present moment he was, as the Duce could well understand, still busy with the Hess Affair and with a few military matters. ....
The Reich Foreign Minister then said that the Fuehrer had sent him to the Duce in order to inform him about the Hess affair and the conversations with Admiral Darlan. With regard to Hess's affair he remarked that the Fuehrer and his staff had been completely taken aback by Hess's action and that it had been the deed of a lunatic. Hess had been suffering for a long time from bilious attacks and had fallen into the hands of magnetists and nature-cure doctors who caused his state of health to become worse. All these matters were being investigated at the moment, as well as the responsibility of the aides-de-camp who had known about Hess's forbidden flights. Hess had for weeks carried out secret practice flights in an ME-110. Naturally he had acted only from idealistic motives. Disloyalty towards the Fuehrer was utterly out of the question. His conduct had to be explained by a kind of abstractness and a state of mind caused by his illness. ....
Being sympathetically inclined towards England, he had conceived the crazy idea of using Great Britain's fascist circles to persuade the British to give in. He had explained all this in a long and confused letter to the Fuehrer. When this letter reached the Fuehrer, Hess was already in England. It was hoped in Germany that he would perhaps meet with an accident on the way, but he was now really in England and had tried to contact the former Marquis of Clydesdale, the present Duke of Hamilton. Hess quite wrongly considered him as a great friend of Germany and had flown to the neighborhood of his castle in Scotland...
May 13, 1941:
From the Diary of Count Ciano, Foreign Minister of Axis Italy:
Von Ribbentrop arrives in Rome unexpectedly. He is discouraged and nervous. He wants to confer with the Duce and me for various reasons, but there is only one real reason: he wants to inform us about the Hess affair. ....
The official version is that Hess, sick in body and mind, was a victim of his pacifist hallucinations, and went to England in the hope of facilitating the beginning of peace negotiations. Hence, he is not a traitor; hence he will not talk; hence, whatever else is said or printed in his name, is false. Ribbentrop's conversation is a beautiful feat of patching things up. The Germans want to cover themselves before Hess speaks and reveals things that might make a great impression in Italy. Mussolini comforted von Ribbentrop, but afterwards told me that he considers the Hess affair a tremendous blow to the Nazi regime. He added that he was glad of it, because this will have the effect of bringing down German stock, even with the Italians.
From a post-war interview with Willy Messerschmitt: In the late autumn of 1940, he told me in Augsburg that he wanted to try out new fighter planes. At first I refused, but Hess insisted and declared that his position entitled him to this, and in the end I gave permission for "the Fuehrer's Deputy" to fly the ME-110 plane. Hess, an outstanding pilot, carried out some twenty flights from the Augsburg airfield. After each flight he reported to me and my engineers what faults he had discovered in the machine, in hope that this would lead the engineers to design a special machine for the secretly planned flight to Britain. After one such flight Hess said to me, "This fighter plane is excellent, but it is only suitable for short flights. I bet that it will lose all its maneuverability if you put additional fuel tanks on the wings." Shortly after this, Hess tried the same tactics with regard to a radio set which he wanted to have greater range. In order to show that the installation of a heavier radio set did not affect the flying qualities of the machine, I had one put in. Pretending that his interest was a purely technical one, Hess gradually got us to build for him an ideal machine for the flight he had planned.
May 14 1941:
Goering confronts Messerschmitt in Munich. From a later account written by Messerschmitt:
Goering pointed his marshal's baton at my stomach. He shouted: "So as far as you are concerned, anyone can apparently fly off in a Messerschmitt!" I asked him what he meant, to which Goering replied: "You know this fellow Hess very well." I answered, "But Hess is not just anybody." Goering, who was gradually cooling down, said: "You should have made inquires before you put a machine at the disposal of such a man."
May 14, 1941:
I answered: "If you came to my factory and asked for a plane, should I first ask the Fuehrer for permission to give it to you?" That angered Goering again, and he countered sharply: "That is entirely different. I am the Air Minister." I replied, "And Hess is the Fuehrer's Deputy." "But have you ever noticed, Messerschmitt, that the man was mad!" I replied dryly, "How could I assume that a madman could occupy such a high position in the Third Reich? I think they should make him resign, Herr Field Marshal." "You are incorrigible, Messerschmitt. Go back and get on making aircraft," Goering laughed.
Martin Bormann is appointed head of the Nazi Party Chancellery in Hess's place.
May 14, 1941:
From notes of an interview of Hess by Ambassador Mr. Kirkpatrick:
He then passed to political questions. He said that, on reflection, he had omitted to explain that there were two further conditions attached to his peace proposals. First, Germany could not leave Iraq in the lurch. The Iraqis had fought for Germany and Germany would, therefore, have to require us to evacuate Iraq. I observed that this was going considerably beyond the original proposal that German interests should be confined to Europe, but he retorted that, taken as a whole, his proposals were more than fair.
May 14, 1941:
The second condition was that the peace agreement should contain a provision for the reciprocal indemnification of British and German nationals, whose property had been expropriated as the result of war. Herr Hess concluded by saying that he wished to impress on us that Germany must win the war by blockade. We had no conception of the number of submarines now building in Germany. Hitler always did things on a grand scale and devastating submarine war, supported by new types of aircraft, would very shortly succeed in establishing a completely effective blockade of England. It was fruitless for anyone here to imagine that England could capitulate and that the war could be waged from the Empire. It was Hitler's intention, in such an eventuality, to continue the blockade of England, even though the island had capitulated, so that we would have to face the deliberate starvation of the population of these islands.
Ernst Bohle is questioned by Heinrich "Gestapo" Mueller and Reinhard Heydrich concerning his part in Hess's flight. Bohle will later learn that Bormann had asked Hitler to sign an order for his arrest, but Hitler had refused to do so. From Dr Robert Kemper's account of his post-war conversations with Bohle:
This (Hitler's unwillingness to arrest me) was incomprehensible if Hitler really was totally uninvolved. Even though I didn't know about the flight itself, I did far more to toward bringing it about than Hess's secretaries, chauffeurs, servants and others who were locked up. I was questioned for a long time on May 14 by Heydrich and Gestapo Mueller, but was told to go home. The only explanation I could think of was that Hess had told Hitler of the help I had given him, but had asked that I be let off if the thing went wrong and Hitler was forced to disallow him. (Sereny)
May 15, 1941:
From notes of an interview of Hess by Ambassador Mr. Kirkpatrick:
I then threw a fly over him about Ireland. He said that in all his talks with Hitler, the subject of Ireland had never been mentioned except incidentally. Ireland had done nothing for Germany in this war and it was therefore to be supposed that Hitler would not concern himself in Anglo-Irish relations. We had some little conversation about the difficulty of reconciling the wishes of the South and North and from this we pass to American interest in Ireland, and so to America. On the subject of America, Hess took the following line.
1. The Germans reckoned with American intervention and were not afraid of it. They knew all about American aircraft production and the quality of the aircraft. Germany could out-build England and America combined.
2. Germany had no designs on America. The so-called German peril was a ludicrous figment of imagination. Hitler's interests were European.
3. If we made peace now, America would be furious. America really wanted to inhabit the British Empire. Hess concluded by saying that Hitler really wanted a permanent understanding with us on a basis which preserved the Empire intact. His own flight was intended to give us a chance of opening conversations without loss of prestige. If we reject this chance, it would be clear proof that we desired no understanding with Germany and Hitler would be entitled--in fact it would be his duty--to destroy us utterly and to keep us after the war in a state of permanent subjection.
From Goebbels: The Man next to Hitler by Rudolf Semmler: Goebbels spoke of Hess's mental illness and then described the comedy of Hess and his wife, who had been trying for years to produce an heir. No one knew for sure whether the child was really his. Hess was alleged to have been with his wife to astrologers, cartomancers, and other workers of magic and to have drunk all kinds of mixtures and potions before they were successful in begetting a child. Frau Goebbels remembered that Frau Hess had told her for five or six years in succession that she was at last going to have a child--generally because some prophet had predicted it. When the child arrived, Hess danced for joy. All the Gauleiters were instructed to send the Deputy Fuehrer a sack of earth from each Gau. This earth was scattered under a specially made cradle, so that the child symbolically started his life on German soil. Goebbels added that he himself had seriously considered--as Gauleiter of Berlin--whether he would not do best to send a Berlin paving stone.
May 15, 1941:
Goebbels issues "an order against occultism, clairvoyance, etc." From Goebbels' Diary: "This obscure rubbish will now be eliminated once and for all. The miracle men, Hess's darlings, will now be put under lock and key."
May 16, 1941:
Prime Minister Churchill's Personal Minute, Serial No. M550/1:
I approved the War Office proposal to bring Hess to the Tower by tonight pending his place of confinement being prepared at Aldershot. His treatment will become less indulgent as time goes on. There need be no hurry about interviewing him, and I wish to be informed before any visitors are allowed. He is to be kept in the strictest seclusion, and those in charge of him should refrain from conversation. The public will not stand any pampering except for intelligence purposes with this notorious war criminal.
From The Unseen War in Europe: Espionage and Conspiracy in the Second World War by John H. Waller: Rudolf Hess's strange flight to Scotland, on May 10, 1941, reinforced Stalin's conviction that the British and Germans were about to gang up on him. According to the Russian historian A. M. Nekrich, writing just before Hitler's invasion of Russia, Stalin was certain that Britain not only was aware of the impending invasion, but "was inciting Germany to attack the USSR; that secret negotiations were taking place in London with Rudolf Hess." Given this distorted assumption, it is little wonder that the Soviet dictator considered Churchill's warnings "a British provocation." Soviet spy Kim Philby in one of his reports to Moscow claimed that Hess "had brought peace offers." Philby also quoted Hess as saying, "Germany has certain demands of Russia, which would have to be satisfied either by direct negotiations or as a result of war."
May 17, 1941:
The NKVD scrambled to confirm Philby's reports and produced information that drew the disturbing conclusion that Hess's flight had not been the act of a deranged man, as some in Britain were claiming but was symptomatic of "a Nazi conspiracy to reach a peace agreement with Britain before attacking the Soviet Union." .... Philby's reporting to his Soviet masters disclosed that before Hess's flight a letter from him to the Duke of Hamilton was "intercepted by the British counter-intelligence service." Assuming Stalin heard this from such high-level NKVD penetrations of the British, we should not find it surprising that he leaped to the conclusion that the Hess flight was part of a British-German conspiracy rather than simply a British Secret Service provocation sting.
Churchill to FDR:
Hess was extremely voluble . . . . The British Empire...would be left intact . . . . The old invitation to desert all our friends in order to save temporarily the greater part of our skin . . . . Germany had certain demands to make of Russia which would have to be satisfied, but (he) denied rumors that attack on Russia was being prepared. (Sereny)
May 17-20, 1941:
Hess becomes the last prisoner to date, to be held in the Queen's House at the Tower of London.
May 20, 1941:
Hess is moved from the Tower of London to Camp Z in Mytchett Place, Aldershot. He will spend the next 13 months at Camp Z.
May 30, 1941:
Psychiatrist Dr. Henry Victor Dicks is assigned as Rudolf Hess's physician.
June 10, 1941:
From the record of a two and a half hour meeting between Hess and Lord Simon:
I know that probably nobody has correctly understood my coming; but in view of the extraordinary step that I have taken, that can by no means be expected. Therefore I would like to begin by explaining how I came to do this . . . . The idea came to me in June of last year, during the time of the French campaign, while visiting the Fuehrer . . . . I must admit that I came to the Fuehrer convinced, as we all were, that sooner or later in the end we would surely conquer England, and I expressed the opinion to the Fuehrer that we must naturally demand from England the restitution of property--such as the equivalent of our merchant fleet, et cetera--which had been taken from us by the Versailles Treaty. ....
June 10, 1941:
The Fuehrer then immediately contradicted me. He was of the opinion that the war could possibly be an occasion for coming to an agreement with England for which he had striven ever since he had been politically active. To this I can testify, that ever since I have known the Fuehrer, since 1921, the Fuehrer has always said that an agreement between Germany and England had to be achieved. He said he would bring this about as soon as he was in power. He told me at that time in France that one should not impose any severe conditions, even if victorious, on a country with which one desired to come to an agreement. Then I conceived the idea that if this were known in England, it might be possible that England also might be ready for an agreement. ....
Then, at the conclusion of the French campaign came the Fuehrer's offer to England. The offer, as is known, was refused. This made me all the more firm in my belief that under these circumstances I had to execute my plan. During the subsequent period came the air war between Germany and England, which, on the whole, meant heavier losses and damages for England than for Germany. Consequently, I had the impression that England could not give in at all without suffering considerable loss of prestige. That is why I said to myself, "Now I must realize my plan all the more, for if I were over in England, England could be enabled to take up negotiations with Germany without loss of prestige." .... I was of the opinion that, apart from the question of the terms for an agreement, there would be still in England a certain general distrust to overcome. I must confess that I faced a very grave decision, the gravest in my life, of course, and I believe I was aided by continuously keeping before my inner vision the picture of an endless row of children's coffins with the mothers weeping behind them on the German side as well as on the English side and vice versa, the coffins of mothers with the children behind them. ....
I want to mention certain points which, I believe, have a certain importance from the psychological point of view. I must go back a bit. After Germany's defeat in the World War, the Versailles Treaty was imposed on her, and no serious historian is today still of the opinion that Germany was responsible for the World War. Lloyd George has said that the nations stumbled into the war. I recently read an English historian, Farrar, who wrote about Edward VII and his policy at that time. This historian, Farrar, lays the main guilt for the war on the policies of Edward VII. After her collapse Germany had this treaty imposed upon her, which was not only a frightful calamity for Germany but also for the whole world. All attempts of politicians, of statesmen in Germany, before the Fuehrer came to power--that is to say, when Germany was a pure democracy--to obtain any sort of relief failed. ....
In order to prevent future wars between the Axis and England, the limits of the spheres of interest should be defined. The sphere of interest of the Axis is Europe, and England's sphere of interest is the Empire . . . .
2. Return of German Colonies.
3. Indemnification of German citizens who before or during the war had their residence within the British Empire, and who suffered damage to life and property through measures of a Government of the Empire or as a result of pillage, riot, et cetera; indemnification of British subjects by Germany on the same basis.
4. Armistice and peace to be concluded with Italy at the same time. The Fuehrer in our conversation repeatedly presented these points to me in general as the basis for an understanding with England.
Rudolf Hess writes a letter home to his wife in Germany:
My coming to England in this way is, as I realize, so unusual that nobody will easily understand it. I was confronted by a very hard decision. I do not think I could have arrived at my final choice unless I had continually kept before my eyes the vision of an endless line of children's coffins with weeping mothers behind them, both English and German, and another line of coffins of mothers with mourning children. (Tusa)
June 15, 1941:
Hess attempts suicide at Camp Z, by throwing himself over a balcony.
June 22, 1941 Unternehmen Barbarossa:
Operation Barbarossa begins as 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invade the USSR along an 1,800 mile front.
July 3, 1941:
Stalin addresses the USSR by way of radio:
We must bear in mind that the enemy is crafty, unscrupulous, experienced in deception and the dissemination of false rumors We must reckon with all this and not fall victim to provocation. All who by their panic-mongering and cowardice hinder the work of defense, no matter who they are, must be immediately haled before the military tribunal. In case of forced retreat of Red Army units, all rolling stock must be evacuated, the enemy must not be left a single engine, a single railway car, not a single pound of grain, or a gallon of fuel...
Professor Albrecht Haushofer is released from imprisonment. Upon his release, he will become active in the Resistance. Note: He will be arrested following the July 20, 1944 Bomb Plot against Hitler, and will be incarcerated at the Berlin-Moabit prison. See: April 23, 1945.
October 3, 1941:
From a report found in the KGB Archives, filed in the NKVD's 1st Directorate (The root source--identified only in the KGB document--was a British officer close to Churchill, a Major Desmond Morton. An identical copy of this report was also discovered in US Army Archives.)
Hess landed and was captured as the papers described. He was taken to a hospital and there told the doctor that "I am Rudolf Hess." The doctor laughed and said, "Yes, we have a fellow in the hospital here who thinks he's Solomon." But Hess persisted that he was Hess and demanded to see the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke appeared, talked with Hess, and reported to authorities: "Yes, I think it's Hess, but don't take my word for it. I sat next to him on a platform during the Olympic Games and maybe shook his hand--I can't really remember if I did or not--and I didn't know him at all--never even carried out a conversation with him. I've seen his picture often enough and this man certainly looks like Hess." (Afterward, Hess told a British official, Kirkpatrick that, he flew to the Duke of Hamilton because the Duke, he remembered, was a tall, Nordic type, obviously the sort of man to whom one could talk.) Note: The Duke of Hamilton is not a tall man and it is quite possible that Hess confused him with some other Englishman. (Costello II)
December 11, 1941:
Hitler declares war on the United States.
January 27, 1942:
Winston Churchill tells the House of Commons that Hess's flight was part of a plot to oust him from power and "for a government to be set up with which Hitler could negotiate a magnanimous peace."
June 26, 1942:
Hess is moved to a POW Reception Station in South Wales.
From The Face Of The Third Reich by Joachim C Fest: Hess' own description of his stay in England makes it sound as though the author had found his way into Dr Bondi's cabinet of horrors. In conformity with his--in any case--hypochondriac nature, he suspected poison at every meal, so that at table he would sometimes quickly change plates with a neighbor. In sealed envelopes, he preserved pieces of blotting paper saturated with remains of food. He hid scraps of paper all over his room and from time to time lay with his fingers in his ears, smiling to himself, and saying, "I'm thinking." "When the signs of poisoning mounted up," Hess wrote, "in my desperation I scratched the lime from the walls in the hope that this would neutralize the effect of the poisons, but without success." In his food he analyzed not only "Soap, dishwater, dung and rotten fish," but also "petroleum and carbolic acid." "The worst thing," he continues, "were glandular secretions of camels and pigs. The crockery was full of bone splinters, and thousands of little splinters of stone were mixed with the vegetables."
November 12, 1942:
He was allegedly submitted unprotected to the scorching rays of the sun, and as a torture he was made to stand "for hours" in the smoke of fires. Mountains of stinking fish heads were tipped out in front of his window, and [one day, after he] discovered a shady bench nearby where, [on several days he went to sit] away from all the noise to read, a dead bull, with its throat cut, was suddenly lying there. "They put substances in my evening meal that robbed me of sleep," and "Outside my garden, moonstruck men wandered up and down with loaded guns--moonstruck men surrounded me in the house and, when I went for a walk, moonstruck men went before and behind me." From this ghostly world, Rudolf Hess fled in autumn 1943 into the night of amnesia, after having previously shown isolated signs of loss of memory and diminished concentration. According to his own statements even the things closest to him had vanished from his memory--his family, his role in the party, his parents' house in Alexandria, his father, Haushofer, Hitler.
Ivan Maisky, the Soviet ambassador to Britain, sends a note to British Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden, suggesting that an international tribunal be established for the trial of "major war criminals." Eden rejects the proposal as premature. (Taylor)
December 17, 1942:
United Nations Statement: ...those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution...
January 15, 1944:
Rudolf Hess writes a letter home to his wife in Germany:
I have been sitting here for literally several hours, wondering what I can write to you about. But I get no further; and that I regret to say is for a very special reason. Since sooner or later, you will notice it or find out about it, I may as well tell you: I have completely lost my memory. The reason for it I do not know. The doctor gave me a lengthy explanation, but I have meanwhile forgotten what it was. (Tusa)
June 6, 1944:
September 15, 1944:
A US Colonel in the War Department's Special Project Branch, Murray Bernays, proposes the most controversial part of the approach that will be used by the prosecution at Nuremberg; that of treating the Nazi regime as a criminal conspiracy.
October 22, 1944 Churchill to FDR:
Major War Criminals. UJ (Churchill and FDR refer to Josef Stalin as Uncle Joe, or UJ, in their correspondence) took an unexpectedly ultra-respectable line. There must be no executions without trial otherwise the world would say we were afraid to try them. I pointed out the difficulties in international law but he replied if there were no trials there must be no death sentences, but only life-long confinements...
October 22, 1944 FDR to Churchill:
Your statement of the present attitude of Uncle J. towards war criminals, the future of Germany, and the Montreux Convention is most interesting. We should discuss these matters, together with our Pacific war effort, at the forthcoming three-party meeting...
November 6, 1944:
Churchill visits Moscow. At a supper in the Kremlin, Stalin raises his glass and proposes a toast to the British Intelligence Services, which he says had "inveigled Hess into coming to England." Churchill immediately protests that he and the intelligence services knew nothing about the proposed visit. Stalin smiles and says maybe the intelligence services had failed to tell him about the operation. (Conot)
February 9, 1945 Yalta Conference:
Near the end of this day's session, Churchill brings up the subject of war criminals. Stalin inquires about Hess. An annoyed Churchill lamely replies that "events would catch up with Hess." Churchill, in complete contrast to the Soviets, does not at this point any longer consider Hess a major war criminal. While the British Prime Minister initially advocates the summary execution of the top 100 or so Nazis, he feels that Hess and the rest of "these men should be given a judicial trial." (Taylor)
April 7, 1945:
Churchill writes to G. E. Millard of the British Foreign Office, telling him that "The Russians are very suspicious of the Hess episode" and that Stalin "steadfastly maintains that Hess had been invited over by our Secret Service." (Waller)
April 12, 1945:
President Roosevelt dies; Truman becomes President. Meanwhile, the Allies liberate Buchenwald and Belsen concentration camps.
April 23 1945:
As Russian troops enter Berlin, Professor Albrecht Haushofer is murdered by an SS commando. He composed the following sonnet, found in his pocket at the time of his execution: "Guilt: I am guilty, But not in the way you think. I should have earlier recognized my duty; I should have more sharply called evil evil; I reined in my judgment too long. I did warn, but not enough, and clear; And today I know what I was guilty of." (SSN)
April 30, 1945:
An announcement on the German wireless: It has been reported from the Fuehrer's headquarters that our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler has died this afternoon...
May 2, 1945:
Executive Order of US President Truman:
May 7-8, 1945 VE Day:
Associate Justice Robert H. Jackson is hereby designated to act as the Representative of the United States and as its Chief of Counsel in preparing and prosecuting charges of atrocities and war crimes against such of the leaders of the European Axis powers and their principal agents and accessories as the United States may agree with any of the United Nations to bring to trial before an international tribunal...
The Allies formally accept the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
June 21, 1945
: During a joint US-UK conference, Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe presents a list of ten defendants for consideration. Chosen mainly because their names were well known to the public, they were assumed to be criminals; little effort had yet to be made to determine the actual evidence that would be available against them. The initial ten: Goering, Hess (though the British warned that he was possibly insane), Ribbentrop, Ley (see October 25, 1945, below), Keitel, Streicher, Kaltenbrunner, Rosenberg, Frank, and Frick. (Taylor)
July 17, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
From the minutes of this day's Four Power conference session:
Sir David Maxwell Fyfe
July 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
: Now we come to the question of where the trial is to take place. I understand Mr. Justice Jackson has just made a tour in Germany. Perhaps he could tell us about the results of it. Justice Jackson
: There is not much to report. There are very few courthouses standing large enough to assemble very many people in. General Clay suggested that the most suitable place for a trial is Nuremberg. We went there and looked at the premises. The courtroom is not as large as it ought to be, perhaps, but it is larger than any other courtroom standing in that part of the country, or any other part that we can find out about, and the jail facilities are very adequate; in fact, 1,200 people could be jailed there.
There is a tunnel from the jail to the courthouse. The whole is enclosed by a 20 foot wall, which means that from a security point of view it would be an excellent setup. There is adequate office space for everybody and that in the building in which the courtroom is located. Adequate communication systems can be set up. Adequate billeting for witnesses, for all of the counsel and their staffs, and all of those things can be provided for. Of course they will be if that is the place chosen. That is by far the most suitable place we could find, and that would be our suggestion...
During this day's Four Power conference session: Justice Jackson: ...I think that every one of the top prisoners that we have is guilty...
July 31, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd
, Executive Trial Counsel for the Prosecution at Nuremberg:
Much gossip is abroad about friction between the US, Great Britain, France and Russia over these trials. The truth is there is no trouble between US, Britain and France--but the Russians are just holding up the whole proceeding. They are impossible, in my opinion. I do not know the details but I do know they are not co-operative on this problem so far. I believe they want to put on another Russian farce for a trial. If that happens, I go home, and promptly! The English appointed their chief counsel 21 days after the US appointed Jackson (who was the first to be appointed). The French followed soon after. Thus far no one has been appointed for Russia. Our people meet with certain Russian representatives but nothing happens. When representatives of the United Nations went to Nuremberg to look it over as a possible site for the trial only the Russians failed to make the trip...
August 1, 1945 Potsdam Conference:
At the Twelfth Plenary Session, the subject of trying Nazi war criminals is raised:
Stalin: I think we need names (for the press release ending the Conference). This must be done for public opinion. The people must know this. Are we to take any action against any German industrialists? We name Krupp. If Krupp will not do, let's name others.
August 2, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Truman: I don't like any of them. (Laughter) I think that if we mention some names and leave out others, people may think that we have no intention of putting these others on trial.
Stalin: But these names are given here as examples. It is surprising, for instance, why Hess is still in Britain all provided for and is not being put on trial. These names must be given; this will be important for public opinion, for the peoples.
Bevin: Don't worry about Hess.
Stalin: It's not a question of what I think but of public opinion and the opinion of the peoples of all countries which had been occupied by the Germans.
Bevin: If you have any doubts about Hess, I can promise you that he will be put on trial.
Stalin: I am not asking for any undertakings on the part of Mr. Bevin; his statement is enough to leave me in no doubt that this will be done. But it is not a question of me but of the peoples, of public opinion.
Truman: You are aware that we have appointed Justice Jackson as our representative on the London Commission. He is an outstanding judge and a very experienced jurist. He has a good knowledge of legal procedure. Jackson is opposed to any names of war criminals being mentioned and says that this will hamper their work. He assures us that the trial will be ready within thirty days and that there should be no doubt concerning our view of these men.
Stalin: Perhaps we could name fewer persons, say three.
Bevin: Our jurists take the same view as the Americans.
Stalin: And ours take the opposite view. But perhaps we shall agree that the first list of war criminals to be brought to trial should be published not later than in one month...
During this days Four Power conference session:
August 8, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
: Article 24 (e) states, "The Tribunal shall ask the prosecution and defense what evidence, if any, they wish to submit to the Tribunal and rule upon the admissibility of such evidence." I think that is a sufficient provision. If we add another provision saying, "both the prosecution and the defense may at any time in the course of the trial offer evidence," would that not be sufficient to define the course of the trial? Justice Jackson
: The difficulty in this is a provision to regulate the order, otherwise it serves no purpose, and if you say "at any time" you do not regulate the order. Also, in the midst of our case a defendant may get up and say, "This is not true," and offer to prove it. The court would refer to this article and would be put in an embarrassing position. But if we have the order specified, the court would say, "Now, Mr. Defendant, you will have an opportunity at the proper time and now you sit down." Otherwise I fear that we open this to disorder, and we must not forget that, of all the things these people are artists in, one of the chief things is in creating disorder.
We have tried Nazi sympathizers in our courts, the American prototypes, and their policy has been to disorganize and upset a trial. I think it would worsen the provision to say 'at any time,' for that confounds the whole thing. It is very important to give the court a guide here so that it can say, "You will have your rights at the time specified and if you don't keep still now you will be removed from the court." This trial must be conducted in a very stern way or they may make us look ridiculous. That will be their technique...
The London Agreement and Charter
August 15, 1945:
Proclamation of V-J Day.
August 23, 1945:
The four Chief Prosecutors meet in London. Even though Trevor-Roper's findings are not yet known, they determine that Hitler is dead. They also decide, however, that Bormann may very well be alive, but the Russian member is uncertain whether or not he is a captive of the Red Army; it is being investigated.
August 25, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Representatives of the Big Four (Jackson, Fyfe, Gros, and Nikitchenko), agree on a list of 22 defendants, 21 of whom are in custody. The 22nd, Martin Bormann, is presumed to be in Soviet custody, but Nikitchenko cannot confirm it. The list is scheduled to be released to the press on August 28. (Conot)
August 28, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
Just in time to stop the release of the names of the 22, Nikitchenko informs the other three Allied representatives that, unfortunately, Bormann is not in Soviet custody. However, he announces that the valiant Red Army has captured two vile Nazis, Erich Raeder, and Hans Fritzsche, and offers them up for trial. Though neither man was on anyone's list of possible defendants, it emerges that their inclusion has become a matter of Soviet pride; Raeder and Fritzsche being the only two ranking Nazis unlucky enough to have been caught in the grasp of the advancing Russian bear. (Conot)
August 30, 1945 International Conference on Military Trials:
The final list of 24 defendants is released to the press. Bormann, though not in custody, is still listed. (Conot, Taylor)
September 17, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Yesterday, (Justice) Jackson told the press that the US would be ready to start the trial on November 1. By the way, the Russian representative (Nikitchenko) had been suddenly withdrawn. No explanations - mere notice that he will no longer represent Russia in this matter. After weeks of negotiating, weeks of work with him as chief counsel for Russia, he simply goes home and does not come back. These Russians are impossible. What effect this will have on the trial or the trial date no one knows, but you can imagine the confusion that may arise out of it.
October 5, 1945:
Andrus loses his first German prisoner to suicide; Dr Leonard Conti, Hitler's "Head of National Hygiene."
October 8, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
...Rudolf Hess arrived today. He is gone mentally and I doubt that he can answer for his offenses...
October 8, 1945:
Hess arrives at Nuremberg. Prison Commander Colonel Andrus will eventually grade Hess "a good boy. When he arrived here he had some notions. But I pulled him up with a sharp 'stand to attention when you speak to me' and he does as he is told now."
From the notes of Dr Pfluecker, Nuremberg Prison's German Medical Doctor: I was summoned to him (Hess) several times during the first night because he was having spasms. Each time I saw him he was lying in bed with his features distorted and his arms moving spasmodically. During a spasm his whole body was quivering. During a pause in the spasms I examined the patient and found nothing in the region of the stomach or gall bladder to account for the violent colic pains of which Hess complained. Other details given by Hess gave no real indication of serious illness. In the early days these spasms occurred very frequently, as often as six to eight times a day, so that I had plenty of opportunity to observe them. I could not diagnose them as anything other than a nervous disorder. The only possible psychotherapy was naturally ineffective in prison since it is impossible to produce any psychological effect under the constraints of imprisonment, with their resultant resistance reaction. The American doctors agreed with my opinion and left it to me to deal with the problem. (Maser, Andrus)
October 9, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Rudolf Hess arrived yesterday from England, so he was called up for an interview. He is completely balmy--and was when he flew to England. He has no memory at all. We had Goering, von Papen, Haushofer and Bohle--all old friends--confront him. He didn't know one of them--and it was no fake. I watched him. He has suffered a complete mental collapse. Goering said to him, "Don't you recall me, your old companion and friend?" Then he mentioned many personal experiences with no sign of recollection from Hess, who said, "I am really very sorry--I realize you must be an old friend. But I cannot remember you." It is genuine--believe that when I tell you so. And so we mark off in tragic terms another of these Nazis...
October 19, 1945:
Airey Neave presents each defendant in turn with a copy of the Indictment. Gilbert, the Nuremberg psychologist, asks the accused to write a few words on the document's margin indicating their attitude toward the development. Hess: "I can't remember" Neave's task at this stage is two-fold; to present each defendant with the Indictment, and to assist them in obtaining counsel. Hess asks if can act as his own counsel. Though not recommending such a course, Neave replies that it is permissible. Hess: "Then I wish to do so." (Heydecker, Taylor)
October 25, 1945:
Andrus loses yet another Nazi as Defendant Dr Robert Ley, Hitler's head of the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF), commits suicide in his Nuremberg cell. Scorecard: There are now officially 23 indicted defendants; 22 of these are actually alive and in Allied custody.
October 29, 1945:
Only seven of the defendants have obtained counsel by this date.
Prior to the trial, the defendants are given an IQ test. Administered by Dr. Gilbert, the Nuremberg Prison psychologist, and Dr. Kelly, the psychiatrist, the test includes ink blots and the Wechsler-Bellevue test. Hess scores 120. Note: After the testing, Gilbert comes to the conclusion that all the defendants are 'intelligent enough to have known better.' Andrus is not impressed by the results: "From what I've seen of them as intellects and characters I wouldn't let one of these supermen be a buck sergeant in my outfit." (Tusa)
November 6, 1945:
At a joint meeting of the Tribunal and Prosecutors, the problem of Hess is addressed by Justice Jackson: "The question was whether Hess was pretending to have lost his memory or not...It would be a very serious matter to omit Hess from the trial and, as he has perfect command of his mind, there was no reason why...we should anticipate an application for examination, by Counsel on his behalf." Judge Biddle disagrees, stating that an application should soon be forthcoming. (Taylor)
November 7, 1945:
As Judge Biddle had predicted on the day previous, Hess's counsel, Dr Gunther von Rohrscheidt, files a motion for Hess to be examined by a neutral expert as to his mental capacity to stand trial:
November 8, 1945:
The undersigned Counsel has grave doubts as to the mental responsibility and the fitness for Trial of the Defendant Hess owing to defendant's behavior during his numerous talks with him, and owing to the numerous publications, past and present, in the German and foreign press about the "Hess Case." The defendant is not in a position to give his Counsel any information whatsoever regarding the crimes imputed to him in the Indictment. The expression of his face is lifeless and his attitude towards his Counsel and in view of the impending Trial is the reverse of every natural reaction of any other defendant. The defendant declares that he has completely lost his memory since a long period of time, the period of which he can no longer determine...
The Tribunal rules on an application filed by Hess's defense the previous day requesting the defendants examination for mental competency:
November 13, 1945:
...This application is denied...(instead) The Tribunal has designated a commission...to examine the Defendant Hess and furnish a report on the mental state of the defendant with particular reference to the question whether he is able to take his part in the Trial, specifically: 1. Is the defendant able to plead to the Indictment? 2. Is the defendant sane or not, and on this last issue the Tribunal wishes to be advised whether the defendant is of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings of the Trial so as to make a proper defense, to challenge a witness to whom he might wish to object and to understand the details of the evidence...
Independent of the Tribunal, American psychiatrist Dr Donald Ewen Cameron is sent by Allen Dulles of the OSS to assess Hess’s fitness to stand trial. (Tusa)
November 19, 1945:
The day before the opening of the trial, a motion is filed on behalf of all defense counsel:
November 19, 1945:
...the Defense consider it their duty to point out at this juncture another peculiarity of this Trial which departs from the commonly recognized principles of modern jurisprudence. The Judges have been appointed exclusively by States which were the one party in this war. This one party to the proceeding is all in one: creator of the statute of the Tribunal and of the rules of law, prosecutor and judge. It used to be until now the common legal conception that this should not be so; just as the United States of America, as the champion for the institution of international arbitration and jurisdiction, always demanded that neutrals, or neutrals and representatives of all parties, should be called to the Bench. This principle has been realized in an exemplary manner in the case of the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague. In view of the variety and difficulty of these questions of law the Defense hereby pray: That the Tribunal direct that an opinion be submitted by internationally recognized authorities on international law on the legal elements of this Trial...
The Commission delegated to examine Hess's capacity to stand trial submits its report:
November 19, 1945:
We find, as a result of our examinations and investigations, that Rudolf Hess is suffering from hysteria characterized in part by loss of memory. The nature of this loss of memory is such that it will not interfere with his comprehension of the proceedings, but it will interfere with his response to questions relating to his past and will interfere with his undertaking his defense. In addition there is a conscious exaggeration of his loss of memory and a tendency to exploit it to protect himself against examination.
(2) We consider that the existing hysterical behavior which the defendant reveals, was initiated as a defense against the circumstances in which he found himself while in England; that it has now become in part habitual and that it will continue as long as he remains under the threat of imminent punishment, even though it may interfere with his undertaking a more normal form of defense.
(3) It is the unanimous conclusion of the undersigned that Rudolf Hess is not insane at the present time in the strict sense of the word...
After a last inspection by Andrus, the defendants are escorted individually into the empty courtroom and given their assigned seats. Hess is placed in the second spot in the front row after Goering, before Ribbentrop. (Tusa)