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The flight of Rudolf Hess

Joost Blanket

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I now want to look in more detail at the evidence that suggests that Churchill and Hitler were carrying out peace negotiations in 1940 and 1941. So far I have provided the following information that suggests peace talks were taking place:

(1) On 10th September 1940, Karl Haushofer sent a letter to his son Albrecht. The letter discussed secret peace talks going on with Britain. Karl talked about “middlemen” such as Ian Hamilton (head of the British Legion), the Duke of Hamilton and Violet Roberts, the widow of Walter Roberts. The Roberts were very close to Stewart Menzies (Walter and Stewart had gone to school together). Violet Roberts was living in Lisbon in 1940. Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were the four main places where these secret negotiations were taking place. Karl and Albrecht Haushofer were close friends of both Rudolf Hess and the Duke of Hamilton.

(2) Karl Haushofer was arrested and interrogated by the Allies in October 1945. The British government has never released the documents that include details of these interviews. However, these interviews are in the OSS archive. Karl told his interviewers that Germany was involved in peace negotiations with Britain in 1940-41. In 1941 Albrecht was sent to Switzerland to meet Lord Templewood (Samuel Hoare) the British ambassador to Spain. This peace proposal included a willingness to “relinquish Norway, Denmark and France”. Karl goes onto say: “A larger meeting was to be held in Madrid. When my son returned, he was immediately called to Augsburg by Hess. A few days later Hess flew to England.”

(3) Goebbels recorded in his diary in June 1940 that Hitler told him that peace talks with Britain were taking place in Sweden. The intermediary was Marcus Wallenberg, a Swedish banker.

(4) According to Lieutenant-Colonel Malcolm Scott, Hess had told one of his guards that “members of the government” had known about his proposed trip to Scotland. Hess also asked to see George VI as he had been assured before he left Germany that he had the “King’s protection”.

(5) In 1959, Heinrich Stahmer, Albrecht Haushofer’s agent in Spain, claimed that meetings between Samuel Hoare, Lord Halifax and Rudolf Hess took place in Spain and Portugal between February and April 1941. The Vichy press reported that Hess was in Spain on the weekend of 20/22 of April 1941. The correspondence between British Embassies and the Foreign Office are routinely released to the Public Record Office. However, all documents relating to the weekend of 20/22 April, 1941 at the Madrid Embassy are being held back and will not be released until 2017.

(6) Kim Philby, a KGB agent working for the SOE, sent a report to the Soviets in 1941 that Hess had arrived in the UK “to confirm a compromise peace”. This makes it clear that these negotiations had been going on for sometime and suggests that the visit of Hess signals the last move in the peace plan rather than the first.

(7) Colonel Frantisek Moravec, chief of the Czech military intelligence based in London, was also a KGB spy. In October 1942 Moravec sent a detailed report on the Hess affair to the NKVD. Moravec claimed that the Duke of Hamilton had been negotiating with Hitler via Hess for some time before May 1941.

(8) According to Philby, soon after arriving in Scotland, Hess was visited by both Anthony Eden and Lord Beaverbrook. We also know from official sources that on the 12th May 1941, Churchill had meetings with the Duke of Hamilton, Sir Stewart Menzies and Lord Beaverbrook. These three men were three of the most important figures in the appeasement movement.

(9) Sergeant Daniel McBride, one of the soldiers who detained Hess, claimed in an interview in the Hongkong Telegraph (6th March, 1947). “The purpose of the former Deputy Fuhrer’s visit to Britain is still a mystery to the general public, but I can say, and with confidence too, that high-ranking Government officials were aware of his coming.” The reason that McBride gives for this opinion is that: “No air-raid warning was given that night, although the plane must have been distinguished during his flight over the city of Glasgow. Nor was the plane plotted at the anti-aircraft control room for the west of Scotland.” McBride concludes from this evidence that someone with great power ordered that Hess should be allowed to land in Scotland. The fact that attempts were made to silence McBride as late as 1974 suggests that he had information that was deeply worrying to the establishment.

(10) Evidence that the Duke of Kent was with the Duke of Hamilton at Dungavel House on the day Hess arrived in Scotland. If Hamilton and Kent were traitors, surely Churchill would not have been promoted by Churchill. In July 1941 Hamilton became a Group Captain and Kent became an Air Commodore. After the war the Duke of Hamilton told his son that he was forced to take the blame for Hess arriving in Scotland in order to protect people who were more powerful than him.

I have also argued that there were signs in the summer of 1940 that Hitler made a gesture of good will to get negotiations underway. On 22nd May 1940 some 250 German tanks were advancing along the French coast towards Dunkirk, threatening to seal off the British escape route. Then, just six miles from the town, at around 11.30 a.m., they abruptly stopped. Hitler had personally ordered all German forces to hold their positions for three days. This order was uncoded and was picked up by the British. They therefore knew they were going to get away. German generals begged to be able to move forward in order to destroy the British army but Hitler insisted that they held back so that the British troops could leave mainland Europe. After the war, General Gunther Blumentritt, the Army Chief of Staff, told military historian Basil Liddell Hart that Hitler had decided that Germany would make peace with Britain. Another German general told Liddell Hart that Hitler aimed to make peace with Britain “on a basis that was compatible with her honour to accept”. (Basil Liddell Hart, The Other Side of the Hill, 1948, pages 139-41)

It is therefore important to examine if there were other signs of Hitler’s good will in the summer of 1941. On the very night that Rudolf Hess arrived in Scotland, London experienced its heaviest German bomb attack: 1,436 people were killed and some 12,000 made homeless. (Martin Gilbert, The Second World War, page 182) Many historic landmarks including the Houses of Parliament were hit. The Commons debating chamber – the main symbol of British democracy – was destroyed. American war correspondents based in London such as Walter Lippmann and Vincent Sheean, suggested that Britain was on the verge of surrender. (Walter Lippman, US War Aims, 1944, page 12) and (Vincent Sheean, Between the Thunder and the Sun, 1943, page 245)

Yet, the 10th May marked the end of the London Blitz. It was the last time the Nazis would attempt a major raid on the capital. Foreign journalist based in London at the time wrote articles that highlighted this strange fact. James Murphy even suggested that there might be a connection between the arrival of Hess and the last major bombing raid on London. (James Murphy, Who Sent Rudolf Hess, 1941 page 7)

This becomes even more interesting when one realizes at the same time as Hitler ordered the cessation of the Blitz, Churchill was instructing Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff, to reduce bombing attacks on Germany. Portal was surprised and wrote a memorandum to Churchill asking why the strategy had changed: “Since the Fall of France the bombing offensive had been a fundamental principle of our strategy.” Churchill replied that he had changed his mind and now believed “it is very disputable whether bombing by itself will be a decisive factor in the present war”. (John Terraine, The Right Line: The RAF in the European War 1939-45, 1985 page 295)

Is it possible that Hitler and Churchill had called off these air attacks as part of their peace negotiations? Is this the reason why Hess decided to come to the UK on 10th May, 1941? The date of this arrival is of prime importance. Hitler was no doubt concerned about the length of time these negotiations were taking. We now know that he was desperate to order the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa) in early Spring. According to Richard Sorge of the Red Orchestra spy network, Hitler planned to launch this attack in May 1941. (Leopold Trepper, The Great Game, 1977, page 126)

However, for some reason the invasion was delayed. I suspect that Hitler was desperate to conclude a peace with Churchill before heading East. It was hoped that the arrival in the UK by Hess would force Churchill to sign an agreement. After all, Churchill would have difficulty explaining what Hess was doing in Scotland. In fact, later, Anthony Eden was to admit that Hess had indeed arrived with peace proposals. (Anthony Eden, statement in the House of Commons, 5th September, 1943) By this time the British people had been convinced that Hess had a mental breakdown and that he had not arrived in the UK with the prior approval of the British government. That of course is the story that is commonly believed today.

Hitler eventually ordered the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22nd June, 1941. It would therefore seem that peace negotiations between Germany and Britain had come to an end. However, is this true? One would have expected Churchill to order to resume mass bombing of Germany. This was definitely the advice he was getting from Sir Charles Portal, Chief of the Air Staff. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris also took a similar view. In June 1943, Harris was briefing American journalists about his disagreement with Churchill’s policy. ((John Terraine, The Right Line: The RAF in the European War 1939-45, 1985 page 295)

Douglas Reed, a British journalist with a good relationship with Portal and Churchill, wrote in 1943: “The long delay in bombing Germany is already chief among the causes of the undue prolongation of the war.” (Douglas Reed, Lest we Regret, 1943, page 331). One senior army figure told a journalist after the war that Hess’s arrival brought about a “virtual armistice” between Germany and Britain. (Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, Double Standards, 2001, page 324)

Is it possible that Churchill did not order the bombing of Germany because he had arranged with Hitler not to do anything that would hinder the defeat of the Soviet Union? That Churchill had resurrected the British foreign objective of the 1930s – the destruction of communism in Europe.

What we do know is that Churchill changed his mind completely about the wisdom of carpet bombing when the Soviet Union had successfully halted the German invasion. It was now Churchill who was urging the complete destruction of German cities, even those like Dresden that posed no threat to the British. Churchill realized that he could longer rely on Nazi Germany to destroy communism in Europe. In fact, the position had been reversed. The Red Army was now in a position to impose communism on Eastern Europe. The policy had to change. It was now vitally important that Allied forces arrived in mainland Europe in order to “liberate” German occupied countries in Western Europe.

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Hopefully I have proved that peace negotiations between the British and Hitler were going on between 1940 and 1941. In fact, historians no longer reject the claim that these negotiations took place. However, some argue that Churchill was unaware of these talks. Could this be true? For example, the key figure in these talks is Sir Samuel Hoare. Supporters of Churchill point out that as soon as he gained office he removed Hoare from the cabinet. It is often claimed that Churchill purged the government of appeasers and argue that Lord Halifax also lost his job as foreign secretary in May 1940. They usually ignore the fact that Churchill brought in arch-appeaser Lord Beaverbrook into the cabinet at the same time. Officially, he was Minister without Portfolio, in reality he was deputy prime minister. Churchill also brought in Archibald Sinclair as Minister of Air. Sinclair, who had served under Churchill on the Western Front in 1915 was another one who had been a strong supporter of appeasement. Beaverbrook and Sinclair were both to play important roles in these peace negotiations and the cover-up of the Hess affair.

It also has to be remembered what happened to Hoare after he was removed from the cabinet. Churchill appointed him as Ambassador to Madrid. This was an extremely important post in 1940. It was the epicenter of secret negotiations that were taking place between Britain and Germany. He also took part in important talks with Franco while in Madrid. If Hoare was being punished for his appeasement views why was he sent to Madrid instead of some outpost in the British Empire? The only possible explanation is that Hoare was under the control of Churchill. Some historians have accepted this point and have argued that the Hoare negotiations were part of “sting” operation to fool Hitler. That of course is a possibility but other events that took place after 1945 suggest that this was not the case.

There are several pieces of evidence that have emerged over the last few years that suggest that Churchill was fully in control of these peace negotiations. That rather than working for a group within the government who intended to overthrow Churchill, Hoare was loyally carrying out Churchill’s orders. That in fact, there was no plot to remove Churchill because in reality he shared their right-wing philosophy that the primary objective was to destroy the Soviet Union rather than Nazi Germany.

Just before Hess arrived in Scotland on 10th May 1941, there was an important meeting held at the Special Operations Executive (SOE) at Woburn Abbey. At the meeting were senior figures of the SOE, the Foreign Office, the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Economic Warfare. This included Hugh Dalton, head of the SOE at the time and Anthony Eden, Churchill’s foreign secretary. Eden had resigned in protest because of Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy and so it was highly symbolic for Churchill to appoint him as his foreign secretary.

The minutes of this meeting was recently declassified. The minutes reveal that members were very depressed by the situation that the UK found itself in during May 1941. Members spoke of how it seemed that the UK was on the verge of losing Malta, Crete and Cyprus. The meeting also mourned the loss of Greece and recent defeats in the Middle East. Leonard St Clair Ingrams pointed out that Russian oil could now be sent to Nazi Germany via the Black Sea and Greece. The most interesting comments in the minutes comes from an unidentified speaker who says that the situation is so serious that: “We should therefore encourage the Germans to attack Russia by misleading Hitler and by hinting that the large sections both in Britain and the United States, who preferred to see the overthrow of the Russian rather than the German regime, might be prepared to force through a compromise peace between Britain and Germany and combine to destroy the common enemy, Communism” (Doc. FO 898/00009 – Public Records Office, Kew).

Of course, the speaker is right, unless the British could persuade Hitler to invade the Soviet Union in 1941, the war would be lost. This had been known since May 1940 and it is why Churchill began negotiations with Hitler as soon as he gained power. These negotiations were taking place via Hoare in Madrid.

Before the meeting took place, Anthony Eden had a private session with Robert Bruce Lockhart. He is an extremely interesting character and worked very closely with Churchill during the war. Lockhart was Acting British Consul-General in Moscow when the first Russian Revolution broke out in early 1917, but left shortly before the Bolshevik Revolution of October that year.

Bruce Lockhart became an undercover agent for MI5 and with fellow British agent, Sidney Reilly, was implicated in a plot to assassinate Lenin. He was accused of plotting against the Bolshevik regime and, for a time during 1918, was confined in the Kremlin as a prisoner and condemned to death. However, his life was spared in an exchange for the Russian diplomat Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov. During the Second World War he became director-general of the Political Warfare Executive, co-ordinating all British propaganda against the enemy. Bruce Lockhart was also for a time the British liaison officer to the Czechoslovak Government in Exile under President Eduard Benes.

Bruce Lockhart recorded some of what was said at this meeting in his diary (published after his death in 1974). Eden asked Lockhart about Eduard Benes. What we know about these peace negotiations is that Churchill was willing to let Hitler keep Czechoslovakia and Poland in exchange for changes in the occupation of France, Belgium, Holland, etc. Benes and General Sikorski, the head of the Polish government in exile, would obviously become a problem if such a deal was done.

Bruce Lockhart wrote in his dairy that he told Eden that “he (Benes) had taken knocks better than anyone I know”. Eden agreed and said: “He’s had enough too”. Bruce Lockhart then adds: “I went on to say I was sorry meeting was postponed, coz (sic) I considered matter urgent lest Germans forestall. Eden told me he would have meeting earliest possible day next week.” (Robert Bruce Lockhart, The Diaries of Robert Bruce Lockhart, 1974 page 98)

It is not clear what this meeting with the Germans was all about it seems to be connected with Benes and the fate of Czechoslovakia. It is probably a reference to the peace negotiations being carried out by Samuel Hoare. If so, it is clear that Churchill was fully aware of what was taking place.

Another important released document provides further evidence that Churchill was aware of these negotiations. William Strang was assistant Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office. In the 1930s Strang had banded together the anti-appeasement faction headed by Churchill. Strang was therefore a trusted member of Churchill’s inner-circle. This was reflected in Strang being given the key job of the Foreign Office liaison officer to the SOE.

On 28th April 1941 Strang wrote to Sir Alexander Cadogan, his boss at the Foreign Office. “Further to our discussion concerning the H matter (the name given to the secret peace talks being conducted by Samuel Hoare) last week. I attended a meeting with HRH the Duke of Kent last Friday. After I explained a little of the situation he seemed most willing to assist in this most delicate affair.” Strang goes on to say that the Duke of Kent is concerned about the “extreme sensitivity and potential political hazards of the task he had been asked to perform, and the jeopardy it would place himself in”. Kent pointed out that he would need to meet with Cadogan to ask further questions about this secret operation. What is more, he insisted that his friend, the Duke of Buccleuch, should attend this meeting. Buccleuch was one of the leading figures of the pro-Nazi group in the UK. We now know that he was a member of the secret Right Club that was responsible for supplying secret information to Nazi Germany during the war. Kent’s request for the attendance of Buccleuch is interesting. He clearly feared that he was being set-up by Churchill and wanted a witness to what was being said at the meeting. However, there was a clear danger that by inviting Buccleuch, this information would get back to Hitler. (Doc FO 794/19 Public Records Office, Kew)

This document shows that the Duke of Kent was involved in these peace negotiations. This makes sense. Other documents show that Samuel Hoare was having difficulty persuading the German government to believe that Churchill was genuine in his peace talks. Hoare requested that a representative from the royal family should become involved. The Duke of Kent was the perfect choice. He had negotiated with the Germans before the war started on behalf of the Duke of Windsor and George VI. Hitler knew he held pro-Nazi views. Kent’s reaction to this invitation is also understandable. The presence of the Duke of Buccleuch would help to assure the Germans that these peace talks were genuine.

There is also firm evidence that the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Buccleuch were at the Duke of Hamilton’s home (Dungavel House) when Hess arrived on the night of the 10th May. On the morning of the 11th May the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Buccleuch were involved in a car crash while driving along the Douglas to Lanark road. The Duke of Kent’s car hit a coal lorry. The scene of the accident was very close to Dungavel House.

The following day a memorandum marked top secret was sent by a man named S. Voigt to Rex Leeper of the Political Intelligence Department and a key figure in the peace negotiations with Germany. “I can confirm that neither the Duke, or his passenger, Buccleuch, were injured, and in view of Lanark’s close proximity to the events of last weekend, steps have been taken to ensure the accident remains unreported by the press”. (Doc. FO 898/14 – Public Records Office, Kew)

Of course, if we look at this document in isolation, it makes sense to keep this story out of the press in order to stop speculation about possible conspiracies. However, when you put it together with the William Strang document, it does suggest that the Duke of Kent and the Duke of Buccleuch were in Scotland to meet Hess. This is confirmed by the testimony of the housekeeper at Dungavel House. She told the authors of Double Standards (page 269) that the Duke of Hamilton was at the house on the night of the 10th May 1941 with someone with a foreign accent. This is almost certainly Baron de Ropp, who was involved in the German-British peace talks.

The historians, Martin Allen (The Hitler/Hess Deception) and Peter Padfield (Hess) argue that Churchill was involved in carrying out false negotiations with Hitler that were so successful that it encouraged Hitler to invade the Soviet Union. If this is the case, why did Churchill not take credit for this highly successful operation that saved Britain from being defeated by Nazi Germany? Martin Allen argues that Churchill was unable to do this because this disclosure “would have given Britain’s enemies an opportunity to decry British perfidy, tainting her post-war standing in the world of foreign affairs.” (page 285)

I do not find this argument convincing. Everyone was aware that Churchill was guilty of “perfidy”. How else do you explain that Churchill was willing to hand over Poland and Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union in 1945? Remember we had apparently gone to war against Nazi Germany in order to bring freedom and democracy to these two countries. Churchill might have promised these two countries to Hitler in 1941, he actually gave them to Stalin in 1945.

Stalin of course already knew about Churchill’s negotiations with Hitler as he had spies in the British Foreign Office, MI5/MI6 and the SOE. On 6th November, 1944, Churchill made a visit to Moscow. At a supper in the Kremlin, Stalin raised his glass and proposed a toast to the British Intelligence Services, which he said had “inveigled Hess into coming to England.” Churchill immediately protested that he and the intelligence services knew nothing about the proposed visit. Stalin smiled and said maybe the intelligence services had failed to tell him about the operation. (Doc PREM 3 434/7 Public Records Office, Kew)

What Stalin was doing was to make it clear to Churchill that he intended to take over Poland and Czechoslovakia and that he was in no position to resist this process. Churchill was being blackmailed into submission.

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I have argued that it is possible that Winston Churchill ordered the deaths of the General Sikorski and the Duke of Kent to cover-up peace negotiations with Hitler in 1940 and 1941. It was not in the interests of other neo-Nazis such as the Duke of Hamilton, Samuel Hoare, the Duke of Buccleuch, Sir Archibald Ramsay to reveal their role in these activities after the war had finished. The aristocracy and the Tory establishment went along with the myth that Britain had fought the Second World War on behalf of freedom and democracy. Not that the British public was fooled and Churchill was ousted from power when the Tory Party suffered a landslide defeat in the 1945 General Election.

The main problem for Churchill and his co-conspirators was Rudolf Hess. He was the one German involved in these negotiations who was still alive after the war. According to Dr Hugh Thomas, who physically examined the man claiming to be Hess in Berlin in 1973, the prisoner was an imposter (Prisoner Number 7). Thomas argues his case in two books, The Murder of Rudolf Hess (1979) and Rudolf Hess: A Tale of Two Murders (1988). The most convincing aspect of his argument is that the prisoner he examined did not bear the scars from the First World War.

In June 1916 Hess suffered gunshot wounds to his body, left hand and arm. As doctors will tell you, scars might fade with time, but they never disappear. Yet a total of 58 doctors examined Hess after 1941 and not one mentioned these scars. The most detailed medical examination of Hess was carried out by Dr. Ben Hurewitz in Nuremberg in 1945. Even though Hurewitz listed every wart and blemish on the prisoner’s body, including a quarter-inch wart on his chest and a very faint half-inch-long scar on one of his fingers, there is no mention of the war wounds he received in 1916. (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, 1947, page 136)

Nor did Hurewitz, or the other 57 doctors, mention the scar on the back of his head that was caused during a fight with communists in the early 1920s. (Hugh Thomas, A Tale of Two Murders, 1988, page 15)

It has been argued that Hess had made up this First World War injury as part of the Nazi propaganda campaign during the 1920s. However, Dr Thomas was able to find Hess’ medical records at the Berlin Documents Centre. It clearly states that Hess was “severely wounded in the storming of the Ungureana” in June 1916. It clearly states that a rifle bullet hit his left lung and that he spent four months in various hospitals, followed by a further six week’s convalescent leave. (Hugh Thomas, A Tale of Two Murders, 1988, pages 27-29)

We also know that Hess wrote a letter to his parents while recovering from hospital where he described the injury as “a clean through-shot, in under the left shoulder, out of the back.” (quoted in Peter Padfield’s Hess: The Führer’s Disciple, 1995, page 9)

In 1989, BBC journalist, Roy McHardy, found a more detailed medical file of Hess’s 1916 war wound in the Bavarian State Archives. (Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, Double Standards, 2001, page 358) It includes details of his final examination before being released from hospital. “Three fingers above the left armpit, a pea-sized, bluish-coloured, non-reactive scar from an entry wound. On the back, at the height of the fourtb dorsal vertebra, two fingers from the spine, a non-reactive exit gunshot wound the size of a cherry stone.” (Military Doctors Certificate, dated 12 December, 1917)

When Hess died in 1987, there were two post-mortem examination. The official one by Professor J. Malcolm Cameron and an independent autopsy carried out on behalf of the Hess family. Neither report mentioned the scars caused by the 1916 gunshot wounds. However, they did find the scars caused by the so-called 1945 suicide attempt. This only shows that the man identified as Hess in 1945 was the person who died in 1987. When Thomas interviewed Cameron he admitted that as far as he was concerned, the scars from the 1916 shooting did not exist (Hugh Thomas, A Tale of Two Murders, 1988, page 192)

Hess was examined many times by British doctors between 1945 and 1987. Not one mentioned the scars caused by the 1916 shooting. (Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, Double Standards, 2001, page 361)

In August 1988, Dr. David Owen raised the question about the missing scar. The Foreign Secretary Sir Geoffrey Howe wrongly said that Cameron had noted the scar in his report. When Cameron denied this, the Foreign Office issued a statement in November 1988 to say that there was “a fibrous, irregular, roughly circular old scar typical of an exit wound…. in a posterior position on the left side of the chest”. The government failed to explain why this was not put in either of the original autopsy reports. (Duff Hart-Davies, Reign of Silence at the Foreign Office, Independent, 11th August, 1988)

However, Duff Hart-Davies, a journalist working for “The Independent” newspaper, found a high-level source within the Foreign Office who claimed that they made strenuous efforts to find the missing scars at the time of the death of Prisoner Number 7. However, they were unable to do so. When Dr. David Owen asked the question in the House of Commons a year later they were forced to try again. This time they were able to find the missing scar. (Duff Hart-Davies, The Curious Case of the Reappearing Scar, Independent, 10thNovember, 1988) It seems very strange that doctors could not find these scars between 1945 and 1987 but could find them over a year after his death.

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When Hess arrived in Scotland on 10th May 1941 Churchill was quick to deny that the two countries were involved in peace negotiations. Hitler then made a similar statement. Both men were concerned to portray Hitler as a man who had a mental breakdown. However, evidence is available that indicates that Hitler was fully aware of Hess’s flight to Scotland.

Karlheinz Pintsch, Hess adjutant, was given the task of informing Hitler about the flight to Scotland. James Leasor found him alive in 1955 and used him as a major source for his book, The Uninvited Envoy. Pintsch told Leasor of Hitler’s response to this news. He did not seem surprised, nor did he rant and rave about what Hess had done. Instead, he replied calmly, “At this particular moment in the war that could be a most hazardous escapade.” (Roger Nanvell & Heinrich Fraenkel, Hess: A Biograthy, page 107)

Hitler then went onto read the letter that Hess had sent him. He read the following significant passage out aloud. “And if this project… ends in failure… it will always be possible for you to deny all responsibility. Simply say I was out of my mind.” Of course, that is what both Hitler and Churchill did later on. However, at the time, Hitler at least, still believed that a negotiated agreement was possible.

The following day Hitler knew that Churchill had refused to do a deal and then the cover-up began. Pintsch was now a dangerous witness and he was arrested and was kept in solitary confinement until being sent to the Eastern Front in 1944. He was captured by the Soviets and kept alive until being released in 1955. (James Leasor, The Uninvited Envoy, page 69).

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There is clearly enough evidence to show that peace negotiations were going on with Germany until the arrival of Hess in May 1941. The real issue is whether Churchill was aware of these negotiations. It has been suggested that the peace-party, led by Sir Stewart Menzies, the head of MI5, was carrying out negotiations without the knowledge of Churchill (Anthony Cave Brown, Bodyguard of Lies, 1976). If this was the case, I would have thought that Churchill would have exposed the plot and punished the conspirators. However, Churchill did not do that, in fact he promoted members of the peace-party (Duke of Hamilton, Lord Beaverbrook, Duke of Kent) or gave them jobs that made it easier from them to negotiate with the enemy (Samuel Hoare and Lord Halifax).

Other historians have argued that the peace negotiations with Nazi Germany was part of a Churchill inspired SOE plot (Martin Allen, The Hitler Deception, 2003 and John Harris, Hess: The British Conspiracy, 1999). This makes more sense but I fail to understand why Churchill covered-up this story rather than taking credit for such a successful operation.

I am of the opinion that both these theories are incorrect. I believe that Churchill was fully aware of these negotiations and he gave his approval to this attempt to bring the war to an end. Therefore I agree with Clive Ponting’s assessment that Churchill was aware that in 1940 he only had two viable options, a negotiated peace or being defeated by Germany (Clive Ponting, 1940: Myth and Reality, 1990). However, as I pointed out earlier, Ponting’s book only goes up to 1940. What was Churchill up to in 1941? Did Rudolf Hess come to Britain because he had been assured he was negotiating with Churchill? If that is the case, why did Hess not reveal this during the Nuremberg Trials?

Some historians take the view that the Hess that appeared at the Nuremberg Trials was an imposter (Hugh Thomas, The Murder of Rudolf Hess, 1979 and Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, Double Standards, 2001). That Hess had been murdered in order to keep him from talking about these peace negotiations. It is argued in Double Standards that Hess and Prince George, Duke of Kent were murdered together on 25th August 1942, when their aircraft crashed into Eagles Rock near Dunbeath, Caithness, Scotland. I am willing to accept that this theory explains the death of Prince George, I am not convinced that the Hess that appeared at the Nuremberg Trials, was an imposter. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the content of the letters written by Hess while in captivity. Secondly, the identification of Hess by his wife and his close friends. The photographic evidence of Hess pre-1941 and post-1941 also suggests to me that he was who he says he was.

Therefore, it is necessary to explain why Hess did not reveal what he knew about these peace negotiations during the Nuremberg Trials? One important clue to this is the way he responded to his other defendants. For example, when he came face to face with Herman Göring at Nuremberg, Hess remarked: “Who are you”? Göring reminded him of events that they witnessed in the past but Hess continued to insist that he did not know this man. Karl Haushofer was then called in but even though they had been friends for twenty years, Hess once again failed to remember him. Hess replied “I just don’t know you, but it will all come back to me and then I will recognise an old friend again. I am terribly sorry.” (Peter Padfield, Hess: The Führer’s Disciple, page 305).

Hess did not recognise other Nazi leaders. Ribbentrop responded by suggesting that Hess was not really Hess. When told of something that Hess had said he replied: “Hess, you mean Hess? The Hess we have here?” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 169).

However, Major Douglas M. Kelley, the American psychiatrist who was responsible for Hess during the trials, stated that he did have periods when he did remember his past. This included a detailed account of his flight to Scotland. Hess told Kelley that he had arrived without the knowledge of Hitler. Hess claimed that “only he could get the English King or his representatives to meet with Hitler and make peace so that millions of people and thousands of villages would be spared.” (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 168).

One suggestion is that Hess was pretending he had amnesia and was trying to distance himself from the actions of his fellow Nazis. This does not make any sense to me. In fact, the documentary record shows that he was not guilty of war crimes. In fact, most of the war crimes took place after he had left Germany in 1941.

I believe the answer to this question relates to a visit by American psychiatrist Dr Donald Ewen Cameron, who had been sent by Allen Dulles to assess Hess’s fitness to stand trial. At the time Cameron was working for the OSS. According to one source, Dulles had told Cameron, that he believed the Hess he was about to examine was not the real Hess. According to Dulles, he had been told that the real Hess had been secretly executed on Churchill’s orders. (Gordon Thomas, Journey into Madness, 1993, pages 167-68).

As I have said, I do not believe the story about the execution of Hess. However, it is true that Dulles did arrange for Cameron to visit Hess. Dr J. R. Ress, one of Hess’s English doctors mentions it in his book on his work at Nuremberg (J. R. Rees, The Case of Rudolf Hess, page 141). He claims that Cameron arrived on 13th November, 1945.

Some members of the Forum will have heard of Dr Donald Ewen Cameron before. Yes, he is the same Cameron who was recruited by Allen Dulles in 1957 to run Project MKULTRA. Documents released in 1977 show that MKULTRA was a CIA-directed "mind control" program. It seems that Cameron’s interest in brainwashing dated back to his work with Dulles in the OSS during the Second World War.

I would argue that Cameron had been sent to Nuremberg to help Churchill and the British intelligence services with a problem. Cameron’s task was to remove Hess’s memory of past events. This is why Hess was unable to recognize his former friends and colleagues at Nuremberg. Cameron next job was to provide Hess with a new memory about events dating back to May 1941. That is why Hess is able to provide Major Douglas M. Kelley with a comprehensive account of his trip to Scotland.

The problem with this brainwashing experiment was that there was no way of knowing how long Hess would be able to remember the past as provided by Dr. Cameron. That is why Hess had to be kept in solitary confinement for the rest of his life. That is the reason why Hess was not allowed to talk about anything that happened before 1945 with anybody, including his own family.

That is also the reason why Hess was murdered on 17th August, 1987. Why 1987 and not some earlier date? Well, the British had been hiding behind the claim that the Soviets were blocking Hess’s release. However, Mikhail Gorbachev told German journalists in February 1987, that he was going to give permission for the release of Hess (Peter Padfield, Hess: The Führer’s Disciple, page 328). The West German newspaper Bild reported that Hess was going to be released on his 93rd birthday on 26th April 1987. (Bild, 21st April, 1987) Hess knew differently, he told Abadallah Melaouhi, his nurse, that the “English will kill me” before I am released. (BBC Newsnight, 28th February 1989).

The British did indeed block his release (Sir Christopher Mallaby, Deputy Secretary of the Cabinet Office, quoted by Hugh Thomas in the documentary “Rudolf Hess: The Appalling Truth). Gorbachev told Margaret Thatcher that he would expose the British hypocrisy by withdrawing the Soviet guards from Spandau Prison. It was then decided that Hess had to die as he could not be allowed to speak in public about what he knew about the peace negotiations that had taken place in 1941.

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I believe that a close study of the life of Donald Ewen Cameron raises doubts about the official story of MKULTRA. According to the CIA documents released in 1977, MKULTRA operated between 1957-64. However, Cameron was carrying out experiments into sensory deprivation and memory as early as 1938.

In 1943 he went to Canada and established the psychiatry department at Montreal's McGill University and became director of the newly-created Allan Memorial Institute that was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. At the same time he also did work for the OSS. It is almost certain that the US intelligence services were providing at least some of the money for his research during the war.

We know by 1947 he was using the “depatterning” technique to wipe out patients memories of the past. Cameron believed that after inducing complete amnesia in a patient, he could then selectively recover their memory in such a way as to change their behaviour unrecognisably." In other words, Cameron was giving them a new past. Is it possible that Cameron and the OSS was doing this during the Second World War. Was the OSS creating a new type of secret agent?

We know that Allen Dulles sent Cameron to assess Rudolf Hess in Nuremberg in November, 1945. Is it possible that the real reason for Cameron’s visit was that he wanted to assess the treatment he had been giving Hess since 1943? That Hess was one of Cameron’s guinea pigs.

If I am right about Hess knowing about Churchill’s peace negotiations in 1941, there was only two options available. The obvious solution and make it look like an accident or suicide. The second solution was for Hess to be treated by Cameron, who could use “depatterning” to wipe his memory clean. Then he could be brainwashed to believe that he was acting on his own instincts by travelling to Scotland in order to seek out the Duke of Hamilton. Is this what the son of the Duke of Hamilton meant when he said he was “set-up” over the Hess affair in order to protect people at the very top?


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On 1st November, 1943, Cordell Hull (USA), Anthony Eden (Britain) and Vyacheslav Molotov (Soviet Union) signed in Moscow a declaration that warned that the Allies were determined to bring to justice those "German officers and men and members of the Nazi Party who have been responsible for atrocities, massacres and executions."

In May 1945, Winston Churchill, Harry S. Truman, Joseph Stalin and Charles De Gaulle agreed that an international military tribunal should try the leaders of Nazi Germany for war crimes. It was decided to charge the men and women on four counts: crimes against peace (planning and making war); war crimes (responsibility for crimes during war); crimes against humanity (racial persecution) and conspiracy to commit other crimes.

The tribunal's judges included Frances Biddle (USA), Norman Birkett (Britain), Robert Falco (France), Geoffrey Lawrence (Britain), John Parker (USA), Roman Rudenko (Soviet Union) and Henry Donnedieu de Vabres (France).

Several Nazi leaders such as Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels were dead while Martin Bormann and Heinrich Mueller had not been captured. The list of 23 defendants included Hermann Goering, Wilhelm Frick, Hans Frank, Rudolf Hess, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Alfred Rosenberg, Albert Speer, Julius Streicher, Alfred Jodl, Fritz Saukel, Robert Ley, Erich Raeder, Wilhelm Keitel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, Hjalmar Schacht, Karl Doenitz, Franz von Papen, Constantin von Neurath and Joachim von Ribbentrop.

Robert Ley and Hermann Goering both committed suicide during the trial. Wilhelm Frick, Hans Frank, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Walther Funk, Fritz Saukel, Alfred Rosenberg, Julius Streicher, Alfred Jodl, Wilhelm Keitel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Joachim von Ribbentrop were found guilty and executed on 16th October, 1946. Rudolf Hess, Erich Raeder, were sentenced to life imprisonment and Albert Speer to 25 years. Karl Doenitz , Walther Funk, Franz von Papen, Alfried Krupp, Friedrich Flick and Constantin von Neurath were also found guilty and sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. At other war crime trials Josef Kramer and Irma Grese were also executed.

This was the judgement on Rudolf Hess at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial.

Hess was an active supporter of the preparations for war. His signature established military service. He expressed a desire for peace and advocated international economic cooperation. But none knew better than Hess how determined Hitler was to realize his ambitions, how fanatical and violent a man he was.

With him in his flight to England, Hess carried certain peace proposals which he alleged Hitler was prepared to accept. It is significant to note that this flight took place only ten days after the date on which Hitler fixed, 22 June 1941, as the time for attacking the Soviet Union.

That Hess acts in an abnormal manner, suffers from the loss of memory, and has mentally deteriorated during the Trial, may be true. But there is nothing to show that he does not realize the nature of the charges against him, or is incapable of defending himself. There is no suggestion that Hess was not completely sane when the acts charged against him were committed. Defendant Rudolf Hess, the court sentences you to imprisonment for life.

In January, 1951, John McCloy, the US High Commissioner for Germany, announced that Alfried Krupp and eight members of his board of directors who had been convicted with him, were to be released. Krupt had been convicted of plundering occupied territories and being responsible for the barbaric treatment of prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates. Documents showed that Krupp initiated the request for slave labour and signed detailed contracts with the SS, giving them responsibility for inflicting punishment on the workers. His property, valued at around 45 million, and his numerous companies were also restored to him.

Others that McCloy decided to free included Friedrich Flick, one of the main financial supporters of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). During the Second World War Flick became extremely wealthy by using 48,000 slave labourers from SS concentration camps in his various industrial enterprises. It is estimated that 80 per cent of these workers died as a result of the way they were treated during the war. His property was restored to him and like Krupp became one of the richest men in Germany.

The crimes of Alfried Krupp and Friedrich Flick were far worse than those of Hess. Others serving life-imprisonment at Spandau Prison were also released: Erich Raeder (1955), Karl Doenitz (1956), Friedrich Flick (1957) and Albert Speer (1966). All these played an important role in Nazi crimes between 1941-45. However, the Soviet Union and Britain refused to release Rudolf Hess, the man who had risked his life by flying to Britain in May 1941 in an attempt to negotiate a peace settlement. Why was he treated so differently to the other Nazi leaders?

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  • 1 month later...

Yesterday the National Archives at Kew released some documents that concerned the imprisonment of Rudolf Hess. Unfortunately, they do not refer to the situation in the 1980s but to discussions about his release in 1974. It shows that it was not only the Soviet Union who wanted to keep Hess in prison. A British memo says: "Hess has shown no remorse and has not renounced his Nazi faith. To release Hess in these circumstances could stimulate a Nazi revival." Nonsense of course, but it helped to justify the British decision not to release him. Interestingly, Richard Nixon was all for him being released.

It is clear from these documents that this was mainly a PR exercise. For example, this is a telegram signed by someone called "Callaghan": "We should leave the Russians in no doubt about continuing Allied concern. We wish also to be in a position ... to demonstrate we have made a recent effort to secure [the] release."

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  • 2 years later...

I agree with you- the treatment of Hess was shameful. If he truly was on a peace mission, then the Allies should have thought of him as a "good" nazi, instead of punishing him in a vicious, unprecedented manner. What other prisoner (outside perhaps the "man in the iron mask") has ever had a prison to himself for several decades, as Hess did at Spandau? As I understand it, the authorities only permitted him a token family visit once per month, and the same person couldn't come twice in a row. They also rotated the guards constantly, who all spoke different languages, in an attempt to limit his ability to form a relationship with anyone. That is cruel and unusual punishment, indeed. Considering that Hess lived to be over 90, it is very, very strange that no one wanted to interview him in depth during all that time. Historians lost a golden opportunity to record the thoughts of one of Hitler's top aides, still alive decades after the end of WWII. What were they afraid he might say? Or were they just ashamed to publicize their disgraceful treatment of this pathetic old man? It's a sad but fascinating story.

I too once thought that Hess´s treatment was shameful, but I have thankfully woken up from this naivety and realised that there can be no redemption for a person of his conviction. He was part of the group of thugs which introduced the Nuremberg laws and supported all that went with it, remaining a convinced nazi till he died. There is no indication that Hess was trying to stop the war with his flight to Scotland, but a lot pointing to an attempt to make the Russland Feldzug easier by negotiating agreement with whover in Scotland.

We have got to stop thinking of these murderers in terms of who was more or less responsible for their horrific crimes. The fact that some were more brutal than others does not diminish the culpability of any of them.

Every single one of them should have swung !

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I agree with you- the treatment of Hess was shameful. If he truly was on a peace mission, then the Allies should have thought of him as a "good" nazi, instead of punishing him in a vicious, unprecedented manner. What other prisoner (outside perhaps the "man in the iron mask") has ever had a prison to himself for several decades, as Hess did at Spandau? As I understand it, the authorities only permitted him a token family visit once per month, and the same person couldn't come twice in a row. They also rotated the guards constantly, who all spoke different languages, in an attempt to limit his ability to form a relationship with anyone. That is cruel and unusual punishment, indeed. Considering that Hess lived to be over 90, it is very, very strange that no one wanted to interview him in depth during all that time. Historians lost a golden opportunity to record the thoughts of one of Hitler's top aides, still alive decades after the end of WWII. What were they afraid he might say? Or were they just ashamed to publicize their disgraceful treatment of this pathetic old man? It's a sad but fascinating story.

I too once thought that Hess´s treatment was shameful, but I have thankfully woken up from this naivety and realised that there can be no redemption for a person of his conviction. He was part of the group of thugs which introduced the Nuremberg laws and supported all that went with it, remaining a convinced nazi till he died. There is no indication that Hess was trying to stop the war with his flight to Scotland, but a lot pointing to an attempt to make the Russland Feldzug easier by negotiating agreement with whover in Scotland.

We have got to stop thinking of these murderers in terms of who was more or less responsible for their horrific crimes. The fact that some were more brutal than others does not diminish the culpability of any of them.

Every single one of them should have swung !

I agree entirely, however am against the death penalty in all cases..

However one can speculate on what Hess actually even possibly accomplished. That could explain the isolation, yet care to live to an old age. One could perhaps say he got the only acceptable reward he could ever hope for.

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