Rudolf Hess, who was Hitler’s deputy, has been in the news lately because his remains have been removed from his final resting place in the small Bavarian town of Wunsiede; his bones were cremated and the ashes tossed into a lake. You can see a photo of his gravestone, which was removed, and read all about it in the New York Times here.
This quote is from the N.Y. Times article:
In May 1941, Hess created an international sensation by secretly flying his personal Messerschmitt fighter plane to Britain and parachuting into Scotland, apparently hoping to negotiate a peace between Britain and Germany as the Axis was preparing to invade the Soviet Union. Instead, Hess was disowned by Hitler and imprisoned by the British for the duration of the war.
Hess took his life in his hands on a peace mission on May 10, 1941, flying his Messerschmitt ME 110 plane under the radar, and rolling the plane over so that he could parachute out before the plane crashed in a field 8 miles from the home of the Duke of Hamilton, the man with whom he was planning to meet.
Hess had only enough fuel for his 800-mile trip and no fuel for his return. The Duke of Hamilton refused to see Hess, who was going to propose that the British join forces with Germany to defeat the Communist Soviet Union. Hess also wanted the resignation of Churchill, along with a few other requests.
Did Hitler authorize this peace mission and then disown his friend and deputy when the plan failed? When Hitler learned of the flight, he declared that Hess was suffering from mental illness. No one knows the truth and we will probably never know what really happened.
The British, and especially Churchill, did not want peace. Hess was arrested and thrown into the Tower of London. Later, he was committed to a British mental institution. Was Hess crazy? Or was Hess just pretending to be crazy?
At the Nuremberg IMT, Hess was convicted of Crimes against Peace and sentenced to life in prison. He was acquitted of Crimes against Humanity. Both of these crimes were ex-post-facto war crimes, created by the Allies after World War II.
What did Rudolf Hess do that was so terrible that he was sentenced to life in prison? The Russian member of the tribunal, Maj. Gen. I.T. Nikitchenko wanted Hess to be sentenced to death, not life imprisonment. Why did the Soviet Union want to silence Hess? Did he have something to do with the deaths of 4 million people at Auschwitz, a crime which the Soviets claimed at Nuremberg?
Rudolf Hess was convicted of Crimes against Peace because, as Hitler’s deputy, he had signed documents on Hitler’s behalf. Was this such a great crime that a life sentence was warranted?
Hess did not give any orders that resulted in Crimes against Peace; he merely signed the documents. Was he sentenced to life in prison because the Allies didn’t want him to talk? As Hitler’s deputy, he would have known what was really going on in the Third Reich. While Hess was in prison, he was never left alone, but was constantly guarded by American, British and Soviet soldiers, who took turns guarding him. He was not allowed to touch his son when he came to visit, for fear that he might pass a note to him. What was it that the Allies did not want Hess to reveal?
Before he allegedly committed suicide in August 1987, at the age of 93, Hess had spent 40 years in the Spandau prison near Berlin. The prison was torn down so that it would not become a shrine to a Nazi hero. Now his grave is gone too, but will this stop neo-Nazis from remembering a German hero?
Rudolf Hess was a very early member of the National Socialist political party and a good friend of Hitler in the early days.
In the photo above, taken during the August 19-20, 1927 Nazi rally in Nuremberg, Georg Halberman and Pfeffer von Salomon are standing in the front, wearing Bavarian lederhosen (leather shorts) and knee socks. Hitler is on the right side of the photo, and his right-hand man, Rudolph Hess, is smiling in the background. Hitler and Hess are standing in the back seat of a convertible as they watch a parade of Sturmabteilung (SA) troops through the city of Nuremberg.
Hess was Hitler’s strongest supporter and his personal secretary and deputy until 1941 when Hess flew to Scotland, some say at the behest of Hitler, in an attempt to negotiate with the British for peace and to put an end to World War II. At that time, Great Britain was the only country at war with Germany; the Soviet Union and Germany still had a non-aggression pact. America was not officially at war with Germany yet.
Hess was immediately imprisoned by the British as soon as he hit the ground in Scotland; there were no peace talks. He was kept in prison until the end of the war; then he was tried and convicted by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal on charges of participating in a “common design” to commit Crimes against Peace.
It will take more than destroying his grave to erase the memory of Rudolf Hess, who is a true hero to many people.