The Facts about Rudolf Hess

Discussion in 'The Third Reich' started by PsyWar.Org, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey Patron

    I've been meaning to type this up for some time and have finally completed it. This is a report written by the British Foreign Office following Rudolf Hess' surprise arrival in Britain in May 1941, giving "the facts" about what his intentions were.

    It is extracted from the National Archives, file reference: FO 371/34484

    The Facts about Rudolf Hess


    Hess flew to Great Britain in a Me. 110, from which he landed by parachute in the evening of the 10th May, 1941, at Eaglesham in Scotland. He was wearing the uniform of a captain in the German Air Force. He gave his name as Alfred Horn and stated to the Home Guard and the Police that he was on a “special mission” to see the Duke of Hamilton, and that he had intended to land at Dungavel, 12 miles distant from the spot where he landed.

    The prisoner was taken to Maryhill Barracks and amongst his possessions were found photographs of himself and of a small boy, also the visiting cards of Dr. Karl Haushofer and Dr. Albrecht Haushofer, his son. No other documents or identifications were found on the prisoner.

    On Sunday, the 11th May, at 10 a.m., Wing-Commander the Duke of Hamilton arrived at Maryhill Barracks and visited the prisoner with the interrogating officer and the Military Officer on guard.

    At the prisoner’s request the latter two officers withdrew. He then stated to the Wing-Commander that the latter had lunched in his house in Berlin at the time of the Olympic games in 1936 and added: “I am Rudolf Hess”. The Wing-Commander had no recollection of the prisoner and was not aware that he had ever seen or met Rudolf Hess.

    The prisoner then proceeded: “I am on a mission of humanity. The Führer does not want to defeat England and wants to stop fighting”. His friend Haushofer, he stated, had told him that the Wing-Commander was an Englishman who would understand his point of view. He had tried to arrange a meeting in Lisbon. He had three times before tried to fly to Dungavel, the first time being in December 1940, but had been turned back by weather or various other reasons.

    He did not want to come during the time of British successes in Libya lest it should appear that it was the weakness of Germany which prompted the flight, but that now Germany had had some success there he was glad to come.

    He stressed that his presence showed his sincerity and the German willingness for peace.

    His main theme was that Hitler was convinced that Germany would win sooner or later; that he (the prisoner) wanted to stop the unnecessary slaughter. He asked the Wing-Commander to get together the leading members of his party to talk over things with a view to making peace proposals. He then stated that he could tell him what the Führer’s peace terms would be. The Wing-Commander pointed out that there was now only one party in Great Britain.

    The Wing-Commander immediately flew to London and reported this conversation, stating that, though he could not be sure, he believed the prisoner was, in fact, Rudolf Hess.

    Mr. Kirkpatrick of the Foreign Office, who had during the period of his official duties in Berlin before the war become acquainted with Hess, was at once flown up to Scotland to identify the prisoner. He had three interviews, on the 13th, 14th and 15th May. At the first of these he confirmed that the prisoner was Rudolf Hess.

    During these interviews Hess further elaborated the object of his visit. He stressed the enormous power of Germany in the air and in U-boats, which latter, he stated, would grow much greater. He affirmed the certainty of England’s defeat by blockade, if not very quickly, in the course of two or three years.

    He expressed his horror at the prospect of the prolongation of the struggle. He had come, he said, without the knowledge of the Führer to convince responsible persons that, since England could not win, the wisest course was to make peace at once.

    He gave his word of honour that the Führer had never entertained any designs against the British Empire, nor had he ever aspired to world domination. The Führer would sincerely regret the collapse of the British Empire. Hitler had declared to him as recently as the 3rd May that he had no oppressive demands to make on England.

    The solution which Hess put forward was as follows:-

    (i) That Germany should be given a free hand in Europe.
    (ii) That England should have a free hand in the British Empire, except that the ex-German colonies should be returned to Germany.
    (iii) That Russia should be included in Asia, but that Germany had certain demands to make of Russia which would have to be satisfied either by negotiation or as the result of war. There was, however, no truth in the rumours that the Führer contemplated an early attack on Russia.
    (iv) That the British should evacuate Iraq.
    (v) The peace agreement would have to contain a provision for the reciprocal indemnification of British and German Nationals, whose property had been expropriated as the result of war.
    (vi) 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 Führer would negotiate.

    Hess concluded by emphasising that the Führer really wanted a permanent understanding with Great Britain on a basis which preserved the British Empire intact. His own flight was intended to give Great Britain a chance of opening conversations without loss of prestige. If this chance were to be rejected it would be the Führer’s duty to destroy Great Britain utterly and to keep the country after the war in a state of permanent subjection.

    These so-called “terms” were restated by Hess in a signed document dated the 10th June. The only new point made in this document was the provision that a simultaneous armistice and peace must be concluded with Italy.

    It was, throughout, made clear to Hess that there was no question whatever of any talks or negotiations of any kind taking place with Hitler or his Government.

    Hess has been dealt with as a prisoner of war since his arrival in this country and will so continue to be treated till the end of the war.


    A printable PDF version can be downloaded here:
    http://www.psywar.org/Hess.pdf
     
    Hugh MacLean and WotNoChad? like this.
  2. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    Excellent stuff, one of my key areas of interest too, so a double win for me.

    Just to point out how this bit is a trifle confusing, probably down to the use of "latter" twice so closely;

    At the prisoner’s request the latter two officers withdrew. He then stated to the Wing-Commander that the latter had lunched in his house in Berlin at the time of the Olympic games in 1936 and added: “I am Rudolf Hess”. The Wing-Commander had no recollection of the prisoner and was not aware that he had ever seen or met Rudolf Hess.

    Regardless that's the most interesting part for me, it suggests that either the good Duke did meet Hess in '36, but under strict secrecy and hence denied it, or someone met Hess posing as the Duke.

    There was a statement in the Commons on this;
    "When deputy fuehrer Hess came down with his aeroplane in Scotland on the 10th of May, he gave a false name and asked to see the Duke of Hamilton. The Duke being apprised by the authorities, visited the German prisoner in hospital. Hess then revealed for the first time his true identity, saying that he had seen the Duke when he was at the Olympic games at Berlin in 1936. The Duke did not recognise the Deputy Fuehrer. He had however, visited Germany for the Olympic games in 1936, and during that time had attended more than one large public function, at which German ministers were present. It is, therefore, quite possible that the deputy Fuehrer may have seen him on one such occasion. As soon as the interview was over, Wing Commander the Duke of Hamilton flew to England and gave a full report of what had passed to the Prime Minister, who sent for him. Contrary to reports which have appeared in some newspapers, the Duke has never been in correspondence with the Deputy Fuehrer. None of the Duke's three brothers, who are, like him, serving in the Royal Air Force has either met Hess or has had correspondence with him. It will be seen that the conduct of the Duke of Hamilton has been in every respect honourable and proper." Hansard, 22 May 1941

    There was quite a fuss about the press the Duke received over this affair, the worst coming from Harry Pollitt who aside from being the Gen Sec of the Communist Party of Great Britain, and a traitor in the pay of Stalin was a regular contributor to the Daily Worker. This built up to the point of the Duke instructing barristers in a libel action against Pollitt including raising the possibility of calling Hess to give evidence. TS 27-510

    cheers,
     
  3. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey Patron

    Excellent stuff, one of my key areas of interest too, so a double win for me.

    Just to point out how this bit is a trifle confusing, probably down to the use of "latter" twice so closely;

    At the prisoner’s request the latter two officers withdrew. He then stated to the Wing-Commander that the latter had lunched in his house in Berlin at the time of the Olympic games in 1936 and added: “I am Rudolf Hess”. The Wing-Commander had no recollection of the prisoner and was not aware that he had ever seen or met Rudolf Hess.

    Regardless that's the most interesting part for me, it suggests that either the good Duke did meet Hess in '36, but under strict secrecy and hence denied it, or someone met Hess posing as the Duke.

    cheers,

    Or possibly Hess had been mistaken about the identity of the person he had met in 1936; or that it was the Duke of Hamilton but the meeting was so casual or brief to be unmemorable to the Duke; or it could be Hess was simply making it up.

    The part that catches my eye is:

    "(iii) That Russia should be included in Asia, but that Germany had certain demands to make of Russia which would have to be satisfied either by negotiation or as the result of war. There was, however, no truth in the rumours that the Führer contemplated an early attack on Russia."

    Which makes me think that part of Hess' purpose was as a deception about the invasion of the Soviet Union.

    My feeling is that Hess' visit was all about the invasion of the Soviet Union and a final attempt to neutralise Britain beforehand.

    It is certainly one of those intriguing aspects of the war, that's for sure!
     
  4. WotNoChad?

    WotNoChad? Senior Member

    Good points, Hess is portrayed as being as mad as a box of frogs from quite early-on and rapidly becoming more amphibiously boxed as time went on.

    Yes that last sentence in iii is very odd isn't it? It would only be more odd if it were suffixed with "(honest)".

    My favourite term is; (vi) 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 Führer would negotiate.

    It's just so far fetched, but does show what a high opinion some had of themselves...

    I still prefer to think of Hess' holiday as a well considered trap, or possibly an attempt at a minor black op which was became more than it could ever be hoped to become and quite embarrassingly so.

    One thing I really enjoy about this forum is how we all spot different angles in the same small amount of factual detail. Hurrah!

    cheers,
     
  5. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    Extremely good reading.
    I am sure the mystery surrounding Hess and his flight to Scotland will remain, forever, one of those WWII Enigmas.

    Regards

    Tom
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Is there any mention of a Lt. Col. A.P. Scotland, Military Intelligence in any of the files you read?

    I'm currently reading his book called 'The London Cage' and Hess gets a mention and Scotland was involved in his interrogations but he states in the book that he can not go into detail as the files are still secret. The book was published in 1953 so that does make sense.

    A
     
  7. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I agree with Smudger Jnr, we will probably never know the truth, but point iv) in original post is interesting - British to evacuate Iraq - what was the estimate of Iraq's oil reserves at that time?
     
  8. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    First broadcast by BBC radio, I think, back in 2012, on what this British Psychiatrist thought of the motivations of Rudolf Hess: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00r80lf

    The Psychiatrist and Rudolf Hess
    Witness
    In 1941, the deputy fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, flew out of Nazi Germany and landed in Scotland.

    Keen to study the psychology of the Nazi leadership, the British government sent a psychiatrist called Henry Dicks to examine Hess at a safe house in Surrey.

    Professor Daniel Pick, author of "The Pursuit of the Nazi Mind", retraces the encounter using BBC archive recordings and Dr Dicks' personal papers.

    The programme is adapted from "The Psychiatrist and the Deputy Fuhrer", first broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
     

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