Rudolf Hess, Part Two
November 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On the First Day
of the historic trial, the prosecutors take turns reading the indictment in court. Unfortunately, no-one had given any thought to the prisoners' lunch break so, for the first and only time during 218 days of the hearings, the defendants eat their midday meal in the courtroom itself. This is the first opportunity for the entire group to mingle; and though some know each other quite well, there are many who have never met. Goering's charismatic and somewhat overbearing personality immediately becomes a factor in the subsequent behavior of his peers, to the selective chagrin of the Tribunal, the prosecutors, and the defendants themselves.
November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 2, the defendants enter their pleas:
November 21, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: I will now call upon the defendants to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against them. They will proceed in turn to a point in the dock opposite to the microphone...Hess
: No. The President
: That will be entered as a plea of not guilty. (The courtroom erupts in laughter.) If there is any disturbance in court, those who make it will have to leave the court...
Immediately following the pleas of the defendants, Justice Jackson delivers his opening statement:
November 22, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: We would also make clear that we have no purpose to incriminate the whole German people. We know that the Nazi Party was not put in power by a majority of the German vote. We know it came to power by an evil alliance between the most extreme of the Nazi revolutionists, the most unrestrained of the German reactionaries, and the most aggressive of the German militarists. If the German populace had willingly accepted the Nazi program, no Storm-troopers would have been needed in the early days of the Party, and there would have been no need for concentration camps or the Gestapo, both of which institutions were inaugurated as soon as the Nazis gained control of the German State. Only after these lawless innovations proved successful at home were they taken abroad.
The German people should know by now that the people of the United States hold them in no fear, and in no hate. It is true that the Germans have taught us the horrors of modern warfare, but the ruin that lies from the Rhine to the Danube shows that we, like our Allies, have not been dull pupils...
On the trial's third day, Ralph G. Albrecht, Associate Trial Counsel for the United States, is delivering a briefing to the Tribunal on the structure of the German government:
: The Fuehrer at the top of our chart is the supreme and the only leader in the Nazi hierarchy. His successor-designate was first the Defendant Hess, and subsequently the Defendant Goering...
From an eyewitness account by Telford Taylor: On the third day of the trial I witnessed, by chance, an episode which, apparently, no one else noticed and which gave me an impression of Hess's condition. I was sitting in the courtroom at the American Prosecution table while Ralph Albrecht was delivering his lecture on German governmental structure. It was my first opportunity to scrutinize the defendants and their counsel at leisure and close range. I was not paying close attention to Albrecht's presentation, but I heard him say that Hitler's "successor-designate was first the Defendant Hess and subsequently the Defendant Goering." This I well knew to be in error. The names were right but the order was wrong; Goering was number two and Hess number three.
November 30, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Since I was sitting barely twenty feet from those two gentlemen, I looked to see whether either of them had noticed the slip and, if so, how he reacted. Goering was already waving his arms to attract attention, pointing to himself, and saying repeatedly: "Ich war der Zweite!" ("I was the second!") As these protests were pouring out of Goering, Hess turned and looked at him and burst into laughter. It appeared to me that Hess also knew that Albrecht had misspoken (Albrecht corrected the order of succession at the end of his presentation), and was vastly amused by Goering's characteristically vain reaction. I inferred from this occurrence that Hess's amnesia was not as complete as he had given out." (Taylor)
On the 9th day of the historic trial, defendant Rudolf Hess makes a statement before the court:
At the beginning of the proceedings this afternoon I gave my defense counsel a note saying that I thought the proceedings could be shortened if I would be allowed to speak. I wish to say the following: In order to forestall the possibility of my being pronounced incapable of pleading, in spite of my willingness to take part in the proceedings and to hear the verdict alongside my comrades, I would like to make the following declaration before the Tribunal, although, originally, I intended to make it during a later stage of the trial: Henceforth my memory will again respond to the outside world.
The reasons for simulating loss of memory were of a tactical nature. Only my ability to concentrate is, in fact, somewhat reduced. But my capacity to follow the trial, to defend myself, to put questions to witnesses, or to answer questions myself is not affected thereby. I emphasize that I bear full responsibility for everything that I did, signed, or co-signed. My fundamental attitude that the Tribunal is not competent, is not affected by the statement I have just made. I also simulated loss of memory in consultations with my officially appointed defense counsel. He has, therefore, represented it in good faith.
From The Case of Rudolf Hess by J. R. Rees: The reactions of Hess's fellow defendants to the above statement are noted: Goering was amazed and upset, and while he enjoyed the frustration of the Court, demonstrated considerable resentment that he had been so completely fooled. Von Schirach felt that such behavior was not the action of a normal man, and while he enjoyed Hess's jest upon the world, felt that it was not a gesture expected of a good German whose position was as important as that of Hess.
December 1, 1945 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Ribbentrop, upon learning the news, was dumbfounded, and was hardly able to speak when told Hess's statement, and merely kept repeating: "Hess, you mean Hess? The Hess we have here? He said that?" Ribbentrop became quite agitated and seemed to feel such action was not possible. He stated: "But Hess did not know me. I looked at him. I talked to him. Obviously he did not know me. It is just not possible. Nobody could fool me like that." Streicher's comment, as usual, was direct and blunt: "If you ask me, I think Hess's behavior was a shame. It reflects on the dignity of the German people."
Yesterday, we put our first witness on the stand--General Lahousen. He was examined by John Amens who did only a fair job at it. Late yesterday the tribunal held a hearing on the mental condition of Hess. After two hours of argument, Hess suddenly and dramatically announced that his loss of memory is and was a fraud, etc. I believe he is of unsound mind--and I have great doubt that he should be on trial.
December 1, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 10, the Tribunal rules on Hess:
The Tribunal has given careful consideration to the motion of counsel for the defense of the Defendant Hess, and it had the advantage of hearing full argument upon it both from the Defense and the Prosecution. The Tribunal has also considered the very full medical reports, which have been made on the condition of the Defendant Hess, and has come to the conclusion that no grounds whatever exist for a further examination to be ordered. After hearing the statement of the Defendant Hess in Court yesterday, and in view of all the evidence, the Tribunal is of the opinion that the Defendant Hess is capable of standing his trial at the present time, and the motion of the Counsel for the Defense is, therefore, denied, and the Trial will proceed.
From The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials by Telford Taylor: The Tribunal's decision resolved the issue of whether or not Hess would be tried. But it did not put an end to the questions of whether or not he was sane, or had amnesia, or should not have been tried. Dr Douglas Kelly, the prison psychiatrist, thought that Hess's performance was "a typical dramatic, hysterical gesture, which confirmed my opinions and those of the consulting psychiatrists"--to wit, that despite denials Hess had in fact been suffering from amnesia rooted in hysteria. Dr Gilbert attributed Hess's insistence on being tried to a hysterical fear of being separated from his fellow defendants.
December 11, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Hess himself sought praise for his action, and his memory and general mental condition temporarily improved. Questions such as whether Hess was insane under British law and whether his amnesia was feigned or genuine, were beyond my ken...but as a lawyer I felt that the relevant questions were whether it would appear fair to put him on trial and whether his behavior in the dock would comport with the dignity of the proceeding. I certainly did not regard Hess's own statement as providing an answer to these questions. Indeed, if the book had already been written, I would have thought of Joseph Heller's "Catch-22," one theme of which was that "if he says he's sane, he must be crazy."
As the trial went on, his behavior gradually convinced me that the answer to both questions should have been negative. For political reasons, these considerations were academic. The judges and senior prosecutors all knew that the Russians were out to 'get' Hess. Once the doctors had found him sane, it was clear that dismissing him from the trial would have prompted Stalin to revive his accusations that Britain (and now her allies) were coddling and shielding Hess.
On the trial's 17th day, the Prosecution presents as evidence a four-hour movie, The Nazi Plan
, compiled from various Nazi propaganda films and newsreels. Far from viewing the film as another nail in their coffins, the defendants enjoy it hugely, with Hess predicting that the Nazis would one day rise again. (Taylor)
December 20, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
After this day's session, the trial adjourns for a Holiday break until Wednesday, 2nd January.
December 23, 1945 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Many of the defendants, most of whom are Protestant, attend Christmas Eve services conducted by Pastor Gerecke: Hess will never attend any religious services of any kind.
January 28, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The evidence is building up a most terrible and convincing case of complete horror and inhumanity in the concentration camps. But from the point of view of this trial it is a complete waste of valuable time. The case has been proved over and over again.
February 7, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 53, the French Prosecution presents its case against Hess (Note: The presentation of the French case against Hess had been delayed when Hess's original attorney, Dr Gunther von Rohrscheidt, had broken his foot. He has meanwhile been replaced by Dr Alfred Seidl, who also represents Defendant Frank):
February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
...Hess also signed a decree on the 20th of December 1934, a decree entitled "Laws against Treacherous Acts against the State and Party." By Article 1 of that decree penalties were imposed upon anybody making false statements injuring the prestige of the government, the Party, or its agencies; and by Article 2 penalties were imposed for statements proving a malicious attitude against the Party or its leading personalities. The decree was signed by Hess, and it was Hess who had to issue the necessary regulations for carrying the decree into effect. He took a leading part in the gaining of control over government appointments. I quote again in all these matters only a few examples. If one wanted to quote every decree that the defendant signed and every act he took in participation of these matters, it would really entail writing a history of the Nazi Party...
On day 54, the Russian Prosecution presents its case: Rudenko:
February 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
For the purpose of successful execution of their criminal plans these conspirators--Goering, Hess, Rosenberg, Fritzsche, Schirach, and the other defendants--developed a fiendish theory of the superior or master race. By means of this so-called theory they had in mind to justify the claims of German fascism for the domination of other nations which were declared by their theory to be nations of inferior race. It followed from this theory that Germans, since they belonged to the "master race," have the "right" to build their own welfare on the bones of other races and nations. This theory proclaimed that German fascist usurpers are not bound by any laws or commonly accepted rules of human morality. The "master race" is permitted to do anything. No matter how revolting and shameless, cruel, and monstrous were the actions of those individuals, they were based on the idea of the superiority of this race...
Goering, who along with Hess had removed his earphones in disgust during Rudenko's presentation, declares during the lunch break: "I did not think that they (the Russians) would be so shameless as to mention Poland." And later: "You will see--this trial will be a disgrace in 15 years." (Gilbert)
February 9, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd:
Yesterday, Friday, opened the Russian case. General Rudenko made his statement and the Russian photographers were all over the place. It lasted most of the day and about 4 o'clock the Russkies began presenting evidence. I conferred with the Justice about segregating Goering from the other defendants for he is browbeating and threatening them--and particularly those who might admit some guilt. He wants all to hang together--and to prove that Roosevelt was the cause of the war! Well, we will take care of that defense all right but I do not think he is entitled to go on intimidating people as he has done for much of his life.
From Justice at Nuremberg by Robert E. Conot: Hess...thought that the extra k-rations, which Dr. Pffuecker weekly divided among the defendants, were intended to poison him, and one day passed a note around the dock inquiring if any of his co-defendants were willing to offer themselves as guinea pigs. Fritzsche volunteered; and, as Hess looked on with alarm, tipped the packet of sugar that Hess handed him into his mouth. The next day, Hess wanted to know what had happened; and Fritzsche, willing to conduct further "tests," informed Hess that he had suffered some discomfort, but it was too early to tell. Goering jealously offered to join Fritzsche as a test subject; and together the two of them strove to relieve Hess of his sweets and supplemental rations.
February 15, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Colonel Andrus tightens the rules for the defendants by imposing strict solitary confinement. This is part of a strategy designed to minimize Goering's influence among the defendants. (Tusa)
February 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
In a further move to minimize his influence, Goering is now required to eat alone during the court's daily lunch break. The other defendants are split up into groups, with Hess sharing a table with Streicher, Raeder, and Ribbentrop. Andrus and Gilbert reason that these four will "find little to say to each other." (Tusa)
March 5, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Winston Churchill (now a private citizen) introduces the phrase Iron Curtain
into the English language during his famous Cold War speech at Fulton, Missouri. Speer recorded his fellow defendants' reactions:
...(The defendants showed) tremendous excitement. Hess suddenly stopped playing the amnesiac and reminded us how often he had predicted a great turning point that would put an end to the trial, rehabilitate all of us, and restore us to our ranks and dignities. Goering, too, was beside himself; he repeatedly slapped his thighs with his palms and boomed: "History will not be deceived. The Fuehrer and I always prophesied it. This coalition had to break up sooner or later." (Speer II)
March 20, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
From the diary of the British Alternate Judge, Mr. Justice Birkett:
The trial from now on is really outside the control of the Tribunal, and in the long months ahead the prestige of the trial will steadily diminish.
March 22, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 88, Hess's Defense sets about on an inept campaign of diversions:
March 24, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Mr. President and Your Honors: Before commencing the submission of evidence I have to make the following remarks at the request of the Defendant Hess: The Defendant Hess contests the jurisdiction of the Tribunal where other than war crimes proper are the subject of the Trial. However, he specifically assumes full responsibility for all laws or decrees which he has signed. Furthermore, he assumes responsibility for all orders and directives which he issued in his capacity as Deputy of the Fuehrer and Minister of the Reich. For these reasons he does not desire to be defended against any charges which refer to the internal affairs of Germany as a sovereign state. That applies in particular to the relations between Church and State, and similar questions...
As his Defense is about to get underway, Hess reveals to Dr Gilbert that he does not intend to take the stand "because he did not want to be subjected to the embarrassment of not being able to answer the questions the Prosecution would ask." Note: Since Hess will neither give testimony nor be cross-examined, his defense will last only a day and a half. Goering's, by far the longest defense, will occupy a dozen days; the average for the other defendants will be about four days of defense. (Gilbert, Taylor)
March 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 90, Hess's defense attempts to introduce into evidence the secret protocol to the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact:
March 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The Prosecutor for the Soviet Union states that he has no knowledge of the existence of this secret document which shall be established by this affidavit. Under these circumstances I am compelled to move that Foreign Commissar Molotov of the Soviet Union be called as a witness, so that it can be established, firstly whether this agreement was actually concluded, secondly, what the contents of this agreement are, and thirdly... The President
: Dr. Seidl, the first thing for you to do is to have a translation of this document made, and until you have a translation of this document made the Tribunal is not prepared to hear you upon it. We do not know what the document contains. Dr Seidl
: As to what the document contains, I already wanted to explain that before. In the document there is... The President
: No, the Tribunal is not prepared to hear from you what the document contains. We want to see the document itself and see it in English and also in Russian. I do not mean, of course, you have to do it yourself, Dr. Seidl. If you would furnish this copy to the Prosecution they will have it translated into the various languages and then, after that has been done, we can reconsider the matter. Dr Seidl
: Very well. I turn then to another document...
Hess's Defense calls the former State Secretary of the Reich Foreign Office, Ernst Wilhelm Bohle, to the stand; Seidl doesn't actually question the witness, however. Instead, he merely reads an Affidavit
signed by the witness, leaving it up to the Prosecution to question him.
March 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Hess's Defense calls Karl Strolin, former Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart, to the stand. Again, Seidl doesn't question the witness, but only reads his affidavit, leaving the prosecution free to destroy the witness in cross-examination.
March 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 91, Hess's "defense" sputters out altogether:
March 26, 1946 From the letters of Thomas Dodd
: If it please the Tribunal, this volume of the document book contains, in substance, statements and quotations taken from books and speeches of foreign statesmen, diplomats, and political economists, regarding the history and origin of the Versailles Treaty, the contents of the Versailles Treaty, the territorial changes made by this treaty, such as the question of the Polish Corridor, and above all the disastrous economic consequences which this treaty had for Germany and also for the rest of the world. The President
: Yes, Sir David? Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe
: My Lord, I have read the documents in this book and I should like just to say one or two words about them. They are opinions expressed by a great variety of gentlemen, including politicians, economists, and journalists. They are opinions that are expressed polemically and some of them journalistically, and with most of them one is familiar and knew them when they were expressed 15 to 25 years ago.
Now, while I submit, as I have submitted to the Tribunal, that the whole subject is too remote, I have a suggestion which I hope the Tribunal will consider reasonable, that the Prosecution should, as I suggested yesterday, let this book go in at the moment de bene esse
and that when Dr. Seidl comes to making his final speech he can adopt the arguments that are put forward by the various gentlemen whom he quotes, if he thinks they are right. He can use the points as illustrations, always provided the thesis that he is developing is one which the Tribunal thinks relevant to the issues before it. That will preserve for Dr. Seidl the advantage of the right to use these documents subject, as I say, to the relevancy of the issues, but I suggest that it would be quite wrong to read them as evidence...
Yesterday, the Hess case was on and a sorry exhibition it was. In the first place he has no real defense and besides his lawyer is not too bright. Hess is half mad and as a result the effort was almost silly. He put two witnesses on the stand and they amounted to nothing. The British took too long at cross-exam and Amen, who wanted to get his name in the paper and who is stupid and knows almost nothing about this case, beat a dead horse to death for two hours. I gave him a good lecture afterwards but it does little good. I had a long talk with Bill Jackson tonight about the case. I told him that unless we moved it along, we would never finish it. The Justice is ill in bed and will not be back for a few days. I think he is worn out from his experience with Goering--he has been on the bench too long to take the cross-examination work. Today the Hess case ended after an all morning battle over the Versailles Treaty. (Judge) Biddle was again the difficulty--he has done more to impede this trial than anyone here.
April 8, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 102, Dr. Hans Heinrich Lammers, head of the Reich Chancellery, testifies:
April 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: When von Neurath resigned as Foreign Minister, the Fuehrer wanted to give von Neurath as much prominence as possible in the eyes of the world, and he ordered me to draw up a decree regarding a Secret Cabinet Council of which Herr von Neurath was to be President, with the title President of the Secret Cabinet Council. Other members were, as far as I can recall, the Reich Foreign Minister; the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Reich Minister Hess; Field Marshal Keitel; and I, myself. I think that is all. But I gathered from statements made by the Fuehrer that the creation of this council was purely a formal matter which was to procure a special position for Herr von Neurath in the eyes of the public. I was convinced that the Fuehrer would never call a meeting of the Secret Cabinet Council. In fact, the Secret Cabinet Council has never actually met, not even for a constitutional meeting. It never received any task from the Fuehrer through me; it merely existed on paper...
On day 114, Hans Bernd Gisevius continues his testimony:
July 12, 1946 From the diary of Dr. Victor von der Lippe
: ...the attempt at assassination would perhaps have succeeded, if Goering and Himmler had been with Hitler on 17 July. But as the years went by, the members of this clique separated to such an extent, and protected themselves so much that they could hardly be found together anywhere. Goering, too, was gradually so absorbed in his transactions and art collections at Karinhall that he was hardly ever to be found at a serious conference. Justice Jackson
: Now, the assassination of Hitler would have accomplished nothing from your point of view if the Number 2 man had stepped into Hitler's place, would it? Gisevius
: That was a debatable problem for a long time, because Brauchitsch, for instance, imagined that we could create a transitional regime with Goering. Our group always refused to come together with that man even for an hour. Justice Jackson
: How did you plan--if you were successful--to deal with the other defendants here, with the exception of the Defendant Schacht, all of whom, I understand, you regard as a part of the Nazi government? Gisevius
: These gentlemen would have been behind lock and key in an extremely short time, and I think they would not have had to wait long for their sentences. Justice Jackson
: Now, does that apply to every man in this dock with the exception of Schacht? Gisevius
: Yes, every man. Justice Jackson
: That is, you recognized them, your group recognized them all as parts and important parts of the Nazi regime-a Nazi conspiracy. Is that a fact? Gisevius
: I should not like to commit myself to the words "Nazi conspiracy." We considered them the men responsible for all the unspeakable misery which that government had brought to Germany and the world...
(assistant defense attorney for Raeder):
From a court source...the rumor went round today that, irrespective of the final pleas, the Tribunal was so far advanced with its findings that, as things stood, death sentences must be reckoned with except for Schacht, Papen and Fritzsche.
July 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On day 186, the Tribunal begins the morning session with an announcement:
The President: When counsel for the Defendant Hess first made his argument, the Tribunal directed that he should rewrite it and submit it for the Tribunal's consideration, as he had continually disregarded the Tribunal's directives that the alleged unfairness of the Versailles Treaty should not be argued. The argument as now rewritten by Dr. Seidl has been carefully considered by the Tribunal. It still contains many allusions to the unfairness of the Versailles Treaty, irrelevant material, quotations not authorized by the Tribunal, and other matters which have nothing to do with the issues before the Tribunal. The Tribunal have, therefore, deleted the objectionable passages and have directed the General Secretary to hand a marked copy containing the deletions to Dr. Seidl. That is all. The Tribunal direct Dr. Seidl to get in touch with the General Secretary's representative. He will then see the passages which the Tribunal consider objectionable.
July 25, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Later, Hess's Defense is allowed to make an edited closing statement (though the deleted passages will soon find their way into the newspapers):
July 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Without going into detail as regards general circumstances and the personal relations between Hitler and the Defendant Hess, one thing can still be said with certainty: By his flight to England the Defendant Hess accomplished a deed which in view of his position in the Party and in the State, and especially in view of the fact that after Goering he was marked as Hitler's successor, can only be characterized as a sacrifice, a sacrifice which Hess made not only in the interest of the restoration of peace, and in the interest of the German people, but also in that of Europe and the whole world. This sacrifice was all the greater as Hess was one of the very few whose relation to Hitler was based on intimate personal confidence. If, nevertheless, the Defendant Hess decided to stake his position in the Party and in the State and his personal bond with Hitler for the re-establishment of peace, this must lead to the conclusion that the Defendant Hess likewise saw in war the ghastly scourge of mankind and that it must appear quite improbable for this reason alone that it was his intention to prepare the German people for war...
On day 187, Justice Jackson, Chief Prosecutor for the US, details the Prosecution's closing arguments against Hess.
July 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The zealot Hess, before succumbing to wanderlust, was the engineer tending the Party machinery, passing orders and propaganda down to the Leadership Corps, supervising every aspect of Party activities, and maintaining the organization as a loyal and ready instrument of power...
Note: This is the extent of Jackson's closing comments on Hess; by far the least mention made by the Justice of any individual defendant.
After repeatedly denying the use of the Versailles issue as a defense argument, the Tribunal hears Sir Hartley Shawcross, Chief Prosecutor of the United Kingdom, utilize Versailles as a closing point for the Prosecution:
July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The so-called injustice of Versailles, so cunningly exploited to provide a popular rallying point under the Nazi banner, had succeeded in uniting behind the Nazis many Germans who would not otherwise have supported some of the rest of the Nazi program. And the effect of that propaganda can be judged from the repeated efforts here made by the Defense to develop the alleged injustice of the treaty. Unjust or not, it was a treaty, and no government content to live at peace need have complained of its provisions. Even if the complaints were justified, there was comparatively soon no ground left for them. The provisions of the treaty could have been--in some respects they were--revised by peaceful negotiations.
By 1935, 4 years before the world was plunged into war, these men had publicly renounced the treaty. What miserable rubbish is the long tirade on behalf of the treaty, when one realizes that by 1939 not only were they free of nearly all the restrictions of which they had complained, but they had seized territory which had never belonged to Germany in the whole of European history. The cry of Versailles was a device for rallying men to wicked and aggressive purposes. But it was a device no less diabolical than the cry of anti-Semitism and racial purity, by which these men sought both to rally and cement the various forms of public opinion in their own country and to sow discord and antagonism amongst the people...
On day 189, M. Dubost, Deputy Chief Prosecutor for the French Republic, details Prosecutions closing arguments:
July 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: The defendants have been active in widely differing spheres. As politicians, diplomats, soldiers, sailors, economists, financiers, jurists, or propagandists, they represent practically every form of liberal activity. We recognize unhesitatingly, however, the tie that binds them together. They have all put the best--or the worst--of themselves at the service of the Hitlerite State. To a certain extent they represent the brains of that State; but they themselves were not the whole brain. Nevertheless, no one can doubt that they were an important part of it. They conceived the policy of that State. They wanted to transform their thoughts into action and all contributed in almost the same degree toward its realization. This is true, no matter whether it applies to Hess or Goering, professional politicians who admit never having practiced any other profession but that of agitator or statesman...
General Rudenko, Chief Prosecutor for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, details Prosecution's closing arguments:
August 17, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
: Hess refused to offer explanations to the Tribunal. His counsel, Seidl, declared with false pathos that Hess considered the present Tribunal incompetent to judge the German war criminals, and immediately afterward, without a pause, he presented proofs in his defense. Hess even tried to declare himself insane to avoid punishment deserved. But when he was convinced that such a maneuver would not help him, he was forced to tell the Tribunal that he had simulated loss of memory, that it had been a trick on his part, and he had to admit that he bore full responsibility for all that he had done and signed together with the others. Thus, this clumsy attempt of Hess to avoid responsibility was fully exposed at the Trial and he should suffer the full extent of his punishment...
Nuremberg Prison Psychologist Dr Gilbert submits his final report on Hess's mental competence:
August 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
The psychiatric commissions have agreed, and my further observations have confirmed, that Hess is not insane (in the legal sense of being incapable of distinguishing right from wrong or realizing the consequences of his acts) . . . . Hess did recover his memory for a sufficient period of time (2-3 months) to give his counsel ample cooperation in the preparation of his defense. If he failed to do so, it was the result of a negativistic personality peculiarity, which I have also observed, and not incompetence . . . .There has been no indication in his case history or present behavior that he was insane at the time of the activities for which he has been indicted. His behavior throughout the trial has also shown sufficient insight and reason to dispel any doubts about his sanity. (He may have gone through a psychotic episode in England, but that in no way destroys the validity of the previous two statements. He has exhibited signs of a "persecution complex" here too, but these have not been of psychotic proportions . . . . In my opinion, another examination by a psychiatric commission at this time would not throw any further light on the case...
On day 216 of deliberations, the defendants make their final statements.
The President: I call on the Defendant Rudolf Hess.
Hess: First of all, I should like to make a request to the High Tribunal that I may remain seated because of my state of health.
The President: Certainly.
Final Statement of Rudolf Hess: Some of my comrades here can confirm the fact that at the beginning of the proceedings I predicted the following:
(1) That witnesses would appear who, under oath, would make untrue statements while, at the same time, these witnesses could create an absolutely reliable impression and enjoy the best possible reputation.
(2) That it was to be reckoned with that the Court would receive affidavits containing untrue statements.
(3) That the defendants would be astonished and surprised at some German witnesses.
(4) That some of the defendants would act rather strangely: they would make shameless utterances about the Fuehrer; they would incriminate their own people; they would partially incriminate each other, and falsely at that. Perhaps they would even incriminate themselves, and also wrongly.
All of these predictions have come true, and as far as the witnesses and affidavits are concerned, in dozens of cases; cases in which the unequivocal oath of the defendants stands in opposition to the sworn statements of the former. In this connection I shall only mention the name Messerschmidt: Mr. Messerschmidt, who, for example, says that he spoke to Admiral Doenitz at a time when the latter was, to my knowledge, in the Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean. I made these predictions, however, not only here at the beginning of the Trial, but had already made them months before the beginning of the Trial, in England to, among others, Dr. Johnston, the physician who was with me in Abergavenny.
At the same time I put these statements down in writing, as proof. I base my predictions on some events in countries outside of Germany. In this connection I should like to emphasize now that, while I mention these incidents, I was convinced from the beginning that the governments concerned knew nothing about them. Therefore, I am not raising any accusation against these governments. In the years 1936 to 1938 political trials were taking place in one of these countries. These were characterized by the fact that the defendants accused themselves in an astonishing way. For example, they cited great numbers of crimes which they had committed or which they claimed to have committed. At the end, when death sentences were passed upon them, they clapped in frenzied approval to the astonishment of the world. But some foreign press correspondents reported that one had the impression that these defendants, through some means hitherto unknown, had been put into an abnormal state of mind, as a result of which they acted the way they did.
These incidents were recalled to my mind by a certain happening in England. There it was not possible for me to get the reports of the trials at that time, any more than here. However, the corresponding years of the Voelkischer Beobachter were at my disposal there. While looking through these numbers I came upon the following passage in the number of 8 March 1933. A report from Paris dated 7 March 1938 reads as follows: "The big Paris newspaper Le Jour made revelations about the means which were apparently used in these trials. These are rather mysterious means." I quote literally what the Voelkischer Beobachter reprinted from Le Jour: "These means make it possible for the selected victims to be made to act and speak according to the orders given them." I emphasize and point out that this report in Le Jour not only says "to make them speak according to orders given them," but also "to make them act according to orders given them."
The latter point is of tremendous importance in connection with the actions, the hitherto inexplicable actions of the personnel in the German concentration camps, including the scientists and physicians who made these frightful and atrocious experiments on the prisoners, actions which normal human beings, especially physicians and scientists, could not possibly carry out. But this is also of equally great significance in connection with the actions of the persons who undoubtedly gave the orders and directions for the atrocities in the concentration camps and who gave the orders for shooting prisoners of war and lynchings and other such things, up to the Fuehrer himself. I recall that the witness Field Marshal Milch testified here that he had the impression that the Fuehrer was not normal mentally during the last years, and a number of my comrades here have told me, independently of each other and without having any knowledge of what I am saying here now, that during the last years the Fuehrer's eyes and facial expression had something cruel in them, and even had a tendency towards madness. I can name the comrades in question as witnesses.
I said before that a certain incident in England caused me to think of the reports of the earlier trials. The reason was that the people around me during my imprisonment acted towards me in a peculiar and incomprehensible way, in a way which led me to conclude that these people somehow were acting in an abnormal state of mind. Some of them--these persons and people around me were changed from time to time. Some of the new ones who came to me in place of those who had been changed had strange eyes. They were glassy and like eyes in a dream. This symptom, however, lasted only a few days and then they made a completely normal impression. They could no longer be distinguished from normal human beings. Not only I alone noticed these strange eyes, but also the physician who attended me at the time, Dr. Johnston, a British Army doctor, a Scotsman.
In the spring of 1942 I had a visitor, a visitor who quite obviously tried to provoke me and acted towards me in a strange way. This visitor also had these strange eyes. Afterwards, Dr. Johnston asked me what I thought of this visitor. He told me--I told him I had the impression that for some reason or other he was not completely normal mentally, whereupon Dr. Johnston did not protest, as I had expected, but agreed with me and asked me whether I had not noticed those strange eyes, these eyes with a dreamy look. Dr. Johnston did not suspect that he himself had exactly the same eyes when he came to me. The essential point, however, is that in one of the reports of the time, which must still be in the press files on the proceedings--this was in Paris, about the Moscow trial--it said that the defendants had had strange eyes. They had had glazed and dreamy eyes! I have already said that I am convinced that the governments here concerned knew nothing of these happenings.
Therefore it would not be in the interest of the British Government either if my statements about what I experienced during my imprisonment were denied publicity in any way, for that would give the impression that something was actually supposed to be concealed here, and that the British Government had actually had a finger in the pie. On the contrary, however, I am convinced that both the Churchill Government and the present Government gave instructions that I was to be treated fairly and according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. I am conscious of the fact that what I have, to say about the treatment which I received will at first glance appear incredible. Fortunately for me, however, prison guards at a very much earlier time had already treated their prisoners in a way which at first appeared absolutely incredible when the first rumors about it reached the outside world. These rumors were to the effect that prisoners had been deliberately allowed to starve to death, that ground glass, among other things, had been put in the meager food which had been given them, that the physicians who attended the prisoners who had been taken sick in this way had added harmful substances to their medicine, which increased their sufferings and at the same time increased the number of victims. As a matter of fact, all of these rumors afterwards proved to be true. It is a historical fact that a monument was erected for 26,370 Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps, and who for the most part died of hunger. Many Englishmen at that time, among others, Lloyd George, protested strongly against these happenings in British concentration camps, and likewise an English eye witness, Miss Emily Hopfords.
However, at that time the world was confronted with an insoluble riddle, the same riddle which confronts it today with regard to the happenings in the German concentration camps. At that time the English people were confronted with an incomprehensible riddle, the same riddle which today confronts the German people with regard to the happenings in the German concentration camps. Indeed, at that time, the British Government itself was confronted with a riddle regarding the happenings in the South African concentration camps, with the same riddle which today confronts the members of the Reich Cabinet and the other defendants, here and in other trials, regarding the happenings in the German concentration camps. Obviously, it would have been of the utmost importance if I had stated under oath what I have to say about the happenings during my own imprisonment in England. However, it was impossible for me to persuade my counsel to declare himself willing to put the proper questions to me. It was likewise impossible for me to get another counsel to agree to put these questions to me. But it is of the utmost importance that what I am saying be said under oath.
Therefore I now declare once more: I swear by God the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth, that I shall leave out nothing and add nothing. I ask the High Tribunal, therefore, to consider everything which I shall say from now on as under oath. Concerning my oath, I should also like to say that I am not a churchgoer; I have no spiritual relationship with the Church, but I am a deeply religious person. I am convinced that my belief in God is stronger than that of most other people. I ask the High Tribunal to give all the more weight to everything which I declare under oath, expressly calling God as my witness. In the spring of 1942 ...
The President [interposing]: I must draw the attention of the Defendant Hess to the fact that he has already spoken for 20 minutes, and the Tribunal has indicated to the defendants that it cannot allow them to continue to make statements of great length at this stage of the proceedings. We have to hear all the defendants. The Tribunal, therefore, hopes that the Defendant Hess will conclude his speech.
Hess: Mr. President, may I point out that I was taking into account the fact that I am the only defendant who, up to now, has not been able to make a statement here. For what I have to say here, I could only have said as a witness if the proper questions had been put to me. But as I have already stated ...
The President: I do not propose to argue with the defendants. The Tribunal has made its order that the defendants shall only make short statements. The Defendant Hess had full opportunity to go into the witness box and give his evidence upon oath. He chose not to do so. He is now making a statement, and he will be treated like the other defendants and will be confined to a short statement.
Hess: Therefore, Mr. President, I shall forego making the statements which I had wanted to make in connection with the things I have just said. I ask you to listen to only a few more concluding words, which are of a more general nature and have nothing to do with the things that I have just stated. The statements which my counsel made in my name before the High Tribunal I permitted to be made for the sake of the future judgment of my people and of history. That is the only thing which matters to me. I do not defend myself against accusers to whom I deny the right to bring charges against me and my fellow countrymen. I will not discuss accusations which concern things which are purely German matters and therefore of no concern to foreigners. I raise no protest against statements which are aimed at attacking my honor, the honor of the German people. I consider such slanderous attacks by the enemy as a proof of honor.
I was permitted to work for many years of my life under the greatest son whom my people has brought forth in its thousand year history. Even if I could, I would not want to erase this period of time from my existence. I am happy to know that I have done my duty, to my people, my duty as a German, as a National Socialist, as a loyal follower of my Fuehrer. I do not regret anything. If I were to begin all over again, I would act just as I have acted, even if I knew that in the end I should meet a fiery death at the stake. No matter what human beings may do, I shall some day stand before the judgment seat of the Eternal. I shall answer to Him, and I know He will judge me innocent.
From Nuremberg: A Nation on Trial by Werner Maser, translated by Richard Barry: Some time before the members of the Tribunal had made up their minds on the sentences, the thirty-two American journalists present had made up theirs. On a blackboard in the foreign press room industrious pollsters had chalked up the correspondents' forecasts in columns headed 'Guilty,' 'Not Guilty,' 'Death Sentence' and 'Prison.' The pressmen were unanimous on the death sentence only for Goering, Ribbentrop and Kaltenbrunner; as regards the rest, bets on the death sentence were: Keitel and Sauckel 29, Hans Frank 27, Seyss-Inquart 26, Rosenberg 24, Hess 17, Raeder 15, Doenitz and Streicher 14, Jodl 13, Frick 12, Speer 11, von Schirach 9, von Papen 6, Schacht 4, von Neurath 3 and Fritzsche 1.
September 2, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
(Justice) Jackson...had also made his "calculation." In a secret meeting with his closest associates he had even proposed that, since the defendants had so continuously incriminated each other during their period under arrest, they should themselves vote on the guilt or innocence of each of them. It may be regarded as fairly certain that, had this happened, none of them would have escaped the gallows. The Tribunal, however, worked on other hypotheses. The last stage now having been reached, most of the defendants awaited the judgements with calm and composure, some of them even cheerfully. The trial had revealed details and events against which no argument could carry weight, yet it seems that, when the trial ended, none of the defendants was really clear as to what sentence awaited him in Room 600 of the Palace of Justice. After the reading of the Judgement, awaited with impatience by the numerous press correspondents, the defendants were led back to their cells, each handcuffed to a US soldier. Pfluecker, the German prison doctor, noted: 'Hess [has] his usual colic but of course wants to attend the proceedings. When I twitted him, saying that he must not fail to listen to everything today, he replied with a chuckle: "I shan't listen."
As the defendants await the courts judgement, Colonel Andrus somewhat relaxes the conditions of confinement and allows the prisoners limited visitation. (Conot)
September 26, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
From the Daily Telegraph
, byline Rebecca West:
The judgement that is now about to be delivered has to answer a challenge which has been thrown down not only by Germans but by many critics among the Allies. It has to prove that victors can so rise above the ordinary limitations of human nature as to be able to try fairly the foes they vanquished, by submitting themselves to the restraints of law...The meeting of the challenge will also warn all future war-mongers that law can at last pursue then into peace and thus give humanity a new defense against them. Hence the judgement of the Nuremberg Tribunal may be one of the most important events in the history of civilization.
September 29, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
From notes by Dr Pfluecker, Nuremberg Prison's German Doctor:
Yesterday, the defendants said farewell to their relatives. Hess was the only one who wished to see no one; he even refused a proposed meeting with Speer. Moreover, he is more relaxed than usual. (Maser)
September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On the penultimate day of this historic trial, the final judgements are read in open court:
Final Judgement of Rudolf Hess: Hess is indicted under all four Counts. He joined the Nazi Party in 1920 and participated in the Munich Putsch on 9 November 1923. He was imprisoned with Hitler in the Landsberg fortress in 1924 and became Hitler's closest personal confidant, a relationship which lasted until Hess' flight to the British Isles. On 21 April 1933, he was appointed Deputy to the Fuehrer, and on 1 December 1933 was made Reich Minister without Portfolio. He was appointed member of the Secret Cabinet Council on 4 February 1938, and a member of the Ministerial Council for the Defense of the Reich on 31 August 1939. In September 1939, Hess was officially announced by Hitler as successor designate to the Fuehrer, after Goering. On 10 May 1941, he flew from Germany to Scotland.
September 30, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
Crimes against Peace: As Deputy to the Fuehrer, Hess was the top man in the Nazi Party, with responsibility for handling all Party matters and authority to make decisions in Hitler's name on all questions of Party leadership. As Reich Minister without Portfolio, he had the authority to approve all legislation suggested by the different Reich Ministers before it could be enacted as law. In these positions, Hess was an active supporter of preparations for war. His signature appears on the law of 16 March 1935, establishing compulsory military service.
Throughout the years, he supported Hitler's policy of vigorous rearmament in many speeches. He told the people that they must sacrifice for armaments, repeating the phrase, "Guns instead of butter." It is true that between 1933 and 1937 Hess made speeches in which he expressed a desire for peace and advocated international economic co-operation. But nothing which they contained can alter the fact that, of all the defendants, none knew better than Hess how determined Hitler was to realize his ambitions, how fanatical and violent a man he was, and how little likely he was to refrain from resort to force, if this was the only way in which he could achieve his aims. Hess was an informed and willing participant in German aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. He was in touch with the illegal Nazi Party in Austria throughout the entire period between the murder of Dollfuss and the Anschluss, and gave instructions to it during that period. Hess was in Vienna on 12 March 1938, when the German troops moved in; and on 13 March 1938, he signed the law for the union of Austria with the German Reich..
A law of 10 June 1939 provided for his participation in the administration of Austria. On 24 July 1938, he made a speech in commemoration of the unsuccessful Putsch by Austrian National Socialists which had been attempted 4 years before, praising the steps leading up to the Anschluss, and defending the occupation of Austria by Germany. In the summer of 1938, Hess was in active touch with Henlein, Chief of the Sudeten German Party in Czechoslovakia. On 27 September 1939, at the time of the Munich crisis, he arranged with Keitel to carry out the instructions of Hitler to make the machinery of the Nazi Party available for a secret mobilization. On 14 April 1939, Hess signed a decree setting up the Government of the Sudetenland as an integral part of the Reich; and an ordinance of 10 June 1939 provided for his participation in the administration of the Sudetenland. On 7 November 1938, Hess absorbed Heinlein's Sudeten German Party into the Nazi Party and made a speech in which he emphasized that Hitler had been prepared to resort to war if this had been necessary to acquire the Sudetenland.
On 27 August 1939, when the attack on Poland had been temporarily postponed in an attempt to induce Great Britain to abandon its guarantee to Poland, Hess publicly praised Hitler's "magnanimous offer" to Poland and attacked Poland for agitating for war and England for being responsible for Poland's attitude. After the invasion of Poland, Hess signed decrees incorporating Danzig and certain Polish territories into the Reich, and setting up the Government General (Poland). These specific steps, which this defendant took in support of Hitler's plans for aggressive action, do not indicate the full extent of his responsibility.
Until his flight to England, Hess was Hitler's closest personal confidant. Their relationship was such that Hess must have been informed of Hitler's aggressive plans when they came into existence. And he took action to carry out these plans whenever action was necessary. With him on 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 10 days after the date on which Hitler fixed 22 June 1941 as the time for attacking the Soviet Union. In conversations carried on after his arrival in England, Hess wholeheartedly supported all Germany's aggressive actions up to that time, and attempted to justify Germany's action in connection with Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. He blamed England and France for the war.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity: There is evidence showing the participation of the Party Chancellery, under Hess, in the distribution of orders connected with the commission of War Crimes; that Hess may have had knowledge of, even if he did not participate in, the crimes that were being committed in the East, and proposed laws discriminating against Jews and Poles; and that he signed decrees forcing certain groups of Poles to accept German citizenship. The Tribunal, however, does not find that the evidence sufficiently connects Hess with these crimes to sustain a finding of guilt. As previously indicated, the Tribunal found, after a full medical examination of and report on the condition of this defendant, that he should be tried, without any postponement of his case. Since that time further motions have been made that he should again be examined. These the Tribunal denied, after having had a report from the prison psychologist. That Hess acts in an abnormal manner, suffers from loss of memory, and has mentally deteriorated during this 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. He was ably represented at the Trial by counsel, appointed for that purpose by the Tribunal. There is no suggestion that Hess was not completely sane when the acts charged against him were committed.
Conclusion: The Tribunal finds the Defendant Hess guilty on Counts One and Two; and not guilty on Counts Three and Four.
Rebecca West, in the Daily Telegraph
On Monday afternoon the darkened mind of Hess passed some terrible crisis...All humanity left his face; it became an agonized muddle. He began to sway backward and forward on the seat with the regularity of a pendulum. His head swung forward almost to his knees. His skin became blue...He was taken away soon, but it was as if the doors of hell had swung ajar. It was apparent now, as on so many occasions during the trial, that the judges found it repulsive to try a man in such a state; but the majority of the psychiatrists consulted by the court had pronounced him sane.
October 1, 1946 Nuremberg Tribunal:
On the 218th and last day of the trial, sentences are handed down:
Defendant Rudolf Hess, on the Counts of the Indictment on which you have been convicted, the Tribunal sentences you to imprisonment for life. ....
I have an announcement to make. The Soviet member of the International Military Tribunal desires to record his dissent...from the decision in the case of the sentence on the Defendant Hess and is of the opinion that the sentence should have been, death, and not life imprisonment.
From The Nuremberg Trial by Ann and John Tusa: The French thought twenty years was an adequate sentence for Hess. No one else agreed. As ever, the Russians wanted a hanging--in this case they added to their general principle the national prejudice that Hess's flight to Scotland had been an attempt to win Germany a free hand against Russia. They also argued that Hess's signature on the Nuremberg Decrees made him guilty of the deaths of millions of Jews; that his signature of the documents incorporating conquered territories and his establishment of compulsory military service made him at least as culpable as Frick; that his uniquely close relationship with Hitler and vigorous public support for all his policies put him in the same category as Goering; his detailed knowledge of all aggressive planning put him in the same category as many defendants who were to hang. These arguments convinced the other judges that Hess deserved a heavy sentence. But they had also put in the balance the fact that Hess left Germany in 1941; only after that date did the worst atrocities occur. In a three to one vote against the Russians they found Hess guilty on Counts One and Two only; after a three to one vote against the French, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
October 16, 1946:
Those defendants sentenced to jail time endure a sleepless night as the condemned men’s' names are called off, one by one, and led to the gallows. All co-operate with the process but Streicher, who refuses to dress, and has to be forced. As Streicher is dragged off fighting every inch of the way, Hess shouts his encouragement: "Bravo, Streicher!" (Speer II)
October 17, 1946 From Spandau Diary
by Albert Speer:
In the afternoon, brooms and mops are handed to Schirach, Hess, and me. We are told to follow a soldier who leads us into an empty gym. This is where the executions took place. But the gallows has already been dismantled, the spot cleaned. Nevertheless, we are supposed to sweep and mop the floor. The lieutenant watches our reactions closely. I try hard to keep my composure. Hess comes to attention in front of a dark spot on the floor that looks like a large bloodstain; he raises his arm in the party salute. (Speer II)
November 20, 1946 Spandau Diary:
As we were showering today, Hess disclosed that his loss of memory was faked. While I stood under the shower and he sat on the stool, he said out the clear sky: "The psychiatrists all tried to rattle me. I came close to giving up when my secretary was brought in. I had to pretend not to recognize her, and she burst into tears. It was a great effort for me to remain expressionless. No doubt she now thinks I am heartless." These remarks will certainly stir a lot of talk, because we were being guarded by an American soldier who understands German. (Speer II)
February 16, 1947 Spandau Diary:
We do not know what Hess is up to. Every chance he gets he asks us about things that need doing; he recently questioned Funk about the strengths and weaknesses of each one of us. "All his remarks suggest that he is putting together a new government," Funk commented. "What craziness! Just imagine a list of cabinet members being found under the mattress!" (Speer II)
April 24, 1947 Spandau Diary:
Talked with Hess. He keeps to his cell while the rest of us go walking. Like Hitler when things started going badly, he has built up an escapist world. And once again, as we did with Hitler, we respect his conduct, if only because he has a life sentence before him. Sometimes I have the expression that being a prisoner was always his destined role. Ascetic in appearance, his eyes sometimes wild in their deep, dark sockets; as a prisoner he can again be the total eccentric he was when he moved so strangely in the sphere of power. Now at last he can play the martyr and the buffoon, thus fulfilling the two sides of his personality. (Speer II)
June 3, 1947:
Ilse Hess and the wives of Funk, Schirach, and Goering, are arrested and taken to Goggingen internment camp in Bavaria.
June 30, 1947 Spandau Diary:
We are still here. Doenitz, Hess, and I are convinced that the idea of Spandau has been dropped. But many of us were always inclined to mistake wishes for reality. (Speer II)
July 8, 1947 Spandau Diary:
The wives of Funk, Hess, Schirach, and Goering are being held along with the wives of other prominent officials in a Bavarian prison camp. The wives of Doenitz, Neurath, and Raeder, as well as my own wife, have so far been let alone. (Speer II)
July 18, 1947:
The prisoners are finally moved to their permanent home at Spandau. It had been expected that the seven surviving convicts would be sent to Spandau Prison in Berlin before the end of the year. But for some reason there were several delays, and the move was not made until more than nine months after the end of the trial. Colonel Andrus had departed, and his second in command, Major F. C. Teich, took over and somewhat loosened the reins. Restrictions on mail were abolished. (Taylor)
March 23, 1948:
Ilse Hess is released from Goggingen.
August 29, 1948 Spandau Diary:
Book distribution today at a quarter after five. The library, as empty cell, is unlocked. On one side shelves with our personal books, which we brought with us from Nuremberg. The lion's share had been provided by Hess who, in England, was able to buy an impressive number of books, even some rare editions, because during his imprisonment he received a captain's pay (in keeping with international agreements, since he had landed in a captain's uniform). Raeder sits down at the table; Hess goes to him and reports: "Number Seven. I am returning: Zinner, Sternglaube und Sternforschung (Astrology and Astronomy)." He mentions his number because Raeder has several times used it when addressing him. Then Hess looks over the book list. Meanwhile Schirach returns Bernauer's Theater meines Lebens. Raeder notes down the choice. Since Hess has not yet made up his mind, Raeder grows impatient. "Have you finished yet?" he asks. Hess decides on a book entitled The School of Danger. When Raeder objects that it is about mountaineering, he replies angrily, "No matter." (Speer II)
February 3, 1949 Spandau Diary:
Each of us has developed his own pattern of behavior toward the guards and directors. Hess is unfriendly, regards them as his personal enemies, and receives all reprimands with unruffled, contemptuous calm...(Hess) is so eccentric that no one can get close to him. But I have a degree of sympathy for his oddities and even some liking for him; his response is prickly...Among us are passive types who pass the time by endless talking. Among these are Funk, Schirach, and--a taciturn and absurd variant of the type--Hess. The active types who go to pieces without occupation are Raeder, Neurath, Doenitz, and I... (Speer II)
February 25, 1949 Spandau Diary:
It is raining today. When eleven o'clock comes, time for the daily walk, Hess begins to groan. When we others go out, he remains lying on his cot. Stokes orders him: "Number Seven! Go for a walk!" Curious, we linger in the corridor and listen to a protracted discussion. " Seven, you'll be put in the punishment cell. You must go out!" Shrugging, Hess gets up and without demurring goes into the punishment cell, which is furnished with a chair and table. (Speer II)
December 27, 1949 Spandau Diary:
Today Hess surprised us by declaring that he has once again lost his memory. After all those years he is again asking Schirach, Funk and me grotesque questions. He maintains that he has never seen our British director, who makes his rounds almost every day. In despair he asks what this stranger is doing here. In the garden he asks me who the Rosenberg is whom Schirach has just been talking about. In order not to offend him, I dutifully tell him. Half an hour later, Funk comes over. "Imagine, Hess just asked me who Rosenberg was." I wonder what is prompting Hess to come out with all these crazy old tricks again. In the evening I have a chance to pay Hess back for his little games. In the library he picks up the memoirs of Schweninger, Bismarck's personal physician. "Who is Bismarck?" he asks with amazing calm. "Don't you know that, Herr Hess? The inventor of the Bismarck herring, of course." Everybody laughs. Hess, insulted, leaves the library cell. Later I go to his cell and apologize. (Speer II)
From The Grand Alliance (1950) by Winston Churchill: Whatever may be the moral guilt of a German who stood near to Hitler, Hess had, in my view, atoned for this by his completely devoted and frantic deed of lunatic benevolence. He came to us of his own free will, and, though without authority, had something of the quality of an envoy. He was a medical and not a criminal case, and should be so regarded.
April 9, 1950 Spandau Diary:
For several weeks Hess has been refusing to get up in the mornings, to wash, to go for breakfast. He says he is in such pain that he cannot stand it. Several times there have been noisy scenes with the guards in his cell. In response to the shouts of "Get up! Out of bed, out!" Hess could be heard whimpering: "Pain! I can't. I can't go on. Don't you see how I'm suffering? It's terrible!" Now the American doctor has given orders that Hess must get up for an hour in the morning, wash and clean his cell, but that he may lie down again. I am no longer allowed to bring him his food. Obviously the doctor thinks Hess is malingering. An x-ray has shown nothing significant. (Speer II)
April 20, 1950 Spandau Diary:
"Herr Speer, I have my memory back!" Hess exclaims as he comes toward me. "Want me to prove it?" Unasked, he bursts out with detailed information on literature and history, referring mostly matters I know nothing about. Can the psychiatrist have produced this cure? (Speer II)
December 25, 1950 Spandau Diary:
Christmas morning starts off with an argument in Hess's cell. The new, strict chief guard, Kovpak, calls on Hess to wash. Hess replied in a loud voice that he did so last night. Stokes interjects that a normal person washes three times a day. Hess replies, "I am normal and I wash only once." The quarrel grows more heated after that, and in between Hess shouts, groans, and begs for sympathy. Finally he lets himself be led to the washroom, but then refuses to fetch his breakfast, saying that Speer will bring it. When he is told that that is against the rules, Hess declares with the hauteur of old times that if that is the case he won't have breakfast. (Speer II)
January 1, 1951 Spandau Diary:
Eyes glittering, Hess unfolds an idea for illuminating highways. He has read that highway lighting has been introduced in America, he says. But of course it is much too wasteful, like everything in America. In Germany, he thinks, the expenses can be paid for in a much simpler manner, for all cars would then not use their headlights. This would save current, he maintains, and the erection and maintenance of the floodlights could easily be financed out of the money thus saved.
January 1, 1952 Spandau Diary:
I object that the cars generators would be running anyhow, to supply current to the spark plugs. He dismisses that; the generator could shut off automatically as soon as the battery was charged. Thus energy would be stored, fuel saved, and this savings could be spent on financing the illumination of highways. Reckoned out for all the cars the people would soon have in Germany, that would easily amount to more than the highway lights could cost. We listen speechless, until at last Funk says ambiguously, "At any rate, Herr Hess, I am glad that you have recovered your health." Hess ponders for a moment, then looks sternly at me and orders me to work out the idea in detail. Whereupon he returns to his cell, pleased with himself. (Speer II)
A New Years walk in the afternoon. Always the same: Doenitz walks with Neurath, Schirach with Raeder and Funk. Hess remains for me... (Speer II)
April 19, 1952 Spandau Diary:
Hess's attacks are frequently provoked by trivialities that he objects to--a request to go into the garden or to bathe, to clean the cell, or in fact anything that involves physical movement. The threat of basket-making likewise set him off. Even though the threat is over, Hess goes on complaining and wailing for hours. At night, too. It sounds ghastly in the empty hall. Nobody knows whether he is actually in pain. Even the doctors who believe him doubt that there is any organic cause, for x-rays show nothing. (Speer II)
June 13, 1952 Spandau Diary:
Three days ago, Raeder complained to the French director about Hess's groaning at night. It's shattering his nerves, he claims. Major Bresard asked Neurath, Doenitz, and me whether Hess disturbed our sleep too, but we said no. At nine o'clock this morning Major Bresard, who is generally so decent, went into Hess's cell, and shouted, "Allez, allez, raus!" Hess stood up; Bresard ordered the guards to take the blanket and mattress out of the cell until evening. Hess sat on his chair and wailed. At half past the hour, Pease had me carry the bedding back in. Half an hour later the Russian director, in an emphatic, friendly tone, gave me the order to take the blanket and mattress out again. In an equally friendly manner I replied that I would not participate in carrying out a measure against a fellow prisoner. But Hess solved the impasse by asking me to do so. (Speer II)
June 14, 1952 Spandau Diary:
I suspect Schirach, Funk, and Raeder, Inc., of playing a cunning game. On the one hand they are supporting Hess in his obstinacy, on the other hand inciting the guards against "the malingerer" and disturber of their night's sleep. But when Hess is harshly treated, Funk writes reports to the outside in which he exaggerates Hess's suffering. This morning, when I told him that, by adroit questioning, I had more or less established that Hess was pretending, Funk replied tersely that it was too late, now that he had already communicated the whole story to his liaison man. (Speer II)
June 15, 1952 Spandau Diary:
Today a notice posted on the cell door stipulated that Prisoner Number Seven may remain in bed every morning until half past nine, if he has pain. This is an official acknowledgment that Hess is sick. However, the sickness is not taken seriously, since the medical aide reports that he is injecting only aqua destilla (distilled water), a trick frequently used with hysterics. In the medical office this morning Raeder irritably tells the guards, Hawker and Wagg, that they were wrong to give in, that Hess ought to be handled roughly; he doesn't have any real pain at all. Doenitz is outraged when he hears this. In the washroom he says to Neurath and me, "Raeder would suffer for that in a prisoner-of-war camp. And rightly so, to my mind. That's terribly un-comradely. Hess has a right to malinger if he wants to. We ought to be supporting him. And not to upset him, we shouldn't even tell him that the sedative injection is a trick. You can never tell what he might do then." (Speer II)
June 17, 1952 Spandau Diary:
After four days, Hess has given up. He now rises on the dot, submits punctiliously to the daily routine . . . . Hess breaks the silence by saying out of context, "I'm annoyed with myself. I no longer have the desire to protest. Now I'm doing what they ask me. It's a decline, a moral fall, believe me!" I try to bring him round by pointing out all that he gains by making concessions. "It may be so, but I'm no longer the man I used to be," he replies. (Speer II)
October 14, 1952 Spandau Diary:
Big quarrel among all of us because of the lighting problem. Everyone wants something different. Doenitz, Neurath, Hess, and I are against Schirach's proposal that a weak blue bulb be screwed into the socket, because in that case we could no longer read. Violent discussion. Funk backs off ten paces and berates first Neurath, and then all of us. When he starts using vulgar epithets, I shout back: "You sound like a truck driver!" He clears out. The first scene of this sort in seven years and, worse yet, in the presence of a guard. (Speer II)
November 29, 1952 Spandau Diary:
[I tell Hess] that his wife has published his letters as a book. Hess becomes feverishly excited at this news. When he hints that it is quite natural for him to be ahead of the rest of us as an author, I put a bit of a damper on. "You should be grateful to the censor for always scissoring out your crazy ideas about politics. This way you are published purified, virtually a model democrat." Hess laughs and pretends to be shocked. .... What I like about Hess is that he does not take my views, which must be a horror to him, as a basis for being hostile to me, as Doenitz does. (Speer II)
April 11, 1953 Spandau Diary:
Through a clandestine note from his son-in-law, Doenitz has heard the results of a (July 1952) survey . . . . He himself stands at the head of the list of formerly prominent personages (former Nazis) whom the Germans still have a good opinion of. Doenitz has 46 percent; he is closely followed by Schacht with 42, Goering with 37, myself with 30, Hitler with 24 percent. Schirach and Hess lag behind with 22 percent. Seven percent have a bad opinion of Doenitz, 9 percent of me, 10 of Schacht, 29 of Schirach and Hess, 36 of Goering, and 47 percent of Hitler. "Because the German people cherish me in their hearts, I shall soon be getting out," Doenitz observed complacently as he stood beside me today washing his hands. Nevertheless, the letter gave Doenitz no pleasure, for his son-in-law unforgivably passed on the information that he is now as popular as Rommel. In a tone of sharp repugnance, Doenitz commented that Rommel had been nothing but a propaganda hero because he participated in the July 20 conspiracy. Then Doenitz stalked off. (Speer II)
November 14, 1953 Spandau Diary:
After (West German President) Adenauer's statement (concerning early releases for some Spandau inmates) to the Bundestag, Hess and Funk are redoubling their efforts to be considered seriously ill. .... [Hess] came down with total forgetfulness. About once a week he asks me to explain who Malenkov is or who Adenauer is. When director Cuthill reproved him because he had not folded his blankets properly, he exhibited his poor memory by writing on the wall of his cell 'Fold Blankets.' He has also increased the force of his attacks. Tonight he groaned for hours, crying out again and again, "I can't stand it any longer. My God, my God, I'm going mad!" When I visited him in his cell this morning he gave the impression of being quite sound of mind, but remained lying on the bed and underscored his point in dramatic and rather moving terms: "One of my worst attacks. My end is nearing. I've lived like a man and will know how to die like a man. By the way, who is Adenauer?" (Speer II)
September 7, 1956 Spandau Diary:
Before going into the yard this afternoon, we had to wait for Hess. When he arrived at last, Doenitz said to him, "If I had a mark, Herr Hess, for every quarter-hour I've had to wait for you in the past eleven years, I'd be a rich man." Hess retorted without hesitation, "And if I, Herr Doenitz, had only a single pfennig for every useless word you've addressed to me in these eleven years, I'd be much richer than you." Recently, Doenitz has been showing his irritation with the preferential treatment of Hess by speaking of him as 'Herr Baron.' Lately he has formed the habit of posting himself ten paces in front of Hess and staring at him for minutes at a time. Sometimes I then post myself beside Hess and stare back, which makes him stop his rudeness. (Speer II)
September 30, 1956:
Doenitz is released from Spandau. (Speer II)
December 26, 1956 Spandau Diary:
As a Christmas present, the directors approved a new record player for us. The chaplain brought us two new records, the great Schubert C-major Symphony and Beethoven's Violin Concerto. To the surprise of all of us, for the first time Hess responded to the chaplain's friendly invitation, and came to our concert; hitherto he had always listened from his cell. And then came the day's real sensation: in the evening he took the New Testament out of the library. Funk asked him in astonishment, "But Herr Hess, what has given you that idea?" Hess smiled mockingly. "Because I thought you would ask." (Speer II)
January 13, 1957 Spandau Diary:
Hess seemed to think hard. Then he dropped into his whining tone. "But that is dreadful...Then I have lost my memory." His eyes held a cunning expression. "Don't worry about it, Herr Hess. In Nuremberg, during the trial, you also lost your memory. After the trial it came back." Hess pretended astonishment. "What's that you say? It will come back?" I nodded. "Yes, and then it goes away again. The same thing happens to me." Hess was irritated. "What, to you too? What don't you know?" I looked at him thoughtfully, as if I were trying to figure something out. Then I shrugged resignedly. "At the moment I simply cannot remember who you are and what you are doing here." For a moment Hess was perplexed. Then we both began to laugh. (Speer II)
November 28, 1958 Spandau Diary:
A speech and note of Khrushchev on Berlin. He demands that the Western Powers withdraw from Berlin within six months. The one firm Four Power agreement on Berlin concerns, so I read today, Spandau Prison; on everything else the arrangements are vaguely formulated. Thus Spandau has become a kind of juridical Rock of Gibraltar for the Western Allies. They cannot give it up under any circumstances. Schirach remarked bitterly, "Maybe the city of Berlin will actually make the three of us honorary citizens." "We'll be that in any case someday," Hess offered. (Speer II)
November 22, 1959 Spandau Diary:
For some time Hess has become tormented by attacks. He is suspected of having used small quantities of laundry detergent to produce artificial stomach cramps. For this reason all washing and cleaning materials may henceforth be used only under supervision. (Speer II)
November 23, 1959 Spandau Diary:
Hess has been groaning and wailing, day and night lately. He stares at the walls and is entirely apathetic. Within seven weeks he has lost almost fourteen kilos; 1.75 meters tall, he weighs only forty-five kilos at the moment. At the bath he reminds me of the grotesque figures conceived by Hieronymus Bosch. Today I have written on his behalf to the president of the German Red Cross. (Speer II)
November 26, 1959 Spandau Diary:
Excitement in the corridor today, constant coming and going in Hess's cell. For a long time I have to stay inside the cell. Feelings of great uncertainty. (Speer II)
November 7, 1959 Spandau Diary:
This morning I succeeded in visiting Hess. He was lying on his bed, his wrist wrapped in bandages. When I entered, he looked up with waxen face. Nevertheless he gave the impression of a child who has carried off a prank. With something like cheerfulness he at once began: "When you were in the garden yesterday and there was no guard in the vicinity, I quickly smashed my glasses and used a piece of glass to open up the veins in my wrist. For three hours nobody noticed a thing," he went on rather rapidly. "I lay in the cell and had plenty of time to bleed to death. Then I would have been free of my pain forever. I was already feeling very weak and pleasant. But then, from far away, I heard noise. It was that wretched Soviet medical colonel on his round. He saw me lying there and immediately sewed up the cut." Hess looked at me mournfully: "Don't I have hard luck! Admit it!" But I congratulated him on his failure, which he took as a friendly gesture. At noon Hess devoured piles of food: milk, porridge, custard, bouillon, cheese, oranges. In the evening, too, he ate with the best of appetite. I have the impression that he has broken off an 'operation.' Through my friend I sent a telegram to Hilde asking her to call off any Red Cross intervention. (Speer II)
July 5, 1960 Spandau Diary:
Together with Schirach, Hess, who months ago was complaining of acute circulatory weakness with unbearable cardiac pain, has been tramping for hours around the garden at a brisk pace without pause. Both men have again made contact with each other, and Schirach has since seemed somewhat more relaxed. With Hess he feels superior; taking the lead with Hess suits his disposition. But Hess, too, seems more balanced. Sometimes I think that something like a friendship is slowly developing between them. If so, it would be the first that has come about in Spandau. (Speer II)
July 7, 1960 Spandau Diary:
Schirach and Hess have recently been occupying themselves in the garden again, but only when they expect the Russian director to come by. Their gardening area in any case amounts to only a thirtieth of mine. At the moment they are leveling out a small lawn area there...Soon afterwards they paused in their walk and stood beside me with condescending looks. "What's up? What have you two got to say?" Hess hesitated somewhat, but finally came out with it: "Schirach just commented that in mental hospitals they usually set the feeble-minded to gardening..." (Speer II)
July 10, 1960 Spandau Diary:
This morning Hess came stalking up to me. Obviously he intended to pass on an important communication. "Today is Sunday. I have just decided that in the future I shall spend a half-hour in conversation with you every Sunday." And so we are walking together. His walking pace is breath-taking; it seems to give him pleasure to demonstrate his physical powers. It delights him when I get out of breath. "And yet you're a good ten years younger than I, Herr Speer," he says happily. (Speer II)
September 27, 1961 Spandau Diary:
Abruptly, Schirach has aggravated his ailments, while Hess laconically declares, "A work schedule! Don't make me laugh. The doctors have all certified my illness. That doesn't apply to me at all." (Speer II)
August 14, 1962 Spandau Diary:
Months ago Hess had a violent disagreement with the British dentist. The dentist wanted to pull his last six teeth, since it is too much trouble to make new partials and bridges every time another tooth is lost. This prompted Hess to appeal to the directors in a petition. He succeeded in obtaining a ruling that no operation on any part of a prisoner's body may be performed without the prisoner's written consent. After the French dentist had also decided that all the teeth must be pulled, a young female Soviet dentist examined Hess's mouth. Her verdict: "Those teeth must come out." At this point Hess demanded that an American dentist be consulted. Accompanied by three assistants, the American dentist turned up in the infirmary yesterday with a portable x-ray apparatus. He finally determined that the six teeth were sound, and declared: "My principle is to make extractions only when necessary." Now this man is in charge of our dental work. Hess has won. Today he reveled in his victory and declared proudly, "One dentist for every one and a half teeth!" (Speer II)
November 16, 1962:
From a TIME Magazine
He is nearly 70 now--a dark, brooding, badger-faced man living in near-total oblivion in the enormous stone pile that is Spandau prison. But in May 1941, when Rudolf Hess suddenly landed in a cow pasture in Scotland and asked to see the Duke of Hamilton, the Deputy Fuehrer of the Third Reich was full of high hope. At a time when German armies, already masters of Europe and most of North Africa, stood poised for a thrust into Russia, Hess brought an offer of peace. Hitler, he said, would guarantee the integrity of the British Empire, if England would recognize Germany's dominance in Europe. Drawing for the first time on all the old and new information about Hess's strange, ill-fated mission, Journalist-Historian James Leasor (The Red Fort; The plague and the fire) has produced an absorbing footnote to history. Painstakingly the author follows Hess through every stage of his secret preparation.
April 24, 1963 Spandau Diary:
As an ex-World War I pilot and the No. 3 man in Nazi Germany, Hess easily managed to finagle the use for "practice flights" of an experimental Messerschmitt 110 with extra gas tanks. Aides surreptitiously collected weather charts. Though Leasor's attempt to weld such details into a tale of step-by-step suspense is not entirely successful, his account has some touching vignettes of Hess--playing with his four-year-old son for the last time; standing uncertainly in the door of his wife's room on the day of the flight, unable to confide his secret, but wearing, as a covert gesture of affectionate farewell, a blue shirt that she had given him and that he hated. Ironically, one of the most dramatic chapters concerns not Hess but his faithful aide Major Karlheinz Pintsch.
Assigned by Hess to break the news to Hitler, Pintsch journeyed apprehensively to Berchtesgaden, his romantic belief in the heroic flight dwindling as he neared the Fuehrer's presence. Hitler invited him to lunch, had him arrested after the dessert. His plan was reasonable enough. Hitler did want peace with England. Earlier efforts to draw Churchill into negotiations had failed. The Fuehrer probably knew what Hess was up to, Leasor theorizes, and tacitly permitted it, carefully avoiding precise knowledge of the details, to keep himself from implication if the mission failed. When it did fail, he followed the advice Hess left him in a parting letter and declared that Hess was the victim of "hallucinations." Moreover, in the spring of 1941, Leasor asserts, England was nearer to capitulation "than anyone now likes to admit." Winston Churchill was so afraid of the effect the peace offer might have on British morale that his representatives came to interview Hess disguised as psychiatrists, so that no word of continued government interest could possibly leak out.
Today at breakfast Schirach and Hess refuse to eat their eggs because the shells are cracked. They demand replacements, which are amazingly enough provided. In response to my question as to what all the fuss is about, Hess informs me: "Water on the inside of eggs is unhygienic. Think of all the people who may have handled the egg. Then all that penetrates through the crack into the egg, enters the stomach when consumed, and naturally has devastating effects. Now do you understand?" I nod, at once grateful and intimidated. At noon Long whispers to me behind his hand that the rejected eggs are served in chopped egg salad--which Schirach and Hess devour with pleasure. (Speer II)
March 16, 1964 Spandau Diary:
Hess has listed several hundred titles of books he would like to have...His interests center...in particular on the ills of civilization. He has long been pursuing the connections between such phenomena and liberal democracy. Again and again he comes to me with examples of over-consumption in the United States. He happily reports of misguided investments in the market economy, collects examples of land speculation, criminality, bad posture in children, and health damage caused by canned foods. Out of frequently ridiculous and atypical items he is putting together his vision of doom, against the background of which he will presumably see arising, one of these days, the figure of the savior once more. (Speer II)
October 24, 1964 Spandau Diary:
For several months, Hess has been fighting for the right to make good-sized extracts from his reading. He asked for large batches of writing paper for this purpose, but so far his requests have been turned down. Today he made his request to the French general virtually in the form of an ultimatum. "I have no objection to my papers being censored," he declared in an angry tone, "and I would even allow the extracts to be burned later on. But I want to keep my notes together for a fairly long time, so as to be able to go over them. That is not possible with these few small notebooks." When Hess's tone became vehement and excited, the general abruptly left the cell. But he stared stunned at the director when the latter confirmed that all our notes are collected from time to time and destroyed by machine. "Is that so?" he asked, surprised and disturbed, and turned away, shaking his head. (Speer II)
February 3, 1965 Spandau Diary:
The silence in the cellblock is growing more and more uncanny. I almost begin to miss Schirach's nervousness (Schirach was hospitalized on January 28, 1965), his restlessness, his singing and whistling. I go walking with Hess more often, but it quickly becomes apparent that I cannot replace Schirach. Once Hess even forgot whom he was talking with. "Did you read," he asked triumphantly, "that they have painted swastikas on a Social Democratic Party shop?" (Speer II)
September 4, 1965 Spandau Diary:
Hess has been in bed for two days. The doctor could find nothing wrong. Schirach commented to the guards that Hess was laying the grounds for another suicide attempt. By chance I heard Pease tersely reproving Schirach: "After all, it's the last right Hess has; if he makes up his mind to it, it should not be taken from him." (Speer II)
December 8, 1965 Spandau Diary:
Hess's heart was found to be quite sound at yesterday's examination. Today I remarked to him, "Many of the guards will fade away in the next few years because of their foolish life, and you will remain." Ambiguously, he replied, "It's a pity." But in a sense, he is already enjoying the fact that an inflated establishment, headed by four colonels, visited by generals, and commissions of doctors, including a large building, and much else, is going to be maintained for him alone. Schirach claims that Hess feels like Napoleon, even if only on St. Helena. (Speer II)
September 28, 1966 Spandau Diary:
[Two days before Speer's release]
In the evening, I knocked on his cell door and asked to have a brief talk with him [Hess]. I told him I thought it wrong to attempt to buy his release by simulating insanity. If he did that, I said, he would be undermining his own image, whereas now, thanks to his consistency, he was regarded with a certain respect even among his enemies. He would only destroy that if he played the madman. It would throw a bad light on his own bearing during the decades that lay behind him, make all that seem merely obsessive behavior. This, I said, was what I wanted to tell him honestly before I know longer could. For a while Hess looked at me wide-eyed, in silence; then he said firmly, 'You are absolutely right. I too did not feel good about all that." (Speer II)
September 29, 1966 Spandau Diary:
[One day before Speer's release]
When I entered the garden a while ago, I saw Hess standing in the side court. He had his back to me. I went up to him and stood beside him, just as a gesture of sympathy. Great mounds of coal for the prison were being unloaded in the court. For a while, we stood in silence side by side. Then Hess said, "So much coal. And from tomorrow on, only for me." (Speer II)
October 1, 1966:
Albert Speer and Baldur von Schirach are released from Spandau at midnight. This leaves Rudolf Hess as the one solitary remaining prisoner maintained at the facility.
Wolf Hess visits his father in prison for the first time.
January 2, 1970 Statement by Lord Shawcross
, British Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg:
[Rudolf Hess's] life sentence by the IMT (International Military Tribunal) at Nuremberg was, compared with others, by no means a lenient one. I suspect that all of us on the Western side took it for granted that it would be subject to the same sort of commutation recognized in civilized systems of criminal justice, and would not literally be for life. That he should continue to be imprisoned now, seems to me an affront to all notions of justice.
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tells German journalists that he intends to give permission for Hess's release. Hess's nurse, Abadallah Melaouhi, will later claim Hess said that he believed he would never be released, as the "English will kill me" before allowing that to happen. Note
: Sir Christopher Mallaby, Deputy Secretary of the British Cabinet Office, will later confirm that the British, in the end, are the party responsible for ultimately blocking Hess's release.
August 17, 1987 The Last Nazi:
Ninety-three-year-old Rudolf Hess, unrepentant to the last, dies under Four Power imprisonment at Spandau Prison in West Berlin. He is found in a summer house in a garden, located in a secure area of the prison, with an electrical cord wrapped around his neck. His death is ruled suicide by self-asphyxiation, accomplished by tying the cord to a window latch in the summer house. This version is disputed by some marginal historians who claim, with little evidence, that Hess was in fact murdered.
May 4, 1990
: Alan M. Dershowitz:
Forty-five years later, it is necessary to ask whether, on balance, the Nuremberg trials did more good than harm. By convicting and executing a tiny number of the most flagrant criminals, the Nuremberg court permitted the world to get on with business as usual. .... Perhaps Henry Morgenthau was asking for too much, when he demanded that German industry and military capacity be destroyed "forever," and that Germany must be "reduced to a nation of farmers." But perhaps the Nuremberg tribunal asked for too little, when it implicitly expiated the guilt of thousands of hands-on murderers, by focusing culpability on a small number of leaders, who could never have carried out their wholesale slaughter, without the enthusiastic assistance of an army, both military and civilian, of retail butchers. The Nuremberg Trial was an example of both 'victor's justice' and of the possible beginning of a 'new legal order' of accountability. Trying the culprits was plainly preferable to simply killing them.
September 28, 2007:
Maev Kennedy, in The Guardian
In 1974 Richard Nixon, the US president, was ready to support the release, on humanitarian grounds, of prisoner number 7, but his efforts were thwarted by unwavering Soviet opposition. So Rudolf Hess, Hitler's former deputy, dubbed "the loneliest man in the world" as sole occupant of Spandau prison, remained locked up, according to secret documents released today by the National Archives at Kew.
The files cover a period when there was an international campaign to free Hess as his 80th birthday approached. It included an application to the European commission of human rights by his wife, Ilse, and public demands by his son, Wolf.
The papers show deep disagreement between the four powers running the Berlin prison - usually the British, French and Americans against the Soviets. The issues included how to handle his death, and whether to give him a new notebook and either destroy the old one, leave it with him, or lock it up.
President Nixon's view was reported to the UK, French and US authorities and summarized in a memo sent from a British legal adviser to the other two.
It says: "The letter says that President Nixon shares the view that there are humanitarian reasons for releasing Hess, notes the repeated refusals of the Soviet Union since 1964 to agree to his release, and ends with an assurance that the US government is ready to join in a further approach to the Soviet Union 'at any time there is an indication that such an approach holds a reasonable chance of success'." The Allies concluded there was no chance of succeeding.
The files hold scores of memos, letters and telegrams on the impossibility of persuading the Soviets to release Hess: a letter to Airey Neave MP, a former POW, and official at Nuremberg, who campaigned for Hess's release, calls the Soviets intransigent, and says Hess's jail life was not that bleak.
A telegram signed "Callaghan" is pragmatic: "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."
In fact, Hess would die in the prison 13 years later, his life, imprisonment, and death, wreathed in conspiracy theories.
In May 1941, just before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Hess had flown alone to Scotland on a "peace mission" to meet the Duke of Hamilton in Lanarkshire. He landed near the Renfrewshire village of Eaglesham. It was an act apparently not authorized by Hitler, and then and later, people suggested he had been lured there by the British Secret Service. Churchill was rumored to be there on the night of May 10, and the Duke of Kent was perhaps involved. [Note: I have spoken to a former Waaf who was on duty in the fighter station that night, and I was told that no such people were present – LB]
Hess was arrested and became a POW. After the Nuremberg trials of 1945-46, he was convicted as a war criminal and sentenced to life at Spandau prison.
The authorities which shared administration of the jail were usually at odds with each other. In November 1973, a letter from the British legal adviser, DM Edwards, reports the Soviet governor complaining about his French counterpart. "I expressed amazement ... said Mr. de Burlet was only trying to keep the prison running smoothly, practically and humanely until such time as the Soviets reached the sensible conclusion that the prisoner be released and the whole charade closed down."
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." But the Nazi could be made more comfortable, with a radio and TV, "an armchair and a rug". It was suggested that he get extended visits and almost uncensored letters.
Poignantly, given that he was to be found dead in a garden shelter, the memo proposed that "Hess be allowed to spend as much time as he likes in the garden, subject only to [coming] inside before dark". One memo talks of taking "the prisoner's spectacles away at lights out ... and return them at 0630 hours." (SSN)
[Back: Part One, Click here.]
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European History and Jewish Studies
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