10.05.

1941: Hitler’s Deputy Hess Takes Off on a Secret Peace Mission

1941: Hitler’s Deputy Hess Takes Off on a Secret Peace Mission
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ The wreckage of Hess's Messerschmitt Bf 110

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 10 May 1941
  • On this day in 1941 Rudolf Hess secretly took off from an airport in Augsburg in a Messerschmitt Bf 110 (he was an experienced pilot) and set course towards Great Britain. At the end of the day he reached Scotland, evaded the air defenses and parachuted out of the plane...

Rudolf Hess was Hitler’s closest associate. He even shared a prison cell with him after being convicted for the failed “Beer Hall Putsch” in Munich. 

While in prison, Hitler dictated him his book “Mein Kampf”, the text of which Hess wrote down and edited. When Hitler came to power, Hess was named “Deputy Führer” and was the third most powerful man in the country (behind Hitler and Göring).

However, when the war with Great Britain broke out, Hess’s views started to diverge from Hitler’s. He believed that Great Britain and Germany should be allies, so he decided to take an unusual step to stop the war and realize that alliance.

On this day in 1941 Rudolf Hess secretly took off from an airport in Augsburg in a Messerschmitt Bf 110 (he was an experienced pilot) and set course towards Great Britain. At the end of the day he reached Scotland, evaded the air defenses and parachuted out of the plane.

When he hit the ground he did not want to reveal his true identity to the locals, but demanded to speak with Scottish landowner the Duke of Hamilton, whom he knew from before. He sought to reach out to high British circles through the reputable duke. When the duke came, Hess revealed his identity, at which the duke immediately informed Winston Churchill.

Prime Minister Churchill did not want to negotiate with Hess, but ordered his detention in the Tower of London, the fortress where dangerous captives had been imprisoned for centuries (Hess was the last prisoner in the history of the Tower). Hess spent the remainder of the war in British prisons.

Hess was considered by both the Nazis and the British to be mentally ill. Nevertheless, at the request of the Soviets, he was tried at Nuremberg after the war. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, which he spent in the famous Spandau Prison near Berlin.

It is interesting that Hess was the last inmate in Spandau Prison and, for more than 20 years, this institution existed only to guard him. He died in 1987 at the high age of 93, as the last living member of Hitler’s cabinet.

He was buried in Wunsiedel in Bavaria and his tomb became a great gathering place for neo-Nazis. To prevent this, he was exhumed and cremated in 2011, and his ashes were scattered into the sea.

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