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Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess

Rudolf Hess (sometimes spelled in german as Rudolf Heß) (April 26, 1894 - August 17, 1987) was a prominent figure in Nazi Germany and was Adolf Hitler's deputy as Nazi Party leader. He edited Hitler's book Mein Kampf and later became Hitler's private secretary, eventually rising to deputy party leader and third in leadership of Germany, after Hitler and Hermann Göring.

He flew to Great Britain in May 1941parachuting from his Messerschmitt Bf 110 into Ayrshire on May 10 — in what he thought was a secret mission to negotiate peace with the Duke of Hamilton. He was immediately imprisoned by the British (in the Tower of London), and his attempt was dismissed by Hitler.

Hess was tried at the Nuremberg Trials after the war for "crimes against peace" and was given a life sentence. For decades after, he was addressed simply as "prisoner number seven." Following the 1966 release of Baldur von Schirach and Albert Speer, he was the sole remaining inmate of Spandau Prison. He was said by the guards to have degenerated mentally and lost most of his memory.

In 1987, he died under Four Power imprisonment in West Berlin — kept in prison at the insistence of the Soviet Union, which apparently had never forgiven him. His death was ruled a suicide. His son Wolf Rüdiger Hess maintained till his death that he was murdered by the British SAS. Eugene Bird wrote a novel about him titled The Loneliest Man in the World.

After Hess' death, neo-Nazis from Germany and the rest of Europe gathered in Wunsiedel, where Hess is buried, for a "memorial march." The demonstrations take place every year around the day of Hess' death. They were banned from 1991-2000, during which time the neo-Nazis tried to gather in other cities and even in other countries (such as the Netherlands and Denmark). Since 2001 the demonstrations in Wunsiedel are legal again and over 2,500 neo-Nazis marched in 2002 and 2003. These were among the biggest neo-Nazi demonstrations in Germany since 1945.

Claims concerning Hess' flight to Britain

Hess' journey to Britain was one of the odder events of World War II. It was claimed (in The Man Who Was M: The Life of Charles Henry Maxwell Knight by Anthony Masters, ISBN 0-631-13392-5) to be a scheme conceived by James Bond author Ian Fleming in his time as an officer in British Intelligence. According to the claims, the trap was laid in 1940 after Fleming read about the Anglo-German organisation The Link in the intelligence file of its founder, Admiral Sir Barry Domvile. Via an agent, Fleming fed Hess the line that The Link had been driven underground and was in a position to overthrow Prime Minister Winston Churchill and negotiate peace, and that the Duke of Hamilton was prepared to be a negotiator.

It is also claimed that Hess selected the date of his flight after Ernst Schulter-Strathaus, Hess' consultant on astrology and the occult, told him that there would be an alignment of 6 planets in Taurus at the time of the full moon on May 10.

The Man Who Was M is the only known source of these claims.

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