Why Rudolf Hess was the Last Casualty of World War Two
Exposing one of the greatest and most closely-guarded secrets of World War II that the British government was willing to assassinate Hess to protect.
(Author’s Note: This article was originally published in RealClearHistory on August 1, 2021).
Many do not realize that World War II technically lasted more than half a century as no peace treaty was ever signed ending the state of war between Germany and the western Allies. The war only formally came to an end when the “Two Plus Four” Treaty which permitted the reunification of Germany, came into effect in March 1991. The Western Allies occupied West Berlin & governed it as a jointly administered de-facto puppet state for 45 years as no West Berlin law could be enacted without the express approval of all three of their American, British and French military overseers. Despite being an official member of NATO for 35 years, West Germany remained a partly or fully militarily occupied power during the entirety of its existence, never being given full sovereignty over its own citizens and territory by the U.S., U.K. and France.
Following their surrender, Germany and Japan released all Allied prisoners of war but the Allies kept nearly ten million German prisoners of war for many years after the war. Nearly 1.5 million of them never returned home, are still listed as missing and/or are presumed dead. Even some high-ranking German political and military leaders who had conspired to overthrow and kill Hitler were imprisoned for many years by the Allies on war crimes charges. The last German Prisoner of War in Allied captivity, former Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess, was condemned to spend much of his life in solitary confinement and was denied any communications with the outside world in Spandau Prison in the British-controlled sector of West Berlin until his death, on August 17, 1987 at the age of 93. For twenty years after Germany’s surrender Spandau Prison had housed a number of high- ranking German leaders but all of them were released even though they had played a more active leadership role in Nazi Germany for a much longer period of time. Thus, for the last 21 years of his life, Hess was its sole prisoner.
It is often said that "truth is the first casualty of war and World War Two was certainly no exception. For reasons that will be explained in this article, Hess might be said to be the last causality of World War Two. Hess is best known for his solo flight in May 10, 1941 flight in a Me-110 fighter that landed in Scotland when he hand-carried the last of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler’s four peace offers to Britain. Upon his arrival, Hess proclaimed, “I have come to save humanity.” The details surrounding the Hess peace mission is one of the least understood and most covered-up chapters of the war. While the specific details of his peace offer have been classified by the British as “Top Secret”, Prime Minister Winston Churchill claimed at the time that they were nothing more than peace for Britain in exchange for ‘a free hand’ for Nazi Germany in continental Europe but, as will be seen, the specific details of the peace Hitler offered were far more generous than that. What many do not realize is that when Churchill rejected Hitler’s peace proposal, the last, best hope to save five to six million Jews, who subsequently died in the Jewish Holocaust, was lost.
While the cause of death was officially reported to be “suicide by hanging”, according to renowned British historian Peter Padfield in his outstanding book “Hess, Hitler and Churchill: The Real Turning Point of the Second World War”, there is considerable circumstantial evidence that suggests that Hess was assassinated by British agents who proceeded to frame him for his own murder. No other country had more reasons to want him dead. As Spandau Prison was located in the British occupation zone of West Berlin, it was the British who were in charge of its its security. An entire battalion of Royal Army soldiers guarded the prison to prevent his escape and return to his family, despite the fact that he suffered from numerous physical and mental illnesses in his last decades of imprisonment. Padfield noted “the mainly horizontal direction of the compression marks on his neck suggesting strangulation rather than hanging and the bruising to his deeper neck tissues which Professor David Bowen thought unlikely to have occurred in a suicidal hanging.” He also notes that much of the documentary evidence relating to Hess’s death has been destroyed by British MI5 and MI6 intelligence services. According to Hess’s son, Wolf Rudiger Hess, shortly after the Soviets relented their opposition to Hess’ release and joined the calls for Hess to be released on humanitarian grounds, the British decided they would not allow it and executed a plot to kill his father. Both Rudiger and Alfred Seidl, Rudolf Hess’s lawyer at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials also claimed he could not have committed suicide. They noted that the elder Hess was in poor health and that the arthritis in his fingers was so bad that he could not even tie his shoes, let alone fashion a noose made from a lamp cord. They also asserted that his alleged suicide note was forged. Hess had been unrelenting in his pleas to be released over the near half century that spanned his imprisonment by the Allies as a prisoner of war, which caused many to find reports he had killed himself to be suspicious.
According to an article in the National Interest entitled “How did Nazi Germany’s Rudolf Hess Really Die?”, Hess’ medical assistant, Abdallah Melaouhi, was so fearful of his life after Hess died he initially refused to make a statement to the investigators. However, on a BBC’s broadcast on February 28, 1989, Abdallah Melaouhi, who had been Hess’s medical attendant at Spandau since August 1982, contradicted the official suicide statement stating that it was not physically possible for Hess to have killed himself due to his serious physical disabilities. He said that when he entered the temporary summer house in the garden where Hess was said to have hanged himself, he saw that “everything was topsy-turvy, yet the [lamp] cord (which officials stated Hess had used to hang himself with) was in its normal place and still plugged into the wall.” He also stated there were two men wearing U.S. Army uniforms in the room standing over his dead body, which later sources suggest were likely British agents hired by the British government to kill him. The article adds that in May 1989, the respected French weekly magazine Le Figaro published an article by Jean-Pax Méfret who stated he had met with an unnamed “Allied officer” stationed in Berlin who told him the day after Hess died that he had not committed suicide. The next day, this same officer told Méfret to forget what he had told him, saying that the summer house in which Hess had apparently killed himself had burned down within 48 hours after the event. “Even the cord which Hess supposedly used to hang himself has gone up in smoke,” said the officer. “No one will ever be able to prove that this old Nazi didn’t kill himself.”
In 2016, seventy-two documents were released by the British regarding the circumstances surrounding Hess’ death but there were a number of missing pages and significant gaps in the released documents. For example, the report by the Royal Military Police on its investigation, and documents about the aftermath of Hess's death have again been retained by the Foreign Office. According to an article in Sputnik News written in July 2017 entitled “Rudolf Hess: Mystery of Hitler’s Deputy’s Death Thickens”, “On October 23, 1986, an explosion destroyed a prison annex and shortly before Hess's death his flying suit and other personal effects (likely including his hand written notes and journals) were stolen from the prison. On both occasions investigations came to nothing…It has transpired from the released documents that at the start of the investigation by the British military government the Western allies had agreed to "ensure that the finger of guilt should not be pointed at any of the Western personnel of the Prison." There was no attempt to investigate if there was any link between the theft and Hess's death shortly afterwards. No fingerprints were taken from the cabin where Hess died on excuse that too many people had access to it, although clearance was restricted to a known circle of prison staff. When Hess's relatives and lawyer asked to see the scene of his death, the British governor, Tony Le Tissier, told them that the "summer house had been crushed and destroyed." The murder weapon, namely the extension cord, had allegedly perished with the house. This happened according to some reports within 48 hours of Hess's death.” The release of the Hess autopsy report increased suspicions by noting a large bruise on his head that could not be explained. The Western Allies agreed at the time that "…the autopsy report is not suitable for publication and that it would be preferable to avoid giving it to (Rudolf’s son) Wolf-Rudiger Hess.” The article reports that Hess secretly made copious notes about his endeavor on rolls of toilet paper and tried to have them smuggled out by a French pastor but the plot was uncovered and the world lost a chance to learn the truth about what had really happened between Hess and the British in May 1941. All the information about the affair was kept secret
One reason Padfield and a few others have speculated as to why British leaders continue to conceal records of Hess’ interrogation and related documentation is that there were a number of members of British high society including most notably the former King Edward VIII, retitled the Duke of Windsor, and former British Prime Minister Lloyd George, as noted in Joseph Goebells’ journal entry of July 17, 1940, as well as the Duke of Hamilton who were interested in negotiating an end to the war with Nazi Germany. King Edward VIII was known to have supported an Anglo-German alliance before the outbreak of war in order to ensure the peace of Europe and some have speculated that had been one of the reasons he had been pressured to resign as King in 1936. Lloyd George reportedly believed Churchill was taking Britain on the path to disaster and was hoping to succeed him as Prime Minister to save Britain and end the war. King George VI’s younger brother, the Duke of Kent, who was close to the Duke of Windsor and shared his pro-German views was also a proponent of peace with Germany in 1941.
These men believed that the Soviet Union posed a far greater danger to the British Empire than Nazi Germany and likely believed that Britain should have remained neutral in any future German-Soviet war. Some of them undoubtedly hoped to pressure Churchill to resign from his position of Prime Minister viewing him as the main obstacle to ending the war and saving Britain from potential disaster. After the war ended, these men did not want it known that they were in favor of peace with Hitler. Thus, it is possible that the British royal family themselves might have influenced the Thatcher government’s decision to permanently silence Hess to prevent a potential scandal for the royal family. Padfield’s book also alludes to the fact that during the early part of the war from 1939-1941 there were numerous unofficial peace overtures from Nazi leaders including a number from Hitler’s deputy, Hermann Goering, and later more from the German resistance attempting to obtain more lenient terms for Germany in return for killing Hitler and overthrowing the Nazis. Tragically, for the world, every single one of them was either ignored or rejected by British and American leaders.
An article published in the UK Daily Mail in September 2013 shortly after Padfield’s book was released, entitled, “Adolf Hitler's Nazi deputy Rudolf Hess ‘murdered by British agents’ to stop him spilling wartime secrets” seems to substantiate Padfield’s assertions. It reported that a partially-redacted police report by Detective Chief Superintendent Howard Jones revealed that a British surgeon - Hugh Thomas - had supplied him with the names of the two British agents who allegedly murdered Rudolf Hess which he said had been provided by a former member of the elite British Special Air Service (SAS) responsible for training secret agents, but was advised by the the Director of Public Prosecutions not to pursue the investigation any further. Thomas claimed that he had been informed by the British government intelligence officer that Hess was killed on British orders to preserve wartime secrets. This report had been withheld from the public for 25 years. The article stated Thomas “had received information that two assassins had been ordered on behalf of the British Government to kill Hess in order that he should not be released and free to expose secrets concerning the plot to overthrow the Churchill government.” If Thomas’ statement is true, it proves that one of the many things the British government is exceptionally proficient at is covering up entire episodes of history that the world knows virtually nothing about.
So why did Hess risk his life to fly to Britain to try to negotiate a peace agreement and end its war with Nazi Germany? Hess had repeatedly expressed his opinion as to what a travesty it was that the British had insisted on fighting Germany as like Hitler he considered the British as an Anglo-Saxon nation to be fellow Aryans and accepted this dangerous mission in the belief that it might prove instrumental to helping establish a lasting peace in western Europe. Hitler sent Hess with a pre-approved peace offer. If his mission failed, it was decided that Hitler would deny approval or involvement in the Hess peace mission and state that Hess had acted on his own, but if it succeeded then Germany's chances of winning a one-on-one war with the Soviets would be significantly increased. Following his capture Hess told the British “I have come to save humanity.” It is an irony of history that Hess, who risked his life in an attempt to bring a lasting peace to western Europe, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the offense of “Crimes Against Peace” at the Soviet-style show Trials at Nuremberg only five years later where the losers of the war were tried as war criminals, whereas Allied leaders who had committed uncomfortably similar crimes were not.
The historical record reveals that a number of Nazi German leaders had warned Hitler that fighting a two-front war with Britain and the USSR was a bad idea and Hitler desperately wanted peace with Britain before he invaded the USSR. In his excellent book “The Hitler/Hess Deception: British Intelligence’s Best-Kept Secret of the Second World War”, Martin Allen presents a convincing case that the Hess trip, far from a rogue mission, was rather the capstone to peace negotiations which had been going on between German and British intermediaries in Sweden and Switzerland over the previous several months. He states that Hess would not be able to successfully fly and navigate the aircraft and evade British air defenses without major logistical and technical preparations which would not have been possible without Hitler’s support, not to mention coordination with the British to prevent his aircraft from being shot down. He contends that it was a ‘sting operation’ by the British Strategic Office partly designed to make Hitler feel that it was safe to invade the USSR in the belief that the UK would soon agree to an armistice preventing him from having to fight a two-front war and that Hitler fell for the bait. Allen states that the British have gone to massive lengths to collect and destroy much of the evidence of the details of Hitler’s peace proposal and classified the rest while ‘neutralizing’ potential witnesses like Hess.
What were the details of Hitler’s peace offer that were so important that they needed to be hand-carried to Britain by his Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess? Perhaps the most stunning and authoritative source is the May 1943 edition of the American Mercury as it was published during the war and included an article entitled “The Inside Story of the Rudolph Hess Peace Flight” which confirms many of the details uncovered by the authors of these two referenced books This article is a must read for anyone interested to learn the truth of the Hess episode, but too long to quote extensively here. It reveals that it was actually Hitler’s idea to send his closest friend Rudolf Hess to finalize the peace terms with Britain and end the war following four months of peace discussions in order to emphasize how serious Hitler was to make peace. It stated that the British had full knowledge of Hess’ peace mission and approved of his flight in advance. The British commander of Fighter Command after having been informed that a lone German fighter was approaching Scottish territory, exclaimed “Tell him not to shoot him down!” He sent two RAF fighters to escort him to Hess’ agreed upon destination and expressed relief upon hearing that he had arrived safely after crash landing.
The American Mercury article summarized the draft peace treaty, which was confirmed by multiple British sources and typed in both German and English on official German Chancellory paper, as follows: “Hitler offered total cessation of the war in the West. Germany would evacuate all of France except Alsace and Lorraine, which would remain German. It would evacuate Holland and Belgium, retaining Luxembourg. It would evacuate Norway and Denmark. In short, Hitler offered to withdraw from Western Europe, except for the two French provinces and Luxembourg [Luxembourg was never a French province, but an independent state of ethnically German origin], in return for which Great Britain would agree to assume an attitude of benevolent neutrality towards Germany as it unfolded its plans in Eastern Europe. In addition, the Führer was ready to withdraw from Yugoslavia and Greece. German troops would be evacuated from the Mediterranean generally and Hitler would use his good offices to arrange a settlement of the Mediterranean conflict between Britain and Italy. No belligerent or neutral country would be entitled to demand reparations from any other country, he specified. The proposal contained many other points, including plans for plebiscites and population exchanges where these might be necessitated by shifts in population that has resulted from the military action in Western Europe and the Balkans. But the versions circulating in authoritative circles all agree on the basic points outlined above…He emphasized that his Leader would not quibble over details -- Britain could practically write its own peace terms.” In summary, Hitler offered to withdraw from 83% of the territory German troops had occupied from March 15, 1939 onward in exchange for peace without a single additional drop of British blood being shed in what was without a doubt a missed chance by Churchill to win the war and ensure his re-election as Prime Minister.
In addition, Hess stated that “Germany had no designs on America.” German leaders informed the British that Hitler was willing to commit to the “restoration of a Polish state” which presumably meant a Polish puppet state aligned with Nazi Germany (which would be much better than having Poland continue under direct Nazi rule) and wanted to negotiate the return of former German colonies which had been taken from Germany after World War I. They also told the British that Hitler agreed to preserve Britain’s full independence and keep all of its other colonial possessions even proposing a 25-year Anglo-German alliance in which Germany would offer the use of its troops to defend the British Empire, if necessary. Some sources have also stated that Hess had revealed the exact date of the planned German invasion of the USSR and perhaps even the entire German order of battle as proof his mission was sanctioned by Hitler himself. Had the British public become aware of the details of Hitler’s generous peace proposal, they might have brought significant pressure on Churchill’s coalition government to agree to Hitler’s proposal to end the war. Later, when Hess was informed that both FDR and British leaders rejected his peace offer, he demanded to be sent back to Germany as he had come as an official emissary of the German government but the British refused demanding he be held as a “special prisoner of war” causing Hess to suffer a minor mental breakdown.
These reported peace terms may have been somewhat similar to the ones that British leaders had received through back channels from Nazi Germany and had debated and discussed as being “quite favorable to us” during the May 26-28, 1940 War Cabinet Crisis when it was feared that the Germans were on the verge of capturing the entire British Expeditionary Force. However, both of Hitler’s last two peace offers were rejected by Churchill. Had the terms of Hitler’s peace offer become public at the time, it is very possible that the British public would have called for their acceptance, hence the need to cover them up and keep them ‘Top Secret’ along with many other uncomfortable truths and facts about all of the horrible things that the vengeful Allies did to Germany after their surrender. However, it is difficult to justify why these details and the actual peace offer continue to be classified eighty years after the fact, many decades after the last British leader, whose reputation might be impugned thereby, has died.
In retrospect, it appears to have been a stupid and reckless idea for the third-ranking leader of Nazi Germany to fly to Britain when the chances that Churchill would consider peace with Nazi Germany in May 1941 without pressure from the British Cabinet and King George VI were non-existent. But Hitler was desperate for peace with Britain and British intelligence tricked the Nazis into believing there was a realistic chance that the British War Cabinet would pressure Churchill to accept Hitler's proposal which I believe was more favorable to Britain than it was to Germany. That said, the Hess peace mission did have one major unintended, yet beneficial, effect for Nazi Germany. According to a Russian author that examined Soviet World War II archives during the early 1990’s following the end of the Cold War, the Hess peace offer seriously spooked Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who reportedly delayed his plans to invade East Prussia, western Poland and Romania by about four critical weeks. Stalin feared that the British might drop out of the war or even ally with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union in exchange for its full military withdrawals from most of Nazi-occupied Europe pushing Germany back to its October 1939 area of control (with the exception of Alsace-Lorraine, Eupen-Malmedy and northern Slovenia) making the Germans much more difficult to defeat. Stalin knew that peace with Britain could have freed up to a million German troops from the Nazi occupation of much of Europe to fight the Soviets. This delay in the planned Soviet offensive enabled the Germans to invade the Soviet Union first catching the Red Army’s troops, tanks and aircraft massed on the borders making it much easier for the Germans to surround and destroy them in the first few months of the war. Had the Soviets attacked Germany first, Nazi Germany’s defeat might have been achieved as much as two years earlier reducing the number of lives lost by millions.
The British had a vested interest to prevent the world at large from learning that Hitler was willing to give up control of northern Europe, western Europe and southern Europe for peace with Britain which he notably stated in his April 30, 1945 suicide note was his biggest regret that he failed to achieve. For the past eighty years, Allied war propaganda has been indoctrinating people to believe the myth that Hitler wanted to conquer the world when the facts of Hitler's May 10, 1941 peace offer clearly show Hitler didn't even care about keeping control of northern Europe, western Europe and southern Europe let alone embarking on an undertaking to conquer the world. The peace offer proved that Hitler’s territorial ambitions were limited to carving out an eastern empire for Germany at western Russia and Ukraine's expense and strongly suggested that he had been sincere in his ultimately unsuccessful efforts to get Britain and Poland to ally with Germany in his long-planned ‘international crusade against Bolshevism.’
Of course, if Hitler wasn't a megalomaniac keen on war with the West and world conquest, then it brings into question why Britain and France felt the need to declare war on Nazi Germany in the first place. The Second World War was fought over Hitler's demands to the 'free city' of Danzig, whose citizens were 95% German, and the Polish Corridor which constituted a mere 4.2% of Polish territory at the time. However, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill were more than happy to let Stalin annex over half of Poland and deport millions of Poles to slave labor camps in Siberia while transforming the rest of Poland into a Soviet occupied puppet state proving they actually didn't care about Poland's territorial integrity after all. Realization of these facts by the public might also call into question whether it was worth the sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of British lives, their economic well-being and the British Empire to fight to liberate western Europe from Nazi tyranny for four more years when Hitler had offered to liberate it from Nazi control without a drop of British blood being shed. It might also raise new questions as to the wisdom of FDR’s, Truman’s and Churchill’s policy of appeasing Stalin with tens of thousands of tanks and combat aircraft and the strategic materials to build tens of thousands more along with half a million trucks and jeeps as part of the Lend Lease program as well as the Soviet annexation of parts or all of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Japan and the conquest and half-century long occupations of several others.
While Hitler’s peace offers and his statements that he never wanted war with Britain or France in the first place were likely quite sincere, there were many things he could have done to help ensure peace and prevent the outbreak of World War Two in the first place. Most importantly, his decision to invade and occupy Czechoslovakia on March 15, 1939 was a cardinal error as it prompted British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to issue his blank check military guarantee of Poland two weeks later causing the Poles to refuse to negotiate with Hitler over the Danzig issue, leading to the outbreak of the war. Prime Minister Chamberlain's had proposed a Four Power Conference in August 1939 and even repeated on September 1st, the day the Germans invaded Poland, to address Hitler’s claims to Danzig and the Polish Corridor in return for a full German military withdrawal from Polish territory. Hitler responded the following day, seeming to accept Chamberlain’s proposal to withdraw all German troops from Poland, with the exception of Danzig and the Polish Corridor, but his offer was summarily rejected by Britain which declared war on Germany the following day. Had Hitler agreed to a Four Power conference on September 1, 1939 and withdrawn Germany’s troops from Poland as Chamberlain demanded, Britain, France and Italy might well have awarded Germany with the return of Danzig (a claim which most British and French leaders believed was fully justified) and the Polish Corridor without war. Hitler subsequently made three additional peace offers to the western Allies from 1939-1941 ending with the Hess peace proposal. Perhaps, if he had made the details of his peace offers public at the time he offered them, the British and French public would have pressured their leaders to accept them.
Hitler reportedly included as part of his formal peace offer a proposal to deport the Jews from Europe rather than their genocide, a decision he didn't take until seven months after the British refused his peace offer. According to Padfield in his book, “Hess, Hitler and Churchill,” the commander of the Grenadier Guards in charge of guarding the King’s residence at Windsor Castle, Lieutenant Colonel Pilcher was abruptly removed from his position and forced into social isolation for the rest of his life for sharing details of the Hess’ peace offer with a prominent friend of his, Kenneth De Courcy, whom MI5 attempted to prosecute under the Official State Secrets Act in late 1942, including that one of its express terms was “the resettlement of the Jews in Palestine.” Before the war, Hitler’s policy towards German Jews was to make it difficult for them to get jobs, to confiscate much of their property and encourage them to voluntarily emigrate from Germany. In fact, shortly after Hitler became German Chancellor, he signed the Haavara agreement with Zionist Jewish leaders in August 1933 enabling over 60,000 Jews to leave Nazi Germany and emigrate to Palestine with some of their assets. The Schact Plan of 1939 was another of Hitler’s pre-efforts to work with international Jewish organizations to raise money for the resettlement of tens of Jewish emigrants but this plan failed because other countries were unwilling to accept European Jews. Despite Hitler’s anti-Semitic policies, over 200,000 Jews remained in Germany at the outbreak of the war most likely because the U.S. and other western nations refused them entry. In 1938, over 300,000 Germans, mostly Jews, applied for visas to come to the U.S. but scarcely more than 20,000 were approved. In June 1939 and again during the summer of 1942, ships with nearly a thousand Jews tried to land in the US. However, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt denied their request to come to the U.S. claiming they would pose a national security threat as they were likely Nazi spies.
There is also considerable evidence that Hitler was interested in deporting the Jews to Madagascar following the outbreak of war and give them self-rule, control of their own domestic, economic and internal affairs with their own police force as part of a final peace treaty with France or Britain. This plan had been seriously considered by Nazi leaders long before the war broke out. According to Peter Padfield in his book, “Hess, Hitler and Churchill”, in May 1940, Himmler issued a memorandum speaking of the desirability “of a great Jewish exodus to Africa or some other colony” adding that “if one rejects the Bolshevik method of the physical extermination of a people from inner conviction as un-Germanic and impossible then this method is really the most lenient.” Hitler signed the memorandum. Hitler mentioned the plan to Mussolini and Goebbels noted in his diary on August 17, 1940 that “The Jews we want to transport to Madagascar later. There they can build their own state.” Padfield wrote that given these statements by top Nazi leaders, “it appears that ‘the Final Solution to the Jewish problem—physical extermination--was chosen after the Jews expulsion overseas was rendered impossible by the British refused to make peace.” Certainly, conditions there would have been bad but the implementation of such a plan might have averted the Jewish Holocaust and saved millions of Jewish lives. Churchill had previously refused all Nazi requests to allow German ships to forcibly deport the Jews from Europe. The claim that Hitler did not intend to kill the Jews until late 1941 but only wanted to expel them from Europe has been supported by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Padfield cites a couple of sources which suggested that Hess knew that Hitler was growing impatient with being unable to carry out his plans to deport the Jews from Europe and may have resolved to kill them if Britain was unwilling to end the war in order to allow him to do so, something Hess wanted to prevent as a matter of honor.
As has been noted, the British government, most likely authorized by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher herself, ordered the assassination of a 93-year old mentally impaired invalid at a time when calls for his release on humanitarian grounds were escalating to protect a number of state secrets that might reflect badly on British wartime leaders. Could it be that the most closely-guarded British secret of all might well be that Churchill was given the opportunity by Hitler to save the lives of millions of Jews from the Jewish Holocaust, but refused? The fact, almost universally ignored by Western military historians, is that the outbreak of World War II not only did not prevent the Jewish Holocaust, but actually served as the catalyst for Hitler to begin a series of decisions leading to the mass murder of the Jews. Only after the British and French declared war on Germany and the British began their blockade which prevented all emigration from Germany and Poland did Hitler begin rounding up the Jews into ghettos. Only after he invaded the Soviet Union did the Nazis begin the process of mass incarceration of Jews in the concentration camps. Thus, there is a very credible argument that if the Second World War had been averted, had it been ended by May 1941, or at least if there had been no British blockade of Germany and Nazi-occupied Poland preventing the escape of millions of European Jews, the Jewish Holocaust might have been averted. Even if the British had made an exception to the blockade to allow millions of Jews to emigrate from Europe either voluntarily or by being forcibly deported by the Nazis, then the lives of over five million Jews might have been spared.
While it would be wrong and factually inaccurate to blame the Jewish Holocaust on anyone else but Adolf Hitler and the Nazi leaders who perpetuated it, if Allied leaders, most importantly Prime Minister Churchill, had made different decisions following the outbreak of war, then the lives of millions of Jews would have been spared. Accepting the Hess peace offer would likely have served to avert the Jewish Holocaust entirely. But as has been noted, this is likely only one of many reasons that caused the British government of Margaret Thatcher to decide to plot and order his assassination. The British government has stated it plans to release all of its ‘Top Secret’ files on Hess’ interrogation and related documents in 2041. This will mark 100 years after his failed peace mission and the beginning of his near half-century long imprisonment as a ‘special prisoner of war.’ Perhaps, then we will finally learn what secrets about Hess and his mission that were so important to hide from public knowledge that the British felt they needed to permanently silence him to prevent his imminent release, providing they have not destroyed the remaining documents and records by then.
Here is a link to one of my past interviews from 2021 discussing Hitler’s May 1941 peace offer. Here is another link to an interview I did on American Warrior Radio a few years ago that explores the origins of World War Two, how a just, negotiated peace after World War One could have avoided the rise of Hitler and the outbreak of World War Two entirely. I also address the ‘what ifs’ as to how history would have been different had the British accepted one of Hitler’s peace offers, had Hitler accepted Chamberlain’s offer for a Second Four Power Conference in 1939, had the German resistance overthrew Hitler in 1944 or if Dewey had won the 1944 presidential election and the US had accepted one of Japan’s surrender offers outlined in the MacArthur Memorandum in January 1945.
© David T. Pyne 2021
David T. Pyne, Esq. is a former U.S. Army combat arms and H.Q. staff officer with a M.A. in National Security Studies from Georgetown University. He is a regular contributor to The National Interest.