• Germany's news in English
 

Unseen Hess files on WWII flight up for auction

Published: 09 Sep 2013 15:37 GMT+02:00

Valued at $750,000, the documents are described by American auctioneers Alexander Historical Auctions as “perhaps the most important wartime archive to ever be offered for private sale.”

They include Hess’s personal notes, copies of letters, and transcripts of interviews surrounding his long-debated flight in May 1941 to Scotland to apparently negotiate a separate peace with Britain.

The file includes what is believed to be the handwritten proposal of peace terms Hess handed to former British foreign secretary Lord Simon on the day of their meeting.

Germany was on the verge of invading Russia when Hess decided that Britain could be persuaded to make peace with Germany. But the negotiations failed and Hess was imprisoned for the rest of the war in Britain. He was also cut off by the Nazis at home.

Theories have surrounded the incident since the war. Popular ones include that Hess was sent with Hitler’s knowledge, while others believe it was a set-up by British intelligence to capture Hitler’s deputy.

Meanwhile, Britain has sealed its file about what happened during the first month of Hess’s crash landing in Scotland until 2017.

CLICK HERE for a gallery of the Hess documents

Alexander Historical Auctions told The Local it obtained the documents through one of their consignor’s in Europe. They said that around 20 years ago the consignor received an anonymous telephone call from a man familiar with his work. He was told to go to a location the following day, where Hess’s files would be left for him with the hope that it would be of use in his projects.

Andreas Kornfeld from Alexander Historical Auctions said: “The documents disappeared for years. We assume he [Hess] took them to Nuremberg for the trials. They are hand-written and he did sign it. There have always been assumptions about what happened and this is his file which he prepared.”

Some speculate that the former head of the British Secret Service MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield, sought to prevent the truth about Hess’ British captivity coming out leading to the files being sealed.

'Documents are genuine'

The auction house said Germany’s Bundesarchiv had performed a “forensic analysis” of one of the documents in the file. They said: “The results showed that the document is an original document and definitely not spurious.”

Much of the file also remains unknown to the public, the auction house said, adding that a study of the notes would help answer “many of the most perplexing questions that evolved from World War II.”

In the file Hess is convinced that: “The offer by the Führer is genuine…the British cannot continue the war without coming to terms with Germany…By my coming to England, the British Government can now declare that they are able to have talks…convinced that the offer by the Fuhrer is genuine…the British Government has no reason for further bloodshed…the British will agree to the suggestions made.”

But Hess did not receive the welcome he expected and spent the rest of the war in prison, including a spell in the Tower of London.

He was convicted of war crimes in the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and spent the rest of his life in Spandau Prison in Berlin, dying in 1987 aged 93.

And in a further twist, the British press reported on Saturday that Scotland Yard was given the names of British agents who allegedly murdered Hess, but were advised by prosecutors to not pursue its investigations.

The newly released police report, uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act, outlines an inquiry into claims made by a British surgeon who had treated Hess that he was murdered by British agents.

After Hess’ failed peace treaty attempt he was cut off by the Nazis. Hitler ordered Hess to be shot should he return to Germany and he was depicted as delusional in state media.

But speculation has remained as to what extent, if any, Hess was acting on Hitler’s orders or if his flight was a propaganda coup engineered by the British.

Slightly more ridiculous theories include that it was in fact a body double and not Hess who parachuted into Britain in 1941.

The auction house added: “This archive for the first time brings to light Hess' own thoughts on his failed "peace mission", written in his own hand at the time the events occurred. Virtually none of the content of this file has been written by others: it is a first-person history of the great historic importance.”

'England’s position is hopeless'

The documents set out the peace terms and Hess’s attempt to convince the British that : “In order to prevent future wars between England and Germany spheres of interest shall be defined. Germany’s sphere of interest is Europe - England’s sphere of interest is her Empire.”

He warns the British: “Our aircraft factories are still standing…factories have been added…England’s position is hopeless.”

Hess adds: “The numbers of our U-Boats…are very considerable…three-quarters of Europe is engaged in building U-Boats…U-Boat warfare as envisaged by the Führer has not yet commenced…The convoy system has failed…American ship production cannot be sufficient to cover these losses.”

He adds: “When I was considering the question of this flight I always made enquiries of the Führer as to the conditions of peace.”

But Lord Simon believed Hess was acting outside of Hitler’s orders and the documents detail a transcript of their interview.

When asked if he came to Britain with Hitler’s knowledge Hess replies: “Without his knowledge Absolutely. [Laughs]…Yes, surely… they are the ideas of the Führer…”

READ MORE: Hitler's ruby swastika ring up for auction

Tom Bristow

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia
File photo: DPA

Wolf spotted in North Rhine-Westphalia

Camera traps have spotted a wolf for the second time in a month in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state environment ministry reported on Friday. READ  

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay
Paraguayan police on patrol in an area known to contain EPP rebels. File photo: DPA

German ranchers murdered in Paraguay

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin confirmed that two Germans living in Paraguay were kidnapped and killed earlier this week. READ  

AfD braces for busy conference weekend
"Vote AfD!" reads the flyover message. Photo: DPA

AfD braces for busy conference weekend

As leaders of the Germany's anti-Euro upstart party Alternative for Germany (AfD) prepare for its party conference this weekend, the potential for chaos is rising. READ  

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos
Snow in Oberharz. Photo: DPA

Sudden dose of winter causes traffic chaos

UPDATE: Two people were rescued from avalanches as a blast of winter has taken Germany by surprise, while snow and ice accounted for several traffic accidents across the country on Friday. READ  

BND collects 220 million phone records a day
Photo: DPA

BND collects 220 million phone records a day

Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) collects 220 million pieces of information about foreign phone calls and SMS every day, Zeit Online reported on Friday. READ  

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers
Photo: DPA

U-turn on minimum wage for foreign drivers

Germany temporarily hit the brakes Friday on applying its new minimum wage to foreign truck drivers transiting the country in a move welcomed by Poland, which vigorously opposed the system. READ  

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA

Crises make Germany EU foreign policy leader

Foreign policy think-tank the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) gave Germany top marks in its annual check-up of EU member states released on Thursday. READ  

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years
Photo: DPA

Prost! Beer sales hop up for first gain in 8 years

New figures released Friday by federal statistics office Destatis are numbers breweries can drink to, as German beer consumption saw its first year-on-year rise since 2006. READ  

Germany has thousands of uni spots open
Photo: DPA

Germany has thousands of uni spots open

New research published by Spiegel on Friday shows that there are thousands of university placesa unoccupied across the country, while certain hot spots cope with too much demand. READ  

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'
Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp at a press conference. Photo: DPA

Borussia coach admits to 'downward spiral'

Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp admits feeling the pressure as his side resume their fight to stay in Germany's top flight on Saturday at fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,955
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd