• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Unseen Hess files on WWII flight up for auction

The Local · 9 Sep 2013, 15:37

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'

Story continues below…

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
Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

What are Merkel's chances for remaining Chancellor?
Photo: DPA.

She's already held the Chancellery for over a decade, but infighting with political allies as well as a rocky response to her refugee policies may put a damper on Angela Merkel's staying power.

German EU commissioner doubts Brexit will happen
EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger. Photo: EPA.

Germany's EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger raised doubts on Tuesday about whether Britain would leave the bloc, saying he wouldn't bet on "Brexit".

Merkel offers Russia a lifting of sanctions - if it behaves
Angela Merkel. Photo: DPA

Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that she has "the very greatest interest in stopping sanctions" against Russia, Reuters reports.

'Idiot' youth lets regional train drive over him as dare
Photo: DPA

In a stunt police have described as "incomprehensible idiocy," a drunk young man from Munich lay down on the tracks in front of a fast-moving train and let it ride over him.

'Unfriendly' Germans make expat life harder: report
Photo: Pexels.com

Expats in Germany generally find it great for families and starting a career, but were turned off by the language barriers and "unfriendly" Germans upon arrival, according to a new report.

Is German diplomacy getting too chummy with Russia?
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Photo: DPA/AFP Pool.

Critics have been questioning the German Foreign Minister's recent series of comments about working closer with Russia, with some labelling the diplomat a "Russia-sympathizer".

Police investigate after mosque door is bricked shut
The bricked-up door. Photo: Facebook/Netzwerk für Flüchtlinge in Parchim.

Unknown people have bricked up the entrance to a mosque in northeastern Germany and stuck racist flyers to their masonry work.

Vice-Chancellor: TTIP trade deal is dead
Photo: DPA

Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said on Sunday that negotiations on a massive trade deal between the European Union and the United States were effectively dead in the water.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
7,595
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd