• 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
Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son
Jeremiah Duggan. Photo: Justice for Jeremy

Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son

The family of a British student killed in Wiesbaden over 12 years ago made a fresh step towards justice on Thursday, after a London coroner disagreed with German authorities' belief that he killed himself. READ  

Property of the week
Property of the Week: May 22nd
Photo: Mr Lodge

Property of the Week: May 22nd

Modern and sophisticated: This week’s property combines classic architecture with chic furnishings to create an elegant and luxurious living experience. READ  

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence
The judge said, given his age, he was not the ideal candidate for therapy. Photo:DPA

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence

An 83-year-old man was handed a six month suspended sentence on Thursday after being caught carrying seven bags of heroin in Düsseldorf. READ  

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks
The dazzling colour of 2014's festival parade. Photo: Karneval der Kulturen

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks

This weekend Berlin will be lit up by the vibrancy and colour of the Carnival of Cultures, an annual four-day urban festival that celebrates the diversity of Germany's capital. Here are six things not to miss. READ  

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light
FC Bayern's first team in 1925, the year of the commemorative publication. Photo: Jewish Museum

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light

For decades the early history of FC Bayern München was forgotten, but FCB fans have re-discovered a book from 1925 documenting the club's founding moments. READ  

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA
Gerhard Schindler admitted that the BND had made mistakes in its handling of NSA requests. Photo: DPA

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA

The head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) told a special parliamentary committee on Thursday that his agency is 'dependent on' the American National Security Agency (NSA). READ  

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash
Photo: Polizei Bochum

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash

After a low flying drone crashed into the windscreen of a car on the Autobahn outside Bochum, police announced on Thursday they are looking for witnesses. READ  

Business confidence slack as growth slows
A worker puts the finishing touches to BMWs at the car producer's Regensburg, Bavaria production line. Photo: DPA

Business confidence slack as growth slows

German business confidence slipped fractionally from its previous high level in May, as the upturn in Europe's biggest economy continues, the Ifo economic institute said Friday. READ  

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape
Two fugitives on the run since Thursday. Photo: Polizei Kleve

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape

Police are searching for two fugitives in North Rhine-Westphalia after a young woman freed a man from custody as he was being taken to the doctor. READ  

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet
Angela Merkel with Francois Hollande and Alexis Tsipras in Riga. Photo: DPA

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held "friendly and constructive" debt talks with the leaders of France and Germany Thursday, but gave no sign of a breakthrough ahead of a crucial June deadline. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
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

6,778
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd