• Germany edition
 
Unseen Hess files on WWII flight up for auction
Photo: DPA

Unseen Hess files on WWII flight up for auction

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

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
JobTalk Germany
How to become an au pair in Germany
Photo: DPA

How to become an au pair in Germany

It’s not quite as romantic as the Nanny Diaries, nor is it as magical as Mary Poppins. But being an au pair in Germany can be fun, as Emma Anderson finds out. READ  

Merkel hails 'impressive' French reform plans
Merkel and Valls on Monday in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Merkel hails 'impressive' French reform plans

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls visited Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Monday, hoping to gain Germany's blessing for his revised economic reform programme. READ  

German Fifa exec: 'Qatar won't host World Cup'
Theo Zwanziger and one of the planned stadiums in Qatar. Photo: DPA

German Fifa exec: 'Qatar won't host World Cup'

Germany's top Fifa official said on Monday Qatar will not host the 2022 World Cup as planned, due to climate conditions. Qatar's successful bid to host the tournament has been marred by corruption and human rights concerns. READ  

Germany plans air lifts to help fight Ebola
A Liberian man holds his daughter as they wait for treatment for suspected Ebola symptoms in Monrovia. Photo: DPA

Germany plans air lifts to help fight Ebola

Germany and France will send military transport planes to West Africa to help efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel and military officials said on Friday. READ  

Amazon workers walk out again
Amazon workers striking in Graben, Bavaria, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Amazon workers walk out again

Four Amazon shipping centres in Germany were the target of fresh walkouts on Monday in a long-running wage dispute with the US online retail giant. READ  

Half of German navy helicopters grounded
A German navy Sea Lynx helicopter. Photo: DPA

Half of German navy helicopters grounded

Half of the German navy helicopter fleet has been grounded after engineers found large tears in the panelling of a British-made machine on deployment. READ  

Germans say 'bah humbug' to early Xmas
Photo: DPA

Germans say 'bah humbug' to early Xmas

Christmas treats have already hit the supermarket shelves, but Germans surveyed by YouGov say "too soon!", while a third of respondents are for the government taking action to name a release date for holiday wares. READ  

Hoeneß pays tax bill, takes day off prison
Photo: DPA

Hoeneß pays tax bill, takes day off prison

The disgraced former president of Bayern Munich FC, Uli Hoeneß has paid €30 million of his outstanding taxes, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday, and has taken a day off prison. READ  

Oktoberfest 2014
Fights and a skinny dip kick off Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

Fights and a skinny dip kick off Oktoberfest

UPDATE: Paramedics and police were kept busy at the opening weekend of Munich's Oktoberfest, treating hundreds of revellers and arresting dozens, though it was still considered a peaceful start. READ  

Child warriors, 13, leave Germany for jihad
A photograph from the jihadist affiliated group Albaraka News allegedly shows a fighter from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) tying up an Iraqi soldier Photo: DPA/EPA

Child warriors, 13, leave Germany for jihad

Children as young as 13 are travelling from Germany to Syria and Iraq to join Islamic jihadists, according to German intelligence agencies. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
DPA
Gallery
The best photos from Oktoberfest's opening weekend
Photo: DPA
Munich
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's food
Marks & Spencer
Sponsored Article
Marks and Spencer: Win €300 toward your new autumn wardrobe
Photo: Joanna Drath, University of Tübingen
Society
Europeans descended from three tribes
Photo: DPA
Culture
Your guide to Munich Oktoberfest's tents
Photo: DPA
Hamburg
Drunk teachers ruin school trip to Hamburg
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Oktoberfest 2014: The best and worst in dirndl fashion
Photo: Shutterstock
Gallery
Ten German words you'll never want to hear again
Photo: DPA
Education
German universities tumble in global rankings
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
The three types of firms hiring foreigners
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Frisky couple shock Berlin commuters
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,327
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd