Rudolph Hess

What are the chances that on his flight to Scotland that he was actually on a mission for Hitler?

That’s one of my favorite conspiracy fantasies: Hess was going to contact the British Royalty, to propose a separate peace with England, putting them out of the war.

There isn’t any evidence for it, but it’s an engaging fantasy.

That is hardly a conspiracy theory. Hess was a very loyal character and in the absolute top of the party.

No, the real conspiracy theory is that the man in Spandau wasn’t the actual Hess but a look alike.

From what I understand, he went there to make peace with Britain. The question is was he there on Hitler’s orders? Hitler had great respect for the British and probably did not really want to be at war with them especially if he was set to invade the Soviet Union.

“Spandau Phoenix” by Greg Iles was a fun action-adventure/thriller novel. He built up a lovely case to claim that it was a look-alike in the prison. I’m pretty sure it’s all bogus, but it was the basis of a thrill-a-minute novel.

I thought that wasn’t a conspiracy theory but his genuine “plan”. He really thought he could make peace, if not through the royal family, then at least through prominent aristocrats who some Germans believed to be capable of forming an effective peace party. I thought it was reported at the time that Hitler was screaming with rage at the news of the flight, so it doesn’t seem likely that he knew of the plan - or maybe it had been a suggestion that he’d not taken seriously?

Whether or not British intelligence or some other secret outfit had engaged in an elaborate plot to play on Hess’s vanity and declining status to believe he could negotiate with a peace party waiting, in an effort to cause confusion and embarrassment to Hitler, is another matter. I’ve also seen it suggested that the Duke of Kent (George VI’s younger brother, and in his day the more glamorous end of the family and therefore better known on the continent) was involved as means of enticing Hess over. So far, so not totally implausible.

Another conspiracy theory plays on the doppelgänger theory by saying that the flight in which the Duke was later killed had in fact been carrying the real Hess in an attempt to return him to Germany via Sweden, whether as part of a treasonous “peace plot” or the intelligence agencies’ manoeuvring. It’s argued that the need to cover it all up created the need for a doppelgänger, but that all seems a bit pointless. How would they be sure to find someone alike enough and both willing to and capable of acting the part all the way through the Nuremberg trials into a life of pointless captivity?

Quite true, I’m sure – but, that does not mean the Deputy Fuhrer did not take it into his head to act on his own without Hitler’s knowledge, thereby giving the Fuhrer plausible deniability if things should turn out . . . well, as they did. (I never heard the phrase “plausible deniability” before the Iran-Contra affair, but I’m sure the Nazis would readily have coined a German equivalent, with even more syllables, if they ever had thought of it.)

What about the theory that Hess did not hang himself and was actually murdered?

If hee was murdered, they took their time about it. If you’re killing somebody to shut them up, you usually don’t wait for 46 years first.

The murder theory is because “they” wanted to close Spandau after 21 years of Hess being the only inmate.

One of the murder theories is that Russia was finally about to vote to release Hess, so Britain had to kill him to keep him from talking. Up to then, Russia always voted to keep him imprisoned.

I’ve wondered what would have happened if instead of a secret peace mission (whether sanctioned or not), Germany had publicly offered a truce and peace agreement with Britain. In essence, bypass Churchill and the war hawks and appeal directly to the public. Peace and a German withdrawal from France and the low countries in exchange for accepting the conquest of Eastern Europe as a fait accompli would have appealed to many. If nothing else, it would have made Churchill look bad to refuse.

There still seem to be classified files on Hess, wonder what they could reveal.

Read more:

This is a. . . a. . . a ludicrous idea. Leaving aside completely the fact that Germany would never have given up any conquered territory, Britain went to war due to the invasion of Poland. The British public was almost unanimously behind the war. How would it have possibly made Churchill look bad to refuse to accept a peace deal that undercut the entire reason for Britain fighting at all?

Not to mention that such a deal would have been scrapped by Hitler the moment he felt like it. There would be no reason to trust such an offer.

Allied propaganda aside, Hitler didn’t want to “conquer the world” (except in the vague sense of the Aryan race eventually taking it’s proper place) so much as he wanted to (1.) Destroy communism, and while he was at it (2.) Secure lebensraum in the east at the expense of the degenerate Slavs. The war in the west was to preemptively avoid having to fight a two-front war, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Hitler would have been satisfied if Britain and France would just get with the program. It simply wasn’t possible for Germany to invade Britain, so the only alternative was to somehow convince Britain to come to terms- the Blitz in large part was to try to demoralize Britain enough to do that.

That said, May of 1941 was probably too late. If such an offer had been made in late 1940 when was British morale was at a nadir, it might have worked.

Wait… the war in the west was preemptive? Germany had the war with Britain and France brought to her. Hitler didn’t want war with either country. He wanted the east and to destroy Stalin.

Quite. Hitler made various public statements in 1939/40 implying that he was willing to do a deal, but not in any clear terms, presumably along the lines of “leave us Europe, you can have your colonies”.

There was serious discussion in the British War Cabinet in late May 1940, when it was clear the Allied front in northern France was collapsing, about the possibility of some sort of peace settlement, but opinion in the (by now coalition) government was pretty overwhelmingly opposed, whatever the French might do.

Partly it was a matter of the old belief that no one power should be allowed to dominate the Continent, and certainly not one like Nazi Germany, partly a conviction that after he had ripped up the Munich agreement and his manoeuvrings in relation to Poland, no assurances from Hitler were to be trusted anyway, even if his regime could be stomached as a continuing power.

Chamberlain, who had been invited to continue in the War Cabinet, was as strong on this as Churchill or any of the Labour ministers. Churchill put the whole issue to bed by leaving a meeting of the War Cabinet to make a rousing speech at a meeting of the wider government, which more or less sealed the issue on (I think) 28 May or thereabouts, just as the Dunkirk evacuation was getting under way.

Despite German air leafleting over the summer arguing for Hitler’s conciliatory intentions towards Britain*, there was never any serious possibility of a peace movement at any level, and those who chose publicly to identify with it were mostly prewar Fascist sympathisers, considered potential traitors and in some cases interned. Most of those people who were pacifists on principle, rather than Nazi sympathisers, went fairly willingly into some sort of civilian service rather than opposing the war politically.


Well, you’re right, I meant preemptive in the sense that Hitler knew he couldn’t attack eastward first without drawing in Britain and France against him. Hence the Ribbentrop/Molotov treaty which secured a temporary truce with the USSR.