Rudolf Hess was born in 1894 in Alexandria, Egypt, the son of a
German merchant. During the First World War he served in the
German Army and was seriously injured at Verdun in August
1917. In the same year he got promoted to Lieutenant and
voluteered for the flying corps.
In June 1920 he joined
the NSDAP and took part in the unsuccessful coup de etat on
9th November 1923 in Munich, which had the aim to overthrow
the Bavarian government. Together with Adolf Hitler he was
imprisoned at Landsberg. On his release from prison he
became Hitler's private secretary and accompanied him on
most of his political travels throughout Germany. When the
Nazis came into power, in 1933, he was elevated to the rank of
a minister and became a member of Hitler's cabinet and at the
same time became Hitler's dedicated deputy.
In one of the most startling events of WWII Rudolf Hess made
his famous solo airplane flight in a ME 110 to Scotland and
arrived unexpectedly in May 1941. On landing he was
immediately taken as a prisoner of war by the British, but he
demanded to see the Marquess of Clydesdale, whom he said
he had met at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. He claimed his
mission was to seek a peace between Germany and Britain so
that jointly they could wage war against the Soviet Union.
Clydesdale had indeed attended the Olympics, but always
claimed he had never met Hess, who by that time was
becoming a marginal figure in the Third Reich; although
because of personal loyalty based on their early joint struggles
in the Nazi Party Hitler kept him in the public eye.
Just a few days before his flight, Hess had a private meeting
with Hitler that lasted four hours. It is known that the two men
raised their voices during portions of their talk, and that when
they were finished, Hitler accompanied his Deputy to the ante-room, put his arm soothingly around his
shoulder, and said: "Hess, you really are stubborn." The relationship
between Hitler and Hess was so close and intimate that one
can logically assume that Hess would not have undertaken
such an important step in the middle of a war without first
Although Hess' adjutants and secretaries were imprisoned
after the flight, Hitler intervened to protect Hess' family. He saw
to it that a pension was paid to Hess' wife, and he sent a
personal telegram of condolence to Hess' mother when her
husband died in October 1941.
Until the end of the war Rudolf Hess remained a prisoner and in
1946 he was convicted as a major war criminal during the war
crimes trials which were held at Nürnberg. He was then
sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison, West Berlin.
For many years Rudolf Hess refused visits from members of
his family but he changed his mind in November 1969, when he
became severely ill and had to struggle to stay alive. He
agreed to a visit by his wife Ilse Hess and the son Wolf Rüdiger
in the British Military Hospital in Berlin. Thus, on December 24,
1969, they visited him for the first time ...
After being returned to the Allied Military Prison in Spandau, he
agreed to further visits. In the years that followed, members of
the family visited Rudolf Hess 232 times altogether. Only the
closest members of his family were allowed to meet with him. It
was forbidden to shake hands or embrace. Presents were also forbidden, even on birthdays or at Christmas.
On Monday, August 17, 1987, a journalist informed the son that
his father was dying. Later he received a telephone call at 6:35 p.m. from the American director of the Spandau
informed him officially that his father had died, aged 93.