Rudolf Hess

(1894—1987) German Nazi politician, deputy leader of the Nazi Party 1934–41

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Walter Rudolf Hess (1881—1973)


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Deputy leader of the German Nazi Party (1934–41).

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, the son of a German importer, Hess was educated at Alexandria, Bad Godesberg, Neuchâtel, and Hamburg. After serving in the same regiment as Hitler during World War I, in 1920 he became Hitler's political secretary. He was a participant in the abortive Munich putsch (an attempt to overthrow the government) in 1923 and was imprisoned for seven months in Landsberg prison, where he took down Mein Kampf from Hitler's dictation.

Hess remained closely associated with Hitler during the 1930s. Appointed chairman of the central political commission of the National Socialist (Nazi) Party in 1932, he became deputy leader of the party in 1934 and was named successor to Hitler (after Goering) as head of state in 1939. In 1941 Hess flew alone from Augsburg to Scotland in an attempt to negotiate peace with the British government. He was interned until 1945 and then tried as a war criminal at Nuremberg in 1946, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau prison. From 1966 he was the sole prisoner at Spandau, the Soviets refusing to agree to his release, despite proposals to do so from the French, British, and Americans. After his suicide in 1987 the prison was demolished.

Subjects: Second World War.

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