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A Daring Venture

Rudolf Hess and the Ill-Fated Peace Mission of 1941

Peter Raina

At the height of the Second World War, Hitler’s Deputy, Rudolf Hess, made a dramatic solo flight to the British Isles. His arrival there was sensational news – and it baffled everyone. Why had he come?
Hess claimed he had flown to Britain entirely of his own initiative and was on a personal mission of peace. But so unlikely was the success of such an appeal in Churchill’s entrenched Britain that historians continue to wonder at his motives.
In this book, Peter Raina publishes, for the first time, complete texts of Hess’s ‘peace proposals’ and a treatise he wrote in captivity outlining how he saw Nazi Germany’s role in Europe. These texts throw considerable light on Hess’s mission and also on how the Nazi leadership saw their programme of expansion and their relations with Britain.
Disconcertingly single-minded and an unashamed disciple of Hitler, Hess was at heart an idealist. His friend and confidant Albrecht Haushofer was an idealist of a different kind, and joined the German Resistance Movement. The frame story of this book relates how the two men moved to their tragic ends.
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Chapter 2: Why Did Hess Want to Speak to the Duke of Hamilton?

Extract

← 4 | 5 → CHAPTER TWO

Why Did Hess Want to Speak to theDuke of Hamilton?

In normal circumstances it would have been quite reasonable for Hess, a passionate aviator, to have greatly enjoyed reading the Pilot’s Book of Everest, which the Duke of Hamilton had authored together with Group Captain D.F. McIntyre. These men had been the first pilots to fly over Mount Everest, and the book had aroused Hess’s admiration. In August 1936 when the Duke (then Marquis of Clydesdale) had visited the Berlin Olympic Games as a member of the official British delegation, Hess had not had the opportunity to talk with Hamilton personally, but Hess had always desired to get to know the Duke. That was why, now in 1941, he ventured to meet him. In 1941, however, the circumstances were wholly different. Great Britain was at war with Germany. Suddenly, out of the blue, an enemy plane had landed in Scotland, and an enemy pilot, staggering on his legs and still gasping, uttered one stark sentence to his first captors: he must immediately see the Duke of Hamilton.

Hess insisted on this meeting during his first interrogation at Maryhill Barracks. Why was he so keen? To answer this question we must go back a little and narrate some background history.



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