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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 4: The Führer’s Rage

Extract

CHAPTER FOUR

The Führer’s Rage



Rudolf Hess by an unknown artistReproduced by permission of the German Federal Archives, Koblenz. (Bundesarchiv Bild 183–1987–0313–507/CC-By-SA)

What of events back in Germany? Saturday 10 May 1941 was a sunny spring day. Around noon, Rudolf Hess had left his home in München-Harlaching to begin his fateful Scottish adventure. He kissed his four year-old son, Rüdiger (called ‘Buzz’ in the family), and bade goodbye to his wife, Ilse, who because of ill health had stayed in bed all morning. Years later, when Buzz was a grown-up boy, his mother told him what the goodbye scene had been like, and later still Rüdiger Hess was to record the story:1

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