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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 9: The Hess Case Raised in the House of Commons


← 68 | 69 → CHAPTER NINE

The Hess Case Raised in the House of Commons

The Prime Minister was ‘still hankering after his stupid statement about Hess’, Cadogan noted in his diary on 19 May 1941. He ‘insisted on reading it with great gusto to the Cabinet. Fortunately (with the possible exception of A. Sinclair) they were unanimous against it, and I think he has dropped the idea’.1 However the Commons were in no mood to do so. The Press had been spreading various odd rumours, and the public was getting impatient to hear the correct version of the Hess episode. During ‘Oral Answers’ on 20 May Major Vyvyan Adams asked2

the Prime Minister whether it has yet been established whether the projected visit of the Deputy Führer of the Reich to the Duke of Hamilton was planned with the connivance and support of the German Government?

The Prime Minister: I am not yet in a position to make a statement on this subject, and I am not at all sure when I shall be.

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