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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 11: Peace Proposal: Alliance Against Bolshevism, 6 September 1941

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← 190 | 191 → CHAPTER ELEVEN

Peace Proposal: Alliance Against Bolshevism,6 September 1941

Hess would now be bedridden for several months, his leg in a cast: a most uncomfortable situation. He felt the hot weather of June, and the pain. He found solace in reading The Times, which was now allowed him. Even wireless was put at his disposal. He appeared ‘brighter and cheerful’ when, on 23 June, he read that Germany had attacked Russia the previous day. And he became more talkative especially with Lt. Malone, though there were periods when he would not communicate with anybody. Although Hess was still suspected of being paranoid or having hallucinations, Lt. Malone reported on 3 July that his prisoner carried on ‘long conversations on a variety of subjects connected with politics and the war in which, amongst other things, he stated that Hitler did not want his colonies back for their mineral wealth but as a training ground for young Germans to harden them & make them live an adventurous life’. Hess ‘talked quite rationally and not once did he mention his health, poisoning, or suspicion of Officers’.1 He told stories of how Unity Mitford had chased Hitler, and how Hess greatly admired the Duke of Windsor, whom he had met at Obersalzberg in October 1937. A new Guards Officer, Second Lieutenant M. Loftus, son of an MP, won Hess’s confidence. Hess became more voluble. He told Loftus how he had planned but failed several times to fly...

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