November 9, 2004


Secret papers finally tell the truth of Hess's flight (EDWARD BLACK, 11/09/04, The Scotsman)

IT WAS one of the most bizarre episodes of the Second World War. When Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, landed by parachute in 1941 near the estate of the Duke of Hamilton in Lanarkshire, it raised the question of whether British intelligence or members of the aristocracy were trying to broker a secret peace deal with the Nazis.

But recently declassified MI5 files shed more light on Hess’s mysterious flight to Scotland, and finally prove the conspiracy theories to be unfounded, according to the duke’s son, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton, the Lothians MSP.

The Conservative peer said yesterday that the new MI5 files relate to a letter intended for his father, the 14th Duke of Hamilton, then commander of RAF Turnhouse in Edinburgh, which was intercepted by the British secret services.

The communiqué, which was sent by Hess’s personal adviser, Albrecht Haushofer, in September 1940, had suggested a meeting with the duke in Lisbon in a secret attempt to achieve a peace settlement.

[O]n 10 May 1941, Hess became increasingly desperate to explain matters personally to the British and embarked on his ultimately failed mission in the hope of exploiting the duke’s connections with the government and the monarchy to secure a peace deal with Germany. Amid competing theories about who knew what of the episode, the new papers offer a fresh insight into the work of British intelligence in the eight months between the letter being sent and Hess parachuting into a field in South Lanarkshire.

Lord James, whose writings on the subject include The Truth About Rudolf Hess, published in 1993, said the documents proved that his father had no idea Hitler’s deputy had planned to embark on his unauthorised mission to broker a peace deal.

He said: "This letter was never answered, and these files show that MI5 played an unwitting role in Hess’s flight to Britain, since any answer would have made his flight to Britain unnecessary.

"For 35 years I have been wanting to get my hands on these files, now slipped almost surreptitiously into the public domain, and they corroborate and confirm the accuracy of the account in The Truth About Rudolf Hess.

"From the papers, it is absolutely clear that neither MI5 nor my father had any inkling Hess was involved, nor did either have any interest in peace negotiation with the Third Reich."

That lack of interest cost tens of millions of lives and warped history.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 9, 2004 7:35 AM

A most debatable proposition, given:
* Hitler's propensity to keep his word and diplomatic agreements when it suited him;
* Hitler's way of ruthlessly dealing with the opposition (including former allies);
* Hitler's seeming invincibility and unqualified genius at the time of Hess's flight;

among many other reasons.

But hey, if it suits one's view regarding the idiocy of the west in waging an unnecesary against a harmless threat (but at the same time bulwark against Communism expansion), then by all means go for it.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 9, 2004 8:54 AM

Should be, " unnecessary war against...."

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 9, 2004 8:55 AM

The failure of the British to broker a peace deal with the Nazis cost tens of millions of lives and warped history? Really?

Let's noodle for bit on what might have happened if only...

- With no Western Front to worry about, Hitler would have been free to focus the bulk of his war machine on the USSR and the Eastern Front.

- If Germany conquered Moscow (which it might possibly have done), the Stalin purges would have been stopped, only to be replaced by the eastward expansion of Nazi concentration camps. Arguably at least as many people would have been exterminated by the Nazis as were actually killed by Stalin (although it might have been a different group of populations).

- He would have had a free hand to continue and possibly complete the extermination of the Eurpoean Jews which was only halted by the destruction of the Third Reich by the Allies.

- With Great Britain no longer threatened, isolationists within the United States would have had an upper hand in delaying entry in the war.

- On the other hand, Japan may have delayed or abandoned plans for the attack on Pearl Harbor, out of concern that Hitler may not live up to the terms of their pact and declare war on the US if he was at peace with Britain.

- At some point, after consolidating victory and power in the East, Hitler would once again have turned his attention to the West and the only obstacle remaining, Great Britain.

Peace with madmen only delays the inevitable and worsens the consequences of finally dealing with them.

Posted by: porlockian at November 9, 2004 9:05 AM

I agree with porlockian. I'd also add that a Nazi Reich, if left to itself, would have inevitably developed a-bombs and V-2 derived ICBMs capable of hitting the US. Without a war to goad the US I doubt if we would have spent all that money on the Manhattan project. Hitler (assuming he would still be in charge by the 1950s) would not have hesitated to incinerate his last remaining rival, the United States.

So OJ what have you and your buddies been smoking? Even if the Nazis don't get around to nuking the US, are you saying that Nazi rule over continental Europe and successful extermination of the Jews would have been a good thing? Are you all nuts?

Posted by: dan duffy at November 9, 2004 9:47 AM


No, I'm saying we should have worked with Germans who wanted to end the war and get rid of the Nazis. However, it's true that replacing the Nazis withe the Communists did Europe and us little good. It would have been better to stay out and let them grind each other down.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 10:15 AM


Hess hardly qualifies as a German who wanted to get rid of the Nazis.

I find it very hard to imagine any German government of the era that wouldn't have been an ongoing threat.

Posted by: Peter B at November 9, 2004 10:21 AM

Threat to what?

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 10:25 AM

Nazi Germany was expansionist, and people and nations bandwagon with those who look like winners - and Hitler would have been a very big winner in this scenario. He'd have plenty of friends willing to help him when he decided to finally attack America, the war he wanted in the "next generation." He'd also have controlled almost the entire oil supply in Eurasia either directly or through proxies.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at November 9, 2004 11:06 AM

And what of the Final Solution OJ? You would have preferred that the the Nazis not be interferred with and be allowed to complete the extermination of European Jewry?

As for grinding each other down, the result would have been a peace of exhaustion - which nearly happened in 1943.

Weinberg in his "A World at Arms" does mention a serious armistice negotiation via Swedish intermediaries between Germany and Russia in 1943. This was after Stalingrad had ended hopes of German victory but also after Manstein's destruction of the subsequent Soviet offensive into the Ukraine showed Stalin that an advance on Berlin could be very costly. Stalin supposedly threatened Churchill and FDR with a separate peace, even ordering the Soviet embassy in Tokyo to "celebrate" the coming truce. Nothing came of these negotiations as Hitler placed his hope on one last throw of the dice, Operation Citadel and the Battle of Kursk.

IMHO, Germany never had a realistic chance (unless the Russians are incredibly stupid) of reaching Moscow in 1941 - let alone the Urals - due to logistics, time and space constraints. And given their lack of manpower, they never had a realistic chance of reaching Baku the following year. But what they could have achieved is the occupation of large chunks of economically valuable Soviet territory, then hunkering down into a strategic defensive and let the Russians bleed themselves white in futile counter-attacks (like Operation Mars).

While conquering an empire to the Urals lay in the realm of fantasy, a separate peace of exhaustion which left Germany in control of most of the Baltic States, Byelorussia and the Ukraine was a realistic possibility. Such an armistice would still leave Germany in control of most of continental Europe.

Posted by: dan duffy at November 9, 2004 11:09 AM


We saved some Jews and cost tens of millions of non-Jews their lives.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 11:31 AM


You almost have to be a Nazi or a Communist to believe either could have dominated all of Europe, nevermind turned to attack America after. Their expansionism was our ace in the hole.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 11:33 AM

17 million combatants died in WW2. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

Would not fighting in Europe have saved any of the Chinese victims? No.

Would it have reduced the Soviet casualties? More likely increased.

How many more Jews (along with homosexuals and Gypsies and other "undesirables" under Nazi rule) would have died? I wouldn't even want to guess.

The source for my stats is here:

Posted by: porlockian at November 9, 2004 11:39 AM


Yes, 60 million Chinese, 2 million Vietnamese, etc.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 11:42 AM

There is no point arguing against someone so in thrall to post-hoc reasoning.

Among other things, it risks the error of comparing the costs of the path taken against the putative advantages of the path foregone.

Unfortunately, the path foregone would also have had its share of costs. They somehow never make into this kind of empty analysis.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 9, 2004 12:22 PM


Yes, just assume that everything had to happen as it did and you can keep your mind completely closed.

Posted by: oj at November 9, 2004 2:43 PM


Congratulations, you missed the point, being: "Unfortunately, the path foregone would also have had its share of costs. They somehow never make into this kind of empty analysis."

It is precisely the same mistake the Left makes with regard to Iraq.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 10, 2004 7:13 AM


We've been over the potential costs hundreds of times. Worst case, one side or another "wins." They try to control all of Europe and fail. They fall more quickly than the USSR did, saving millions of lives and trillions of dollars. Unless, of course,. you think Communism or Nazism is a workable system?

Posted by: oj at November 10, 2004 7:37 AM


If my granny had had wheels she'd have been a bus.

Posted by: Eugene S. at November 10, 2004 7:44 AM


Why? She might have been a tricycle.

Posted by: oj at November 10, 2004 10:02 AM

Orrin's fantasy is that there were antiHitler Germans.

There were. 4. That's all.

David Lloyd George was advocating a negotiated peace with Hitler in 1942, so it is not exactly true to say that the idea was ignored in England.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 10, 2004 8:37 PM


Even as deeply as you've drunk from the FDR kool-aid you have to know how foolish that is.

Posted by: oj at November 10, 2004 8:40 PM


You completely neglect the costs and risks of the path not taken (for instance, when you termed our invading Russia as "easy"). It is trap commonly fallen--the conceptually challenged on the left do it all the time.

I for one, am frankly shocked when someone as analytical and knowledgable as you does the same.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 11, 2004 7:13 AM


What costs?

Posted by: oj at November 11, 2004 8:39 AM

Name the fifth one.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 11, 2004 10:43 PM

Paul Leverkuehn, Count Helmuth James von Moltke, Hans Bernd Gisevius, Adam von Trott zu Solz, Hans Oster, Erwin Lahousen, Karl-Friederich Goerdeler, etc., etc., etc....

Posted by: oj at November 11, 2004 10:50 PM

Col. Klaus von Stauffenberg, Rudiger Schleicher, Hans von Dohnanyi, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eberhard Bethge, Klaus Bonhoeffer.

Posted by: Dave W. at November 11, 2004 11:45 PM

Aside from Stauffenberg, what actions did any of them take?

'Dude, I was gonna overthrow Hitler, really. It was, like, one of my top 10 things I was gonna do. Er, um, I mean, right, sure, I was gonna get to it right after . . . '

Posted by: Harry Eagar at November 12, 2004 2:46 PM


Don't parade your ignorance. Read.

Posted by: oj at November 12, 2004 4:29 PM
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