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Liveblogging World War II: May 10, 1941

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Rudolf Hess tries to turn World War II from a war between Nazi Germany and Britain to a war between Nazi Germany and Russia by flying to Britain to try to broker a peace:

Rudolf Hess - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Like Goebbels, Hess was privately distressed by the war with the United Kingdom because he, influenced by his academic advisor, hoped that Britain would accept Germany as an ally. Hess may have hoped to score a diplomatic victory by sealing a peace between the Third Reich and Britain,[22] e.g., by implementing the behind-the-scenes move of the Haushofers[clarification needed] in Nazi Germany to contact Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, 14th Duke of Hamilton.[23]

On 10 May 1941, at about 6:00 P.M., Hess took off from Augsburg in a Messerschmitt Bf 110, and Hitler ordered the General of the Fighter Arm to stop him (squadron leaders were ordered to scramble only one or two fighters, since Hess' particular aircraft could not be distinguished from others).[24] Hess parachuted over Renfrewshire, Scotland on 10 May and landed (breaking his ankle) at Floors Farm near Eaglesham.[citation needed] In a newsreel clip, farmhand David McLean claims to have arrested Hess with his pitchfork.[24]

It appears that Hess believed the Duke of Hamilton to be an opponent of Winston Churchill, whom he held responsible for the outbreak of the war.

His proposal of peace were: "1. In order to prevent future wars between England and Germany spheres of interest shall be defined. Germany's sphere of interest is [Continental] Europe; England's sphere of interest is her Empire. 2. Return of German colonies. 3. Indemnification of German nationals who had their residence before the war or during the war within the British Empire and who suffered damage in their persons or property through measures of a Government of the Empire or through any occurrence such as tumult, pillage etc. Indemnification on the same basis by Germany of British subjects. 4. Armistice and peace to be concluded with Italy at the same time" (interview with Lord Simon on 9 June 1941;[25] the same ideas in interviews with Ivone Kirkpatrick and Lord Beaverbrook).

Churchill sent Hess initially to the Tower of London, making Hess the last, in the long line of prominent political prisoners, to be held in the 900 year-old fortress.[26] Churchill gave orders that Hess was to be strictly isolated, but treated with dignity.[27] He remained in the Tower until 20 May 1941.

After being held in the Maryhill army barracks, he was transferred to Mytchett Place near Aldershot. He was kept in a tower room at the rear of the house. The house was fitted with microphones and sound recording equipment. Frank Foley and two other MI6 officers were given the job of debriefing Hess — or "Jonathan", as he was now known. Churchill's instructions were that Hess should be strictly isolated, and that every effort should be taken to get any information out of him that might be useful.[28] British Intelligence personnel, Ian Fleming in particular,[29] proposed that Aleister Crowley should question Hess on Nazi interest in the occult.[30]

Hess became increasingly agitated as his conviction grew that he would be murdered. Mealtimes were difficult, since Hess suspected that his food might be poisoned, and the MI6 officers had to exchange their food with his to reassure him. Gradually, their conviction grew that Hess was insane.

On October 15 he made his first suicide attempt by throwing himself over the rail of the first floor balcony, but he only broke his leg.

Hess was interviewed by psychiatrist John Rawlings Rees, who had worked at the Tavistock Clinic prior to becoming a Brigadier in the British Army. Rees concluded that he was not insane, but certainly mentally ill and suffering from depression — probably due to the failure of his mission.[28] Hess' diaries from his imprisonment in Britain after 1941 make many references to visits from Rees, whom he did not like and accused of poisoning him and "mesmerizing" him. Rees took part in the Nuremberg Trials of 1945.

Taken by surprise, Hitler had Hess' staff arrested. Questioning revealed that Hess was not motivated by disloyalty, but had simply cracked under the strain of the war. The official statement from the German government said that Hess had fallen victim to hallucinations brought on by old injuries from the previous war.

My coming to England in this way is, as I realise, so unusual that nobody will easily understand it. I was confronted by a very hard decision. I do not think I could have arrived at my final choice unless I had continually kept before my eyes the vision of an endless line of children's coffins with weeping mothers behind them, both English and German, and another line of coffins of mothers with mourning children.[31]