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The Best , So Far
on 30 December 2015
I have for many years followed the enigma of the flight by Rudolf Hess to the UK in 1941. Some of the books have been well but partially informed and others have been plain “coo-coo”.
This was a time of “Big Boy’s Rules” when it was doubtful if we could survive and into the middle of this the Deputy Feuhrer dropped in for a few words, thinking he had access to the people he thought ran the country.
He was represented on both sides as someone who was mentally unbalanced but even if that was so he was a prize source of information at a time when any information was priceless.
The reported treatment was just to lock him up and isolate him and this reportedly continued until he was sent to Nuremburg accused of being a War Criminal. He then was imprisoned in Spandau for life until his controversial death in his nineties in Spandau.
I think that Peter Padfield, a person not new to the field, has in this book covered all of the previous information available and I congratulate him on this. There has been criticism that he does not come to firm conclusions but I think he has taken what is documented and done what he can with it, there are no absolutes.
I have always had difficulty in some of the opinions expressed out of context concerning the 1930s and early war years. The British working classes lost a male generation in WWI under horrific conditions and were then the main sufferers in the Great Depression. A number of brave, educated and honourable men, many from the aristocracy, also thought that “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”. The current fashion of speaking in a disparaging fashion of such men and dismissing them as “Appeasers” is lazy research.
When Hess came there were strong feelings on both sides that we should not be fighting each other again and at the highest levels there was a wish for the war to end no matter who was represented on either side. The Germans, of course, would benefit from fighting on just one front but we were not in a situation to open up another one and we had lost over 1 million tons of shipping in the months of March and April 1941.
Once he was here, it is probable that Brigadier Rees practised an attempt at brain-washing at Mytchett Place until he was sent to Maindiff Court Hospital and on to Nuremburg and Spandau.
There is so much conflicting material that it is possible to make up many theories but I think it is pretty certain the Royal family was involved in encouraging Hess to come over, that the various intelligence services played conflicting games and they did not share their knowledge with each other.
I do think the author has made a major contribution to assembling all of the conflicting evidence.
In all of that evidence there is still no satisfactory explanation of the lack of damage to Hess’s lung or an explanation of the role of “Slippery” Sam Hoare in Spain.