THE secret wartime papers of Hitler’s Nazi party deputy Rudolf Hess go under the hammer today, and are set to shine new light on a life that has remained cloaked in secrecy by edict of the UK government.
The documents are expected to fetch up to £500,000 when they are put up for sale by Alexander Auctions, which specialises in buying and selling Third Reich militaria, in Maryland in the United States.
Hess was captured in 1941 after he flew to Scotland in an apparently deranged bid to negotiate a peace treaty with Winston Churchill.
While in the UK, he was intent on meeting Lord Douglas-Hamilton. Hess mistakenly believed Douglas-Hamilton was one of the leaders of an opposition party opposed to war with Germany and would be amenable to a peace deal between the Third Reich and Britain.
Despite failing to make contact with Douglas-Hamilton, the 14th Duke of Hamilton, Hess made the hazardous journey to Scotland by German aircraft on 10 May, 1941. He planned on visiting Dungavel House in South Lanarkshire, which he had learned was linked to the duke.
Almost out of fuel, he ditched his Messerschmitt over Dungavel House and parachuted to the ground, where he was taken into custody at pitchfork-point by an astonished ploughman.
Once under arrest, Hess declared his intention to negotiate a peace deal with Britain to form an alliance against Stalin’s Soviet Union. He was later transferred to a fortified mansion known as “Camp Z”, near Aldershot, by the British government.
The papers that are up for sale include a handwritten version of the “peace proposal” which Hess outlined to John Simon, the Lord Chancellor, during a meeting in Camp Z on 9 June, 1941.
The documents also record Hess’s confidence that the British would give in to his demands, and confirm that Adolf Hitler had no knowledge of the bizarre bid to seek a peace deal.
In the file, Hess writes: “England’s position is hopeless. In order to prevent future wars between England and Germany spheres of interest shall be defined. Germany’s sphere of interest is Europe – England’s sphere of interest is her Empire.”
He also warned his enemies of the strength of Germany’s armaments.
He said: “Our aircraft factories are still standing… factories have been added. England’s position is hopeless. The numbers of our U-boats are very considerable… three-quarters of Europe is engaged in building U-boats.
“U-boat warfare as envisaged by the Führer has not yet commenced. The convoy system has failed and American ship production cannot be sufficient to cover these losses.”
When details of Hess’s desperate bid and capture emerged, Hitler declared him mad. Hess is believed to have committed suicide in Berlin’s Spandau Prison in 1987 at the age of 93.
The auction house described Hess’s historic documents as “perhaps the most important wartime archive to ever be offered for private sale”.
Documents specialist Ian Sayer said: “Obviously, it is impossible to authenticate documents unless you actually have them in your hands. But I am 95 per cent certain that these papers are real.”
Mr Sayer, the owner of one of Europe’s biggest private historical archives, said the documents were clearly British government property and that the sale should not be allowed to go ahead.
There are fears the papers up for sale could be embarrassing to the UK because of the secrecy which still cloaks the life and controversial death of Hess.
Alexander Auctions claims the person who is selling the documents, who has not been identified, had taken delivery of the papers 20 years ago after receiving a telephone call from an unnamed man directing him to the location where they could be found.
Several years ago, the same auction house sold off the diaries of Auschwitz “Angel of Death” doctor Josef Mengele that he compiled while on the run in Brazil after the war.
Dungavel was sold to the National Coal Board in 1947 before being acquired by the UK government and turned into an open prison. It has been used for holding asylum seekers whose applications have been refused prior to their removal.