Blog 11: This is my 95th podcast and the first I have attempted on events regarding World War 2.
I think it is one of the strangest incidents that happened during the war, The deputy leader of the Nazi party decides to fly across to Britain on his own.
No one is sure what was Hess’s motivation as he was looked up for the rest of his life and allowed very little contact with the outside world.
It seems to be something to do with a power struggle between the Germans, USSR and Britain. Possibly both the USSR and Britain trying to persuade Germany to attack the other. Then as Britain and the USSR became allies there seemed to be a reason to keep Hess quiet and say he was mad anyway.
Events during May and June 1941 are shrouded in mystery, part of the puzzle was Rudolf Hess's (Hitler’s deputy) flight to Scotland during May 1941. Was Hess sent by Hitler to offer Britain peace terms so he could concentrate on invading the USSR? Did Hess ask Britain to help them defeat the USSR? Was Hess tricked by the British security services ? Was Hess trying to cause civil unrest in Britain to aid the Nazi cause?
What is certain is that there was a large section of the British people who seemed to be in favour of a peace deal with the Nazis, appeasement; these were the Middle and Upper classes that had the most to lose. The perception of Britain in 1940 was that the Nation was united against the Nazi threat. This was not true.
Was the Churchill government playing the Nazis and the Soviets against each other? I don’t think that we will ever know the true story, but some members of the aristocracy and the Royal family do not come out of this story very well. Some of the well known ‘Establishment’ figures came across as particularly dislikeable, people like Anthony Blunt who may have had perfect manners but seemed to have repulsive morals. There are other characters who it is difficult to make an assessment, people like Tancred Borenius was he taking great risks to himself to try to trick the Nazis or was he trying to help their cause?
For research, I have used various editions of the Lobster magazine, available online https://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk
Also newspaper articles, various books including Hess, Hitler and Churchill, Peter Padfield, Hess-Truth at last – Harris & Wilbourn and various books on World War 2, I like the Anthony Beevor books, but none of these general books has much more than a paragraph or two on the Hess Flight incident.