The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 17 of 18)


[Page 159]

I turn then to give such evidence as I can upon the flight of the defendant Hess to England on 10th May, 1941.

On that evening he landed in Scotland, within 12 miles of the home of the Duke of Hamilton, and on landing he at once asked to be taken to the Duke of Hamilton, whom he wanted to see. He gave a false name and was shut up, and on the following day, 11th May, 1941, he had an interview with the Duke of Hamilton, a report of which is set out in the addendum to the document book, if the Tribunal would now turn to that.

THE PRESIDENT: Has this been put in evidence yet or not?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: My Lord, I am putting it in evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Is it properly authenticated?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: It is authenticated, and the original is certified as being a Government report from the files of the Foreign Office in London. There are four reports altogether, which come from the Foreign Office file and which have been certified as reports from the Foreign Office.

The first one that I would refer to is 116-M, which becomes Exhibit GB 269 and which is a report on the interview that he had with the Duke of Hamilton on 11th May, 1941. I can summarise most of the contents of that report by saying that he introduced himself as Hess. He said that he had met the Duke of Hamilton at the Olympic Games in 1936, and that his old friend, Haushofer,

[Page 160]

under whom he studied at Munich University after the last war, had suggested that he, Hess, should make contact with the Duke of Hamilton.

He said that in order to do so he had already tried to fly on three occasions, the first time being in December, 1940, the previous year. The reasons he then gave for his visit will be found on the second page of that document. I quote from the end of the fourth line.

I beg your pardon. Perhaps I really ought to say before that, he said that he had stated earlier in the interview that Germany was prepared for peace with England; she was certain to win the war; and he himself wag anxious to stop the unnecessary slaughter that would otherwise inevitably take place:

"He asked me if I could get together leading members of my Party to talk over things with a view to making peace proposals. I replied that there was now only one Party in this country. He then said he could tell me what Hitler's peace terms would be:

First, he would insist on an arrangement whereby our two countries would never go to war again. I questioned him as to how that arrangement could be brought about, and he replied that one of the conditions, of course, is that Britain would give up her traditional policy of always opposing the strongest Power in Europe."

I think I need really read no more of that document, because he enlarges upon those proposals in the subsequent interviews that he had on the 13th, 14th and 15th of May, with Mr. Kirkpatrick of the Foreign Office.

I turn to 117-M, Exhibit GB 270, which is another official report, of the interview with Mr. Kirkpatrick on 13th May. Again I can summarise practically all of it.

He started off by explaining the chain of circumstances which led up to the present situation, which really involved a history of Europe from the end of the last war up to that time. He dealt with Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Norway, saying in each case that Germany was justified and it was all the fault of England and France that they had had ever been involved in war. He blamed England entirely for starting the war. He did say -- and I quote one line which is of interest, dealing with Munich -- he said "The intervention of Mr. Chamberlain ----"
THE PRESIDENT(interposing): Where are you reading?

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I am reading from the fifth paragraph, my Lord. It starts off:

"The Czechoslovakian crisis was caused by the French determination, expressed by the French Air Ministry, to make Czechoslovakia an air base against Germany. It was Hitler's duty to obviate this plot. The intervention of Mr. Chamberlain and the Munich conference had been a source of great relief to Hitler."
One may remember having heard somewhere in the course of this case of Hitler saying that he had of course no intention of abiding by that agreement at all, that that would never do.

I go on with that document. He then says that Germany must win the war. He says that the bombing of England had only just started, and started only with the greatest reluctance. As he puts it at the top of Page 2, the German production of U-boats was enormous. They had enormous raw material resources in occupied territory, and the confidence in Hitler and in final victory in Germany was complete; and that there was no kind of hope for any revolution among the German people.

He gave his reasons for his flight, his personal reasons again, that as horrified at the prospect of a long war. England could not win, and therefore she had better make peace now. He said the Fuehrer entertained no designs against England. He had no idea of world domination, and he would greatly regret the collapse of the British Empire.

[Page 161]

I quote from the last three lines of the large paragraph in the centre of the page:

"At this point Hess tried to make my flesh creep by emphasising that the avaricious Americans had fell designs upon the Empire. Canada would certainly be incorporated into the United States.

Reverting to Hitler's attitude, he said that only as recently as 3rd May, after his Reichstag speech, Hitler had declared to him that he had no oppressive demands to make of England.

The solution which Herr Hess proposed was that England should give Germany a free hand in Europe, and Germany would give England a completely free hand in the Empire, with the sole reservation that we should return Germany's ex-colonies, which she required as a source of raw materials. I asked, in order to draw him on the subject of Hitler's attitude to Russia, whether he included Russia in Europe or in Asia. He replied, 'In Asia'. I then retorted that under the terms of his proposal, since Germany would only have a free hand in Europe, she would not be at liberty to attack Russia. Herr Hess reacted quickly by remarking that Germany had certain demands to make of Russia which would have to be satisfied either by negotiation or as the result of a war. He added, however, that there was no foundation for the rumors now being spread that Hitler was contemplating an early attack on Russia.

I then asked about Italian aims and he said that he did not know. I replied that it was a matter of some importance. He brushed this aside and said that he was sure that Italy's claims would not be excessive. I suggested that Italy scarcely deserved anything, but he begged to differ. Italy had rendered considerable services to Germany, and, besides England had compensated defeated nations like Roumania after the last war.

Finally, as we were leaving the room, Herr Hess delivered a parting shot. He had forgotten, he declared, to emphasise that the proposal could only be considered on the understanding that it was negotiated by Germany with an English Government other than the present British Government. Mr. Churchill, who had planned the war since 1936, and his colleagues, who had lent themselves to his war policy, were not persons with whom the Fuehrer could negotiate."

My Lord, presumably when he came over he was not attempting to be funny. One can only conclude from these reports that at that time the people in Germany, and the German Government, really had no kind of idea of what the conditions in England were like at all. Throughout it appears that this man thought England was ruled by Churchill and a small war-mongering gang. It only needed him to come over and make a peace proposal for Churchill to be turned out in the course of two or three days.

I go on, then, to the next document, My Lord. I am afraid that it is now half-past five. I have only the other reports and one further document to refer to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you had better go on. We will finish to-night.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: I am sorry it has taken so long. I go on to the next interview of 14th May, which is 118-M and becomes Exhibit GB 271.

He started off that interview by making certain complaints about his treatment, asking for a number of things, including "Three Men in a Boat," the book which perhaps is one of the few signs that any of these defendants have shown any kind of culture or normal feelings at all.

He described his flight to England, and then I quote from the third paragraph:

"He then passed to political questions. He said that, on reflection, he had omitted to explain that there were two further conditions attached to his peace proposals. First: Germany could not leave Iraq in the lurch.

[Page 162]

The Iraquis had fought for Germany and Germany would, therefore, have to require us to evacuate Iraq. I observed that this was going considerably beyond the original proposal that German interests should be confined to Europe, but he retorted that, taken as a whole, his proposals were more than fair. The second condition was that the peace agreement should contain a provision for the reciprocal indemnification of British and German nationals whose property had been expropriated as the result of war. Herr Hess concluded by saying that he wished to impress on us that Germany must win the war by blockade. We had no conception of the number of submarines now being built in Germany. Hitler always did things on a grand scale, and devastating submarine war, supported by new types of aircraft, would very shortly succeed in establishing a completely effective blockade of England. It was fruitless for anyone here to imagine that England could capitulate and that the war could be waged from the Empire. It was Hitler's intention, in such an eventuality, to continue the blockade of England, even though the island had capitulated, so that we would have to face the deliberate starvation of the population of these islands."

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