Rudolf Hess

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Rudolf Hess (1894 - 1987) was a high-ranking Nazi official. Hess was born in Alexandria, Egypt; his father was a German wholesale merchant. When he was young, his family moved to Germany, where he fought in World War I and was wounded twice. In 1920 he heard Hitler speak, and becoame an instant follower. He soon became Hitler's personal secretary and close associate. In 1923 he participated in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch, after which he was arrested and imprisoned. While incarcerated at Landsberg Fortress Prison, Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to Hess.

After the Nazis assumed power in Germany, Hess was made Deputy F├╝hrer (a largely ceremonial position) and was placed in charge of the Party organization. Hess, however, lacked the intelligence and leadership of other prominent Nazis, and his influence waned in proportion to men such as Goering, Himmler, and Goebbels. He also took a keen interest in the supernatural, believing in astrology and evil spirits.

In the Spring of 1941, in the midst of World War II, Hess conceived a secret plan to travel of Britain in an effort ot negotiate peace with Germany, lacking any authority to do so. In May, he made a solo flight to Scotland, hoping to secure a meeting with the Duke of Hamilton, and, through him, Churchill and the King. The British authorities arrested Hess, and Hitler condemned him as a traitor. Hess remained in prison at the Tower of London throughout the war, and was one of the principal defendants at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946. Though there were questions about his sanity during the trial, he was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for life. He served his sentence in Spandau Prison in Berlin. By the time of his death by suicide in 1987, he was the prison's sole inmate.

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