Until his death in 1987, Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess had been imprisoned since his flight to Britain in May 1941. Sentenced to life imprisonment for Crimes against Peace at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in September 1946, along with six other Nazi leaders, he was interned in Spandau prison in Berlin. Since names were forbidden in Spandau, he was known simply as Prisoner No. 7. More
Introduction The first doubts about the official version were raised by Professor Spann's autopsy, which suggested that Rudolf Hess had been strangled with the cable, rather than hanging himself with it - which of course means that somebody else was involved.
Background - The prisoner of Spandau Until his death in 1987, Nazi Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess had been imprisoned since his flight to Britain in May 1941. Sentenced to life imprisonment for Crimes against Peace at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials in September 1946, along with six other Nazi leaders, he was interned in Spandau prison in Berlin. Since names were forbidden in Spandau, he was known simply as Prisoner No. 7.
Hess's mental & physical condition The official line is that Hess killed himself as the result of a premeditated decision to end his life. However, supporters of the murder theory claim that his actions and words in the days before his death reveal quite the opposite. Although this doesn't rule out suicide, it does mean that it must have been a spur-of-the-moment decision, the result of a sudden attack of despair - which already contradicts the official version.
Cause of death There is no question about what caused Hess's death: asphyxia due to the electric cable round his neck. But how did it get there? Did Hess do it himself, as the official version insists - i.e. did he hang himself with the handy cable? Or did a third party use it as a murder weapon?
Circumstances of Hess's death Hess's nurse Abdallah Melaouhi and others contend that (a) if Hess wanted to kill himself, he would not have chosen that location, but rather when he was unobserved in his cell, (b) he didn't have time - especially given his physical condition - to write a suicide note and to tie the knots in the flex. And he couldn't have predicted that he would be left alone in the garden hut.
The suicide note According to the official account, a suicide note was found in Hess's pocket when his body was searched at the BMH. Why does Hess's son, Wolf Rüdiger, believe it to be a forgery.
Evasion by the British authorities Although an investigation into Hess's death was carried out by a team from the Royal Military Police's Special Investigations Branch (SIB), the men began their investigation before the prison governors authorised it. If - as one eye-witness states - the report only confirms the suicide verdict, why has it never been made public?
Who was responsible? If Hess was murdered, who did it? Was it an individual with a personal grudge against the prisoner - which could only have been one of the Spandau personnel? Or was it organised by some external agency, presumably one of the governments responsible for running the prison? Those are the only two alternatives.
Motives for murder In the last 20 years of Hess's imprisonment, the official British line was that they were open to the idea of releasing him on humanitarian grounds, but that they were prevented from doing so by the Russians, who were the most insistent that he should serve out his life sentence to the very end. However, the Russians had already agreed to the early release of other inmates serving life sentences, on the grounds of old age and ill health. Wolf Rüdiger Hess, among others, has argued that this was simply an excuse by the British, who did not want his father released any more than the Russians.