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Rudolf Hess

Hess, Rudolf, 1894–1987, German National Socialist leader, b. Alexandria, Egypt; son of a German merchant. In 1920 he became an ardent follower of Adolf Hitler and after the Munich "beer-hall putsch" (1923) shared Hitler's imprisonment. Hitler dictated Mein Kampf to him. In 1933 he became deputy Führer and minister without portfolio. In 1939, Hitler named him second in line of succession after Hermann Goering. Hess created a worldwide sensation when he stole an airplane and flew (May, 1941) from Augsburg to Scotland (where he was arrested), apparently in an attempt to negotiate a peace agreement with Great Britain. At the Nuremberg war-crimes trial he was sentenced (1946) to life imprisonment at Spandau prison. Hess's behavior both before and during his trial raised questions as to his sanity. At the time of his death, he was Spandau's last remaining prisoner.

See J. Douglas-Hamilton, Motive for a Mission (1971); W. Schwarzwaller, Rudolf Hess: The Last Nazi (1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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