April 26

This Day in History

World War II

Apr 26, 1894:

Rudolf Hess is born

Rudolf Hess, Nazi party secretary and deputy to Adolf Hitler who caused an international sensation when he parachuted into Scotland in an attempt to negotiate a truce between Britain and Germany, is born on this day in Alexandria, Egypt.

Hess joined the Nazi Party as early as 1920 and became a friend and confidant to Hitler, editing much of Mein Kampf as it was dictated to him in Landsberg Prison, where both landed after the famous, and failed, November 1923 Munich beer hall putsch. On May 10, 1941, the day Hitler planned to invade Russia, Hess parachuted into Scotland, hoping to negotiate peace with Britain, in the person of the Duke of Hamilton, whom Hess claimed to have met at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Such a peace would have prevented Germany from fighting on two fronts and greatly increased Hess's own prestige within the Nazi regime, many of whose members saw Hess as little more than a yes-man and sycophant (his nickname was "the Brown Mouse").

Hess did, in fact, find peace—in the Tower of London, where the British imprisoned him, the last man ever to be held there under lock and key. After the war, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Spandau prison by the Nuremberg tribunal. He died, in prison, in 1987.

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