Why Hess Flew: A New View.
This friendship, they demonstrate, was the basis for a dialogue between Hess and the Duke of Hamilton in the autumn of 1940.
Secondly, the details of the flight now suggest that British airspace was left undefended, so as to allow the Hess plane free passage into Scotland. The authors have unearthed a Royal Observer Corps map, which reveal this to be the case, together with the recent revelation that Czech pilots patrolling from Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, were prevented from intercepting the Hess plane.
Thirdly, research since the book was published shows that General Sikorski, the leader of the Polish government in exile, flew into Prestwick airfield, no more than twenty-five miles from the Hess crash site, on the morning after he came down. Was a Sikorski -- Hess meeting the real reason behind the mysterious flight?
General Sikorski had been in New York on May 9th, 1941, and had flown via Gander in Newfoundland, leaving there at 6.35 pm on May 10th. He landed at Prestwick at 11.30 am on May 11th, only some eleven hours after Hess had crashed at Eaglesham, near Strathaven.
This newly found information comes from Sikorski's wartime diary which is held at the Sikorski Institute in London.
Interestingly, the first person to interview Hess in Scotland was a Polish consul from Glasgow by the name of Battaglia. Was he an emissary for Sikorski? From recently released documents there is no doubt that this `interview' greatly annoyed the British government. Sikorski spent the rest of May 11th in Glasgow, where he met, amongst others, the Polish Chief of Staff and Cabinet leader. Needless to say, there is no record in the diary of a clandestine meeting with Hess, who was also moving around various Glaswegian locations during that day.
Britain had declared war in September 1939 on account of the German invasion of Poland. Sikorski had evaded capture in 1940 when France was invaded, and, like De Gaulle, had established a base in Britain.
Hess, it is generally agreed, knew of Hitler's plans to invade Russia the month after his flight. The invasion had to take place in the early summer to allow passage over the Pripyet marshes before the autumn rains arrived. However, there was still no prospect of peace in the West. Despite the appalling carnage of the Blitz, Britain had shown she was not going to be bombed into submission, and the Battle of Britain in 1940 had prevented German air superiority from becoming a reality.
The March 1941 `Lend-Lease' agreement with the US had also bolstered British resistance to Germany.
Hess, a frontline soldier of the Great War, could remember the two-front war of 1914-18, and resolved that Germany should not make the same mistake once more. Hitler had also made this pledge in Mein Kampf. Consequently, Hess resolved to fly to try and broker a last ditch peace deal between Germany and the western powers, prior to the inevitable eastward onslaught.
Hess: The British Conspiracy argues that Hitler approved the action and knew of the flight well in advance of his Deputy's taking off from Augsburg at 5.45 pm on May 10th.
But why involve Sikorski? In order to obtain a peace it is likely that one of the principal terms of an armistice would have had to be a withdrawal of German troops from Poland, France and the Low Countries. Sikorski would have had a vital role to play in any such negotiations, especially as the Polish corridor and Danzig had been the casus belli of the whole war. Any potential peace settlement would have required Sikorski's approval, irrespective of what was being agreed by the Western powers.
So, Hess flew when he did because of the pressure of having to make a peace before Operation Barbarossa began. Sikorski flew in the hope of a German withdrawal from Poland being on the negotiating table. It is quite likely that he also knew of the forthcoming German invasion of Russia, as British intelligence had been aware of the build-up of German troops on the Russian borders. This knowledge would have boosted his confidence in achieving some form of settlement.
What went wrong? Simply that Hess's plane crashed and he was captured after baling out and injuring his leg, before meeting his intermediaries, and so the secret meeting was secret no more. In order to allay the fears of the still isolationist USA, Churchill had to feign ignorance and Sikorski flew on to Gask, north of Aberdeen. Hess was left to rot in prison, and Germany faced the two-front war he had tried to avert. Similarly, Hitler, too, feigned ignorance, in his case because a peace in the west could not fail to alert Stalin to the dangers of invasion, a peril that the British were continuously warning him of.
The evidence now supports the case that there was a preplanned meeting that Hess anticipated attending. Whether, as Hess: The British Conspiracy contends, the illusion of the meeting was merely an intelligence ploy that trapped Hess, is still open to conjecture. Indeed, in a book soon to be published, an allegation is made that Hess was flying to meet not only Sikorski, but also the King's brother, the Duke of Kent, who was already at Dungavel awaiting Hess's arrival. There is, apparently, clear third-party evidence to support this theory, and there is no extant, clear evidence as to the whereabouts of the King and Queen themselves on May 10th, 1941.
Strangely enough, two of the dramatis personae of these events, Sikorski and the Duke of Kent, both perished later in the war in mysterious plane crashes: the Duke in Scotland, and Sikorski off Gibraltar.
After more than fifty-eight years are the facts behind the Hess case now beginning to emerge from official secrecy and the smokescreen of other conspiracy theories? The existence of a pre-planned meeting would certainly be sufficient reason to justify the official secrecy that surrounds the case until 2017, but no longer.
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|Title Annotation:||further revelations in the Rudolf Hess flight to Scotland in 1941|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2000|
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