London: A newly-declassified report has revealed for the first time the bleak scene in which Hitler’s former deputy Rudolph Hess reportedly killed himself in a Berlin prison and his alleged suicide note.
Pictures, which had not been published until now, show the electrical cord Hess allegedly used to end his life inside a small summerhouse at Spandau Prison 25 years ago this month, the Daily Mail reported.
But the report of the investigation into Hess’s death, released this week under Freedom of Information, has only intensified the mystery surrounding his final moments.
Although the official verdict by the Special Investigations Branch of the British Military Police is that Hess committed suicide and no others were involved, historians have asserted that the new images raise doubt on this version of events.
There have long been conspiracy theories claiming Hess was killed by M16 to stop him being released from prison and revealing embarrassing secrets about his time in British captivity.
Hess was imprisoned for life in 1946 after being convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.
A photograph showing the electrical cord attached to the window handle less than 5ft off the ground has triggered sceptics to suggest that it would be next to impossible for Hess to hang himself from such a height.
His son Wolf had previously claimed that the frail 93-year-old would not have been physically capable of killing himself in such a way.
The report also includes the text of Hess’s suicide note, in which, according to an English translation, he claimed he was writing ‘a few minutes before my death’.
Hess’s son had earlier stated that the so-called suicide note refers to a period in 1969 when Hess had a perforated ulcer in the duodenum and feared he could die.
The note refers to ‘Freiberg’, a secretary he had not spoken to in years, and is also signed off with ‘Euer Grohser’ - Your Eldest - a term for himself he hadn’t used for a long time, according to his son.
Peter Padfield, the historian whose freedom of information request led to the report’s release, thinks that the note was planted on Hess’s body.
“The ‘suicide note’ appended to the report is surely bogus. For instance, passing his regrets to Freiberg - he had done this some 20 years before when his wife and son visited him for the first time in Spandau. And there is no mention of his grandchildren,” he said.
“It was forged. That doesn’t mean he was murdered, but it does suggest they were trying to cover something up,” he said.
“It won’t put the mystery to bed.”
The suicide note says: ‘All other attempts to gain freedom impossible.’
Padfield insisted that he was surprised that the report included no witness statements.
The report gives an in-depth description of the moments leading up to Hess’s death on 17 August 1987, and the guard’s reaction on discovering him.
Hess, the last remaining prisoner at Spandau Allied Prison, had left the prison building at around 2.30pm ‘ostensibly to go for a walk’ and had entered the summerhouse.
Even though he had apparently tried to take his own life on two previous occasions, the report found that it was not uncommon - ‘taking account of the prisoner’s age and health’ - for him to be left alone for a few minutes either in the prison block or garden area.
The warden, who was sitting 10 metres away from the summerhouse, left Hess alone for just five minutes.
According to the report, Hess was found unconscious but with a pulse and a ‘red mark running from ear to ear around the patient’s neck’.