International Military Tribunal
Concerning the Sentence of the Defendant Rudolf Hess
The Judgment of the Tribunal correctly and adequately portrays the outstanding position which Rudolf Hess occupied in the leadership of the Nazi party and State. He was indeed Hitler's closest personal confident and his authority was exceedingly great. In this connection it is sufficient to quote Hitler's decree appointing Hess as his deputy: "I hereby appoint Hess as my deputy and give him full power to make decisions in my name on all questions of Party Leadership. (Transcript, 7th February, 1946, afternoon.)
But the authority of Hess was not only confined to questions of Party leadership.
The official NSDAP publication " Party Year Book for 1941 ", which was admitted as USA Exhibit No. 255, PS 3163, states that: . . . "In addition to the duties of Party leadership, the Deputy of the Fuehrer has far reaching powers in the field of the State. These are first: participation in national and State legislation, including the preparation of Fuehrer's order. The Deputy of the Fuehrer in this way validates the conception of the Party.... second, Approval of the Deputy of the Fuehrer of proposed appointments for official and labour service leaders. Three, securing the influence of the Party over the elf-government of the municipal units." (Doe. USA-255, PS-3163.)
Hess was an active supporter of Hitler's aggressive policy. The crimes against peace committed by him are dealt with in sufficient detail in the Judgment. The mission undertaken by Hess in flying to England should be considered as the last of these crimes, as it was undertaken in the hope of facilitating the realisation of aggression against the Soviet Union by temporarily restraining England from fighting.
The failure of this mission led to Hess's isolation and he took no direct part in the planning and commission of subsequent crimes of the Hitler regime. There can be no doubt, however, that Hess did everything possible for the preparation of these crimes.
Hess, together with Himmler, occupied the role of creator of the SS police organisations of German fascism which afterwards committed the most ruthless crimes against humanity. The defendant clearly pointed out the "special tasks" which faced the SS formations on occupied territories.
When the Waffen SS were being formed Hess issued a special order through the Party Chancellery which made aiding the conscription of Party members into these organisations by all means compulsory for Party organs. He outlined the tasks set before the Waffen-SS as follows:
"The units of the Waffen-SS composed of National Socialists are more suitable than other armed units for the specific tasks to be solved in the occupied Eastern territories due to the intensive training in regard to questions of race and nationality." (GB-267, 3245-PS.)
As early as 1934 the defendant initiated a proposal that the so-called SD under the Reichsfuehrer SS (Security Service) be given extraordinary powers and thus become the leading force in Nazi Germany.
On the 9th of June, 1934, Hess issued a decree in accordance with which the " Security Service of the Reichsfuehrer SS " was declared to be the " sole political news and defense service of the Party ". (GB-257.)
Thus the defendant played a direct part in the creation and consolidation of the system of special police organs which were being prepared for the commission of crimes on occupied territories.
We find Hess to have always been an advocate of the manhating " master race " theory. In a speech made on the 16th January, 1937, while speaking of the education of the German nation, Hess pointed out:
"Thus, they are being educated to put Germans above the subjects of a foreign nation, regardless of their positions or their origin." (GB-253, 3124-PS.)
Hess signed the so-called " Law for the Protection of Blood and Honour" on the 15th September, 1935. (USA-300, 3179-PS.) The body of this law states that " the Fuehrer's deputy is authorised to issue all necessary decrees and directives" for the practical realisation of the " Nuremberg decrees."
On the 14th of November, 1935, Hess issued an ordinance under the Reich citizenship law in accordance with which the Jews were denied the right to vote at elections or hold public office. (GB-258; 1417-PS.) On the 20th of May, 1938, a decree signed by Hess extended the Nuremberg laws to Austria. (GB-259, 224-PS.)
On 12th October, 1939, Hess signed a decree creating the administration of Polish occupied territories (Reichsgesetzblatt N-210, 1939, p. 2077). Article 2 of this decree gave the defendant Frank the power of dictator.
There is sufficiently convincing evidence showing that this defendant did not limit himself to this general directive which introduced into the occupied Polish territories a regime of unbridled terror. As is shown in the letter of the Reichsminister of Justice to the Chief of the Reichs Chancellery dated 17th April, 1941, Hess was the initiator in the formation of special " penal laws " for Poles and Jews in occupied Eastern territories. The role of this defendant in the drawing up of these " laws " is characterised by the Minister of Justice in the following words:
" In accordance with the opinion of the Fuehrer's deputy I started from the point of view that the Pole is less susceptible to the infliction of ordinary punishment.... Under these new kinds of punishment prisoners are to be lodged outside prisons in camps and are to be forced to do heavy and heaviest labour.... The introduction of corporal punishment which the Deputy of the Fuehrer has brought up for discussion has not been included in the draft. I can not agree to this type of punishment.... The procedure for enforcing prosecution has been abrogated, for it seemed intolerable that Poles or Jews should be able to instigate a public indictment. Poles and Jews have also been deprived of the right to prosecute in their own names or join the public prosecution in an action.... From the very beginning it was intended to intensify special treatment in case of need: When this necessity became actual a supplementary decree was issued to which the Fuehrer's deputy refers to in his letter...."(GB-268, R-96.)
Thus, there can be no doubt that Hess together with the other major war criminals is guilty of crimes against humanity.
Taking into consideration that among political leaders of Hitlerite Germany Hess was third in significance and played a decisive role in the crimes of the Nazi regime. I consider the only justified sentence in his case can be death.
International Criminal Court
Published online by Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights - 27 May 2002