Rudolf Hess - why was he held in Captivity - 1941-1987 for so long?

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There seems no doubt the Poles could not cope with the German Blitzkrieg tactics.
 

Black Azrael

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The 1939 German General Staff estimation of the numbers capable of mobilisation in the Polish army was somewhat higher than what could be mobilised in Germany.
That is my recollection of my study some years ago on the matter.
If those officers were wrong it is not my fault.
A telling qualification.

I can only, gently, suggest The Field Marshal has a very different appreciation of this period than I. But then — not an addict of Lukacs's 'Great Men in History' theme — I've merely preferred Bullock, Trevor-Roper and Kershaw. All of those look to be eclipsed by Volker Ullrich.

Let's be objective about Nazi Germany's policies on Poland.

In essence, Poland was to be — at best — like Czechoslovakia, a buffer zone on Germany's border, presumably another 'protectorate' along with Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia ...

Four days after the seizure of the rump of Czechoslovakia, Ribbentrop sent an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding Memel (the strip of territory lost in 1919), and so annexed back to Germany (23 March 1939). Danzig was the next domino — and Ribbentrop opened that issue to Josef Lipski (the Polish ambassador) in October 1938. When Lipski and Colonel Beck (Poland's foreign minister) were obdurate, Ribbentrop told Beck that the future existence of Poland depended on its relationship with Germany: the immediate price being the surrender of Danzig and an extraterritorial road to link with the Reich.

Beck cannot be exculpated. His ambition was to create a 'third Europe', led — but of course — by Poland, a neutral bloc from the Balltic to the Black Sea. That foundered on basic sanity, the need for Poland to have powerful friends in the diplomatic world, and a different rôle for East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania. Which, with Hitler, wasn't going to happen. It also went down like the proverbial bucket of sick with Italy, the other nation looking for bragging rights in the Balkans (see below).

Chamberlain's Commons pledge (31 March 1939) was the bolt-from-the-red-white-and-blue which provoked Fall Weiss. Accordingly, Hitler hardened on his third Polish option: (1) the seizing of Danzig, (2) reinforcing the Polish border, and (3) destroying the Polish armed forces. That Führerbefehle was issued on 3 April 1939, with an implementation date of 1 September 1939.

Off-stage FDR (14 April 1939) sent public messages to Hitler and Mussolini, inviting the dictators not to invade 31 listed countries. The immediate precursor of that was the Italian invasion of Albania (7-12 April 1939). Hitler's Reichstag speech (28 April) was his rebuff to FDR— after which he retreated to Berchtesgarten, and left matters to come to fruition. Ciano has already twigged that Poland was next for the Hitlerian chop, and made advances (6 May) to Ribbentrop: Italy wasn't ready for any European war, and was seeking deferral of that for (say) three years. Mussolini pre-empted Ciano, declared that a German-Italian alliance was concluded (it wasn't), and the mutually-dissembling Pact of Steel was concluded a fortnight later. Ciano learned what was in the air: at Salzberg he had asked:
'Ribbentrop, what is it you want? Danzig? The corridor?'​
'We want war', Ribbentrop replied. [source, since we're getting prissy, Craig, pp 712-3]​

Chamberlain's promise had another consequence. With Britain playing the Soviet Union, but Litvinov not being able to achieve any final score, Stalingave Molotov the job — and Molotov had little interest in a collective security arrangement. Since Stalin had repeatedly denounced any notion of the Western powers using the USSR against Germany, Hitler was aware pragmatism might do him some advantage. There was history for a Soviet-German meeting of minds: Weimar had concluded the Treaty of Rapallo (1922), and Hans von Seekt had long promoted an alliance. It took direct intervention by Hitler (20 August) for Ribbentrop to get to Moscow to close the deal (23 August). The secret protocols were not revealed until 1945, but Poland would be partitioned, and the Baltic republics, Finland and Bessarabia incorporated in the the Soviet empire.

Hitler's main calculation over invading Poland was that France and Britain were unprepared, and geographically unable to intervene. Nor would, in his estimation, they go for a first strike on the Reich. And sanctions and blockade would be ineffective while supplies from Russia were available.

The invasion of Poland required the order of a million men, fifteen hundred fighter aircraft, as many as a thousand tanks. That left a hypothetic western front perilously exposed: the OKH calculation was a Franco-British capacity of seventy-six divisions, versus thirty-two German. A victory in Poland, then, had to be swift: it took just three weeks, and had Stalin ordering a parallel incursion to secure his share.

That's basic narrative: these dialogue boxes are not conducive to deep analysis. Were I to cite one particular source, it would be Klaus Fischer, notably pp 434ff.
 

The Field Marshal

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A telling qualification.

I can only, gently, suggest The Field Marshal has a very different appreciation of this period than I. But then — not an addict of Lukacs's 'Great Men in History' theme — I've merely preferred Bullock, Trevor-Roper and Kershaw. All of those look to be eclipsed by Volker Ullrich.

Let's be objective about Nazi Germany's policies on Poland.

In essence, Poland was to be — at best — like Czechoslovakia, a buffer zone on Germany's border, presumably another 'protectorate' along with Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia ...

Four days after the seizure of the rump of Czechoslovakia, Ribbentrop sent an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding Memel (the strip of territory lost in 1919), and so annexed back to Germany (23 March 1939). Danzig was the next domino — and Ribbentrop opened that issue to Josef Lipski (the Polish ambassador) in October 1938. When Lipski and Colonel Beck (Poland's foreign minister) were obdurate, Ribbentrop told Beck that the future existence of Poland depended on its relationship with Germany: the immediate price being the surrender of Danzig and an extraterritorial road to link with the Reich.

Beck cannot be exculpated. His ambition was to create a 'third Europe', led — but of course — by Poland, a neutral bloc from the Balltic to the
Black Sea. That foundered on basic sanity, the need for Poland to have powerful friends in the diplomatic world, and a different rôle for East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania. Which, with Hitler, wasn't going to happen. It also went down like the proverbial bucket of sick with Italy, the other nation looking for bragging rights in the Balkans (see below).

Chamberlain's Commons pledge (31 March 1939) was the bolt-from-the-red-white-and-blue which provoked Fall Weiss. Accordingly, Hitler hardened on his third Polish option: (1) the seizing of Danzig, (2) reinforcing the Polish border, and (3) destroying the Polish armed forces. That Führerbefehle was issued on 3 April 1939, with an implementation date of 1 September 1939.

Off-stage FDR (14 April 1939) sent public messages to Hitler and Mussolini, inviting the dictators not to invade 31 listed countries. The immediate precursor of that was the Italian invasion of Albania (7-12 April 1939). Hitler's Reichstag speech (28 April) was his rebuff to FDR— after which he retreated to Berchtesgarten, and left matters to come to fruition. Ciano has already twigged that Poland was next for the Hitlerian chop, and made advances (6 May) to Ribbentrop: Italy wasn't ready for any European war, and was seeking deferral of that for (say) three years. Mussolini pre-empted Ciano, declared that a German-Italian alliance was concluded (it wasn't), and the mutually-dissembling Pact of Steel was concluded a fortnight later. Ciano learned what was in the air: at Salzberg he had asked:
'Ribbentrop, what is it you want? Danzig? The corridor?'​
'We want war', Ribbentrop replied. [source, since we're getting prissy, Craig, pp 712-3]​

Chamberlain's promise had another consequence. With Britain playing the Soviet Union, but Litvinov not being able to achieve any final score, Stalingave Molotov the job — and Molotov had little interest in a collective security arrangement. Since Stalin had repeatedly denounced any notion of the Western powers using the USSR against Germany, Hitler was aware pragmatism might do him some advantage. There was history for a Soviet-German meeting of minds: Weimar had concluded the Treaty of Rapallo (1922), and Hans von Seekt had long promoted an alliance. It took direct intervention by Hitler (20 August) for Ribbentrop to get to Moscow to close the deal (23 August). The secret protocols were not revealed until 1945, but Poland would be partitioned, and the Baltic republics, Finland and Bessarabia incorporated in the the Soviet empire.

Hitler's main calculation over invading Poland was that France and Britain were unprepared, and geographically unable to intervene. Nor would, in his estimation, they go for a first strike on the Reich. And sanctions and blockade would be ineffective while supplies from Russia were available.

The invasion of Poland required the order of a million men, fifteen hundred fighter aircraft, as many as a thousand tanks. That left a hypothetic western front perilously exposed: the OKH calculation was a Franco-British capacity of seventy-six divisions, versus thirty-two German. A victory in Poland, then, had to be swift: it took just three weeks, and had Stalin ordering a parallel incursion to secure his share.

That's basic narrative: these dialogue boxes are not conducive to deep analysis. Were I to cite one particular source, it would be Klaus Fischer, notably pp 434ff.
This is an excellent post getting the first gold star award from The Field Marshal.
A lot of what is covered is outlined in Avery,s the Making of the Second World War.
I am v. familiar with Bullock, Kershaw and Roper.
[Tolands biography of Hitler is worth a look]
Thank you for the new references of Volker Ulrich.and Klaus Fischer

Ribbentrop was an arch shit and both he and Beck seem well matched.

So what you really had in Europes mainland in 1939 was a bunch of German/Polish pig politicians and diplomats
ready to tear each others throats out.

Another reason that Britain should never have interefered.
I look forward to your next post.
Thank you.
 

The Potato Mystic

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Toland's AH biography was actually the first adult book I read at the age of circa 12. I read it on holidays.

It was on the landing one time. I had meant to bring it downstairs but I had forgotten to do so. It was accidentally shoved off the landing whilst cleaning was under way and I was walking below.

It's a big book and it almost took my head off. I remember thinking I was a nose length away from being Hitler's last victim. 🙃

I recently bought Toland's book on Japan and it's in my queue of books to be read.
 

The Field Marshal

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Toland's AH biography was actually the first adult book I read at the age of circa 12. I read it on holidays.

It was on the landing one time. I had meant to bring it downstairs but I had forgotten to do so. It was accidentally shoved off the landing whilst cleaning was under way and I was walking below.

It's a big book and it almost took my head off. I remember thinking I was a nose length away from being Hitler's last victim. 🙃

I recently bought Toland's book on Japan and it's in my queue of books to be read.
Tolands book is quite unique giving as it does a very perceptive insight into the Hitler brain.
It was criticised at publication for not being sufficiently anti-Hitler to satisfy the emerging Hollywood / Allied war narrative,
Mr. Kershaw in his profoundly biased works on Hitler more than compensated.
John Lukacs draws all threads together and reading all three authors will give any person a pretty rounded and comprehensive view of the Great Tyrant.
To say nothing of the historical patterns leading to WW2.
 
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Catalpa

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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
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A telling qualification.

I can only, gently, suggest The Field Marshal has a very different appreciation of this period than I. But then — not an addict of Lukacs's 'Great Men in History' theme — I've merely preferred Bullock, Trevor-Roper and Kershaw. All of those look to be eclipsed by Volker Ullrich.

Let's be objective about Nazi Germany's policies on Poland.

In essence, Poland was to be — at best — like Czechoslovakia, a buffer zone on Germany's border, presumably another 'protectorate' along with Bohemia, Moravia, Slovakia ...

Four days after the seizure of the rump of Czechoslovakia, Ribbentrop sent an ultimatum to Lithuania demanding Memel (the strip of territory lost in 1919), and so annexed back to Germany (23 March 1939). Danzig was the next domino — and Ribbentrop opened that issue to Josef Lipski (the Polish ambassador) in October 1938. When Lipski and Colonel Beck (Poland's foreign minister) were obdurate, Ribbentrop told Beck that the future existence of Poland depended on its relationship with Germany: the immediate price being the surrender of Danzig and an extraterritorial road to link with the Reich.

Beck cannot be exculpated. His ambition was to create a 'third Europe', led — but of course — by Poland, a neutral bloc from the Balltic to the Black Sea. That foundered on basic sanity, the need for Poland to have powerful friends in the diplomatic world, and a different rôle for East Prussia, Silesia and Pomerania. Which, with Hitler, wasn't going to happen. It also went down like the proverbial bucket of sick with Italy, the other nation looking for bragging rights in the Balkans (see below).

Chamberlain's Commons pledge (31 March 1939) was the bolt-from-the-red-white-and-blue which provoked Fall Weiss. Accordingly, Hitler hardened on his third Polish option: (1) the seizing of Danzig, (2) reinforcing the Polish border, and (3) destroying the Polish armed forces. That Führerbefehle was issued on 3 April 1939, with an implementation date of 1 September 1939.

Off-stage FDR (14 April 1939) sent public messages to Hitler and Mussolini, inviting the dictators not to invade 31 listed countries. The immediate precursor of that was the Italian invasion of Albania (7-12 April 1939). Hitler's Reichstag speech (28 April) was his rebuff to FDR— after which he retreated to Berchtesgarten, and left matters to come to fruition. Ciano has already twigged that Poland was next for the Hitlerian chop, and made advances (6 May) to Ribbentrop: Italy wasn't ready for any European war, and was seeking deferral of that for (say) three years. Mussolini pre-empted Ciano, declared that a German-Italian alliance was concluded (it wasn't), and the mutually-dissembling Pact of Steel was concluded a fortnight later. Ciano learned what was in the air: at Salzberg he had asked:
'Ribbentrop, what is it you want? Danzig? The corridor?'​
'We want war', Ribbentrop replied. [source, since we're getting prissy, Craig, pp 712-3]​

Chamberlain's promise had another consequence. With Britain playing the Soviet Union, but Litvinov not being able to achieve any final score, Stalingave Molotov the job — and Molotov had little interest in a collective security arrangement. Since Stalin had repeatedly denounced any notion of the Western powers using the USSR against Germany, Hitler was aware pragmatism might do him some advantage. There was history for a Soviet-German meeting of minds: Weimar had concluded the Treaty of Rapallo (1922), and Hans von Seekt had long promoted an alliance. It took direct intervention by Hitler (20 August) for Ribbentrop to get to Moscow to close the deal (23 August). The secret protocols were not revealed until 1945, but Poland would be partitioned, and the Baltic republics, Finland and Bessarabia incorporated in the the Soviet empire.

Hitler's main calculation over invading Poland was that France and Britain were unprepared, and geographically unable to intervene. Nor would, in his estimation, they go for a first strike on the Reich. And sanctions and blockade would be ineffective while supplies from Russia were available.

The invasion of Poland required the order of a million men, fifteen hundred fighter aircraft, as many as a thousand tanks. That left a hypothetic western front perilously exposed: the OKH calculation was a Franco-British capacity of seventy-six divisions, versus thirty-two German. A victory in Poland, then, had to be swift: it took just three weeks, and had Stalin ordering a parallel incursion to secure his share.

That's basic narrative: these dialogue boxes are not conducive to deep analysis. Were I to cite one particular source, it would be Klaus Fischer, notably pp 434ff.
All of those look to be eclipsed by Volker Ullrich.

Read his Bio of Hitler just before Christmas

He seems fascinated and repelled by his subject at the same time.

One thing that he did clarify well was that Hitler was not quite the 'Down and Out' figure in pre War Vienna and Munich that is sometimes portrayed

- he slept rough for a few months but mostly he had digs and later established himself in a men's hostel where they served hot meals - and he even had his own room!

As for Hess in the 20s he was Hitler's most faithful servant

- but his status declined in the 30s

- he was never a Decision Maker

- he was rewarded for Loyalty

- not ability.

Decades of imprisonment for actions that while he supported he never implemented anything that led to the killing of innocents.

He served his time because of his political Weltanschauung was anathema to the Allied Conquerors of Germany.
 

The Potato Mystic

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Tolands book is quite unique giving as it does a very perceptive insight into the Hitler brain.
It was criticised at publication for not being sufficiently anti-Hitler to satisfy the emerging Hollywood / Allied war narrative,
Mr. Kershaw in his profoundly biased works on Hitler more than compensated.
John Lukacs draws all threads together and reading all three authors will give any person a pretty rounded and comprehensive view of the Great Tyrant.
To say nothing of the historical patterns leading to WW2.
For me unpacking Hitler's headspace is about having the stenographic military conferences on one's shelf, Speers biography and his prison diaries. The Table Talk., every edition of the Goebbels diaries. Notwithstanding some questions, for example, whether Borrmann altered the Table Talk to reflect a more anti-Christian positioning, these things are my go-to works for understanding what made Hitler tick.


 

Black Azrael

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For me unpacking Hitler's headspace is about having the stenographic military conferences on one's shelf, Speers biography and his prison diaries. The Table Talk., every edition of the Goebbels diaries. Notwithstanding some questions, for example, whether Borrmann altered the Table Talk to reflect a more anti-Christian positioning, these things are my go-to works for understanding what made Hitler tick.
Therein lies a basic difference.

The Potato Mystic emphasises the syntheses and constructs others (and even the man himself) create out of the thing that was Adolf Hitler. Fair enough.

However useful that approach may be, it isn't — to my mind — 'history'. My 'history' is events, and how we pattern them (and, agreed, that's also the 'syntheses and constructs' of historians).

In the matter of Hess, which I remind myself, is the topic of this thread, we have his responsibilities, and how the exercised them.

To stay with The Potato Mystic's approach, Hess's was the most studied psychopathy of all the Nuremberg defendants, starting with the 'Ashcan' and Dr Gustave Gilbert. His counsel was Günther von Rohrscheidt (about whom I find very little, except his title as 'Attorney'). He made a plea (7 November 1945) that Hess be reported upon by expert witness, specifically from:
the medical faculty of the University of Zurich or, if a competent expert should not be available there, by the medical faculty of Lausanne.
Going on the assumption that no lawyer asks a question without knowing the answer it will elicit, von Rohrscheidt was either looking for an opinion he knew would be favourable, or, more simply, didn't want to be seen to trust the prosecutors' experts.

One part of von Rohrscheidt's plea is highly relevant to this thread:
The defendant declares that he has completely lost his memory since a long period of time, the period of which he can no longer determine.
The official Party declaration issued by the German Propaganda Ministry of 12 May 1941 even mentions "a disease which had been increasing over a period of years" and of "signs of mental derangement". English press reports also state that defendant's conduct after his landing in Scotland showed an absence of "mental clarity".
The Tusas (page 161) have this:
All the teams believed that [Hess's] amnesia was temporary and would vary in intensity. The Americans thought it would disappear Hess was relieved of the threat of punishment; the Russians on the contrary thought it would go if he had to face the unavoidable necessity of confronting the situation.
At the hearing on 30 November, Rohrscheidt pleaded that these reports showed that Hess could not adequately defend himself because there was no certainty he could remember names or incidents vital to his case. he said that conversations with his client showed Hess was incapable of grasping the charges against him. he argued that trial in absentia would be grave injustice since it would deny Hess the right to give evidence and to challenge witnesses personally. Rohrscheidt therefore requested that proceedings against him should be suspended, as in the case of Krupp, only t one resumed should Hess's condition improve.
Also from the Tusas (page 460):
The French thought twenty years was an adequate sentence for Hess. No one else agreed. As ever, the Russians wanted a hanging — in this case they added to their general principle the national prejudice that Hess's flight to Scotland had been an attempt to win Germany a free hand against Russia. They also argued that Hess's signature on the Nuremberg Decrees made him guilty of the deaths of millions of Jews; that his signature of the documents incorporating conquered territories and his establishment of compulsory military service made him at least as culpable as Frick; that his uniquely close relationship with Hitler and vigorous public support for all his policies put him in the same category as Goering; his detailed knowledge of all aggressive planning put him in the same category as many of the defendants who were to hang.
None of which alters the doubt about Hess's state of mind, which persisted, and seems to have borne on the Judges' verdict (three to one against the Russians) that Hess deserved a heavy punishment, but not the death sentence.

That's this morning's homework assignment completed. Sorry: it should have been posted much earlier in the thread.

I am left with one further thought: whatever the verdict, what was to be done with Hess? In the context of the late 1940s, even a not-guilty verdict couldn't have released him into the community. He would have been (as he remained) the prime focus for unreconstructed Nazism. Were he deemed insane, or incapacitated, similarly he would need to be restrained, secluded and protected: in which case, where to house him? Moreover, that required some location under four-power control. At least in Spandau those conditions could be arranged.
 

The Potato Mystic

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Yeah, I think the distinction between Hitler generally and Hess at Nuremberg is that Hess at Nuremberg was a fragmented figure, isolated and playing games with his captors. It's hard to pin down what's going on with someone playing games. Whereas there's a good slab of material in which a confident Hitler, who's uncontested mastery of Germany, speaks frankly to his associates, where much can be gleaned about his motivations in the moment and in the future. The discourse tends though to be polluted by heavy handed moralising and these kind of sources are not given their due standing.
 

Nebuchadnezzar

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This is an excellent post getting the first gold star award from The Field Marshal.
A lot of what is covered is outlined in Avery,s the Making of the Second World War.
I am v. familiar with Bullock, Kershaw and Roper.
[Tolands biography of Hitler is worth a look]
Thank you for the new references of Volker Ulrich.and Klaus Fischer

Ribbentrop was an arch shit and both he and Beck seem well matched.

So what you really had in Europes mainland in 1939 was a bunch of German/Polish pig politicians and diplomats
ready to tear each others throats out.


Another reason that Britain should never have interefered.
I look forward to your next post.
Thank you.
Another one of your very poor efforts at excuse making. There was no equivalence between the Poles and the German positions.

Nazi germany was determined on agressive expansion. Poland was not. Hitler was not interested in genuine negotiation unless it resulted in Poland domination by Germany. Negotiation also served the purpose of portraying Hitlers position as being a reasonable one which of course it was not. That portrayal was mainly intended for his domestic audience....funny that it is now used by apologists on the web eighty years later.
 
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