On a journey of discovery to historical sites? Download the TracesOfWar app directly on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

Final statement Rudolf Hess

THE PRESIDENT: I call on the Defendant Rudolf Hess.
RUDOLF HESS: First of all, I should like to make a request to the High Tribunal that I remain seated because of the state of my health.
HESS: Some of my comrades here can confirm the fact that at the beginning of the proceedings, I predicted the following:
1. That witnesses would appear who, under oath, would make untrue statements while, at the same time, these witnesses could create an absolutely reliable impression and enjoy the best possible reputation.
2. That it was to be reckoned with that the Court would receive affidavits containing untrue statements.
3. That the defendants would be astonished and surprised at some German witnesses.
4. That some of the defendants would act rather strangely; they would make shameless utterances about the Führer; they would incriminate their own people; they would partially incriminate each other, and falsely at that. Perhaps they would even incriminate themselves and also wrongly.
All of these predictions have come true and as far as the witnesses and affidavits are concerned, in dozens of cases, cases in which the unequivocal oath of the defendants stand in opposition to the sworn statements of the former.
In this connection I shall only mention the name Messerschmith. Mr. Messerschmith, who, for example says that he spoke to Admiral Dönitz at a time when the latter was, to my knowledge, in the Pacific Ocean or the Indian Ocean.
I make these predictions, however, not only here at the beginning of the Trial, but had already made them, months before the beginning of the trial in England to, among others, Dr. Johnston, the physician who was with me in Abergavenny.
At the same time, I put these statements down in writing, as proof. I base my predictions on some events in countries outside of Germany. In this connection I should like to emphasize now that while I mention these incidents, I was convinced from the beginning that the governments concerned knew nothing about them. Therefore I am not rasing any accusation against these governments.
In the years 1936 to 1938, political trials were taking place in one of these countries. These were characterized by the fact that the defendants accused themselves in an astonishing way. For example, they cited great numbers of crimes which they had committed or which they claimed to have committed. At the end, when deathsentences were passed upon them, they clapped in frenzied approval to the astonishment of the world. But some foreign press correspondents reported that one had the impression that these defendants, through some means hithrto unknown, had been put into an abnormal state of mind, as a result of which they acted the way they did.
These incidents were called to my mind by a certain happening in England. There it was not possible for me to get the reports of the trials at that time, any more than here. However, the corresponding years of the Völkische Beobachter were at my disposal there. While looking through these numbers, I came upon the following passage in the number of 8 March 1938. A report from Paris, dated 7 March 1938, reads as follows: "The big Paris newspaper Le Jour made revelations about the means which were apparently used in these trials. These are rather mysterious means"
I quote literally what the Völkische Beobachter reprinted from Le Jour: "These means make it possible for the selected victims to be made to act and speak according to the orders given them".
I emphasize and point out that this report in Le Jour not only says: "to make them speak according to orders given them" but also to "make them act according to orders given them ". The latter point is of tremendous importance in connection with the actions, the hitherto inexplicable actions of the personnel in the German concentration camps, including the scientists and physicians who made these frightful and atrocious experiments on the prisoners, actions which normal human beings, especially physicians and scientists could not possibly carry out.
But this is also of equally great significance in connection with the actions of the persons who undoubtedly gave the orders and directions for the atrocities in the concentration camps and who gave the orders for shooting prisoners of war and lynchings and other such things, up to the Führer himself.
I recall that the witness Fieldmarshall Milch testified here that he had the impression that the Führer was not normal mentally during the last years and a number of my comrades here have told me, independently of each other and without having any knowledge of what I am saying here now, that during the last years, the Führer’s eyes and facial expression had something cruel in them and even had a tendency towards madness. I can name the comrades in question as witnesses.
I said before that a certain incident in England caused me to think of the reports of the earlier trials. The reason was that the people around me during my imprisonment acted towards me in a peculiar and incomprehensible way, in a way that led me to conclude that these people somehow were acting in an abnormal state of mind. Some of them - these persons and people around me were changed from time to time. Some of the new ones who came to me in place of those who had been changed had strange eyes. They were glassy and like eyes in a dream. This symptom, however, lasted only a few days and then they made a completely normal impression. They could no longer be distinguished from normal human beings. Not only I alone noticed these strange eyes, but also the physician who attended me at the time, Dr. Johnston, a British Army doctor, a Scotsman.
In the spring of 1942, I had a visitor, a visitor who quite obviously tried to provoke me and acted towards me in a strange way. This visitor also had these strange eyes. Afterwards, Dr. Johnston asked me what I thought of this visitor. He told me - I told him I had the impression that for some reason or other he was not completely normal mentally, whereupon Dr. Johnston did not protest, as I had expected, but agreed with me and asked me whether I had not noticed these strange eyes, these eyes with a dreamy look. Dr. Johnston did not suspect that he himself had exactly the same eyes when he came to me.
The essential point, however, is that in one of the reports of the time, which must still be in the press files on the proceedings - this was in Paris, about the Moscow trial - it said that the defendants had had strange eyes. They had had glazed and dreamy eyes. I have already said that I am convinced that the governments here concerned knew nothing of these happenings. Therefore it would not be in the interest of the British Government either if my statements about what I experienced during my imprisonment were denied publicly in any way, for that would give the impression that something was actually supposed to be concealed here, and that the British Government actually had a finger in the pie.
On the contrary, however, I am convinced that both the Churchill Government and the present Government gave instructions that I was to be treated fairly and according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. I am conscious of the fact that what I have to say about the treatment which I received will at first glance appear incredible. Fortunately for me, however, prison guards at a very much earlier time had already treated their prisoners in a way which at first appeared absolutely incredible when the first rumors about it reached the outside world. These rumors were to the effect that prisoners had been deliberately allowed to starve to death, that ground glass, among other things had been put in the meager food which had been given them, that the physicians who attended the prisoners who had been taken sick in this way, had added harmful substances to their medicine, which increased their sufferings and at the same time increased the number of victims. As a matter of fact, all of these rumors afterwards proved to be true. It is a historical fact that a monument was erected for 26.370 Boer women and children who died in British concentration camps and who for the most part died of hunger. Many Englishmen at that time, among others, Lloyd George, protested strongly against these happenings in British concentration camps and likewise an English eye witness, Miss Emily Hopfords.
However, at that time, the world was confronted with an insoluble riddle, the same riddle which confronts it today with regard to the hapenings in the German concentration camps.
At that time, the English people were confronted with an incomprehensible riddle, the same riddle which today confronts the German people with regard to the happenings in the German concentration camps. Indeed, at that time, the British Government itself was confronted with a riddle regarding the happenings in the South-African concentration camps, with the same riddle which today confronts the members of the British Cabinet and the other defendants here and in other trials regarding the happenings in the German concentration camps.
Obviously, it would have been of the utmost importance if I had stated under oath what I have to say about the happenings during my own imprisonment in England. However, it was impossible for me to persuade my council to declare himself willing to put the proper questions to me. It was likewise impossible for me to get another council to agree to put these questions to me. But it is of the utmost importance that what I am saying be said under oath.
Therefore I declare once more: I swear by God the Allmighty and the Omniscient that I will speak the pure truth, that I shall leave out nothing and add nothing. I ask the High Tribunal therefore to consider everything which I shall say from now on as under oath. Concerning my oath, I should also like to say that I am not a church-goer: I have no spiritual relationship with the Church, but I am a deeply religious person. I am convinced that my belief in God is stronger than that of most people. I ask the High Tribunbal to give all the more weight to everything which I declare under oath, especially calling God as my witnness.
In the spring of 1942 ……
THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): I must draw the attention of the Defendant Hess to the fact that he has already spoken for 20 minutes and the Tribunal has indicated to the defendants that it cannot allow them to continue to make statements of great length at this stage of the proceedings.
We have to hear all the defendants. The Tribunal therefore hopes that the Defendant Hess will conclude his speech.
HESS: Mr. President, may I point out that I was taking into account the fact that I am the only defendant who, up to now, has not been able to make a statement here. For what I have to say here I could only have said as a witness if the proper questions had been put to me. But as I have already stated ……..
THE PRESIDENT: I do not propose to argue with the defendants. The Tribunal has made its order that the defendants shall ony make short statements. The Defendant Hess had full opportunity to go into the witness box and give his evidence upon oath. He chose not do so. He is now making a statement and he will be treated like the other defendants and will be confined to a short statement.
HESS: Therefore, Mr. President, I shall forego making the statements which I had wanted to make in connection with the things I have just said. I ask you to listen to just a few more concluding words which are of a more general nature and have nothing to do with the things I have just stated.
The statements which my council made in my name before the High Tribunal I permitted to be made for the sake of the future judgment of my people and of history. That is the only thing which matters to me. I do not defend myself against accusers to whom I deny the right to bring charges against me and my fellow-countrymen. I will not discuss accusations which concern things which are purely German matters and therefore of no concern to foreigners. I raise no protest against statements which are aimed at attacking my honor, the honor of the German people. I consider such slanderous attacks by the enemy as a proof of honor.
I was permitted to work for many years of my life under the greatest son whom my people has brought forth in its thousand-year history. Even if I could, I would not want to erase this period of time from my existence. I am happy to know that I have done my duty as a German, as a National Socialist, as a loyal follower of my Führer. I do not regret anything.
If I were to begin all over again, I would act just as I have acted, even if I knew that in the end I should meet a fiery death at the stake. No matter what human beings may do, I shall some day stand before the judgment seat of the Eternal. I shall answer to Him and I know He will judge me innocent.

See also: Verdict Hess


German word for leader. During his reign of power Adolf Hitler was Führer of Nazi Germany.


Rudolf Hess in his cell in Nuremberg, November 24th, 1945. Source: Public domain.


Published by:
Arnold Palthe
Published on:
Last edit on:
Send it!


International Military Tribunal, Nuremberg 1947.