HESS by J. Bernard Hutton

HESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

On Saturday, May 10th, 1941, as German bombers shelled London, a lone parachutist leaped from a small German plane circling Scotland. Minutes later 'Alfred Horn,' alias Rudolph Hess, Deputy Fuhrer of the Third Reich, was being offered tea in the cottage of a Scottish plowman while pressing his urgent desire to see the Duke of Hamilton. Thus began one of the most quixotic and bizarre peace-making missions in history: with the knowledge and complicity of Hitler, Hess had arrived to persuade Britain out of the war against Germany and, hopefully, into an alliance against Russia. Hutton, a Czech defector to the West with a taste for macabre spy stories (Frogman Spy, 1960, and Traitor Trade, 1962), has included the complete text of Hess's own testament, as told to the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945; it is a wild phantasmagoria of delusions which supports the author's plea that Hess, still languishing in Spandau, should have been treated as a medical rather than a criminal case. With Kafkaesque lucidity Hess recounts how during his captivity he was ""given a daily dose of brain poison"": hot curries were put in his food to provoke stomach ulcers: mysterious chemicals closed his bladder and evil potions induced amnesia. All these atrocities, he believed, were perpetrated by doctors and captors with ""glassy eyes"" who had themselves been hypnotized (by the Jews) into a ""stale of partial lunacy."" Claims of ""new research"" are hard to substantiate since no bibliography is appended, and Hutton does not probe the political implications of the flight beyond Alan Bullock el other standard accounts of the internal politics of the Third Reich. Instead, he tells it as a straightforward truth-is-stranger-than-fiction adventure story, You really do wish that a psychoanalyst had tackled the job -- nevertheless it should have a wide audience. Very snappy bedtime reading.

Pub Date: June 3rd, 1971
Publisher: Macmillan