The Pittsburgh Press (June 29, 1941)
DETAILS OF HESS’ FLIGHT REVEALED
By Drew Pearson and Robert S. Allen
Washington, June 28 –
Following the outbreak of the Nazi-Russian war, European capitals buzzed with reports of a German offer to Britain to make peace, then turn their united forces against Soviet Russia. These reports were not empty rumors; they were absolutely true.
Behind them is a story of the most audacious and astounding Nazi intrigue of the war to date. Its opening scene was the sensational Hess “flight” to Britain; its closing paragraph the “surprise” Nazi declaration of war on their ally, Red Russia.
The inner details of this brain-reeling plot are not yet unraveled and all of them won’t leak out until the history books are written. But authorities have pieced it together and it is now possible to get the main outlines.
Hitler makes decision
Following the victorious Balkan campaign which made Germany master of Europe, powerful military-Nazi elements, always hating the communists, began urging peace with Britain in exchange for a British-German coalition against Russia. After a bitter struggle inside the Nazi Party, Hitler aided with the anti-Red group and the wheels were set in motion to line up the British.
It was realized that they would have to be approached in such a manner that they could not doubt the authenticity of the Nazi plan. So Hess was chosen for this mission. Not only was he the one man in Germany closest to Hitler, but he was also known for his hatred of communism. Amd before the war, he had had contacts with the British nobility.
So Hess, not flying alone, but accompanied by several guiding planes, and not taking off from central Germany as reported, but from Norway, made his dramatic descent on the estate of the Scotch Duke of Hamilton.
The message brought be Hess in substance was as follows:
- Britain and Germany would enter a coalition as the chief partners in a new Axis;
- Italy would be placated with some minor possessions of France, which would be stripped of its empire;
- Germany would retain a free hand on the whole of the continent, with Britain helping to establish that free hand by joining Germany in conquering Russia.
The British government’s answer was to incarcerate Hess and immediately notify Washington and Moscow of the plan.
The subsequent chain of events is history. Darlan and Laval were among the first to get wind of the scheme, and rushed to Hitler offering complete “collaboration.” This drew withering denunciations from President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Hull.
Attack on Syria
Britain, which for months had been trying to make up its mind to attack in Syria, launched an offensive with Free French forces to seize this strategically vital region. Then, on June 15, British intelligence got wind of quiet German withdrawals of air and other forces from French bases. This was why the British took the initiative in their continuous day and night bombing raids, wreaking havoc on key German centers.
Fearful of attack and anxious to appease in all directions, Moscow abandoned its stiff-necked coolness to Japan and hurriedly signed a pact to ensure at least temporary tranquility on its eastern border. Simultaneously, Stalin abandoned his traditional behind-the-scenes role and actively assumed the reins as Premier of Russia. Russia began massing 160 divisions on its western borders.
It was at this time that Ambassador John Winant returned to the U.S.A. at the request of Prime Minister Churchill in order to give President Roosevelt a complete fill-in and to deliver categoric assurances from Churchill that Britain will never make peace with Hitler.
The British government was so sure Hitler would attack Russia that Churchill was able to prepare and deliver his historic radio address only 18 hours after the invasion.