It seems that even though the Nazi movement ended in an embarrassing defeat and their leader took his own life the radical movement still lives on although in fewer numbers. The neo-Nazi cult has apparently grown in recent years and has caused Germany’s Protestant Church to take some drastic action to stop Nazi pilgrimages to the burial site of Hitler’s right hand man Rudolph Hess. The cemetery in northern Bavaria has been home to some of the largest present day Nazi rallies in Germany and its an unwelcome shrine according to the cemetery.
Late on Wedensday night in the town of Wunsiedel a secret operation was being carried out to exhume Hess’ coffin. The workers also removed his large granite gravestone that bore the inscription: “I Dared”. Church officials had made arrangements with his family to have his bones cremated and to privately disperse them at sea.
Rudolph Hess was appointed by Hitler to be his deputy and personal secretary in 1933 and was a fanatical admirer of the Nazi leader. He gained his fame for piloting a solo flight to Scotland in 1941 to negotiate peace with Britain on the eve of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. He was quickly apprehended and spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp but was spared death at the Nuremberg trials. Hess received a life sentence and remained incarcerated until he commited suicide in 1987 at the age of 93. The prison was later destroyed to ensure it did not become a shrine.
Hess was buried according to his will and it didn’t take long for the hardcore right wing believers to come out of the woodwork. His grave attracted some 9,000 visitors in 2004 which prompted Germany to change its freedom of assembly laws. The Wunsiedel town council moved to ban the rallies but they were contested in court by the neo-Nazi’s who just planned rallies elsewhere. While his body and gravestone are now gone I’m sure the fanatics who travel thousands of miles to mourn a Nazi will find something else to cling onto.
Just The Facts: Rudolf Hess
- Hess served prison time with Hitler after the failed 1923 Beer Hall Putsch and helped the future Fuhrer with the compilation of the “Mein Kampf” book.
- Shortly after Hitler seized power in 1933 Hess was named Deputy Führer.
- Born in Alexandria, Egypt, on April 26, 1894 to a respected and wealthy merchant Hess was the insecure younger son with an overly developed sense of superiority.
- Joined the German Army at 20 years old to fight in World War I.
- Was shot twice. Once in 1916 and again in 1917 and was promoted to Lieutenant.
- Family lost its wealth and power throughout Bavaria and Egypt when the German Empire was defeated.
- Immediately following his imprisonment Hitler ensured the Hess family would be provided for by paying a pension to Hess’ wife.
- Hess’ attorney was permitted to visit with him only six times over a forty year period.
- In the afternoon of August 17, 1987 Hess was found hanging from an electrical cord in the prison summerhouse.
- Hess had once previously tried to cut his wrists with a table knife in 1977.
- A number of historians and former Nazi party members claim Hess was gay.