Camp Z: The Secret Life of Rudolf Hess
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On 10 May 1941, Rudolf Hess, then the Deputy Fuhrer, parachuted over Renfrewshire in Scotland on a mission to meet with the Duke of Hamilton, ostensibly to broker a peace deal with the British government. After being held in the Tower of London, he was transferred to Mytchett Place near Aldershot on 20 May, under the codename of 'Z'. The house was fitted with microphones and sound recording equipment, guarded by a battalion of soldiers and codenamed 'Camp Z'. Churchill's instructions were that Hess should be strictly isolated, with every effort taken to get any information out of him that could help change the course of the Second World War. Stephen McGinty uses documentation, contemporaneous reports, diaries, letters and memos to piece together a riveting account of the claustrophobia, paranoia and high-stakes gamesmanship being played out in an English country house. CAMP Z is a 'locked room mystery' where the 'locked room' is a man's mind that no one can conclude, with any degree of confidence, is sane.
could fool me like that.’ The question of Rudolf Hess’s sanity cannot be conclusively answered. The collective opinion of the psychologists who studied his behaviour at Nuremberg was that he was not insane in the legal sense, in which an individual is incapable of distinguishing right from wrong or is unaware of the consequences of his actions. Yet it was clear that he was psychologically disturbed, which raised the further question of extent. Even the amnesia that he may or may not have
your wife if a prostitute throws her arms around your neck?’ 4 Hitler Albert Speer was working on an architectural drawing, one of the towering new buildings set to rise up in Germanica, as the victorious greater Germany was to be christened at the close of the war, when a horrendous howl echoed around Berchtesgaden. It was the morning of Sunday 11 May, and Adolf Hitler had opened Hess’s letter, dutifully delivered by a trembling Pintsch who, minutes later, was arrested. Such was the
In the summer of 1941 the Brigade of Guards was still in the fortunate possession of a rather fine wine cellar and so, as a matter of course, a ‘quite decent’ table wine was served with dinner. Hess refused, and also passed on the subsequent offer of coffee and tea. Over the next six weeks Dicks noted the manner in which Hess ate: ‘Another notable feature was his capriciousness in the matter of food. He would refuse a course or take only a little potato and greens. When sufficiently urged by
handed the bottle he took off the cap and swigged it down, deaf to Hess’s ‘loud protests’. ‘After which we had a long and muddled argument centring round this certainty on his part that he was being got at in every way. As the hour was growing late I got more and more tense. I told him that with the exception of the three officers and the doctor who attended on him, there was no person in the house other than selected soldiers from the Coldstream and Scots Guards Regiments. He contradicted that,
is to say the whole Europe, no States in Europe would, can give resistance if not Germany; one day they would be here at your coast in Belgium and so on. B: Hmm. H: We can’t defeat that and even if we defeat them – in a few years they will be stronger than ever. B: Perhaps there won’t any longer be Bolsheviks. They may get a dictator. H: Dictator! Oh, they are, they have a dictator. B: Well they may get, however, a Royal dictator; they may set up a royalty. H: Oh, I don’t think so; oh no, I