By Jan Needle, author of Death Order.
My book about Rudolph Hess is largely based on unofficial archives researched and collected by historians and conspiracy buffs in Britain, Germany, America and Central Europe. I was surprised enough when Scotland Yard's release of the secret report under Freedom of Information legislation coincided with the publishing of my novel Death Order.
The report confirmed my contention that government agents may have murdered the 93-year-old war criminal in Spandau Prison, Berlin.
The Independent, followed by the Mail, named the Scotland Yard detective who undertook the enquiries into the possibility that Hess was murdered as Howard Jones, and also named the British Army surgeon Hugh Thomas, who has argued that medical evidence proved that the prisoner who died in Spandau could not have been Hess. In 1916, as a young infantryman in Romania, a bullet passed through his lung from front to back. But Thomas revealed that the inevitable scars on the man's torso did not in fact exist.
On Monday the German news website The Local suggested that Hess papers thought to have been lost from many years were to be auctioned, and the Daily Mail later speculated that they might fetch up to half a million pounds. Documents specialist Ian Sayer said he did not think the auction should go ahead.
I think it's shameful that the government of a nation whose civil servants were able to keep wartime Ultra code-breaking absolutely secret for 30 years, should now find its 'most secret' file on Hess being auctioned to Nazi memorabilia collectors in America. It's humiliating.
The personal documents of Hitler's deputy being auctioned in the USA this week were stolen from the British government in London. I recognized them as Foreign Office files examined when a Scotland Yard report, which was suppressed for 25 years, was being written.
The pictures released by the auctioneers in Chesapeake City, Maryland, show clearly that it is the Foreign Office personal file on Rudolf Hess, opened a few days before Hitler invaded the Soviet Union but not removed from FO secret files until the 1990s.
Detective Chief Superintendent Howard Jones, who was ordered to end his inquiries by the Director of Public Prosecutions, examined some of these Foreign Office files when he was working on his report.
During my research into the life and death of Hess, while writing my novel, Death Order, I met a group of historians who had undoubtedly handled this stolen file. They told me it was handed to a foreign film maker for further research and taken abroad. I heard it was lodged in a bank in Spain.
The photographs show that the documents in the file are personal notes, copies of letters, transcripts of Hess's interview with Lord Simon and Ivone Kirkpatrick of the FO. They cannot possibly reveal whether Hitler knew about Hess's astonishing solo flight to wartime Britain, or whether the British knew he was coming. Hess arrived in Scotland six weeks before Germany attacked Russia, which is why the British have always feared that Stalin and many Russian people, including Premier Khruschev, would think we colluded in the surprise attack on Russia.
I don't see how any purchaser of this file could retain it, if American lawyers confirm it is the stolen property of Her Majesty's Government. Thousands of innocents died as a result of secret diplomacy in 1941 between Hitler, Stalin and Winston Churchill. It is obscene to think of American collectors trading in these documents.