BERNE, Switzerland (May. 12)
Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party and author of most of Germany’s anti-Jewish laws, today became the center of widespread speculation over trouble within the Nazi ranks as the Nazi Party in Berlin announced that he was missing on an airplane flight undertaken in defiance of the Fuehrer’s orders. It was believed possible that Marshal Goering had some hand in the situation since relations between him and Hess had been strained for some time.
The political aspect of Hess’s disappearance became clear as the official Berlin announcement said he had “fallen victim to hallucinations” and stated that Hitler had ordered arrest of the Nazi leader’s adjutants.
Jewish circles here pointed out that Hess was one of the most extreme anti-Semites among the Nazis. As Hitler’s deputy, he sponsored Germany’s major anti-Jewish legislation of the past eight years. Among the many anti-Semitic decrees he signed were the 1934 order prohibiting party members from dealing with Jews, another order forbidding Nazis to accept money from Jews for party collections and warning them to avoid even private dealings with Jews.
The Berlin communique said Hess was suffering from “an illness which had been progressing for years” and that he had left behind a letter indicating “traces of mental derangement,” but it was recalled here that only ten weeks ago Hess addressed a meeting of athletes from several European countries and that in 1940 he delivered several speeches in the course of which he blamed the Jews for the war and accused the Jews of seeking to starve Germany.
The communique did not make clear just what had happened to Hess. It said that, contrary to orders forbidding him to fly, he recently acquired an airplane and on May 10 started on a flight from which “he did not return.” It added that the party “will have to count on the possibility that Party Comrade Hess either crashed or met some other accident on his flight.”
It is recalled that Hess had been considered as No. 2 Nazi for years until September, 1939, when Hitler established a new order of succession, making Marshal Hermann Goering his political heir and relegating Hess to third place.