BONN (Apr. 24)
Dozens of rallies were held throughout West Germany over the Easter holiday urging the release of Rudolph Hess, Hitler’s former deputy, who will mark his 90th birthday this Thursday in Spandau prison where he is the last surviving war criminal inmate.
Hess is serving a life sentence. Many of the rallies in his favor had a political character. The participants called for an end to portraying Germany as the country responsible for World War II. While rightwing extremists are very much in evidence in the national campaign to free Hess, many Germans in no way linked to the Nazi ideology have participated.
The federal government has issued several appeals recently for the release of Hess. The three Allied powers — U.S., Britain and France — would agree to release him on humanitarian grounds, but the Soviet Union refuses to go along.
West German newspapers, meanwhile, have published detailed accounts of Hess’ life, in prison with most of the reports aimed at inducing compassion for the aged Nazi.