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Bonn Appeals to USSR to Allow the Release of Hess

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The government of West Germany appealed yesterday to the Soviet Union to allow the release of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, who will mark his 90th birthday today in West Berlin’s Spandau prison. The appeal came just weeks after Chancellor Helmut Kohl wrote to Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko pleading for Hess’ release.

Yesterday’s appeal, in the form of a government statement, said West Germany “knows that the Russian nation paid an especially high price in blood … during the Nazi dictatorship. These inhuman acts cannot, however, be explated by imprisoning one man alone for his entire life as a symbol of those terrible events.”

Hess, who was captured in 1941 when he parachuted into Scotland, was jailed for life at the Nuremberg war crime trials in 1947 for his role in preparing Nazi Germany’s war. Since 1947 he has been in Spandau prison under the control of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. The three Western power have agreed in principle to his release but the USSR refuses to agree to his release.

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