Kohl Urges That Hess Be Pardoned

Chancellor Helmut Kohl sent a personal plea to the leaders of the Big Four wartime powers to pardon Hitler’s former deputy Rudolf Hess, who spent 40 years in prison is now 92 and reportedly ill. Leaders of the Soviet Union, United States, France and Great Britain must approve the pardon.

Hess, who was reportedly hospitalized early last month, was sent back to his cell at Spandau Prison where he has been the only inmate for about 20 years.

The Soviet Union has blocked repeated British and West German appeals to pardon the ailing Hess; and Soviet guards at Spandau insure that this will not happen without their approval.

In personal letters sent to President Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher and Francois Mitterrand last month, Kohl asked the leaders to “mercifully release the prisoner into the bosom of his family” to spend his final days in freedom. Over the years, dozens of similar appeals and rallies in West Germany have called for Hess’s release on humanitarian grounds.

Hess was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg trials in 1947. He parachuted into Scotland and was captured in 1941 but his motivations for landing there remain a mystery until today.

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