WW1 Bavarian Military Merit Cross Document to Rudolf Hess Deputy Führer to Adolf Hitler (Militär-Verdienstkreuz)…An exceptionally rare medal document to one of the most notorious political figures in the Third Reich, the only surviving award document from Hess…This document was acquired in 1945 by a US Army officer and had remained unknown for over 65 years.
Rudolf Walter Richard Hess (Heß in German; 26 April 1894 – 17 August 1987) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Hess
Within weeks of the outbreak of World War I, Hess enlisted in the 7th Bavarian Field Artillery Regiment, part of the 1st Royal Bavarian Division. His initial posting was against the British on the Somme; he was present at the First Battle of Ypres. On 9 November 1914 Hess transferred to the 1st Infantry Regiment, stationed near Arras. He was awarded the Iron Cross, second class, and promoted to Gefreiter (corporal) in April 1915. After additional training at the Munster Training Area, he was promoted to Vizefeldwebel (senior non-commissioned officer) and received the Bavarian Military Merit Cross. Returning to the front lines in November, he fought in Artois, participating in the battle for the town of Neuville-Saint-Vaast. After two months out of action with a throat infection, Hess served in the Battle of Verdun in May, and was hit by shrapnel in the left hand and arm on 12 June 1916 in fighting near the village of Thiaumont. After a month off to recover, he was sent back to the Verdun area, where he remained until December.
Hess joined the Nazi Party on 1 July 1920 and was at Hitler’s side on 8 November 1923 for the Beer Hall Putsch, a failed Nazi attempt to seize control of the government of Bavaria. While serving a prison sentence for this attempted coup, he assisted Hitler with Mein Kampf, which became a foundation of the political platform of the Nazi Party.
After Hitler became Chancellor in January 1933, Hess was appointed Deputy Führer of the Nazi Party in April. He was elected to the Reichstag in the March elections, was made a Reichsleiter of the Nazi Party in June and in December 1933 he became Minister without Portfolio in Hitler’s cabinet. He was also appointed in 1938 to the Cabinet Council and in August 1939 to the Council of Ministers for Defence of the Reich. Hitler decreed on the outbreak of war on 1 September 1939 that Hermann Göring was his official successor, and named Hess as next in line. In addition to appearing on Hitler’s behalf at speaking engagements and rallies, Hess signed into law much of the government’s legislation, including the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which stripped the Jews of Germany of their rights in the lead-up to the Holocaust.
On 10 May 1941, Hess made a solo flight to Scotland, where he hoped to arrange peace talks with the Duke of Hamilton, whom he believed to be a prominent opponent of the British government’s war policy. The British authorities arrested Hess immediately on his arrival and held him in custody until the end of the war, when he was returned to Germany to stand trial at the 1946 Nuremberg trials of major war criminals. During much of his trial, Hess claimed to be suffering from amnesia, but he later admitted to the court that this had been a ruse. The court convicted him of crimes against peace and of conspiracy with other German leaders to commit crimes. He served a life sentence in Spandau Prison; the Soviet Union blocked repeated attempts by family members and prominent politicians to win his early release. While still in custody as the only prisoner in Spandau, he hanged himself in 1987 at the age of 93. After his death, the prison was demolished to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine.
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