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Rudolph Hess papers (World War II)

This series consists of a collection of miscellaneous and unregistered papers originating in the Permanent Under-Secretary's Department and relate to the department's responsibilities for relations with the intelligence services during the Second World War. The records relate to Rudolf Hess during his time as a prisoner of war, and to the activities of the Duke of Windsor during the Second World War. The papers can be viewed on 40 microfiche.

The papers are principally records of conversations between Hess and various British officials after his flight to Scotland on 10 May 1941, and translations of personal letters to and from his family and friends spanning the period 1941-1945. During this time Hess was held at the Prisoner of War Reception Station in Abergavenny.  Hess was moved to Maindiff Court Hospital on 26 June 1942, where he would remain for the next three years. The facility was chosen for its added security and the need for fewer guards. Whilst in Abergavenny, Hess was allowed to walk in the grounds and was taken on car trips into the surrounding countryside. He had access to newspapers and other reading materials; and he wrote many letters and journals.

Of particular note in the collection are the following: records of conversations with Dr Guthrie, 1941; translations of personal correspondences 1941-1945, conversations between Hess and various officials 1941-1945, correspondence between the war office and the POW station in Abergavenny, details of the possible exploitation of Hess for propaganda purposes 1941; a memorandum by O’Neill on the propaganda use of Hess and other correspondence on publicity; general correspondence about Camp Z (Mytchett place) where Hess was also a POW and translations of a protest petition 1941-1944; proposals to call Hess as witness in libel action 1941; 1942-1943 correspondence with the Swiss legation and records of visits to Maindiff Court including draft medical reports; details about pay arrears for an unnamed captain and 400 Reichmarks belonging to Hess, and finally details of investments and deposits held by Nazi leaders.

The Windsor papers deal with official concern at the Duke’s supposed pro-Nazi sympathies during the Second World War, and in particular his activities as governor of the Bahamas.

Date range: 1941-1945

Significance: Significant in Wales and the United Kingdom.

Strengths: Primary source material, Rudolf Hess, Second World War

Size: 40 microfiche

Language: English

Keywords: Second World War, 1939-1945; Rudolf Hess 1894-1987, Joseph Goebbels, Duke of Windsor.

Notes: Special Collections and Archives has an extensive collection of German history sources on microfiche. The diaries of Joseph Goebbels are also held in the University Library in two volumes: The early Goebbels diaries: the journal of Joseph Goebbels from 1925-1926 and Final entries, 1945