One of the most peculiar episodes of World War II is the fate of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man – a lunatic according to many. His 1941 solo flight and capture in Scotland left both the German and the Allied leadership perplexed for a good while. Hess spent the rest of his long life in prison, and these years gave birth to several theories regarding his intentions and several much wilder aspects of his life. For example, some have claimed that Hess was actually murdered during the war, and the man in his cell was a body double.
Hess was born on April 26, 1894, in Alexandria, Egypt, where his father operated an import-export business. In 1904 they moved back to Germany, but the young Hess was subsequently sent to school in Switzerland, with the intent of having him follow in his father’s footsteps. These plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I: Hess served in the 7th Bavarian Field Artillery Division on the frontline, where he earned the Iron Cross, second class. Following a chest injury he was reassigned to the new Air Corps as a pilot in a Bavarian fighter squadron, where he remained until the end of the war.
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