Rudolf Hess was born on 26 April 1894 in Alexandria, Egypt, the son of a German businessman. He joined the army as a volunteer during the First World War by the end of which he attained the rank of lieutenant after a period of service in the air force. After the war, he was active in extreme right wing movements and joined the NSDAP, the Nazi party, in 1920.
Sentenced to 15 months imprisonment in 1924 following the failed Munich putsch (in 1923), he became Hitler’s personal secretary whilst in the Landsberg prison. It was to him that Hitler dictated the major part of his book “Mein Kampf”.
Having become a close friend of the Führer, he was appointed as one of his deputies in April 1933 and Minister without Portfolio in December 1933. He also became a member of the Defence Council of the Reich, a member of the Reichstag (the German Parliament) and held the rank of General in the SS and the SA. In September 1939, he was officially designated as the successor to Hitler just after Göring.
On 10 May 1941, alone, he piloted his personal plane to Scotland, hoping to convince the British to conclude an alliance against the USSR. He spent the rest of the war there in prison.
Rudolf Hess was accused of having used his various official functions, his personal influence and close contacts to the Führer, to promote the accession to power of the Nazi conspirators and the consolidation of their power in Germany, in terms of the count of indictment N° 1. In addition, Hess was accused of participating in plans for military, economic and psychological warfare in terms of the count of indictment No. 1. He was also accused of taking part in political plans for wars of aggression according to count of indictment No. 1 and 2.
Furthermore He was accused of taking part in the planning of Nazi policy related to foreign affairs, in terms of count of indictment No 1. Finally, he was also accused of having authorised, directed and taken part in acts constituting war crimes, according to count No 3, and of crimes against humanity according to count No 4, due especially to the numerous crimes committed against people and their property .
At the end of the war, Rudolf Hess was handed over to the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal by the British authorities who had been holding him in detention since 1941.