Rudolf Hess’s murder, an eyewitness report from Abdallah Melaouhi.
Abdallah Melaouhi: Although until this day I had experienced a lot of misery, pain, anguish, war and death, I had not witnessed any excessive misery. Even though in that part of the world where I come from the people who lived there—including myself—had gone through and experienced more than what the average Central European would have experienced in a lifetime.
As mentioned earlier, I had learnt that my grandfather was executed by the French. As a small child I had heard that my father had been tortured to death by the French. I myself was carried off to Algeria by the French where I was tortured and only barely escaped death. I also saw hundreds of people who died during the attempt to storm the Tunisian harbor city of Bizerte. However, nothing affected me as deeply as the murder of my helpless old patient Rudolf Hess.
August 17, 1987
Before I relate the events of August 17, 1987, I would like to point out that everything I am writing here is based on my own personal experience and that I have not been placed under any pressure to do this, I would also like to stress that I have not been influenced by anyone.
The reason why I am doing this is my conviction that Hess was murdered and that justice must be done by bringing the people who are responsible for this crime to court. I also believe that people have a right to know what actually happened on that day. I still feel fit enough to make one last attempt to break through the seemingly impenetrable wall of silence and suppression surrounding the death of Rudolf Hess.
On the day of Hess’s death, I began my work as usual at 6:45 a.m. The British chief supervisor, Bosworth, unlocked the cell block for me to enter. As usual, I helped Hess get showered and dressed. I watched as he shaved himself for about 15 minutes with an electric razor. Then I performed the usual medical examinations, handed out the medicine and sat with him as he ate his small breakfast. He slept as usual for about 15 to 20 minutes, read some and then, at about 10:30 a.m. had lunch. In keeping with the guard regulations, the British chief supervisor was relieved by the young French chief supervisor, Jean-Pierre Audouin at around 7:45 a.m. The British guard, Bernard Miller, was on duty. The dark-skinned American guard, Anthony “Tony” Jordan, was sitting at the entrance.
At no time did Hess give any indication that his state of mind was disturbed, that his condition had changed or that he was unduly depressed. Before having his lunch, Hess handed the senior guard of the day a request for provisions which was duly recorded in the prison log. The following information was recorded: “The prisoner informed me that he would like to obtain one sheet of paper for the weekly order, 30 packets of tissue paper, three rolls of toilet paper, one sheet of writing paper to write to his family, and one ruler.”
Just after his meal, Hess asked me to buy him a ceramic pot from a department store in Spandau to replace a defective one—he used the pot to boil his tea water using an electric immersion coil. Would he have made this request if he was planning to commit suicide on that day? Would he have been so cold-blooded as to start a last and completely unnecessary diversion attempt?
Suicide or Murder
People could of course object here that Hess had asked for this favor to lure me away for a while so that he could commit suicide without being disturbed. Here I must answer that Hess had numerous opportunities to carry out such a plan without being observed, as in the cell block, where he was being less closely watched than outside in the garden house, as the guards in the prison would often become tired and bored and thus less attentive, while some of them would even drink alcohol and fall asleep.
In fact, Hess would often get a kick out of waking the guards and reminding them of their guard duty. Also, cables for self-strangulation were available in several rooms. In his room he could have hung himself with the cable measuring 10 feet, from the lamp on his bedside table as well as with the cable from his electric immersion coil. There was also a long cable in the TV room as well as in the washroom.
The relationship between me and Rudolf Hess had become so strong during the five years we spent together and was characterized by such a great mutual trust, that he would have confided his death wish to me if he indeed had felt like taking his life. He also knew that I would have understood his wish at his age.
Of course I would have tried to prevent him from carrying out such an act. I also of course would never have been able or willing to assist him in his suicide attempt. If, however, all of my attempts at convincing him to continue to live on at all costs proved unsuccessful, then I would have silently and sadly held him in my arms and, with tears in my eyes, let him know that I understood and accepted his decision.
I would not have told anyone else since I would have been able to sympathize with someone in a hopeless situation. Rudolf Hess also knew this. He would have already informed me of such an intention to make sure that I would not try to save his life against his will. Between us, one sentence would have sufficed and I would have understood, “Melaouhi, don’t interfere today, regardless of what happens!”
I promised Rudolf Hess to get him his pot during the noon break. At about 11 a.m. the French chief supervisor Boulanger arrived at the cell block. Only a few minutes later I left this area together with him.3 After lunch I bought the requested pot at a Spandau department store after which I returned to my flat, although located outside of the prison complex, was still less than 100 feet away from the main gate. There I had a short rest.
At around 2 p.m. the telephone rang. I picked up the receiver and heard the French senior guard of the day, Audouin, whose voice was trembling with fear, shout, “Come quick! Dammit! Quick! Hess has been murdered, no, not murdered!” Although he corrected himself, in the initial excitement he had clearly said that I less had been murdered. He not only sounded agitated, he sounded downright hysterical. I was so flustered that I leapt into my shoes and forgot to tie the shoestrings.
“Mr. Melaouhi, it’s over”
In less than two minutes I was standing in front of the steel gate of the prison. 1 rang the doorbell for about 20 minutes without anyone opening the door or letting me in. Finally, the British guard, Bernard Miller, took pity on me and opened the small flap located at eye’s height and pretended not to see me. He simply shut the small window again. Astonished and desperate, I continued to ring the doorbell. Minutes passed again which to me seemed like an eternity. Suddenly, he opened the small window again, looked at me standing in front of the door and said, “Mr. Melaouhi, it’s over. You can go home now.”
That was the last thing that I wanted to do. Now I loudly insisted on being let in so that I could see my patient. Miller, however, categorically refused to open the door. I don’t know what it was that finally made him give in. Was it because he had had enough of my shouting and gesticulating, or was it because he pitied me, or had he simply not been given clear instructions? Or did he believe that enough time had already passed so that letting me in now would not change things? I Ie finally opened the door and let me pass. I didn’t get very far, though, because only about six feet behind the door an American soldier was standing and pointing a rifle at me and repeatedly shouting in a threatening voice: “No, nicht rein!”, “No, you can’t enter!”
Despite or perhaps even because I was so angry, I walked up to the soldier and pushed his rifle aside. This led to a tussle with more shouting when suddenly an American officer whom I knew and who also recognized me came along. He ordered the soldier to let me pass.
Bernard Miller, the British guard at the door who held the keys to the cells in the central block, again refused to unlock the front door of the prison block. From this door it was just a few yards to the garden. At this point, however, I didn’t want to get into any more lengthy discussions. Although I knew that it would take longer to run around the outer perimeter, I wasn’t going to let anyone stop me now.
This meant that I had to take a detour of about one third of a mile by running past the whole cell block since I knew that Rudolf Hess was usually in the garden at this time of day. I finally reached the garden house. Although I didn’t look at my watch, I think that it must have taken approximately 40 minutes until I got there, when under normal circumstances it would have taken no more than five minutes without rushing.
When I finally reached the summerhouse all out of breath, I was confronted with a horrible sight: The round table, the chair, the bench and the tall reading lamp, all the furniture in the room had been overturned. The straw tiled mat that covered the floor and that I had cleaned the day before was untidy. Although the tall lamp was lying on the floor, I clearly remember that the lamp’s cable lying on the floor was still connected to the socket. Strange, because this was supposedly the cord that Hess had used to hang himself, according to the Allies.
This would raise three questions: Did the dead man properly connect the cable to the socket again? Or did the murderers connect the cable to the socket again after strangling Rudolf Hess? Or was this cable not the murder weapon? Another question that comes up in hindsight is how Hess had managed to distract the guard who was sitting approximately 10 feet away from him for long enough to carry out his suicide. The tower guard who was watching Rudolf Hess whenever he was in the garden would also have had to look away for the same amount of time, an unusual, yet not completely impossible coincidence.
Strangely enough, another about 200-foot cable that Hess allegedly used to hang himself was hanging from the window. This would however have been technically even more difficult since the window was only two feet above the floor. It would have been almost impossible to hang oneself from there, even for a completely agile and healthy person.
After arriving on the scene, my first impression was that a struggle had just taken place. This was where someone suffering from numerous infirmities and without much strength left in his body must have, in sheer panic, desperately yet unsuccessfully tried to defend himself. Looking at the people standing in the room, I then saw whom he had tried to defend himself against.
The victim was lying on his back with his hands and legs stretched out on the ground almost in the middle of the small room which measured about 70 square feet. Lifeless. Dead. The colored American guard, Tony Jordan, was standing near the feet of the dead body. He appeared overwrought and stressed, extremely nervous and sweating so heavily that his shirt was saturated with sweat and sweat was running down his face.
Military dress code
He was also not wearing a tie, a clear violation of the Spandau Prison military dress code. It was then that I first noticed the other two people who were standing next to Hess. I was now bent over my patient and I looked up from below at the two men in uniform. They both gave me icy stares and then, looking at Jordan several times with questioning glances, seemed to be asking, “What is he doing here?”
There was one large and one small man, both of whom were wearing American uniforms. But were they really Americans? Guards wearing the uniforms of the four custodial Allied governments were not allowed to enter the inner area of the prison. Soldiers were even categorically forbidden to approach the prisoner.
They were not allowed to speak a word to him. They were confined to their posts on the watchtowers and at other “sensitive” points of the prison. All four custodial Allied governments were very strict about the dress code prescribed for these soldiers—especially since they expected them to proudly represent their countries in their uniforms.
On the one hand, the Allies wanted to surpass each other in the smart and dapper appearance of their military personnel, while on the other hand they also took care to demonstrate their correctness and neatness to the Germans. This probably applies to all military around the world, particularly when they are presenting themselves in foreign countries.
Illegal presence in the prison
However, it could also have been that military guards were called to help on that specific day since a dead Rudolf Hess who had just killed himself would have required quick help which would have surpassed the ability of one guard on his own especially since this was the first real emergency in the 40-year history of Spandau. Thus, a “suicide” because of negligence would have quickly developed into a major worldwide media spectacle.
But these two men were not Americans, at least not American soldiers—the uniforms that they wore were incomplete and they also didn’t fit. The larger of the two men looked like a sausage pressed into a uniform that had been buttoned up with great effort and which now threatened to burst open at any moment. The smaller man’s trousers were even too small for him. It looked as if they had just now hastily gotten these uniforms in order to conceal their illegal presence in the prison.
The pig is finished
All of this crossed my mind as I was kneeling next to 1 less to check his breathing, pulse and heartbeat. At the same time I reproachfully asked Iordan, “What have you done to him?” He replied in a strange mixture of fear, anger, and even spiteful relief, The pig is finished. You won’t have to work anymore night shifts!” Mind you, he said “finished,” not “the pig has killed himself.” This statement was so clear and frightening that it still shrills
through my ears. At this moment I was suddenly scared to death. I looked up into the cold eyes of the two unknown “Americans” since by now it was clear that my patient was already dead. Instinctively I knew that at least the Americans and the British must have been aware of what had happened here.
If this was a crime, then it wasn’t simply a manslaughter committed by an overstressed or hysterical guard, but rather an act meant to silence Hess once and for all. This was especially obvious since during the last years when I had become the only confident of Hess, I had seen how strong his will was to leave the prison alive. I had heard him say that he didn’t believe he would be dismissed “legally,” and that he wanted to force his dismissal by publishing his last secret in the large West German newspapers Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Welt.
Reasons of state
It was even conceivable that the British or the Americans had in the meantime through some secret channel discovered that such letters had been smuggled out of the prison without being published. Perhaps they wanted to end such activities once and for all. Although I knew that Rudolf Hess had already been dead for quite a while—my guess was approximately 30 to 40 minutes from the time I arrived at the garden house—for my own protection I pretended that I was actually trying to revive him.
Rudolf Hess was no normal prisoner. He had become a symbol and through this incident now even a “martyr.” Several years ago warnings about the possibility of his being murdered had appeared in articles and books. If such a crime had actually been committed for “reasons of state,” then it would not have been difficult to also remove an unknown male nurse without much ado, a Tunisian who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
To prevent the three men from communicating with glances or otherwise taking possible action against me, I excitedly beseeched Jordan to immediately get the emergency medical kit from the first aid room in the cellblock. He complied by leaving the garden house without a word of complaint. To distract the two strangers or at least to give them the feeling I was completely harmless and I didn’t know anything about what had just happened, I continued with my attempts to reanimate the dead body …
Read the full story with “Rudolf Hess: His betrayal & Murder” and the plot to cover it up and the effort to suppress the publication of this book. It contains reproductions of documents smuggled out of Spandau with translations, handwritten letters of Rudolf Hess and rare photos. An amazing read!