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Authors: Peter Lovesey

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BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
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Red called, ‘Sorry, love. My mistake.' And closed the door and turned the key.

He lifted the cover off the bed, draped it around him and went along the passage to the door of the other guest room, which Ginge opened at once. He had a radio going, with some sports commentary in French. He had already showered and changed. He was very obliging, opening a drawer to let Red make his selection from a tidy stack of underclothes.

‘I expect you didn't get much time to pack, having to fix your flight and everything,' he said companionably.

‘Right on,' said Red as he dropped the bedspread and slipped on a pair of black jockey briefs and some grey socks. ‘These'll do fine. I'll replace them as soon as I can.'

‘Don't bother.'

‘D'you smoke? I'll let you have some Duty-Free.'

‘Actually I don't.'

‘Wise man. What's your tipple? Beer?'

‘Not really. I'm quite happy with mints.'

Red was not relating too successfully to Ginge.

Swinging the bedspread over his shoulder, he returned to his room.

He checked the bathroom and noted with satisfaction that the towels had soaked up most of the water. He retrieved the wet clothes, wrung them out and hung them over the shower framework. As he stepped back into the bedroom, a movement attracted his attention. The handle of the connecting door was being turned. He crept fast across the room and unlocked the door.

It opened slowly and a whiff of some musky perfume wafted in. Still dressed only in jockey briefs and socks, Red backed out of sight until Jane was inside, and then said, ‘Looking for something special, darling, or just visiting?'

Jane had put on a dress of white wild silk. Her lipgloss was several shades deeper than it had been before. She let her eyes travel swiftly and clinically over Red's mainly naked physique. ‘I didn't know you were in here. I thought I heard you speaking to Dick.'

‘You did.'

‘I wanted to check whether the door was locked,' she explained. ‘You know how it is in a strange room.'

‘Too true, love,' Red agreed.

Jane gave him a cool look and said, ‘Sorry I didn't knock first.'

‘No sweat, darling.'

She tensed a fraction. ‘I don't care to be patronised, thank you.'

He grinned disarmingly. ‘That's all right. I'm liberated. You can call me darling whenever you want.'

‘All I want just now, Mr Goodbody …' she slid another disinterested glance over his torso ‘… if that
is
your name, is to have this key on my side of the door.' She took it out of the lock and held it in her open palm.

‘Whatever you desire, miss,' said Red with a suggestion of servility in the voice, although his eyes belied it.

Jane put the key firmly into its new slot, stepped back into her room and closed the door.

Red weighed the conversation in his mind, and decided she was right: it was quits. He liked militant birds. They fought like hell and fucked like crazy.

12

One claim of Cedric's that nobody disputed that evening was that his housekeeper was a marvellous cook. The aroma of roast duck had penetrated to the room where drinks were taken and stimulated the guests' gastric juices long before the dish arrived on the dining room table. Cedric announced over the watercress soup that he would not be returning to the main business of the evening until the coffee was served, so the conversation flitted from the delights and drawbacks of life in the country to the danger of muggings in London and New York to the latest horror stories of press take-overs.

But the time arrived when the raspberry gateau was taken away, the coffee-jug deposited in the centre of the round dining-table, and the liqueurs served. Cedric reached for his cigar-box.

‘Shall we return to Herr Hess?' he suggested. ‘The Nuremberg Trials.'

‘November, 1945, to October, 1946,' contributed Dick from his fund of facts, regardless of how smug he sounded.

Cedric went on, ‘You may imagine the shock his appearance caused when he was flown in. After four years and a few months in British hands, his physique was emaciated. We've already talked about his skull-like face and staring eyes. In view of his alleged mental instability, the question arose whether he was fit to stand trial. The British were asked to supply a report, so three eminent authorities were appointed to the task. An interesting trio: our friend, Brigadier Rees; Lord Moran, Churchill's personal physician; and Dr George Riddoch, a consulting neurologist. They reported that Hess was technically a psychopathic personality, that he had a delusion of poisoning and other paranoid ideas.' Cedric pulled some notes from his pocket. ‘We don't all have infallible memories,' he said with a sly smile at Dick, before starting to read:
At the moment he is not insane in the strict sense. His loss of memory will not entirely interfere
with his comprehension of the proceedings, but it will interfere with his ability to make his defence, and to understand details of the past which arise in evidence.

‘They wanted it both ways,' commented Red.

‘Meaning precisely what?' Jane demanded, determined not to let easy assumptions go unchallenged.

‘It's obvious, love. He was sane enough to face the trial and be hanged or locked away for life, but if he said anything out of line, he was bonkers.'

She said without looking at him, ‘That's simplistic in the extreme.'

‘Why do you think the Brigadier's book was written? Eight doctors don't go into print to show that a patient is abnormal without pressure from somewhere.'

‘It was published in 1947 – after the Nuremberg Trials were over.'

‘Yes, but it wasn't
written
in 1947, was it? It was part of the cover-up. You can bet there were typed copies circulating in Nuremberg.'

Jane withdrew from the contest by turning to Cedric. ‘Tell us what actually happened at the trial.'

‘Well, there's no doubt that Hess was the star turn, despite the presence of figures like Göring and Ribbentrop. His haggard, hollow-eyed look is the lasting image of Nuremberg. In court, he ignored most of the proceedings, switching off his earphones and preferring to read a book. Sometimes he said, “I remember nothing.” He had brought with him from England twists of paper containing scraps of food he alleged were used to poison him.'

‘Paranoia,' murmured Jane.

‘His counsel claimed repeatedly that he was unfit to plead,' Cedric went on, referring to his notes. ‘To quote,
He knows neither events which have happened in the past nor the persons who were associated with him in the past
. But the report from the English doctors was upheld, and indeed supported by the American and Soviet psychiatrists who examined him.

‘Then, sensationally, after weeks of legal argument, Hess decided to make a statement. He told the court he had feigned amnesia for tactical reasons, and he was fit to stand trial. That night, he submitted to questions from the American psychiatrist, Major Kelley. This is important, so forgive me for referring to my notes again. Major Kelley writes:
He claimed that his memory now extended throughout his entire life, but on persistent questioning indicated that there were still a number of things on which he was not quite clear and for which his memory was still faulty
.'

‘Like the real reason why he flew to Britain in 1941?' suggested Dick.

‘That's pure speculation, and you know it,' said Jane, rounding on him as fiercely as she had on Red.

‘Fine, have it your way,' Dick offered, with a shrug that left no doubt what he believed.

‘After that piece of drama,' Cedric resumed, ‘Hess took no interest in the trial for months, until the opportunity came to make a final statement to the court. He launched into a long, rambling speech, castigating his co-defendants for making shameless utterances about the Führer, and comparing the proceedings to the pre-war Soviet show trials, when defendants were induced to accuse themselves in an astonishing way. He finished with an unreserved tribute to Hitler as the greatest son his country had brought forth in its thousand-year history, and said, “I do not regret anything.”'

‘Hardly the way to the judges' hearts,' commented Dick.

‘They found him guilty on two of the four counts,' Cedric said. ‘Making preparations for war and, rather ironically, conspiring against the peace.'

‘After the way he treated the court, he was fortunate to get away with a life sentence,' said Dick.

‘Depends how you look at it,' Red remarked. ‘Some people might think the Nazis who were strung up got a better deal than Hess.'

‘What happened when he got to Spandau?' Jane asked. ‘Did he remain unrepentant?'

‘Oh, yes. Still is, as far as I know. He was the most difficult of the prisoners there. Disliked work and exercise. Often refused to eat or get out of bed. Frequently complained that he was ill. The inside story has been written by the fellow you saw briefly in the BBC news story, Eugene Bird, who was the US Commandant in Spandau.'

‘
The Loneliest Man in the World
,' said Dick, on cue.

‘Required reading?' asked Don.

‘Obligatory.'

‘And the rest of that stack in the other room?'

‘Every one.'

‘I need more coffee. It's going to be a long night.'

Jane leaned forward to prise more information from Cedric. ‘So if Hess's memory was impaired, how can anyone know the truth about his mission? Did anyone else know what he was planning, or was it a spur of the moment thing?'

Dick said, ‘Have you any idea of the logistics of flying from Augsburg to Scotland in a Messerschmitt?'

Cedric took a sip of cognac. ‘Right. Let's face it, this was one of the most audacious schemes of the entire war. It isn't in the German temperament to trust to luck. According to Hess's defence lawyer at Nuremberg, the decision to fly to Britain was taken as early as June 1940, immediately after the fall of France.'

‘Almost a year before it happened?' said Jane.

‘Hess went to Willi Messerschmitt, found the most suitable aircraft and made over thirty flights from Augsburg. He had the Me 110 modified for solo flying, and had extra fuel tanks fitted. Meanwhile, secret moves were made to contact people in Britain.'

Cedric removed some documents from his pocket. ‘These are translations in photostat form of letters and memoranda written by Hess and his closest friends in the autumn of 1940. They are on public record in the National Archives in Washington, where the German foreign policy papers are held. Remember Karl Haushofer, Hess's university professor? He's involved in this delicate process, and so, more actively, is his son, Albrecht, who was closer in age to Hess. He was an academic like his father – intelligent, well-travelled, critical of many aspects of the Nazi system and, above all, committed to achieving peace.

‘Here's Albrecht reporting on a two-hour meeting with Hess on 8 September 1940:
I was immediately asked about the possibilities of making known to persons of importance in England Hitler's serious desire for peace. It was quite clear that the continuance of the war was suicidal for the white race. Even with complete success in Europe, Germany was not in a position to take over inheritance of the Empire. The Führer had not wanted to see the Empire destroyed and did not want it even today. Was there not somebody in England who was ready for peace?'

‘Hitler's serious desire for peace?' repeated Jane with heavy irony.

‘Would you mind if I continued?' Cedric mildly admonished her. ‘Albrecht comes up with a few names. He says,
I am of the opinion that those Englishmen who have property to lose … would be readiest to talk peace
. He mentions Sir Samuel Hoare, the British Ambassador in Madrid, and Lord Lothian, in Washington. Finally,…
the young Duke of Hamilton, who has access at all times to all important persons in London, even Churchill and the King
. Hess says he will consider the matter and send word in case Albrecht is to take steps. Interestingly, Albrecht records his strong impression that the conversation was conducted with the prior knowledge of the Führer.'

‘But that doesn't necessarily mean Hitler knew about the plan to fly to Britain,' Jane pointed out. ‘They were just discussing peace feelers.'

‘True.'

‘So Hess plumps for the Duke of Hamilton,' said Dick. ‘Why Hamilton?'

It was Jane who supplied the answer. ‘We just heard. The Germans thought the idea of peace would appeal to the property-owning class.'

‘Which accounts for your invitation here,' Red slipped in. ‘Our expert on the idle rich.'

Jane turned to Cedric. ‘Is that really why you asked me?'

He drew on his cigar and answered with circumspection, ‘It's not the only reason. But let's follow it through the way it happened, shall we? I ought to mention that Albrecht Haushofer was on familiar terms with the Duke. They'd met in Germany and in England on various occasions before the war. Albrecht had actually stayed at Dungavel House. Hess now asked Albrecht to make contact with the Duke. It was to be done discreetly, by letter, through a friend of the Haushofers, an elderly Englishwoman living in neutral Lisbon. Hamilton was to be invited to Lisbon to talk to Albrecht.'

He paused. ‘The plan misfired. The letter was intercepted by the British censor and passed to MI5. Hamilton wasn't given a sight of it for many months, in fact until March 1941.'

‘They were vetting him,' put in Dick.

‘Presumably. They suggested he made the trip to Lisbon with their blessing, to find out what it was all about, but he stalled. In effect, he was being recruited as an MI5 agent, and he asked for certain safeguards to be built into the arrangement. Besides, how would he explain his delay in answering the letter? It was still under discussion on 10 May, when Hess took off from Augsburg.'

BOOK: The Secret of Spandau
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