Hitler Saved Jewish WWI Friend, For A While: Letter Reveals Intervention For Acquaintance

A letter from 27 August 1941 reveals that Hitler personally intervened to spare a former World War I comrade, Ernst Hess, from Nazi persecution.

The Telegraph reports that the letter, written by SS commander Heinrich Himmler to the chief of the Dusseldorf Gestapo, directs that Hess be granted “relief and the protection as per the Fuehrer’s wishes,” and went on to say that Hess was not “to be in-opportuned in any way whatsoever.”

Hess commanded Hitler’s company briefly in World War I, and went on to serve as a judge before anti-Jewish laws in Germany forced him to step down in 1936. According to the Jerusalem Post Hess then appealed to Hitler personally, saying in a letter that “For us it is a kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt.”

It is not clear what effect this appeal had on Hitler directly, but Hess managed to evade the fate of most European Jews for the first half of the war. According to Newser, however, Hitler’s personal protection didn’t last long; by 1942, as the Nazis began to implement their “Final Solution,” Hess was deported to a concentration camp. The Hess family seems to have been over-confident in their connection to Hitler; Hess’s sister Berta once claimed that she “enjoyed the special protection of the Nazi party.” She was later deported to Auschwitz, where she died. Hess’s mother was also interred in Auschwitz but survived.

Hess’s marriage to a Protestant German evidently saved his life. Though he spent the rest of the war doing slave labor he managed to escape the death penalty. After the war, Hess went on to become president of the Federal Railway Authority.

Regarding their experiences together in World War I, Hess’s daughter Ursula said that her father had few memories of the young Hitler, except that he kept to himself and had no friends within his regiment.

, according to the Jerusalem Post