1942-5: Remissions and Relapses; Amnesic States: Second Attempt at Suicide

On 25 June 1942 Hess was admitted to a military hospital at Abergavenny, South Wales. On admission he was so normal that "the account given of his mental state at Mytehett was almost incredible." In September of that year he was told he would be visited by Brigadier Rees, and the next day he had the "wild look" previously described, and "revealed a complete psychotic picture of paranoid reaction... the presence of auditory hallucinations was noted; he kept looking behind and ultimately turned around to stare at the surrounding bushes. . ." His delusions were all back again, and he required his food to be tasted for him. He would have 'abdominal cramps' and roll on the floor and make peculiar noises. Major Ellis Jones records that during November‑December 1942 he personally noticed the presence of hallucinations on repeated occasions.

    Then his state improved again until in October 1943 he gradually deve­loped an amnesic state. He could give little account of his past life, and had difficulty in remembering people he had not seen for a few days. An attempt was made and failed to restore his lost memories with the aid of an intravenous injection of pentothal. In a letter to his wife dated January 21, 1944 Hess wrote: "all the past fades away as behind a grey fog; I can no longer remember even the most obvious things".

     The amnesic states continued, apparently unaccompanied by any grossly psychotic symptoms, until February 4, 1945 (that is for nearly seventeen months). That day he rose earlier than usual, in a very agitated state. He produced a sheet of paper, which he asked shoud be forwarded to the Prime Minister. On it were written many names: the King of Italy, Marshal Ba­doglio, the names of the Germans who attempted the life of the Führer, Winston Churchill, General von Panlus, Rudolf Hess, Anthony Eden, etc. "He stated that the Jews had 'some power' to hypnotize people without their being aware of any change in their personality." All these people had been hypnotized, and this fact explained a number of their acts (detailed by Hess). On the afternoon of that day he asked for a hreadknife, went into his bedroom and changed into his Air Force uniform, and then came back to the sitting­room where he stabbed himself in the left 6th intercostal space. The wound was slight and superficial, though he said he had pushed in the knife to its hilt (about 20 ein.). Two days later he was explaining that the Jews had placed the knife to tempt him to commit suicide, since he was the only person to know of their secret powers. At this time he was refusing all food, but would take water if it had been tasted for him. This acute episode passed off, leaving him much as he had been before.

     In February 1945 Hess was telling Dr. Dicks that his amnesia) which had then completely passed off, had never existed. In April 1945, with no memory disturbance, he had again become arrogant and paranoid, and his delusional system was more marked than ever. "If one saw him today for the first time he would give the impression of suffering from a paranoid psychosis." Then again on 13 July, 1945, three months before being transferred to the gaol at Nuremberg, the amnesia was back again. "The loss of memory is again gro­tesque, e.g. loss of memory for,prominent places in Berlin, that he was Deputy Führer, failing to recognize one nurse who has been here for two years." The amnesia varied with circumstances and with the observer, and at times sug­gested malingering rather than hysteria.