Hitler protected a Jewish Vet during World War II, one historian recently discovered. In order to prevent the World War I veteran from falling prey to the genocide sweeping across the landscape, Hitler wrote a letter which effectively spared the man’s life. According to Susanne Mauss, the German dictator protected Ernst Hess, who was a judge at the time, because the two had served together in the military.
Sadly, members of Hess’ family did not share his fate. His sister was one of the millions of individuals who were savagely murdered at the Auschwitz concentration camp during the war. Hitler’s sympathy for his former commanding officer apparently only stretched so far.
“It was a wonderful chance find,” Mauss explained to The Associated Press in a recent interview. “There had always been rumors but this was the first written reference to a protection by Hitler.” The letter was signed and date by a member of the SS on August 19th, 1940.
Although Hitler’s order of protection prevented Hess from succumbing to the same fate as countless others during his reign of terror, he wasn’t completely removed from harm’s way. During the war, he was sent to a forced labor camp, where he stayed from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945.
Thomas Weber, a Nazi-era expert at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, feels that the order may have come from Hitler’s aide, Fritz Wiedemann, who was known to have been sympathetic to the plights of World War I veterans. However, he did say that Hitler himself was known to fond of these veterans, so the letter may very well have been written by his hand.
Although Hess was offered the chance to return to his previous position as a judge following the war, he declined the offer to do so. Instead, he opted to work for the federal railways. He passed away in 1983.