862.00/4031: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Steinhardt ) to the Secretary of State

987. In discussing the flight of Hess68 with the German Ambassador last night, he expressed the opinion that overwork had brought about a nervous breakdown which had taken the form of an irresistible impulse in Hess to bring about peace. The Ambassador was not, however, disposed to question Hess’ sanity. He stated categorically that Hess had departed without Hitler’s knowledge and that his wife had no inkling of his intentions.

He regards Hess’ removal from the scene in Berlin as “the most unfortunate” in that he was the most moderate of the men close to Hitler and said that it was difficult to predict whether Hess’ disappearance would cause Hitler to embark suddenly on further ventures or would have a sobering influence. He added that recently “no one” appeared to have had any influence with Hitler, not even Ribbentrop, and that Hitler now shunned advice more and from any source and that even the highest German military authorities no longer appeared to exercise any influence or control and predicted “important developments” within the next month.

In so far as concerns present Soviet-German relations Von Schulenburg described them as “eminently satisfactory” adding that the Soviet Government had been “most cooperative” since the German occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece69 and that all of his “requests” were being complied with.

Steinhardt
  1. Rudolf Hess flew from Augsburg during the night of May 10–11, 1941, to near Glasgow, where he surrendered to the British.
  2. Germany began its invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6, 1941. For correspondence concerning the interest of the United States in these events, see vol. ii , sections on Greece and Yugoslavia.