A DNA test has debunked the enduring conspiracy theory that Nazi war criminal Rudolf Hess was replaced by an imposter in prison. An analysis of blood samples showed the man imprisoned in Spandau Prison in Berlin was indeed Adolf Hitler’s deputy.
Hess was captured after flying solo from Germany to Scotland in May 1941, in an apparent attempt to negotiate a peace deal between Britain and Nazi Germany. He was sentenced to life in prison at the Nuremberg trials and sent to Spandau. But rumours saying the man in the Berlin jail was a doppelganger spread, and the conspiracy theory was even believed by his doctor in the prison and US wartime president Franklin D Roosevelt.
Hess’s doctor believed the man in Spandau was physically different from Hess and he was suspicious of his refusal to see relatives until 1969 and his apparent amnesia.
However, researchers at the University of Salzburg in Austria analysed a blood sample taken from the prisoner known as Spandau #7 in 1982.
By comparing it with a distant male relative of Hess, they found a match of 99.99%.
“Hence, the conspiracy theory claiming that prisoner ‘Spandau #7’ was an impostor is extremely unlikely and therefore disproved,” the researchers wrote in the journal Forensic Science International Genetics. Hess was convicted of crimes against peace and conspiracy to commit crimes and sent to serve a life sentence at the jail in 1947. He killed himself in August 1987, at the age of 93.