HC Deb 21 October 1987 vol 120 cc772-3W
Mr. Winnick

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which Rudolf Hess met his death; what inquiries were undertaken to establish what occurred during the time Hess was left on his own; and why it was decided that Hess's body should be disposed of differently from those of other Nazi war criminals who were never released from imprisonment or who were executed after the war.

Mrs. Chalker

The four powers responsible for Spandau prison carried out a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Rudolf Hess's death, including a full autopsy and inquiries by the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police. As statements issued by the allied authorities in Berlin on 24 August and 17 September made clear, these investigations established beyond doubt that Rudolf Hess committed suicide by hanging himself with an electrical extension cord, and that the cause of death was asphyxiation.

There was no unified procedure after the war for the disposal of the remains of Nazi war criminals who were executed or died in custody. The decision that Hess's body should, as an act of humanity, be handed over to his family after his death was taken by the four powers some time after the war.

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