A KIRK minister has revealed that staring into the room where Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess killed himself was the closest he has ever felt “to real evil”.
Rev Peter Sutton was a young officer in the Black Watch responsible for guarding Spandau Prison in Berlin where Hess was held.
He was on duty the day after the Nazi, who was captured near Eaglesham in East Renfrewshire in 1941 after his Messerschmitt crash landed, committed suicide in 1987 aged 93.
Mr Sutton, the new minister at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in Edinburgh, said the day would be forever etched into his memory.
“Most of the senior Nazis after the Nuremberg trials, who were not executed, were sent to Spandau and Hess was the last one there,” he said.
“The day after he killed himself, another officer and I were able to walk through the huge gardens because the German wardens had gone.
“We approached a white cabin and the front of it was all glass. This was Hess’s summer house and inside, as I remember it, there was a rocking chair, books, an oxygen cylinder on a trolley and I could see the noose that he used to hang himself. It appeared to be an electrical cable pulled from the wall.
“My fellow officer and I just stopped talking and for some reason we just had to get out of there as fast as we could. I will never forget it.”
Hess was Deputy Führer of Nazi Germany from 1933 until his doomed flight to Scotland in 1941 to hold peace talks with the Duke of Hamilton.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 for crimes against peace and taken with six other Nazis to Spandau allied military prison in the British sector of Berlin.
Mr Sutton, who was a 19-year-old Second Lieutenant at the time, said he never met Hess personally but described him as a man with the “weight of history and his conscience on his shoulders”.
“Standing in the place where the last Nazi had killed himself the day before was very eerie and chilling, it was the closest I have ever felt to real evil.
“It was almost tangible, it surrounded you. It was a tranquil and peaceful garden but its connecting to such horrors and evil is what grabbed me most.”
Mr Sutton, who attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, said he was very aware of Hess from a young age because he always wanted to be a soldier and grew up on a diet of Second World War films like Where Eagles Dare, the Guns of Navarone and Commando comics.
“Being stationed in Berlin for a summer and studying theology at university in London at the time, I had a much bigger understanding of what happened particularly to Jewish people during the Second World War,” he added.
“That set it into a much more realistic context than a comic book.
“So to be actually guarding Hess, it suddenly became very serious.”
The minister took up his first charge at St Cuthbert’s Parish Church in June.