The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IV
Motions, Rulings & Explanatory Material Rel ating to Certain of the Defendants
(Part 7 of 9)


Through his pre-trial confinement in the Nurnberg prison, Hess had consistently maintained that he was suffering from amnesia and therefore could not remember facts concerning his previous activities. In order to determine Hess' mental state the Tribunal appointed a commission of psychiatric experts from the United States, Great Britain, Russia, and France, to examine the defendant and furnish a report. After receiving the medical report the Tribunal directed that oral argument by the prosecution and defense counsel should be heard on 30 November 1945 concerning the issues raised by the medical report. Prior to the oral argument, both the prosecution and defense filed written motions which outlined substantially the positions later taken in court.

At the conclusion of the oral arguments, the Tribunal called upon Hess for a statement. Hess thereupon announced that he had simulated loss of memory for tactical reasons and that his memory was "again in order." On the following day the Tribunal ruled that Hess was capable of standing trial and that his case would proceed.

The papers pertaining to these matters are set out below.


1. Counsel for the defendant Hess has made application to the Tribunal to appoint an expert designated by the medical faculty of the University of Zurich or of Lausanne to examine the defendant Hess with reference to his mental competence and capacity to stand trial. This application is denied.

2. The Tribunal has designated a commission composed of the following members:

Eugene Krasnuchkin, M.D., Professor Psychiatry, Medical Institute of Moscow, assisted by

[Page 98]

Eugene Sepp,M.D., Professor Neurology, Medical Institute of Moscow; Member, Academy of Medical Sciences, USSR; and,
Nicolas Kuraskov, M.D., Professor of Medicine Medical Institute of Moscow, Chief Internist, Commissariat of Public Health, USSR.
Lord Moran, M.D., F.R.C.P. President of the Royal College of Physicians, assisted by
Dr. T. Reece, M.D., F.R.C.P. Chief Consultant Psychiatrist to the War Office, and
Dr. George Ruddock, M.D., F.R.C.P. Director of Neurology to the London Hospital and Chief Consultant Neurologist to the War Office
Dr. Nolan D. C. Lewis, assisted by
Dr. D. Ewen Cameron and
Col. Paul Schroeder, M.D.
Professor Jean Delay.

The Tribunal has requested the commission to 'examine the defendant Hess and furnish a report on the mental state of the defendant' with particular reference to the question whether he is able to take is part in the trial, specifically: (1) Is the defendant able to plead to the 'indictment? (2) Is the defendant sane or not, and on this last issue the Tribunal wishes to be advised whether the defendant is of sufficient intellect to comprehend the course of the proceedings of the trial so as to make a roper defense, to challenge a witness to whom he might wish to object and to understand the details of the evidence.

3. The examiners have presented their reports to the Tribunal in the form which commend itself to them. It is directed that copies of the reports be furnished to each of the Chief Prosecutors and to defense counsel. The Tribunal will hear argument by the Prosecution and by defense counsel on the issues presented by the reports on Friday, November 30 at 4 P. M.


[signed] Geoffrey Lawrence
Geoffrey Lawrence

Dated Nurnberg, Germany this 24th day of November, 1945 Copies of four (4) Medical Reports attached

(1) British Medical Report

REPORT on Rudolf Hess, telephoned from London.

"The undersigned, having seen and examined Rudolf Hess, have come to the following conclusion:

[Page 99]

1. There are no relevant physical abnormalities.

2. His mental state is of a mixed type. He is an unstable man, and what is technically called a psychopathic personality. The evidence of his illness in the past four years, as presented by one of us who has had him under his care in England, indicates that he has had a delusion of poisoning, and other similar paranoid ideas.

Partly as a reaction to the failure of his mission, these abnormalities got worse, and led to suicidal attempts.

In addition, he has a marked hysterical tendency, which has led to the development of various symptoms, notably a loss of memory, which lasted from November 1943 to June 1944, and which resisted all efforts at treatment. A second loss memory began in February 1945 and lasted till the present. This amnesic symptom will eventually clear, when circumstances change.

3. At the.moment he is not insane in the strict sense. His loss of memory will not entirely interfere with his comprehension of the proceedings, but it will interfere with his ability to make his defense, and to understand details of the past, which arise in evidence.

4. We recommend that further evidence should be obtained by narco-analysis and that if the Court decides to proceed with the Trial, the question should afterwards be reviewed on psychiatric grounds."

Dated 19th November 1945

[signed] Moran
J. Rees, MD, FRCP
George Riddoch

(2) Joint American and French Medical Report
20 November 1945

MEMORANDUM TO: Brigadier General Wm. L. Mitchell, General Secretary for the International Military Tribunal.

In response to request of the Tribunal that the defendant Rudolf Hess be examined, the undersigned psychiatrists examined Rudolf Hess on November 15th and November 19th, 1945, in his cell in the Military Prison in Nurnberg.

The following examinations were made: physical, neurological and psychological.

In addition, documents were studied bearing information concerning his personal development and career. Reports concerning the period of his stay in England were scrutinized. The results of all psychological, special psychometric examinations and observations carried out by the prison psychiatrist and his staff

[Page 100]

were studied. Information was also derived from the official interrogation of the defendant on November 14th and November 16th, 1945.

(1) We find, as a result of our examinations and investigations, that Rudolf Hess is suffering from hysteria characterized in part by loss of memory. The nature of this loss of memory is such that it will not interfere with his comprehension of the proceedings, but it will interfere with his response to questions relating to his past and will interfere with his undertaking his defense.

In addition there is a conscious exaggeration of his loss of memory and a tendency to exploit it to protect himself against examination.

(2) We consider that the existing hysterical behavior which the defendant reveals was initiated as a defense against the circumstances in which he found himself while in England; that it has now become in part habitual and that it will continue as long as he remains under the threat of imminent punishment, even though it may interfere with his undertaking a more normal form of defense.

(3) It is the unanimous conclusion of the undersigned that Rudolf Hess is not insane at the present time in the strict sense of the word.

(s) D. Ewen Cameron
Professor of Psychiatry, McGill University
(s) Paul L. Schroeder
A US Neuropsychiatric Consultant
(s) Jean Delay
Professor of Psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine in Paris
(s) Nolan D. C. Lewis
Professor Psychiatry, Columbia University

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