A new book has solved one of the enduring mysteries of World War Two and revealed how an heroic British spy lured Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess to his capture.
Cunning MI6 agent Tancred Borenius (left) tricked Hess (right) into visiting Britain on the pretence of brokering a peace deal.
But Hess was captured on arrival and spent the rest the war, and his life, behind bars.
His imprisonment ”considerably” weakened the German Army and directly contributed to an Allied victory, according to historian and author John Harris.
Hess’ visit to Britain is a well-documented fact but the reason for it has stumped experts and has remained one of the 20th-Century’s greatest unsolved mysteries.
But after almost two decades of painstaking research, Mr Harris claims to have unlocked the enigma once and for all.
He interviewed the surviving families of dozens of British agents, and established Tancred’s involvement earlier this year.
Until now, Finnish-born Tancred’s name has never been linked to the sting, and his photograph has never been published.
The revelation appears in Harris’ new book, ‘Rudolf Hess: The British Illusion of Peace’, which hits the shelves this week.
Mr Harris said the link was one of the most important discoveries in modern military history.
He said: ”This is the answer people have been looking for since the 1940s. My research confirms, categorically, that Tancred Borenius played a pivotal role in winning the war.
”He convinced Hitler’s second-in-command to visit the UK and, when he was here, had him captured and imprisoned.
”The incredible plot that led to Hess’s capture bought the UK time from a planned German invasion and ultimately was a pivotal turning point in defeating Hitler and winning the war.
”Without Tancred’s involvement, there can be little doubt that Great Britain, and much of Europe, would be speaking German today.”
Rudolph Hess was a prominent Nazi official acting as Adolf Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party.
He became one of the war’s most mysterious figures from the moment he flew solo into Scotland on the night of May 1941.
He was captured by Allied Forces on the ground near Glasgow after his plane ran out of fuel, forcing him to parachute to safety.
Hess himself never fully revealed the reason he visited Scotland, though it was widely reported that he had planned to broker a secret peace deal.
On Hess’ arrest, Hitler claimed he had gone AWOL, while Prime Minister Winston Churchill maintained he was ”something of an envoy”.
MI6 records on the Hess affair have never been released and other ”key documents” are said to have gone missing.
But now, more than 69 years after his strange visit from the Third Reich – and 23 after Hess’ death – the riddle has been unravelled.
Harris, a leading Hess expert, secured a rare interview with Tancred’s late son Peter in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Peter said his father had remained tight-lipped about his wartime exploits, but revealed his involvement in the Hess affair on his deathbed.
He said Tancred was sent by MI6 to Geneva, Switzerland, to deliver a secret message to Hess via a third party.
The message was a verbal invite to visit the English Royal Family on the pretext of forging an Anglo-Nazi alliance.
It was always Hitler’s ideal plan to work with Britain, rather than fight it, in a bid to overthrow and conquer Russia.
”With Britain as an ally, Germany could invade Russia without having to fight a war on two fronts – something that had caused their undoing during World War One,” Harris said.
”Tancred was key in giving Hitler hope that Britain was interested in joining an alliance.”
But in a twist, Harris believes Hess was double-bluffing.
He claims Hess had no intention of forming an alliance, and had always planned to use the visit to bring about the collapse of the government.
”From my research, I have concluded that Hess wanted nothing other than to bring Britain to its knees,” Harris said.
”His intention was to depose Churchill, who would never agree to peace with Germany, and replace him with a pro-Nazi leader.”
Mr Harris, 51, who lives in Northampton, added: ”Tancred is therefore the saviour of the English language, and we all owe him our lives.”
Hess was kept imprisoned in the Tower of London until after the war when he was moved to Spandau Prison, in Berlin, where he was kept in isolation until his death in 1987.
The official line is that he committed suicide, hanging himself with an electrical cord. He was an invalid 93-year-old man at the time.