Hess's flight to Britain almost exactly 70 years ago has remained one of the great mysteries of World War II to this day. What compelled the Führer's right-hand man to risk his life on a spring day when 500 German bombers were carrying out their heaviest attack yet on London? Why did he offer peace to Great Britain at a time when it was the Wehrmacht's last fighting enemy and Hitler was preparing to attack the Soviet Union?
Until now, historians had assumed that Hitler's deputy was acting on his own. "Hess acted without Hitler's knowledge, but in the deep (if confused) belief that he was carrying out his wishes," British author Ian Kershaw wrote in his 2008 book, "Hitler: A Biography". But now a previously unpublished document is casting Hess's notorious one-way trip in a new light: A 28-page, handwritten report that historian Matthias Uhl of the German Historical Institute Moscow discovered in the State Archive of the Russian Federation.