It is one such accepted version of events that initiated this novel; I refer to the flight of Rudolf Hess to Scotland in 1941. For reasons that may seem incomprehensible seventy-odd years later, the truth ... or at least the truth as recorded in official files has not all been released and probably will not be until everybody that lived during World War II has joined the major protagonists in the hereafter.
Why might this be? It is hard to see a plausible reason, other than a country might not want to tarnish the memory of its heroic leaders of yore or pay tribute to an enemy. This could be a fair reason if a country latterly discovered something that would blacken the name of a venerated historical figure, were it made public. Yet, the locking away of sensitive records was a decision taken by the very historical figures of the time and much remains hidden to this day, whereas the surviving records of the wartime enemy appear to be all in the public domain. Many books related to Hess and his mission to Scotland, have been published and avidly read but not one has forced the powers-that-be to release all the documents for historians to study. Sceptics would not be surprised if the archivists, on being forced finally to release everything to the public, did so accompanied by much wringing of hands and crocodile tears because some vital elements would be found to be inexplicably missing or corrupted.
Nobody of significance has voiced any doubt that when Hess flew to Britain he undertook that hazardous journey in the hope of brokering a peace deal. As if to underpin such an altruistic act, official records show that he came with no weapon and in an unarmed Messerschmitt. Hess may have been beguiled into pursuing a peace deal heavily skewed in his country’s favour, but he could hardly have been motivated to act primarily in Britain’s interest. Yet rather than engaging in any peace talks, his reward for the arduous undertaking was not admiration but imprisonment that ended with his suspicious death amidst a growing momentum to free him.
Reinhard Heydrich was a different character altogether; his widespread notoriety was not earned ‘honourably’ from behind the gun-sight of his armed Messerschmitt where he doubtless spilled much blood during an aerial war he had voluntarily engaged in as a Luftwaffe major. His infamy lies with the volume of blood laid at his door, indirectly amassed by order and decree in his various positions within the SS. He has been cast variously as ‘The Blond Beast’; The Butcher of Prague’ and ‘Hitler’s Hangman.’ At the well-staged Berlin funeral, Hitler would bestow upon him the epithet ‘The Man with a Heart of Iron’. While many might consider this to refer to the cold, hard and inflexible attributes of iron, Hitler may have had in mind its solidity, dependability and versatility. To Heydrich’s wife and family, his heart was probably little different than those of many men’s and it is that ability to switch between the two totally different recorded characters, like a Jekyll and Hyde, that makes him such an enigma. Some might say that Heydrich’s well-established ability to scheme, plot and connive would have made it possible for him, more than most, to evade assassination. There is no argument however, that partisans sponsored by Britain, attacked his car in 1942 Prague, but as with Rudolf Hess did another scapegoat surrender his life for his country?
Apart from the known names of history, this novel uses the names of many real people, few of whom were alive during World War II. I use these names because the person concerned has earned a place in my memory and not because he or she would have acted in any way like the character that bears the name.