A recently released letter indicates Adolf Hitler made the dramatic intervention to protect a Jew, Ernst Hess, a judge during the interwar years.
Hess was Hitlet's company commander from the Flanders trenches of the First World War.
In a letter dated August 27, 1941 to the Dusseldorf Gestapo from Heinrich Himmler instructed the secret police to grant Hess "the relief and the protection as per the Fuhrer's wishes".
Himmler – one of the principle architects of the Holocaust – also instructed all authorities that Hitler's former commander was not "to be in-opportuned in any way whatsoever".
The letter was discovered by Susanne Mauss, editor of the newspaper Jewish Voice from Germany.
Christened a protestant, Hess had a Jewish mother. Nazi race laws nonetheless defined him as "a full-blooded Jew," making him a prime target for persecution and eventual destruction.
Before the letter Hess, a decorated war hero, had been beaten up by a Nazi gang in 1936 and forced to flee to Italy for a number of years.
Hess was also allowed to transfer his pension to Italy, and ignore a Nazi law that forced Jews to carry the name Israel.
Hess' high-level Nazi contacts also helped him a get a new passport in March 1939 that made no note of his Jewish classification.
However historians believe that the Hilter link had lost its utility by 1942. Hess only escaped deportation through his marriage to a German protestant.
Speaking to the Jewish Voice Hess's daughter Ursula, now 86, said her father had few memories of Hitler other than that he had no friends in the regiment.
Observers not the letter, while surprising, does nothing to alter Hitler’s terrible legacy. Hess was only one against 6 million.