© UnknownErnst Hess, Adolf Hitler's company commander in WWI, who was, despite his Jewish roots, spared from the genocide unleashed by the Nazis
An amazing letter sent on the orders of Adolf Hitler informing his Gestapo thugs to leave a single Jew alone during his reign of terror has been found in Germany. The Jew in question was Ernst Hess, a judge, whom the Führer ordered not to be 'persecuted or deported' because he had been his commanding officer in the trenches during the First World War.

Some six million Jews - including Hess's sister - would be murdered in the Holocaust set in motion by Hitler. But because the German leader looked back on his experiences as a corporal in the war with pride and deep fondness, Hess was allowed to live.

Hitler would later renege on his protection agreement, but it saved Hess at a time when the round ups of German Jews were at their most fierce. The document was turned up by the recently opened Jewish Voice from Germany newspaper.

Hess came close to being deported after the Wannsee Conference of January 1942 - the meeting which set the mass murders in extermination camps in occupied Poland in motion - but was finally saved due to his marriage to a gentile.

His daughter Ursula is now 86 and spoke to the Jewish Voice from Germany about the extraordinary trick of fate which made Hitler spare her father from the gas chambers.

A file kept by the Düsseldorf Gestapo on judge Hess includes a letter from Heinrich Himmler, Reichsführer of the SS and overlord of the death camps, dated 27 August 1940. It granted Hess 'relief and protection as per the Führer's wishes.'

Himmler made a point of informing all relevant authorities and officials that Hitler's war comrade was 'not to be inopportuned in any way whatsoever.'

Ernst Moritz Hess, born in 1890 in Gelsenkirchen, had joined the 2nd Royal Bavarian Reserve Infantry as an officer at the beginning of World War I, the same regiment that Austrian-born Hitler served in.

Both men were deployed to the Flanders front in the fall of 1914, serving in what was known as the 'List Regiment' until 1918.

Hess was seriously wounded in October of 1914 and again two years later in October 1916. In the summer of that same year, he had temporarily been Hitler's company commander.

© UnknownThe letter which was sent by Heinrich Himmler, reichsführer of the SS and overlord of the death camps, dated 27 August 1940, granting Hess 'relief and protection as per the Führer's wishes'
Decorated with the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class as well as the Bavarian Military Order of Merit, he was promoted to Lieutenant in 1918.

Hess's daughter told the newspaper how her father returned from get-togethers with old comrades of the List Regiment in the late Twenties and early Thirties.

He would often relate to the surprise expressed by Hitler's former comrades when they heard that the ultra-nationalist politician had been in their ranks.

'What, Hitler? He was in our unit? We never even noticed him,' she said her father told her.

Hess then used to explain that Hitler had had no friends within the regiment, never said a word to anyone and had been 'an absolute cipher'.

This account corresponds with what others have said about the misfit Führer-in-waiting who showed no interest in the soldierly pursuits of women, drink and comradeship.

Hess, by contrast, had formed long-lasting relationships to his fellow soldiers, including Fritz Wiedemann, former aide de camp to the List Regiment's HQ and later personal adjutant to the Führer from 1934 until 1939. Via Wiedemann, he also had ties to Hans Heinrich Lammers, Head of the Reich Chancellery.

Although baptised a protestant, his mother was Jewish and Hitler's Nuremberg Race Laws decreed him to be a 'full blooded Jew'.

Hess was forced by those laws to quit his job as a judge in 1936. His family witnessed him being beaten up outside his house by Brownshirted Nazi thugs later the same year.

Hess moved his family to Bolzano, Italy in October 1937. He had petitioned Hitler in June the previous year asking for an exception to be made for him and his daughter under the race laws.

In his letter Hess said: 'For us, it is a kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt.' Although Hitler turned down the petition in 1936, he did allow Hess's pension to be transferred to Italy in 1937.

He later released Hess from the obligation to bear the name 'Israel' that identified him as a Jew, the law since January 1939.

The Mussolini government forced Hess to return to Germany in 1939 and, hoping that his connections to powerful men close to Hitler would keep him safe, he moved his family to the remote Bavarian village of Unterwössen near Traunstein in mid-1940. A copy of the letter Himmler sent to the court and Gestapo in Düsseldorf was given to him.

But in late June of 1941, all bets were off. Hess was summoned to appear at the 'Aryanization Office' in Munich. When he submitted his letter of protection to the SS official on duty, Franz Richard Mugler, the document was taken from him.

Hess was told that the protection order had been revoked in May of 1941, and that he was now 'a Jew like any other'.

The Hess family never saw the original copy of the letter again. The petitions that Margarete Hess filed in Berlin with Hans Lammers were unsuccessful. The contacts the family had to Fritz Wiedemann were no longer enough - the adjutant had fallen out of favour with Hitler in 1939.

Ernst Hess was deported to Milbertshofen, a concentration camp for Jews near Munich. Later, he was assigned to a barracks-construction firm as a common laborer, and housed by the Gestapo in a 'Jew House'. The only thing protecting Ernst Hess from deportation was his 'privileged miscegenated marriage' to Margarete Hess.

He survived the war. From 1949 until 1955, he served as President of the German Federal Railways Authority in Frankfurt-am-Main. But his sister Berta was rounded up in Duesseldorf and gassed at Auschwitz, wrongly believing that the protection afforded to her brother extended to her.

After receiving the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ernst Hess was awarded a plaque of honor from the City of Frankfurt in 1970. He died there on September 14th, 1983.