Certified translation of the affidavit of Prof. Spann, Professor Emeritus of the
University of Munich of The Institute of Forensic Medicine. He carried out the second autopsy of Rudolf Hess:
TO the Service Registering Officer for North West Europe
In the Matter of the Births, Deaths and Marriages (Special Provisions) Act 1957
AND in the Matter of the Entry in the Register of Deaths of RUDOLF WALTER RICHARD HESS
I PROFESSOR DOCTOR. MED., DOCTOR MED. H.C. WOLFGANG SPANN Professor Emeritus of the
University of Munich of The Institute of Forensic Medicine, 80337 Munich, Frauenlobstrasse
7a, do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:
- I am Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Forensic Medicine, 80337 Munich, Frauenlobstrasse 7a. A copy of my curriculum vitae is now produced and shown to me marked "WS1".
- I make this statutory declaration in connection with the death of the former Reich Minister, Rudolf Hess, on 17 August 1987.
- I have before me the following documents which are now produced and shown to me marked
3.1. A copy of the death certificate of Rudolf Hess. Under the heading "Cause of Death", it states: "Asphyxia due to compression of the neck due to suspension. Certified by Professor J.M. Cameron MD Phd FRCS FRCPath, Professor of Forensic Pathology, University of London".
3.2. The report of the autopsy performed on Hess's body on 19 August in the British Military Hospital by Professor J. Malcolm Cameron. The autopsy was conducted in the presence of medical representatives of the four Allied powers. The report noted a linear mark on the left side of the neck consistent with a ligature (strangulation device). Professor Cameron stated that, in his opinion, death resulted from asphyxia, caused by compression of the neck due to suspension.
- Together with my colleague Professor Doctor Eisenmenger, I conducted the post mortem examination of the corpse of Rudolf Hess (hereinafter "the deceased") on 21 August 1987 at 9.00 a.m. Present at the autopsy were Dr. Seidl and, with his agreement, Police Officer Nefzger with officers of the Munich Criminal Investigations Department. The latter were present solely to observe the proceedings. The report of the examination is now produced and shown to me marked "WS3". There is also produced and shown to me marked "WS4" a selection of five photographs taken during the post-mortem examination.
- Our findings are set out fully in the report and I rely on those findings in support of the opinion which I express here.
- Our findings in the area of the skull and neck indicate that the cause of death was a central paralysis, caused by violence to the neck, accompanied by stoppage of the oxygen supply to the brain. Therefore, the findings ascertained by us agree with Professor Dr. Cameron's inasmuch as it is also his opinion that the cause of death was asphyxiation due to compression of the neck. This presupposes that the decisive mechanism causing death lay in a compression of the arterial vessels of the throat, accompanied by stoppage of the oxygen supply to the brain, and not in a compression of the respiratory tract.
- Dr. Cameron's further conclusion that this compression was caused by suspension is not necessarily compatible with our findings. The photographically documented findings in the area of the neck reveal, in the nape of the neck as well as at the front of the throat, an impression mark running roughly horizontally as is generally observed in cases of violence against the neck by means of a ligature (strangulation device). In Point 9 of the report, we stated that a distinctly delimited discoloration was evident which ran from the posterior edge of the large sternocleidomastoid muscle "diagonally downwards in the middle and to the right side". We had also described, in Point 10, a double-track discolouration on the back of the neck running "almost horizontally". This description, however, referred to the condition of the body after an already previously performed autopsy during which conditions on the front of the throat were distorted by the dissection suture proceeding here, so that the diagonal course of the mark described here is of less significance than the almost horizontal course of the impression mark on the nape of the neck, as the skin there was viewed in its original condition. For this reason, the summary of our findings in our report points out specifically that the impression mark proceeding along a circular path around the neck had its highest point in the area behind the left ear, "as far as still discernible, after the autopsy incision".
- This is of especial significance because the findings noted on the neck, combined with the haemorrhagic spots in the conjunctive membranes of the eyelids, indicate that violence against the neck by means of a ligature (strangulation device) did occur. In forensic medicine a distinction has long been drawn between two methods of strangulation with a ligature (strangulation device), namely hanging and throttling. The forensic pathologist's task begins with the differentiation between the two possibilities, based on the anatomical findings, that is, the ligature mark.
- In forensic science, the course which the ligature mark takes on the neck is considered a classic indicator for the differentiation between the forms of strangulation of hanging and throttling. A horizontally level course of the ligature mark around the neck is considered to be a characteristic sign of throttling. In the case of hanging, on the other hand, the ligature mark ascends in the direction of the fixed attachment point of the strangulation device, in which case the ascension of the marks toward the attachment point can be more or less pronounced. In the case of so-called typical hanging, which is defined as free suspension of the body with the highest point of the ligature impression on the middle of the back of the neck and a single loop of the ligature around the neck, the ascent of the ligature mark as a rule proceeds steeply and symmetrically up both sides of the throat.
In the case of atypical hanging, on the other hand - if at least one of the three aformentioned points of definition is not realised - asymmetrical and slight rates of ascent of the ligature mark are possible. Another criterion for assessment is that in the case of throttling, the ligation mark often proceeds at or below the height of the larynx, whereas the mark is as a rule observed above the larynx in the case of hanging.
- Professor Cameron, in reaching the conclusion that the cause of death was asphyxiation caused by compression of the neck due to hanging, appears to have neglected to consider the other method of strangulation, namely throttling. By definition, throttling entails strangulation by means of a device encircling the throat and the active constriction by another person, or very rarely by the victim himself, whereas in the case of hanging, the compression by the strangulation tool is achieved passively through the weight of the victim's own body or a part of it. Making this distinction would have required an examination of the course of the ligature mark. The precise course of the mark is not reported in Professor Cameron's autopsy report. In the second paragraph of the section of the autopsy report entitled "External Examination", it is merely remarked that: "A fine linear mark, approximately 3 in. (7.5 cm) in length and 0.75 cm in width was noted running across the left side of the neck, being more apparent when the body was viewed with ultra-violet light ..." Here, neither the course of the strangulation mark on the neck, as we have described it, nor its course on the throat, nor its position relative to the prominence of the larynx has been described and assessed. While every experienced forensic pathologist knows that some skin alterations caused by violence become more easily visible the more time has passed following death, this is practically always a matter of drying-out following injury to the upper continuos layer, whereas in this case the ligature mark - as our photographs verify - was caused by reddening, that is, by displacement of blood, in other words, haemorrhaging. The ligature marks on Rudolf Hess's neck must therefore have been clearly visible during the autopsy carried out by Professor Cameron.
- This is the reason why we conclude that Professor Dr. Cameron's conclusions are not compatible with our findings. Since on the uninjured skin of the neck, where the possibility of distortion through the suture of the dissection incision is ruled out, an almost horizontal course of the strangulation mark could be identified, this finding, as well as the fact that the mark on the throat obviously was not located above the larynx, is more indicative of a case of throttling rather than of hanging. Under no circumstances can the findings be readily explained by so called typical hanging ("suspension"). The burst blood vessels which we observed in the face, caused by blood congestion, are also not compatible with suspension. As no exact details of the sequence of events and no photographic materials of the discovery scene are available, we cannot rule out special forms of atypical hanging.
In German language forensic medicine there is a definition for so called typical hanging, the decisive criteria being that:
1. the highest point of the ligature is located in the middle of the nape of the neck,
2. the body is free hanging,
with some authors giving still another criteria, namely that
3. the ligature encircles the neck with one loop only.
Hanging is described as being atypical if one of the above criteria is not fulfilled. A horizontal course of the strangulation mark and thus of the ligature - as in the case of Rudolf Hess - would in any event presuppose either a throttling or an atypical hanging as no highest point of the ligature was located in the middle of the nape of the neck. An atypical kind of hanging with a horizontal course of the ligature mark is conceivable only if the victim is lying down and the attachment point of the ligature is more or less vertically above the region of the neck.
- As for the nature of the impression mark, it should be stated that its double-track nature, observed at least on the back of the neck, does not require that a ligature must have been put in place as a double loop. It is perfectly possible that the ligature was an electric cord which was in contact with the skin where the white gap in the area of the neck is especially clear, whereas the double-track reddening came about through tiny haemorrhages into the skin to either side of the ligature mark.
- Lastly, a short fundamental comment is required with respect to the injuries of the cervical skeleton and the haemorrhages of the soft parts of the throat. In the case of violence against the neck, in whatever manner, it is in keeping with the rules of forensic examination - at least in the German-speaking countries - to perform the dissection of the organs of the throat in a so-called bloodless field and to dissect the musculature off in layers. A bloodless field is achieved in that following the removal of the brain and the opening of the blood vessels leading from the heart to the throat and vice versa, the blood in these vessels is made to drain through tilting movements of the neck. This procedure is deemed necessary since if these measures are not taken, blood may extravasate from the still filled vessels during the autopsy, so that the vigour of haemorrhages subsequently observed can no longer be adequately assessed. The proceeding is then noted down in the autopsy report. Such a note is absent from Professor Cameron's protocol. Then, however, Professor Cameron describes an unusual severity of haemorrhages as noted in the soft parts of the neck - namely in the muscle cords on the left side of the neck and on the left edge of the jaw, furthermore in the upper area of the right side of the laryngeal thyroid cartilage, also behind the larynx, especially above the right side, which were said to be as pronounced as the contusions of the muscle cords on the left side of the neck. Over and above that, clearly visible contusions were then said to have been found behind both corniculum laryngis, especially on the right superior cornu. In our experience with post-mortem examinations, such massive haemorrhages at such different locations are not to be expected in cases of typical hanging (suspension), and unusual, if not to say rare, in cases of atypical hanging as well as of throttling. But as neither the extent of the haemorrhage nor its exact location with respect to the ligature mark on the skin was described and we have no account of the discovery situation, we do not feel we are in a position to conclusively discuss the value of these findings. As is evident from the autopsy report drawn up by Professor Cameron, a video camera was used during the post-mortem, however, no still photos were apparently taken. Hence, there is perhaps a film which portrays the autopsy proceedings, as well as the individual findings, in a more precise manner than does the autopsy report. If such a film exists, as well as the possibility of viewing it, we would be happy to submit a further statement with respect to the findings and their assessment.
- One can see from the photographs at exhibit "WS4" that this was clearly not a case of typical hanging. There is a horizontal mark on the nape of the neck without any tendency to peak. Most importantly the line is totally unbroken. This proves that a strangulation device must have been applied and not only fleetingly but long enough to cause these marks. It is the exception that someone strangles himself because when he becomes unconscious his strength goes and he lets go again. An electrical cable with a smooth surface can be expected to slip apart once tension is released.
- In conclusion, we are of the opinion that the diagnosis of death stated in the death certificate is by no means established. Although we agree that the cause of death was asphyxia due to compression of the neck, we do not consider that suspension has been proved to be the cause of death. Our findings indicate rather that death occurred as a consequence of throttling.
Declared at Munich
on 24 January 1995
[signature W. Spann]
Notary Public, Munich
WS 1: Curriculum vitae [censored due to privacy]
WS 2: Death Certificate of Rudolf Hess and the autopsy report of Prof. Cameron
WS 3: Forensic medical examination report of Prof. Spann dated 21th August 1987
WS 4: Photographs of Prof. Spann´s autopsy
WS 1: Curriculum vitae [censored due to privacy]
WS 2: Death Certificate of Rudolf Hess and the autopsy report of Prof. Cameron
The London Hospital Medical College
University of London
Turner Street, Londen E1 2AD Telephone [censored due to privacy]
Department of forensic Medicine:
Professor J. M. Cameron, M.D., Ph.D., F.R.C.S.(Glasg.), F.R.C.Path.,D.M.J.(Path.)
Autopsy Report on Allied Prisoner No. 7
Within the mortuary of the British Military Hospital, Berlin, at 0815 hours, on Wednesday, 19th August 1987, I was given, by Colonel J.M. Hamer-Philip, Commanding Officer, British Military Hospital, Berlin, a Certificate of Authority, dated 19th August 1987, to conduct a post-mortem examination on a given prisoner, together with a Clinical Summary of that deceased person.
Subsequently the body of an elderly male person was identified to me, by Colonel J.M. Hamer-Philip as being that of,
Allied Prisoner No. 7 - known as Rudolph (Walther Richard) HESS
Date of Birth: 26th April 1894,
having been certified dead at 1610 hours on 17th August 1987.
Those present at the Identification included:-
Colonel J.M. Hamer-Philip
Mr. A.H. le Tessier
Mr. D. Kaene
Mr. I.V. Kolodnikov
Lt. Col. Menzies
Lt. Col. Wilkerson
Lt. Col. Koslikov
Members of the Special Investigation Branch, Royal Military Police, namely:-
Major J.P. Gallagher
WO 1 W.L. Ford
WO 2 D. Bancroft
WO 2 N. Lurcock - Exhibits Officer
SSgt I. Brewster
The body had been x-rayed after death, prior to my examination, and I was handed the x-rays and various papers (hospital notes) relating to the death by Colonel J.M. Hamer-Philip in the presence of the above gentlemen. In all there were eleven (11) large and eleven (11) small unreported radiographs (see infra).
It had been agreed that a closed-circuit television camera would be used during the autopsy but no still photography. At the commencement of the autopsy all, apart from the medical advisers and the officers of the Special Investigation Branch, Royal Military Police, left the mortuary.
Opinions expressed on the x-ray films at the time of the autopsy were subsequently confirmed by Dr. Maurice J. Turner, F.R.C.P., F.R.C.R., D.M.R.D., Consultant Radiologist, The London Hospital, London.
Skull: No abnormality was detected.
Cervical Spine: An endotracheal tube was in situ in some films. No fractures were seen but osteo-arthritic lipping, particularly of the left side with spondylosis of fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae being noted.
Chest: Elevation of the left dome of the diaphragm with adhesions to the left chest were noted. Recent fractures were detected in the 4th to 6th right ribs, inclusively, and the 3rd to 6th left ribs, inclusively, with a possible older fracture of the 7th right rib.
Abdomen: Gaseous distension of stomach - presumably as a result of resuscitation.
Extensive osteo-arthritic degenerative changes were noted in the lower thoracic and lumbar spine with scoliosis (curvature).
Pelvis: The presence of opaque foreign bodies - possibly old gut-shot residue - were observed in the soft tissues of the lower pelvic region and thighs.
Legs: An old fracture deformity of the left trochanteric region (upper left thigh/hip) and femoral shaft were noted. No fractures were observed in either tibiae or fibulae and apart from arthritic change in the metatarso-phalangeal joints no abnormality was detected.
Arms: No fractures were detected in either forearm, hand, or right humerus
(upper arm), whilst the left humerus (upper arm) revealed two radio-opaque foreign bodies
near the mid to upper shaft suggestive of an old gun-shot wound. No recent injuries were
The deceased was dressed in a grey jacket, grey flannels with braces, white shirt, white "long johns" and white boxer shorts.
The body was that of a relatively well nourished elderly man, 5ft. 9in. (175 cms) in height, with bilateral inguinal herniae, the left being worse than the right. There were signs of recent hospital therapy to the left side of the neck, the thumb side of the left wrist and the back of the right wrist. There were marks on the front of the chest consistent with resuscitation, particularly over the outer side of the left chest, and over the midline of the chest. There was a circular bruised abrasion over the top of the back of the head and there was slight swelling (oedema) of the ankles. A fine linear mark, approximately 3in. (7.5 cms) in length and 0.75 cms in width was noted running across the left side of the neck, being more apparent when the body was viewed with ultraviolet light, as was an old scar on the left side of the chest, 126 cms from the heel, 7 cms from the midline. Apart from a minor abrasion of the upper lip, 1 cm from the right nostril, there were no other marks of recent injury or violence on the body. Petechiae (haemorrhagic spots) were noted in the conjunctivae of both eyes, particularly on the left side.
Head and Neck:
A sample of head hair was taken (Exhibit No. NL/6).
Reflection of the scalp revealed petechiae (haemorrhagic spots) on the undersurface of the scalp, as was a faint bruise of the right temporal muscle and deep bruising over the top of the back of the head, noted on external examination. There was no fracture of the skull. The membranes of the brain and the brain itself (which weighed 1305 grammes) was intensely congested and on section the brain revealed petechiae (haemorrhagic spots) in the white matter of the brain generally and of the brainstem. Moderate severe atheroma (degenerative change) affected the cerebral vessels but no evidence of natural disease, to the naked eye, that could have caused or contributed to death at that moment in time was noted.
The mouth was totally edentulous, with slight bruising consistent with resuscitative measures, being noted on the upper gum to the left of the midline.
Reflection of the skin from the neck confirmed bleeding into the tissues in the region of the strap muscles on the left side of the neck together with deep bruising over the left side of the angle of the jaw and over the left side of the inside of the back of the throat - that within the throat being consistent with resuscitation. The voice-box revealed excessive bruising in the upper part of the right side of the thyroid cartilage (voice-box) which showed a degree of mobility which subsequently necessitated macro radiography (see infra). The appearances were consistent with compression of the neck. Deep bruising was further noted behind the voice-box, particularly over the right side of the neck, as was deep bruising to the strap muscles on the left side of the neck.
Macro-radiography revealed no fracture of the hyoid bone but a fracture of the right superior corns (horn) of the thyroid cartilage (two (2) x-rays being taken).
Subsequent dissection of the larynx, after fixation of the specimen (Exhibit No. NL/17) in formalin to fix the tissues confirmed the marked bruising of the posterior aspect of both upper cornua (horns) of the thyroid cartilage, especially in the right which when dissected anteriorly revealed the presence of a fresh fracture with bleeding into the site and adjacent tissues. There was no bruising of any significance around the hyoid bone.
Reflection of the skin of the chest confirmed two areas of deep bruising over the centre of the front of the chest with an underlying transverse fracture of the breast bone (sternum) and severe deep bruising of the left side of the chest with multiple fractures of the ribs on that side consistent with energetic cardiac resuscitation. There was further bruising over the right side of the chest with three fractured ribs. The 2nd to the 7th left ribs, inclusively, were fractured in front of the armpit (anterior axillary line) and the 4th to the 6th right ribs, inclusively, in the same position. All fractures were consistent with having been caused at the time of resuscitation and had no bearing on the cause of death.
There was slight bruising of the lining of the lower air passages (trachea) consistent with resuscitative measures.
The right chest cavity was clear, there being no adhesions on the right side of the chest, with minimal sub-pleural (lung lining) petechiae (haemorrhagic spots) being detected. There was no evidence of natural disease, to the naked eye, other than congestion and minimal oedema affecting the right lung. The left lung, however, was firmly adherent to the chest wall and diaphragm with extensive old adhesions and resulting elevation of the left dome of the diaphragm. The left lung was x-rayed (five (5) blank test films and one (1) soft tissue x-ray plate) before being retained for fixation in formalin, revealed slight old scarring but no definite radio-opaque opacities. After fixation the lung (Exhibit No. NL/16) on examination apart from congestion. Merely confirmed old pleural and diaphragmatic adhesions.
The pericardium (heart sac) revealed little of note. The heart weighed 385 grammes with minimal fibrosis (scarring) of themyocardium (heart muscle). Early calcification of the aortic valve was noted, while the tricuspid valve was somewhat floppy. Atheroma, which was remarkably scanty for a man of that age, affected particularly the left coronary artery at its bifurcation. The right coronary artery, whilst tortuous, revealed minimal atheroma. There was slight unfolding of the arch of the aorta with severe atheroma (degenerative change) affecting that vessel particularly at its bifurcation with early medial dissection of its wall, but this had no bearing on the cause of death. The lower half of the oesophagus (gullet) was ballooned out but was otherwise normal.
The stomach was filled with a partly digested meal, of recent origin (500 mls) with no evidence of tablet debris being detected. There was no evidence of old or recent ulceration of the stomach or duodenum although there was minimal scarring with slight enlargement of the duodenal cap. The intestines were otherwise normal and the appendix was present. The pancreas was congested but normal. The liver, which weighed 1465 grammes, appeared small and the gall bladder was shrunken and firmly adherent to the hepatic (liver) tissue. The spleen was extremely soft and apart from minimal bruising around the right kidney, consistent with resuscitation, the kidneys were remarkably healthy, the capsules stripping with ease. A small cortical cyst was present in the lower pole of both organs. Apart from congestion, both adrenal glands appeared healthy. The bladder was moderately full of clear urine, with the prostate being slightly enlarged, and there were multiple trabeculae of the bladder wall. A right sided hydrocele was noted in the scrotum, about the size of a tangerine (small orange) and there were some adhesions to the left testicle but no other testicular abnormality was detected. Apart from congestion, there was no evidence of natural disease affecting the abdominal organs which could have caused or contributed to death.
Samples taken by me and handed to 24101454 WO 2 N. Lurcock, RMP ,SIB ,included:-
1. Sample of head hair - NL/6
2. Sample of urine - NL/7
3. Right kidney - NL/8
4. Left kidney - NL/9
5. Stomach contents - NL/10
6. Blood sample from heart (no anti-coagulant) - NL/11
7. Blood sample from right leg (no anti-coagulant) - NL/12
8. Blood sample from right leg(with anti-coagulant)- NL/13
9. Liver - NL/14
10. 2 x Containers Histology sample in formalin - NL/15 (see pp 6 & 7 of this report)
11. Lung tissue in formalin - NL/16 (see pp 4 & 7 of this report).
12. Throat tissue in formalin - NL/17 (see p 4 of this report).
Exhibits NL/6-14, inclusive, were returned to me intact at 1630 hours on 24th August 1987, and subsequently handed personally by me to Dr. P.A. Toseland, Bsc, PhD ,FRCPath ,
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Guy's Hospital, London, on 25th August 1987, for Toxicologic Analysis.
Results obtained revealed:-
Blood alcohol - nil.
Urine alcohol - nil.
Blood Carboxyhaemoglobin less than 2%.
There was no indication of any volatile substances, particularly there was no evidence of acetone.
The following drugs could be measured in whole blood:
(i) Verapamil = 78 micrograms per litre
(ii) N-desmethyl-Verapamil = 82 micrograms per litre
(iii) Isosorbide dinitrate = 27 micrograms per litre
(iv) Isosorbide mononitrate = 112 micrograms per litre.
Digoxin was not measurable.
A full screening service of the liver was applied for the detection of acidic, neutral and basic compounds. No compound could be detected that was not already detected in the blood, apart from 2 compounds that possessed the Verapamil structures and were probably O-demethylated compounds.
The urine showed both Verapamil and its N-desmethyl metabolite.
The arsenic content of the hair was 0.8 micrograms per kilogram. The normal arsenic content is anything less than 2, and toxic levels are greater than 5.
All the other drug levels are as one would expect, as normal therapeutic.
Microscopic sections (twenty-three - 23) were prepared, processed and stained from samples of tissue retained (Exhibit No. NL/15 and 16). Lt. Col. R.C. Menzies, MRCPath, DMJ (Path), Professor of Military Pathology, Royal Army Medical College, London, who was present at the autopsy and I are of the opinion that microscopic examination of this tissue revealed no evidence of natural disease that could have caused or contributed to death at that moment in time. The widespread severe passive venous congestion noted in all the organs was entirely consistent with an asphyxial death.
These findings were consistent with and confirmed the macroscopic (naked eye) finding at the autopsy, namely:-
All sections were essentially normal apart from marked passive venous congestion including some meningeal congestion. In addition, there was a little focal perivascular haemorrhage.
There was marked passive congestion of both ventricles with some very mild focal fibrosis (scarring) in the left ventricle, but this was of no functional significance.
Sections from the left coronary artery revealed that the anterior descending branch was narrowed by calcified atheroma to some 40% of original size. The circumflex branch also showed narrowing to approximately 60% of its expected size. The right coronary artery was clear of atheroma. In all three vessels there was passive venous congestion of the adventitia (vessel wall). These findings suggest that, from a microscopic point of view, the degenerative change in the coronary arteries (vessels supplying blood to the heart muscle) was slightly more marked that that noted on macroscopic (naked eye) examination at the autopsy. Such changes did in no way accelerate or play any part in the death.
Sections from near the lesion described as early dissection showed marked cholesterol deposition in the wall of the vessel associated with calcification (severe degenerativ change) and a little fresh haemorrhage. There was also marked passive venous congestion of the vasa vasorum (smaller blood vessels supplying blood to the wall of the vessel) and the vessels within the adventitia (wall).
There was widespread post-mortem loss of the mucosa (lining of the trachea) and the submucosal (deeper) tissues were markedly oedematous (swollen). There was quite marked bruising around the tracheal cartilaginous rings. Such changes were consistent with having been produced during resuscitation, there being no evidence of pre-existing natural disease.
The right lung showed very severe passive venous congestion with focal intra-alveolar and intra-bronchiolar haemorrhage. A little carbon (black pigment) deposition was noted, but there was no evidence of pre-existing natural disease.
The left lung (Exhibit No. NL/16) tissue is similar in microscopic appearance to that of the right. In addition, however, there is old scarring within the lung tissue. In some areas this is associated with occasional aggregates of chronic inflammatory cells; but there is no evidence of any active disease process. A small area of pleura (lung lining) is present on each slide and this also shows scarring and firm attachment to the diaphragm.
The basic hepatic architecture was normal, and there was no evidence of disease. There was, however, very marked passive venous congestion.
The organ appeared to have been previously normal.
Both were essentially histologically normal, but both showed severe passive venous congestion.
Both kidneys showed signs of severe passive venous congestion, but there was no evidence of any pre-existing renal disease.
This organ was very severely congested, but there was no evidence of any disease process.
Both testes showed senile atrophic changes, consistent with the age of the deceased. Both also showed marked passive venous congestion.
- The body was that of a well nourished elderly man, 5ft. 9in. in height.
- No evidence of natural disease which could have caused or contributed to death at that moment in time was noted either by naked eye at the time of the autopsy or by microscopic examination of the retained tissues.
- Marks on the body consistent with resuscitation were noted and apart from the bruised abrasion on the back of the top of the head, all other bruising was consistent with having been caused by resuscitation, as were the fractured ribs and sternum.
- Toxicological Report - inconjunction with Dr. P.A. Toseland (see pp. 5/6 of this report) revealed no evidence to suggest anything other than what would be expected from routine therapeutic treatment and from resuscitative procedures.
- Histological Report - inconjunction with Lt. Col. R.C. Menzies (see pp. 6/7 of this report) confirmed the gross morbid anatomical pathological findings. The microscopic examination of the tissues retained revealed no evidence of significant pre-existing natural disease that could have caused or contributed to death at the moment of time.
- External and internal features diagnostic of an asphyxial element in the cause of death were noted and the linear mark on the left side of the neck was consistent with a ligature. The injury to the larynx (voice-box) - fracture of right superio cornu (horn) of the thyroid cartilage - was indicative of compression of the neck.
- Death was not due to natural causes.
- In my opinion the cause of death was:
b. COMPRESSION OF THE NECK
[Signatur J.M. Cameron]
James Malcolm Cameron, MD, PhD. , FRCS(Glasg.) , FRCPath, DMJ(Path).,
Professor of Forensic Medicine (University of London),
Ver Heyden de Lancey Reader in Forensic Medicine (Council of Legal Education)
WS 3: Forensic medical examination report of Prof. Spann dated 21th August 1987
Institute for Forensic Medicine
of the University of Munich
Director: Professor W. Spann, MD
August 21, 1987 Prof. Sp./Pr
8000 München 2
Frauenlobstrasse 7 a
Tel: [censored due to privacy]
Mailing Address: [censored due to privacy]
Dr. Alfred Seidl
Attorney at Law
Forensic examination of
H e s s, R u d o l p h
born on April 26, 1894
last place of residence: Berlin
deceased on August 17, 1987
Our No. V.S. 1295/87
Reg. No.: 1229/87
In compliance with the request of Dr. Seidl, attorney at law, we conducted the post-mortem examination on the body at 9:00 a.m. on August 21, 1987
|Prof. Dr. S p a n n
Prof. Dr. Eisenmenger
as dissection assistant
University Lecturer Dr. Kauert from the Chemical-Toxicological Department was present from the Institute. Dr. Seidl, attorney at law, and Police Commissioner Nefzger accompanied by officers of the Munich Criminal Investigation Division were also present.
Mr. Lohr presented the body lying on the dissection fable as that of the individual named above.
Findings and preliminary expert opinion:
A. External examination
The body is located initially in a wooden coffin. When the lid as removed it was seen that a tin coffin was inside the wooden coffin: this tin coffin is open. The lid of the tin coffin is missing. A body under a white blanket is lying in the tin coffin. There is also a so-called shroud on the body.
B. Internal examination
- Upon removal of the shroud it is seen that the body is of a male. It is also seen that a typical dissection incision had been made, running from the area of the head to the trunk. The dissection incision runs over the skull, over the vertex, it extends across both sides of the neck to the breastbone and continues to the pubic area.
- The body is 172.5 cm long. Rigor mortis has relaxed in the jaw musculature as well as in the upper limbs but persists in the lower limbs.
- Hair of the head is brownish gray, thin across the forehead and part with apparent balding at the typical location, approximately palm-sized. No unusual finding on the scalp.
- The eyebrows are strikingly bushy, the eyeballs have sunk back, the left eyelids is slightly open. The skin of the upper eyelids revealed several pinpoint-sized haemorrhagic spots: No unusual findings on the skin of the lower eyelids. The conjunctival membranes of the upper and lower eyelids display numerous haemorrhagic spots ranging from pinpoint to pinhead size, regularly arranged, distributed equally in number among the four eyelids. The eyeballs have softened and receded. The cornea is opaque and the colour of the iris is no longer ascertainable. Both sides of the edge of the iris are marked with the beginnings of an age-related change.
- The nasal and aural openings are clear. On the balls of both auricles and in the surrounding skin there are again regularly arranged extravasations of pinpoint to pinhead size. The osseous nasal bone is solid and undamaged.
- The lips are parted, pale red, a spot on the upper lip is beginning to dry out. No unusual finding on the mucous membrane of the upper and lower lips; no hemorrhages. There is a set of upper dentures inside the mouth; there are no teeth in the lower jaw.
- The face is smoothly shaven; at the neckline there is some stubble up to 1-2 mm in length.
- The neck is slender and long. Above the point of the chin there its a spot, the size of a ten-pfennig-coin, starting to dry out underneath the point of the chin a brownish discoloration of the same size.
- Beginning of the posterior edge of the large stereo cleidomastoid muscle on the left, there is clearly visible on the throat a clearly distinguishable discoloration brown-red in colour, of various widths up to 6 mm wide on the left, up to 20 mm wide across the middle, running diagonally downward to the middle and to the right side, visible here up to the posterior edge of the large sternocleidomastoid muscle.
- The body is now turned over and the neck inspected, where there is a double-track impression spanning the entire back of the neck and running almost horizontally. The double nature of the mark consists of two reddishly discoloured stripes of 1 cm width at the most, which enclose a pale stripe of up to 6 mm in width.
- Poorly developed bluish violet livor mortis marks on the back which are no longer responsive to pressure.
- On the upper rim of the back of the pelvis on the left there is a mark-coin-sized bluish discoloration; incision reveals a clearly visible, dark red to black blood clot. A 12 cm long, superficial, scratchlike skin injury of varying definition extends from it.
- The thorax is symmetrical; on its left side, in front of the armpit (anterior axillary line), there is a palm-sized, 12 x 8 cm blue-green-yellow discoloured spot.
- The front of the thoracic wall displays two single bland scars on the left. One of these scars lies approximately at the level of the 4th intercostal space and is 2.5 cm long; one lying slightly above it is 2.0 cm long. There are scars probably from sutures in the vicinity of these scars. On the right costal arch there is a brownish discoloration of the size of a two-mark coin. No unusual findings on the abdominal walls.
- External genitalia are male, testicles are not palpable. The anal opening is clear.
- In the area of the left forearm, near the radius, at the transition from the middle to the lower third, there are two bluish-red discoloration with point-shaped changes as would result from punctures for medical purposes.
- At the flexor side of the left wrist, there are scars at the typical locations. One of these scars running diagonally to the axis of the forearm is 4 cm long. In its vicinity there are scars probably from sutures. Another scar is found in the typical spot above the artery - a ray-shaped 3 x 1.5 cm scar with probable branch channel suture marks.
- In the lower third of the extensor side of the right forearm there is a bluish discoloration of five-mark size with a centrally located puncture mark as might result from medical measures.
- [wrong numeration, number 19 was left out]
- In the area of the legs, there are clearly visible, pasty swellings (oedema) on the lower legs, more pronounced on the left than on the rigth. Above the left inner ankle, a bland 3 cm long scar.
I. Cranial cavity
The autopsy sutures are now removed.
II. Thoracic and abdominal cavity
- Following removal of the suture across the skull, the scalp is folded back forward and backward from it and examined. The inside of the scalp is of an even, pale red color. Above the right frontal bone there is a two-pfennig sized slight, dark blood infiltration. There are also regularly arranged, point shaped, scattered, blood extravasations. The temporal muscle on both sides has been dissected without any unusual findings. The right temporal muscle shows some circumscribed hemorrhages. In the scalp above the back of the head, there are regularly arranged haemorrhagic spots as well as below the periosteum of the occipital bone.
- The soft parts above the nape of the neck are now dissected further down, to the height of the externally described alteration. In the vicinity of the nape of the neck to the right and the left of the spinal column, there are lentil-sized infiltration of dark reddish-black color.
- The skullcap is now removed. It has been dissected in typical fashion. The cranial cavity contains cotton swabs only partially soaked with blood. Removal of this cotton shows that the tough internal periosteum of the osseous cerebral surface has been largely stripped off. In the area of osseous cerebral surface there are no unusual findings, in particular no discernible injuries.
Following removal of the sutures and the folding back of the soft thoracic and abdominal walls, the breastbone is found to be lying loosely in its typical location. After removal of the breastbone, a plastic bag is seen, which is removed in toto. Following its removal, no further organs are found in the body cavity.
Summarv of the findings
- The spinal column is now examined, in the area of the dorsal spinal column, a slight lateral curvature to the left can be seen. The lumbar spinal column is clearly curved to the right.
- Inspection of the walls of the thoracic cavity reveal on the left extensive adhesion areas, such as adhesion on the pleura costalis and the pleura pulmonalis.
- The organs are now removed from the plastic bag and checked for completeness.
- The brain appears to be complete. It has been predissected with numerous single incisions. Fresh incisions show marrow and large cores of brown-gray-green colour, the marrow base is whitish gray. No unusual findings in the area of the previously made incisions, nor of our new ones.
- In the area of the still remaining arteries, there are very distinct, whitish yellow, hard calcium deposits; vascular rigidly is evident, particularly in the carotid stumps on the base of the brain.
- Inspection of the neck reveals that the right carotid artery was not removed; it is still inside the body. The right carotid artery is now removed. The unopened right carotid artery is opened after removal: it is completely free from blockage, relatively tender in the lower vicinity, with several deposits in the upper third. Deposits increase in the branching area, but it is largely free from blockage everywhere.
- The organs of the throat are now examined. The tongue, pharynx, larynx and thyroid gland are missing, as is the upper part of the esophagus. Only part of the cervical musculature is present. Only the bifurcation of the trachea is left, with one small part downward, and one section of the main bronchial branch, each 3 cm long. The mucuos membrane in the left bronchus reveals isolated small blood infiltration, but otherwise there are no unusual findings.
- There is a cyst-like alteration in the mediastinum as large as a pigeon's egg, which is opened. It contains clear, watery liquid. There are bean-sized dark reddish black lymphatic nodes in the area of the tracheal bifurcation.
- The heart has been dissected with numerous incisions into small to extremely small parts. The inner lining and valvular apparatus are tender. There are separate flat, soft deposits in the vicinity of the sortie starves. The valvular apparatus appears to have been fully functional, however. The coronary arteries are partially opened, partially shown through parallel transverse sections. The coronary, arteries are uniformly wide and were most certainly passable. The interior walls of the coronary arteries exhibit occasional, whitish yellow soft deposits, their clearance is usually only minimally constricted, only the left descending branch exhibits a somewhat more extreme constriction affecting some 50 % of the clearance. As far as still can be judged, the cardiac musculature is not thickened, appearing brown and free from deposits on incision. The oval gap is slit-shaped open.
- The aorta exhibits patchlike, whitish yellow soft deposits immediately following its exit. Starting from the arch, there are numerous soft as well as calcium-hard deposits, increasing notably downwards. These patches have for the most part ruptured-like ulcers in the area of the abdominal aorta.
- The large pelvic and thigh arteries also display calcium-hard deposits, with medium constriction in the thigh arteries.
- The renal arteries are passable on both sides, with no appreciable clearance constriction.
- Parts of both lungs are present but not in their entirety, the surface of the lungs is pale gray-blue, partially smooth and shiny, partially with deposits. The lung tissue has an even, red colour on the incision, and no inflammation or inhalation areas can be recognised. The branches of the pulmonary arteries exhibit in part sparse, yellowish deposits on their walls, the bronchi have not been opened, they are clear, the mucous membrance is normal.
- The liver is completely missing, as is the gall bladder.
- The spleen is present, dissected with several incisions, and is apparently of typical size. The spleen tissue has softened somewhat.
- The adrenal glands and kidneys are missing, the bladder is present and opened in the front with a hemisection. The bladder is very distinctly fasciculated.
- There is a pea-sized polyp in the bladder.
- The prostate gland is very large, in all as large as a tangerine. The urethra has not been opened. It is now opened and it is revealed that it is extremely constricted in the area of the prostate gland. The prostate gland, consisting of two lobes, shows numerous, precisely defined, soft lumps on the incision. The seminal vesicles display fibrous alterations.
- The stomach is present and opened; the gastric mucous membrane has been partially digested, flat, gray-red, without defects and scars. The small intestine and colon are present in their entirety. They have not been opened. The small intestine contains a small amount of initially mucous, then pasty material, grayish brown in colour and with no particularly strong odor. The colon contains greenish-brown feces of pasty to lumpy consistency.
- The pancreas is attached to the stomach and is reddish brown and softened.
- The pulmonary arteries as well as the femoral veins are clear.
- The following injuries on the skeletal system were found: In the area of the bony thorax, ribs 2 through 8 on the left are fractured along the mid-clavicular line, accompanied in some cases with perforation and distinct bleeding. On the right, ribs 2 through 7 have been fractured along the mid-clavicular line with distinct bleeding without injury to the costal pleura. The breastbone has been fractured horizontally between the appendage of the 3rd and 4th rib, with distinct bleeding.
- Included with the body, there are also some intact hard dura mater in the plastic bag.
- One testicle is also included, which has been cut open. The second testicle could not be found.
- At the request of Dr. Seidl, the palms of the hands are now thoroughly examined, but no changes, in particular no deposit discovered.
Condition following pathological-anatomical autopsy, including opening of all three body cavities and appropriate dressing of the body,
a plastic bag is enclosed in the body cavity, partially dissected organs: the liver, gall bladder, adrenal gland, kidney, upper throat organs, one testicle are missing; impression mark proceeding circularly around the neck, with the highest point - as far as could be determined after the dissection incision - in the area behind the left ear, double-tracked impression mark, circularly traceable in the vicinity of the nape of the neck,
two single, localised small hemorrhages in the vicinity of the nape of the neck on both sides of the center line of the spinal column, at the same height as the impression mark,
clearly defined, point-shaped congestive hemorrhages in the conjunctive membranes of the eyelids, in the vicinity of the ear and inside the subcutaneous layers of the scalp,
extreme general atheromatosis and arteriosclerosis, predominantly with wide, rigid coronary arteries and ulcerous ruptures in the vicinity of the abdominal aorta, nodular prostate hypertrophy with a pronouncedly fasciculated bladder,
mediastinal cyst as large as a pigeon's egg,
condition following resuscitation, serial rib fractures on both sides of the thorax, fractured breastbone,
pronounced scoliosis in the area of the lumbar spinal column,
bland scars on the flexor side of the left wrist, in typical position, as after attempts to slash the wrist,
bland scar above the left inner ankle,
two bland scars on front of thoracic wall on the left,
distinct swelling (oedema) in the area of both lower legs,
condition following medical measures, punctures on the upper limbs,
poorly developed livor mortis marks not responsive to pressure,
relaxation of rigor mortis.
C. Preliminary report
- The alterations observed during the second autopsy of the body of Mr. Rudolph (sic) Hess are consistent with violence to the neck caused by a ligature.
- The autopsy yielded no indication of death by natural causes.
- a) For purpose of microscopic examination, tissue samples from the brain, heart, lung, pancreas, coronary artery, skin of the neck, left thoracic musculature were placed in formalin and retained as (forensic) exhibits.
b) For purpose of chemical-toxicological examination, samples of brain tissue, stomach lining, contents of small intestine, heart tissue, cerebrospinal fluid and lung tissue as well as blood from the femoral vein were retained.
- We request assignment of further examinations, if required.
- A final report is reserved.
[signature Dr. Pankratz] [signature Dr. Tutsch-Bauer] [signature Prof. Dr. Eisenmenger]
[signature Prof. Dr. Spann]
WS 4: Photographs of Prof. Spann´s autopsy [only 2 of 5]