Two volumes of the disputed "diaries" of Adolf Hitler have been brought across the Atlantic by the editor-in-chief of Stern, the West German news magazine, to dramatize his case for their authenticity in an American media blitz.
Stern editor-in-chief Peter Koch, in an interview here today, offered no new information to back up his claim. He said portions of the volumes will be returned to a West German crime laboratory for further scientific tests to try to verify that they are the work of Hitler rather than clever forgers.
Koch and the diary volumes were accompanied here by the son of Hitler's chief deputy, Rudolph Hess, whose dramatic flight from the Third Reich to England 42 years ago is the subject of one of the diary entries so far disclosed by Stern.
Wolf Ruediger Hess, 45, a consulting engineer, said he came to publicize his plea that the United States, Soviet Union, France and Great Britain set up a special commission to take testimony about the diaries from his still-imprisoned father.
"I believe the diaries are genuine," Hess said in an interview. He described his father, 89, as "the still-living crown witness" who could "quite simply clear up" the intense controversy that has raged since Stern announced it had come into possession of some 60 volumes of Hitler's diaries.
Hess, despite accounts over the years sharply to the contrary, spoke "of the clearness of my father's mind." He said his father, incarcerated at Spandau Prison in Berlin for the last 38 years, is one of two persons who knew of the existence of the diaries, which encompass the Hitler years of 1933 to 1945, but is forbidden under terms of his imprisonment to speak to anyone about that era. The other is Martin Bormann, who succeeded Hess as Hitler's chief aide, and who has never been found since the war.
Wolf Hess also disclosed that he sent a telegram last week to the Bonn ambassadors of the four powers who still run Spandau Prison. "The testimony of my father in this matter will be in the interest of historical truth," he said in the telegram.
Koch acknowledged that neither he nor anyone other than Stern reporter Gerd Heidemann knows who is claimed to have turned over the "diaries." Koch said an unspecified sum had been paid in cash to someone known only to Heidemann, who claims to have solved the case during some four years of journalistic investigation.
"Maybe he's a former SS man," Koch said. "I hope this money won't go into bad hands."
Koch said additional pages from the documents would be sent back to the West German crime laboratory in Koblenz for "further examination." The laboratory initially authenticated that the handwriting was identical to that of Hitler.
But Koch said he did not know what scientific methods had been used in the lab's analysis. "They didn't tell us," he said.
No ink tests were made by the crime lab, he added, because "We were told that ink tests prove nothing . . . . It's too easy to make ink seem old."
The documents also were not subjected to the latest chemical and light-sensing tests for picking up fingerprints on very old documents. "Maybe we should have done it," he said, "but we didn't because we were positive."
Koch indicated the decision to send more documents to the crime laboratory in Koblenz was in response to concerns expressed by officials of the German Federal Archives, also at Koblenz, which would become the permanent custodian of the volumes.
"It's in our Stern's and the Archives' common interest to do further evaluations," he said.
Stern has been criticized by scholars and document experts in several countries for failing to submit its material to newly available high-technology techniques for spotting forgeries, in which lasers, ultraviolet light and chemicals are used.
It also has been condemned for exploiting the find for commercial profit without first completely satisfying the historians of its validity.
Koch, a balding, trim man, sunburned from an outing at Jones Beach over the weekend, said in response to questions about Stern's motivation, "Of course it was commercial." But he also insisted that the "discovery," which he described as "one of the biggest stories after the end of the Second World War," was a journalistic coup.
"I would go to hell to get information," Koch said. "We always put journalism first."
He said deals have been made for television specials based on the material and for book publication of the volumes' account of Rudolph Hess' flight. If the diaries are authentic, Hitler secretly approved the Hess flight in an effort to keep England out of the war and free the Nazi forces to attack the Soviet Union without combat on a second front.
Many historians have believed the opposite: that Hess acted on his own. If true, the diaries' version would cast the British in the role of turning down a peace overture that could have kept millions of soldiers from the battlefields of World War II.
Wolf Hess, who with his high forehead and wavy dark hair bears strong resemblance to his father, argued in excellent English that "the family" has always believed his father's trip was undertaken with Hitler's knowledge. He said it never has been credible to him that such a flight could be made from wartime Germany, in an unmarked plane, unless there had been "a silent agreement."
Wolf Hess and Koch pointed out that British documents that could clear up those questions remain sealed in London under the strictest security classifications and will not be made public until the year 2017.
Wolf Hess also said his mother has seen the portions of the diary purporting to contain Rudolph Hess' signatures. "My mother is convinced these are the signatures of her husband," he said.
Stern editor Koch will try to win over the American public during the next few days through the medium of network television. He has accepted invitations to appear on Good Morning America (ABC, WJLA), the CBS Morning News (WDVM), the Today Show (NBC, WRC) and Nightline (ABC, WJLA).
He said he brought with him the first and last of the Hitler diaries, those covering the years 1932 and 1945. Asked during the long interview if he could show them to Washington Post reporters, he said they would be shown here only on television.