BONN, AUG. 24 -- Adolf Hitler's former deputy Rudolf Hess was buried in a private ceremony at an undisclosed location, his family said today. The surprise action was taken to avoid neo-Nazi demonstrations at the funeral, the statement suggested.
Separately, a British spokesman in West Berlin said Hess, who died a week ago, committed suicide by hanging himself with an electrical extension cord.
The British mission had said Wednesday that Hess died of asphyxiation and was found with a cord wrapped around his neck, but it had not clarified how he killed himself.
Today's British statement was issued with the approval of the United States and France but without the endorsement of the Soviet Union, which has sought to conceal that Hess committed suicide. Hess had been in the joint custody of the four allied powers since being convicted of crimes against peace in 1946 after the allied victory over Hitler's Germany.
Hess tied a noose around his neck with one end of the cord, which was attached to a window frame in a garden hut at Spandau prison where he was held, an allied source said. He then slumped back and allowed his body weight to pull the cord tight around his neck, the source said.
The Hess family statement was issued a day after Hess' son, Wolf-Ruediger Hess, was hospitalized in Munich after suffering a stroke.
The family had planned to hold the funeral Wednesday in the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel, where Rudolf Hess had requested that he be buried in a family plot.
But Wunsiedel Mayor Karl Walter told a news conference this afternoon that Wolf-Ruediger Hess' nephew, Wieland, had phoned him to say the burial had already been conducted "very quietly."
The statement hinted that the family had been disturbed by weekend demonstrations in and around Wunsiedel by neo-Nazi supporters of Hess. Police have detained 79 extremists, of whom 17 still were being held today.
Hess' "last will" had been to be buried "in a dignified manner" in Wunsiedel, the family statement read by Walter said.
But the family had made other arrangements "in view of the developments that were emerging there, over which the family had no influence," the statement said.