a) Rudolf Hess affair. Political blow of the first order. Danger of an extremist political course.
I believe the Radke mentioned was SS Lt. Col. Radke of the Das Reich division, who appears many times in the Diary and seems to be an advisor to Halder on matters relating to propaganda and morale issues. I'm curious about their discussion that day over the possibility that there could be a "danger of an extremist political course" following the flight of Rudolf Hess to England, which occurred a few days prior to their meeting. Was there a general belief that Rudolf Hess was a moderating influence over Hitler? Is there any evidence that there was in fact a noticeable change in the "political course" towards a more extremist position which could be attributed to Hess's departure? Or are there other possible explanations for Halder and Radke's concerns?
I'm aware that Martin Bormann assumed most of Hess's duties, and that he was regarded as a conniving and brutal extremist himself, but Bormann had already been serving alongside Hess as his secretary for many years, and had established himself fairly well within the inner circle already in his own right, so the transition from Hess to Bormann at Hitler's side, does not in itself seem a dramatic or obvious change of course at first glance. The Wikipedia entry states:-
"Bormann was invariably the advocate of extremely harsh, radical measures when it came to the treatment of Jews, the conquered eastern peoples, and prisoners of war. He signed the decree of 31 May 1941 extending the 1935 Nuremberg Laws to the annexed territories of the East. Thereafter, he signed the decree of 9 October 1942 prescribing that the permanent Final Solution in Greater Germany could no longer be solved by emigration, but only by the use of "ruthless force in the special camps of the East", that is, extermination in Nazi death camps. A further decree, signed by Bormann on 1 July 1943, gave Adolf Eichmann absolute powers over Jews, who now came under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Gestapo."
So it appears that Bormann wasted no time in putting his name to an extension of the Nazi Nuremberg racial laws just weeks after Hess's departure, and that he was central in signing off many of the most brutal Nazi policies over the following years.
Hess, on the other hand, is mentioned in Alexander Dallin's, German Rule in Russia 1941-1945, as a member of "the loyal opposition":-
"The loyal opposition saw the danger clouds gathering -- clouds that were of Hitler's own making. But -- except for Hess, who removed himself from the scene -- the critics were no more than meteorologists who could record and sometimes foresee the change in political climate. Their concept of duty and patriotism paralyzed those among them who were in a position to act." (p.17).
The question I'm asking is to what extent was there a real change of course after Hess's departure. It seems that the Nazi regime was on a trajectory towards a more extreme outlook with the decision to embark on a War of Annihilation in the Soviet Union, but to what extent was this policy made worse by Hess's absence, and more interestingly, to what extent was this change predicted and acquiesced by the German leadership? Was Hess's departure a ripple in a rising pond of increasing extremism, or is the correlation between the ascendancy of Martin Bormann and the accelerated darkening of the soul of the Nazi regime in mid 1941 more than a coincidence? Were Halder and Radke alone in their concern about the political consequences of Hess's departure, or was there a more general awareness and/or concern that a significant political shift was taking place at that moment?