Adolf Hitler temporarily protected the Jewish commander of his World War I unit from Nazi persecution, according to a Berlin newspaper.

Ernst Hess in 1912. He and Adolf Hitler served in the same unit during World War I. As a result, Hitler temporarily protected him from Nazi persecution of Jews, according to a letter found by the editor of the Jewish Voice From Germany.
From the Jewish Voice From Germany
Ernst Hess, a judge, was spared between 1940 and 1942, when the extermination of Jews became official, reports the Jewish Voice From Germany, citing a letter signed by SS commander Heinrich Himmler, who stated he was conveying "the Führer's wishes."

Hess and Hitler served in the same unit; Hitler was a corporal and Hess was a superior officer who briefly commanded their unit. Both were wounded during the Battle of the Somme.

In addition to his military service with Hitler, Hess reportedly survived because he was married to a gentile. After he lost his special protection, Hess was rounded up and did forced labor from 1943 until the end of the war in 1945.

His sister, however, was among the millions of Jews murdered by the Nazis.

In its article, the Jewish Voice writes that 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.' "

Himmler's letter was found by Susanne Mauss, a historian and the editor of the Jewish Voice.

"It was a wonderful chance find," she told the Associated Press today. "There had always been rumors but this was the first written reference to a protection by Hitler."

The letter was found in official archives containing files that the Gestapo, ths Nazi secret police, kept on Jewish lawyers and judges. Mauss said its authenticity is corroborated by other documents, including one owned by Hess' surviving daughter, Ursula, whom the paper interviewed.

After the war, Hess turned down an offer to resume his judicial career, and worked for the federal railways. He died in 1983.

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