Walther Hess

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Walther Hess
Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F009910-0016, Auswärtiges Amt, Handelsvertrag mit Irland.jpg
Hess (right) in 1961 with Irish Ambassador to Germany William Warnock celebrating the conclusion of a trade deal.
Born (1900-03-12)12 March 1900
Died 26 August 1986(1986-08-26) (aged 86)
Alma mater University of Gießen
University of Tübingen
University of Munich
University of Göttingen
Occupation Public servant and diplomat

Walther Hess (12 March 1900 – 26 August 1986) was a German diplomat who served as the first Ambassador to Australia.

Early life and education

Born in Frankfurt am Main, Hesse-Nassau, Prussia, on 12 March 1900, after school education Hess studied law and political science at the universities of Gießen, Tübingen, Munich and Göttingen and in 1923 was granted his doctor of law with a thesis entitled "Family Maintenance at convocation".[1]

Diplomatic career

In 1925 he joined the German Foreign Office as an Attaché and graduated from the state examinations for the consular and diplomatic service. In 1927 he was appointed vice-consul in Toruń, Poland, and in 1928 was Secretary of Legation in Kovno. From 1929 to 1932 he was vice-consul in Jerusalem in the British mandated territory of Palestine, and from 1932 to 1938 he was Secretary of the Legation in Belgrade, Romania. In 1938 he was transferred into inactive service for "political reasons", although the real reason was due to his wife being Jewish, and in 1944 took early retirement.[2] From 1938 to 1945, Hess moved abroad into the private sector and was the representative of the Reemtsma tobacco company in Occupied Greece and neutral Turkey.[3]

In early 1950 the reconstituted Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany reactivated his commission as a diplomat and on 30 January 1952 Hess was sent to Australia to become the first German Ambassador to Australia.[4] Upon departing at Victoria Dock in Melbourne, Hess was greeted by a group holding placards calling him a Nazi, a charge echoed by Jewish representative groups in Australia, an allegation he vehemently denied: "I know that the German people under Hitler did great harm to the Jewish people. Many of them must always feel bitterness, but I, too, suffered under Hitler. My wife's people were killed by him, and I had to leave my country."[2] Presenting his credentials to Governor-General Sir William McKell on 9 July 1952, Hess took the role of repairing Germany's relations with Australia: "May this event mark a break with a deplorable past which has inflicted so much suffering also upon the people of Australia. It is the sincere desire of my Government to participate most actively in the universal struggle against the distress which the last war left in its wake."[5] Assisted by a small staff of nine, Hess initially based the embassy in various hotels in Sydney.[2] However, in 1955, with the construction of new embassy premises, Hess moved the embassy to Canberra. In January 1953 Hess visited South Australia to inspect the growing German community there.[6] In the last years of his service in Australia, Hess served as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.[7]

From 1959 to 1960, Hess was appointed as ambassador in Mexico City, and, from 1960 to 1962, he returned to Germany as Deputy Director-General of the Foreign Office, with special responsibility for international trade policy, in Bonn. On 10 September 1962, Hess was given his final posting as Ambassador to Morocco, serving until 31 May 1965. In retirement Hess returned to Australia, living in St Ives, New South Wales, until his death in 1986.


  1. ^ In German as: "Familienunterhalt bei Einberufung", published by Verlag Schweitzer, Munich 1943.
  2. ^ a b c "STIR AGAINST DIPLOMAT". The Sunday Herald. Sydney: National Library of Australia. 22 June 1952. p. 3. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  3. ^ Tobias C. Bringmann, Handbuch der Diplomatie, 1815-1963: Auswärtige Missionschefs in Deutschland, 1815-1963: p. 140.
  4. ^ "Dr. W. Hess To Be Ambassador". The Canberra Times. National Library of Australia. 31 January 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  5. ^ "GERMAN ENVOY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 10 July 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  6. ^ "WEST GERMAN AMBASSADOR ON S.A. VISIT". The Chronicle. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 8 January 1953. p. 2. Retrieved 15 May 2015.
  7. ^ "Japanese will be Dean of Diplomats". The Age. 20 February 1958. p. 3.
Diplomatic posts
New title Ambassador of Germany to Australia
Succeeded by
Hans Mühlenfeld
Preceded by
Gebhardt von Walther
Ambassador of Germany to Mexico
Succeeded by
Richard Hertz
Preceded by
Herbert Müller-Roschach
Ambassador of Germany to Morocco
Succeeded by
Heinz Voigt
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