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Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Monday, 17 January 2011
Plot to capture Adolf Hitler at Lympne aerodrome

Europe could have been a very different place

In the spring of 1941, a top secret plot was being hatched that, if successful, would have changed the face of Europe.

It was a plan to kidnap Adolf Hitler at the aerodrome in Lympne in Kent.

Hitler was to be taken alive from the plane after a rapid descent over The Channel before being bundled into the back of a car and driven to London.

Evidence of the plan can be found in official RAF documents kept at the National Archives in Kew.

The story began in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, when a man named Kiroff walked into the British Military Attaché's office and claimed his brother-in-law, Hans Baur, Hitler's personal pilot, was planning to defect in Hitler's plane, with the Führer on board.

Lympne aerodrome
The plane carrying Hitler was due to land at Lympne aerodrome

"The RAF had to plan for the eventuality of Hitler being brought to Britain," said historian Andy Saunders.

The date set for Baur and Hitler's arrival, 25 March 1941, came and went. The plane never arrived.

Baur spent the rest of the war as Hitler's pilot. So was it really ever likely to happen?

Lionel James Roberts was one of the men employed to bring extra weaponry to the airfield in preparation for Hitler's arrival.

He has since died, but his son recalls being told how secrecy surrounded his father's role in the operation.

"He said to me that in hindsight it was very strange how it had been done," he said.

In fact a few weeks later Rudolph Hess did defect, landing in Scotland by parachute.

A long way from Lympne aerodrome and not quite the prize the RAF were hoping for.

For more on the plot to capture Hitler, watch Inside Out on BBC One South East on Monday 18 January at 7.30pm


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