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A Special Mission
Cover of A Special Mission
A Special Mission
Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII
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In September 1943, Adolf Hitler, furious at the ouster of Mussolini, sent German troops into Rome and ordered SS General Karl Wolff, who had been Heinrich Himmler's chief aide, to occupy the Vatican and kidnap (and, perhaps, kill) Pope Pius XII. At the same time, plans were being made to deport Rome's Jews to Auschwitz. Wolff began playing a dangerous game: stalling Hitler's plot against the pope, whom he hoped would save him from the noose in case Germany lost the war. To save Pius, Wolff and fellow conspirators blackmailed him into silence when the Jews were rounded up, hoping that Hitler would rescind his order.

In September 1943, Adolf Hitler, furious at the ouster of Mussolini, sent German troops into Rome and ordered SS General Karl Wolff, who had been Heinrich Himmler's chief aide, to occupy the Vatican and kidnap (and, perhaps, kill) Pope Pius XII. At the same time, plans were being made to deport Rome's Jews to Auschwitz. Wolff began playing a dangerous game: stalling Hitler's plot against the pope, whom he hoped would save him from the noose in case Germany lost the war. To save Pius, Wolff and fellow conspirators blackmailed him into silence when the Jews were rounded up, hoping that Hitler would rescind his order.

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About the Author-
  • Dan Kurzman, a former correspondent for The Washington Post, is the author of fifteen previous books and the winner of five major literary and journalistic awards. His books include Fatal Voyage: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis; Left to Die; The Tragedy of the USS Juneau; and Genesis 1948: The First Arab-Israeli War. He lives in North Bergen, New Jersey.

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  • AudioFile Magazine In 1943 Hitler attempted to kidnap Pope Pius XII so the Germans could occupy the Vatican. The Nazis were also planning to deport the Roman Jews to Auschwitz. SS General Karl Wolff, Heinrich Himmler's chief aide, was charged with carrying out these orders. George Wilson reads this WWII history in an even and engaged tone, effortlessly recounting each action of the convoluted plot, which Kurzman researched, in part using primary sources. The result is unexpected international intrigue as Wolff attempts to forestall both the kidnapping and the mass deportation while the Vatican tries to reign in the Reich's growing power through political and religious edicts. M.B.K. (c) AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 23, 2007
    V
    eteran popular historian Kurzman (The Bravest Battle
    ) relates how a Hitler-Himmler order in 1943 to kidnap the pope and seize Vatican files and treasures was twice delayed and finally undermined by a group of high German officers and officials in Rome. The foilers were headed by the SS leader in Italy, Gen. Karl Wolff, whom Kurzman interviewed before his death in 1984. Kurzman demonstrates that Hitler wanted the Vatican neutralized because he thought the pope had aided the overthrow of Mussolini in 1943 and feared that the Church’s leader would denounce the Final Solution in general and the imminent deportation of Rome’s Jews in particular. Wolff and others in Rome, meanwhile, hoped to use the pope as an intermediary for a negotiated peace and an Anglo-American-German campaign against the Soviets. Kurzman also touches upon such related topics as the 1933 Nazi-Vatican Concordat, how Pius’s silence on the murder of the Jews was partly rooted in excessive fears of a Soviet takeover of the Vatican, and the curious role of Rome’s chief rabbi, Israel Zolli, who ultimately converted to Catholicism. Kurzman does a good job of telling a suspenseful and little-known story of WWII intrigue.

  • Los Angeles Times on No Greater Glory One of the greatest survival stories of World War II. A tale full of heroism and courage in the face of genuine horror.
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A Special Mission
A Special Mission
Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII
Dan Kurzman
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