Wolff, General Karl, 1900-

As senior SS Commander in Italy, Wolff secretly negotiated the surrender of Italy to the Allies in March and April 1945. Wolff was a very close friend of HIMMLER and served as his Chief of Staff until the war and as his liaison with Hitler’s HQ until 1943. He had had experience in Italian affairs since 1930 and accompanied HITLER to Rome in 1940. When Italy surrendered to the Allies on 8 September 1943 Wolff was appointed military governor of northern Italy. When MUSSOLINI returned to Italy on 27 September, Wolff accompanied him and helped to re-establish a Fascist regime under German domination, the Salo Republic. He served as liaison officer with Mussolini, organized the transport of Italian troops to Germany for training and fought the partisans.

However in March 1945 Wolff opened negotiations with Alien DULLES of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Switzerland for the surrender of the German Army in Italy. He released an OSS agent and a partisan leader as sign of good faith. By the end of April the negotiations were almost complete and Wolff had already visited Switzerland twice. At this point however the Russians began pressuring the Allies for excluding them and almost ended the project; Wolff’s family were arrested on suspicion and Wolff had to send them out of the country. Finally, however, on 23 April Wolff and Vietinghoff, the general in command, agreed to disregard Berlin, call off resistance and allow the partisans to take over; on 29 April they signed a surrender and on 2 May it went into effect. Wolff had managed to negotiate secretly while maintaining relations with Berlin, MUSSOLINI and with the partisans.

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