ROME, JUNE 16, 2009 (Zenit.org).- New evidence published today by the newspaper of the Italian bishops gives more credence to the belief that Adolf Hitler had planned to either kidnap or kill Pope Pius XII.
It has long been conjectured that Hitler had ordered the SS commander in Italy, General Karl Wolf, to seize the Vatican and take the Pope.
Dan Kurzman wrote about it in his 1997 book “A Special Mission: Hitler’s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius the XII,” which is based on interviews with Wolf himself. Wolf’s accounts, however, could never be verified.
New evidence published today by Avvenire now points to the role of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (the Third Reich’s main security office) in devising a plot to take out the Pope.
The newspaper cited the testimony of Niki Freytag Loringhoven, 72, the son of Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven, who during World War II was a colonel in the High Command of the German Armed Forces.
According to the son, days after Hitler’s Italian ally, Benito Mussolini, had been arrested at the orders of King Victor Emmanuel III, Hitler ordered the Reichssicherheitshauptamt to devise a plot to punish the Italian people by kidnapping or murdering Pius XII and the king of Italy.
Hearing of the project, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German counterintelligence service, informed his Italian counterpart, General Cesare Amè, during a secret meeting in Venice from July 29-30, 1943.
Also present at the meeting were colonels Erwin von Lahousen and Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven, who both worked in Section II of German counterintelligence, which dealt primarily with sabotage.
Canaris, Von Lahousen and Freytag von Loringhoven had all been part of the German resistance against the Nazis.
Amè, upon returning to Rome, spread news of the plans against the Pope and the king in order to block them, which proved successful. The plan was quickly dropped.
According to Avvenire, this testimony coincides with the deposition given by Von Lahousen during the Nuremberg war crimes trials on Feb. 1,1946 (Warnreise Testimony 1330-1430).
Canaris was later dismissed as the head of German intelligence in February 1944, put under house arrest, and then executed in 1945.
The two colonels participated with Claus Graf Schenk von Stauffenberg in the failed July 20 Plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944.