KARL WOLFF (1906-1975) Colonel-general in the Waffen-SS, liaison officer for Himmler with Hitler, German military governor of Northern Italy. WOLFF AUTHORIZES HIS AIDE TO SURRENDER ITALY TO THE ALLIES Historically crucial A.D.S. on Wolff's personal letterhead as SS-Obergruppenfuhrer and General, and Military Governor of Italy, 1p. 4to., 'Headquarters' [Gestapo Headquarters, Bolzano], Apr. 25, 1945. Wolff pens a document headed 'Power of Attorney', reading in part: 'Hindrich Woll[?] is my Chief Adjutant, SS-Sturmbannfuhrer [Eugen] authorized to conduct proceedings and carry out binding agreements with you...' Old staple hole and some marginal flaws, a small bit of tape residue in blank area, overall very good. This seemingly innocuous document actually served as Wolff's authorization for Major Wenner, with Lieutenant-Colonel Viktor von Schweinitz of the German Army, to sign the German surrender of all forces in Italy. The surrender ceremony was held in the Royal Palace at Caserta on Sunday, April 29, 1945, effective May 2. The signing was the culmination of 'Operation Sunrise', a series of secret negotiations held from February to May 1945 between representatives of Nazi Germany and the United States to arrange a local surrender of German forces in northern Italy. Most of the meetings took place in the vicinity of Bern, Switzerland, and the lead negotiators were Karl Wolff and American OSS agent Allen Dulles. The meetings provoked Soviet suspicion that the Americans were seeking to sign a separate peace with the Germans and led to heated exchanges between Joseph Stalin and Franklin Roosevelt, an early episode of the emerging Cold War. Wolff avoided being present, choosing to flee the region for Bolzano as he was well aware of partisan efforts to capture and execute him. He instead chose to issue Wenner this power of attorney, granting him full authority to sign the surrender - and saving his own skin as Dulles had offered him immunity from war crimes trials indictment. For his part, Dulles had hoped to allow an armed Army Group C to flee into Austria to later invade the Soviet Union, but the end of the war put an end to his schemes. This document is widely reproduced, including on Wikipedia, as being the the official order effecting the German surrender of Italy.

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June 14, 2023 10:00 AM EDT
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