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Veteran 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. (June)
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By September 1943, the tide of battle had turned against Germany. As the Russian army steadily advanced from the east, British and American bombers were reducing German cities to rubble. As Hitler's physical and mental condition deteriorated, he often proposed wildly reckless and impractical schemes. One of those involved invading the Vatican and seizing the pope. According to Kurzman, a former foreign correspondent, the plot was serious and was to be implemented by SS General Karl Wolff, who was Kurzman's principal source for this intense, absorbing, but not fully convincing tale. According to Wolff, he foiled the plan through delay while obtaining the pope's silence as the SS rounded up Italian Jews and transported them to the death camps. As seen here, Wolff is arrogant, cynical, and manipulative. Still, he seems to have been blessed with a degree of personal charm, not quite fitting the bill as a monster. Some of his claims seem credible, but others can never be verified; his account is a wild ride loaded with surprising twists and turns. Jay Freeman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
This book allows the reader to understand the minds of the men involved in this moving and dramatic time in world history.Published on July 26, 2013 by Gregory
This is a pretty quick and easy read, and it moves quickly due to the pace of writing and the strength of the narrative. Read morePublished on July 12, 2013 by Antonino
"A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII" was an entertaining book to read especially if you are a history buff like myself. Read morePublished on June 24, 2013 by William L. Brown
Had to put this book down after 20 pages or so. This is not history, but a sensational journalism. In reality, there is not s shred of evidence that supports author's claims (or... Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by Oleg Lions
The title of this book is misleading--there is actually very little in the book about the plot. There is more about the concept and the risk of a kidnapping. Read morePublished on May 5, 2012 by L. G. Paisley
Looking for further verification of my premise of Pius, Hitler, the World War II scenario I took the journey that Kurzman offers. Read morePublished on November 9, 2010 by Ann Lackey
While an interesting read, there really doesn't feel like there is much new here. What makes this book important is that Pius is currently in the news and is being considered for... Read morePublished on January 19, 2010 by Patrick M. Carroll
At first, I did not think this book and its premise -- which claims the Nazis had a plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII -- were for real. Read morePublished on June 12, 2009 by Jean E. Pouliot
This book presents the reader with intrigue worthy of a top notch mystery and history that holds your attention like a novel. Read morePublished on June 7, 2009 by James Gallen