Himmler voted against
NAZI GERMANY plotted to invade the Vatican during World War 11," seize Pope Pius XII and exile him to a monastery outside of Italy, according to a leading Italian magazine.
Dttgi, a weekly published in Milan. reported that Hitler himself initiated the plan. It said the German dictator was dissuaded by Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler, who convinced Hitler that the action would be a propaganda disaster.
Oggi said it documented its revelation of the project by the testimony of three Germans who are still alive and were in Italy at the time. They are Rudolph Rahn, former German Ambassador to Italy; Eugen Dollman, one of Himmlere SS unit leaders; and Albrecht Von Kessel, wartime secretary of the German Embassy to the Holy See.
According to the article, Hitler entrusted details of the plan to seize Pope Pius to Martin Bormann, his vice-Fuehrer and trusted aide. Bormann in turn devised a tactic labelled "Operation Pontiff". Under it, German troops in Rome were to march into neutral Vatican City at a given signal and capture the Pope. Pius XII was then to have been deported — either to Germany, or to a monastery in neutral Liechtenstein.
The article said that Hitler ordered the plan to be put into effect a few hours before Mussolini fell on July 26. 1943, and that his decision was transmitted to Field Marshal Albert Kesselring. cornmander in chief of the German army in Italy, as well as to the other top German political and military officials in Italy.
According to Eugen 1Dollmann, Pope Pius himself undoubtedly knew of the plan. Dollmann said this was also true of the Secretariat of State's Substitute for Ordinary Affairs, Mgr. Giovanni Battista Montini — the present Pope Paul VI.
Dollmann, telling of Himmler's intervention, said that the SS chief was informed of Hitler's orders by his deputy in Italy. Karl Wolff. Ilimmler went to Hitler and convinced him that the scheme was impossible.