Hitler’s plot to kidnap the POPE: Nazi leader planned to send in special SS commando unit to seize Pius XII from the Vatican
Vatican publishes details of plot to kidnap Pope and take him to Germany
US and British intelligence said Nazis would pretend to protect Pius XII
Rome got wind of the advanced plan and worked up contingency for Pope
He would have had to hide in a library for three days before being rescued
An unearthed report has revealed Adolf Hitler had intended to send in a special team to kidnap the Pope during World War Two. The Vatican has published the details of a plot forged by the Nazi leader to kidnap the wartime Pope Pius XII and bring him to Germany. Antonio Nogara, son of Bartolomeo Nogara, the former director of the Vatican museums, is the now-deceased author of the report which states Hitler intended for an elite SS commando squad to sieze the pontiff.
As reports swirled in Rome at the time of a possible abduction – after Nazi Germany occupied the city – the Vatican made plans to keep him safe in the Tower of the Winds which rises above a wing of the Vatican Library. The kidnapping plot has been revealed in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. Nogara reported that the priest Giovanni Battista Montini – the later Pope Paul VI – visited Nogara’s father on a winter night in late January or early February 1944 in his service apartment at the Vatican. Montini told him information from US and British military intelligence, which said there was an ‘advanced plan’ by the Nazis to ‘arrest and deport of the Holy Father’.
The Nazis were going to pretend that they were taking Pius in order to protect him. According to the report, the two men opted for the library tower as a suitable hiding place. Montini said the Pope would have to be hidden for two to three days until the arrival of a special allied commando squad who would parachute into the countryside near Rome to come and rescue him. Antonio Nogara died in 2014 and his text about the papal kidnap plot was discovered only after his death and only now published.
The publication confirms several post-war rumours about the intended kidnapping of the controversial Pontiff who was often called ‘Hitler’s Pope’ because of his seeming reluctance to speak out about the Nazi Holocaust of the Jews. Critics allege that the time he spent in pre-war Germany made him sympathetic to the Nazi cause. But his supporters say he walked a fine line between caring for his flock and trying not to make their lives untenable in those countries under Nazi occupation. SS General Karl Wolff stated he had been ordered on September 13, 1943 to kidnap the Pope the following year. He claims Hitler told him: ‘I have a special mission for you, Wolff. ‘It will be your duty not to discuss it with anyone before I give you permission to do so. ‘Only Reichsfuhrer (Himmler) knows about it. Do you understand?’
‘I want you and your troops to occupy Vatican City as soon as possible, secure its files and art treasures, and take the Pope and Curia to the north. ‘I do not want him to fall into the hands of the allies or to be under their political pressure and influence. ‘The Vatican is already a nest of spies and a centre of anti-national socialist propaganda.’
The plan was never put into operation. After the war pro-Nazi priests in the Vatican helped many war criminals escape from Europe using either Red Cross or Vatican passports. They included Franz Stangl, commander of both the Sobibor and Treblinka extermination camps where more than one million people were murdered, and Adolf Eichmann, the logistical organizer of the Holocaust which claimed six million lives.