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Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff

Karl Wolff (2nd from the right) together with, from left to right: Heinrich Himmler
Karl Wolff (2nd from the right) together with, from left to right: Heinrich Himmler (far l.), Reinhard Heydrich (l.) and an unidentified assistant (far r.) at the Obersalzberg, May 1939.

Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff (May 13, 1900 - July 17, 1984) was a high-ranking member of the Nazi SS. He held the rank of SS-Obergruppenführer and General of the Waffen-SS.

Wolff was born in Darmstadt, Germany, and joined the German Army during World War I, leaving as a Lieutenant. In 1931 Wolff joined the Nazi Party and in 1932 the SS, and worked his way up to being Chief of Staff, Main Office Personal Staff Reichsführer SS in 1933. From February to October 1943, he served as the Military Governor and Supreme SS and Police Leader of northern Italy. A recent report in the Italian newspaper Avvenire suggested that Hitler ordered Wolff to kidnap Pope Pius XII, but he refused. In May of 1945, Wolff negotiated the surrender of all German forces in Italy during the controversial secret Operation Sunrise.

Wolff was tried after World War II by German courts and sentenced to four years imprisonment, but only served a week. However, in 1962 Wolff was again tried and convicted of deporting 300,000 Jews to the Treblinka extermination camp and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Wolff again served only part of his sentence and was released in 1971.

Wolff has been a controversial figure because many believe he was far more privy to the internal workings of the SS and its extermination activities than he acknowledged. In fact, he claimed to have known nothing about the Nazi extermination camps, even though he was a senior general in the SS. Despite this, he openly admits in The World At War that he witnessed an execution of Jewish prisoners with Himmler, going so far as to describe the splatter of brains on Himmler's coat.

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