740.00119 EW/3–945: Telegram

Mr. Alexander C. Kirk, Political Adviser on the Staff of the Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, to the Secretary of State 31

893. We have received information from American and British sources that General Karl Wolf,32 a high SS officer stationed in north Italy, has arrived at Lugano accompanied by an OKW33 member of Kesselring’s34 staff together with Messrs. Simmer35 and Dollmann.36 Report stated that these men are ready to discuss definite surrender. If this should indeed be the case, SAC37 may consider sending a member of his staff into Switzerland in civilian clothes under secret cover. We have received previous reports in past ten days with regard to desire of Germans in north Italy to negotiate conclusion of hostilities38 but have not heretofore reported to Department because we did not feel there was sufficient reason to take them too seriously. Inasmuch as this latest report would appear to be reliable, we are informing Department on it. If there should be discussions held in Switzerland, conversations, of course, would be conducted only on basis of unconditional surrender.

  1. A copy of this telegram was transmitted to the President under cover of a memorandum from the Acting Secretary, Joseph C. Grew, on March 10; not printed.
  2. Obergruppenführer and General der Waffen SS Karl Wolff.
  3. Oberkommando der Wehrmacht.
  4. Field Marshal Albert Kesselring, German Commander in Chief West.
  5. SS Lt. Zimmer, a German counter-espionage officer in Milan.
  6. SS-Sturmbannführer Eugen Dollmann, head of the Gestapo in Italy and SS representative to the headquarters of Benito Mussolini, former head of the Italian Government, and present head of the Italian Social Republic.
  7. The Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theater, Field Marshal Sir Harold R. L. G. Alexander.
  8. Conversations between German military and diplomatic officers in Italy and Switzerland had been going on for several weeks with the aim of arranging for the surrender of German forces in northern Italy. The Office of Strategic Services’ representative in Bern had been in contact with these German officials, and the Department had been kept informed of the progress of the discussions via reports from the O.S.S. in Washington; none printed. For an account of the negotiations based on O.S.S. reports, see Forrest Davis, “The Secret History of a Surrender,” Saturday Evening Post, September 22, 1945, and September 29, 1945; for an account by one of the Germans involved, see Eugenio Dollmann, Roma Nazista (Milan, 1949), pp. 454–467. For an authoritative account by the head of the O.S.S. in Switzerland, see Allen W. Dulles, The Secret Surrender (New York, Harper and Rowe, 1966).