Herbert Kappler

Herbert Kappler

Herbert Kappler

Herbert Kappler (born 29 September 1907 in Stuttgart, † February 9, 1978 in Soltau) was in the time of National Socialism Commander of the Security Police (Sipo) and the SD in Rome. As the person responsible for the massacre in the Ardeatine caves (Fosse Ardeatine) 24 March 1944 he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1948. In Italy, he became a symbol of German war crimes during the Second World War.


Kappler had previously worked for an education and a degree in mathematics from the Technical University in Stuttgart as an electrical engineer in various companies in Württemberg. He took effect on 1 August 1931 the NSDAP and was even before their “takeover” member of the SA or later the SS. After brief period of unemployment in 1933, he was auxiliary police officer at the Württemberg political police in June. In 1937, he presented at the Police Academy in Berlin from his examination as a detective.

Kappler came in the spring of 1939 as a liaison officer to the Italian police in Rome.

In November 1939, he was temporarily in Berlin to interrogate the Burger-assassin George Elser. In 1942, he became a police attaché at the German embassy in Rome.

On 10 September 1943 Kappler took over command of the Security Police and the SD in Rome and began the confiscation of Jewish property. He planned to deport the entire Jewish population of Rome (about 8,000 to 10,000 people). On the night of 15 to 16 October 1943 he sent 1,259 Jews arrested and deported 1,007 of them to Auschwitz. In a telex dated 18 October to Karl Wolff, head of the SS Main Office Personal Staff Reich Leader SS, he boasted of his approach: Still 26 September 1943 Kappler had for the promises that no member of the Jewish community of Rome’ll deported, received 50 kg gold from the community leaders. Such a combination of extortion and fraud turned the SS in other occupied countries against Jewish communities of.

Kappler had SD before the Allied landing at Anzio on 22 January 1944 attempted to suppress any resistance to the German occupation of Rome. To this end, the SD was talking in a residential building in Rome, a foreign command, which was notorious as a torture center.

Herbert Kappler was also responsible for the massacre in the Ardeatine caves in the 1944 335 hostages were shot in March. He had shot five more people before dating the number of victims not just arbitrarily increased by 10, but. To give an example, he brought and other high-ranking SS leaders, including Erich Priebke Karl Hass, Carl-Theodor Schütz and Hans Clemens, the first victims shot in the neck by hand to.

Kappler stood in May 1945 in Bolzano, the British military police. In 1947 he was transferred to the Italian military. He was born on 20 July 1948 to life imprisonment by an Italian military court for the extortion of Jewish gold to 15 years and for the massacre at the Fosse Ardeatine. The court found in all 335 cases, the offense of murder met. His co-accused subordinates were acquitted because they did not have Kappler command can recognize as unlawful. The sentence was 25 October 1952 upheld by the Supreme Military Court of Italy.

Kappler stated, “From the ‘Final Solution’ and ‘extermination camps’ I only found out after 1945.” Protection allegations during his trial that he had selected for shooting Jews because he was “not innocent” I want to kill, make this appear unlikely. He had to serve his sentence at the fortress Gaeta. Later clemency of the President, the Chancellor, the Federal Foreign Minister, but also the German Bishops’ Conference and the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany initially failed at the attitude of the Italian government. Finally in 1976 by ​​a military court pronounced clemency after public protests in Italy by an ordinary court revised. In 1977 he was moved because of a cancer in the Ospedale Militare Celio in Rome. From there he succeeded on 15 August 1977 with the help of his wife, whom he had met as a supporter during detention and married in 1972 to escape to Germany. About the circumstances of the escape were circulating wild speculation. It was said that Kappler’s wife had roped him out of the hospital room on the third floor and then crossed the border to Soltau. More likely, Kappler, since March 1976 the bail was granted, and his wife just left the hospital. The story of the rope team was probably mainly the protection of the Carabinieri, who had to guard Kappler.

Kappler’s escape sparked a wave of protests in Italy and loaded the German-Italian relations. Kappler died a few months later. At his funeral in Soltau participated up to 800 people.

An illustrative example of Kappler’s Roman period provides the confrontation with the Irish priest Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who managed to build a secret organization for Jews, Italian soldiers and other victims who several thousand people from the grasp of an occupying power in monasteries and other hidden quarters. Kappler tried to arrest and kill him. Later O’Flaherty Kappler visited every month in prison. 1959 Kappler converted to Catholicism and was baptized by O’Flaherty. The struggle of resistance against O’Flaherty Kappler was filmed in 1983 under the title The Scarlet and the Black with Christopher Plummer as standard commander Herbert Kappler and Gregory Peck in the role of Monsignor.


•Felix Nicholas Bohr: Escape from Rome.The spectacular end of the “case Kappler” in August 1977. In: Quarterly Journal of Contemporary History 60 (2012), pp. 111-141.

•Ernst Klee: The people lexicon to the Third Reich.Who was that before and after 1945. Penguin Books, second edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 978-3-596-16048-8, entry to Kappler, Herbert, p 299

•Michael Hesemann: The Pope, who defied Hitler – The Truth About Pius XII. Sankt Ulrich Verlag, 1st Edition 2008, ISBN 3-86744-064-6.

•Joachim Staron: Fosse Ardeatine and Marzabotto: German war crimes and Resistenza.History and national myth-making in Germany and Italy (1944-1999). Schoningh, Paderborn 2002.

Electrical Engineer

NSDAP member

SA Member

SS Member

Gestapo personnel

SD Staff

Perpetrators of the Holocaust

Nazi war crimes

Person (German occupation of Italy from 1943 to 1945)


Born 1907

Died in 1978


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