Karl Friedrich Otto Wolff, 84, a former SS general credited with establishing secret links with the United States that helped end the fighting in Italy in World War II, died July 15 at his home in Rosenheim, near Munich. The cause of death was not reported.
He was a senior figure in the organization of the elite Waffen (Combat) SS. By the end of the war, he held the ranks of obergruppenfuhrer and general der waffen SS.
Gen. Wolff became a member of the Nazi Party in 1931. Two years later, he joined the entourage of Heinrich Himmler, commander of the Schutzstaffel (SS). By 1935, he was Himmler's adjutant, personal chief of staff, and close friend. At the outbreak of war in 1939, he was named liaison officer between the SS and Adolf Hitler's headquarters.
In 1943, Gen. Wolff was named military governor and head of the SS in northern Italy. In early March 1945, convinced that the war was lost, he made contact with Allen Dulles, an official of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Switzerland. The two men were largely responsible for negotiating an early end to the fighting.
On May 2, 1945, all German forces in Italy capitulated to the Allies.
After the war, Gen. Wolff was sentenced by a British court to four years imprisonment. He was released in 1949.
In 1962, he was arrested by West German authorities and two years later was found guilty of crimes relating to genocide and sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. He was released for reasons of health after serving six years. The judge who sentenced him described him as "Himmler's bureaucrat of death."
In the early 1970s, Gen. Wolff claimed that in 1943 Hitler had ordered him to prepare plans to surround the Vatican and to abduct Pope Pius XII, whom Hitler blamed for the overthrow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Gen. Wolff said he was told to organize a special, elite German unit for the task, but Hitler eventually changed his mind and the plan was called off.