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Nazi Officer Who Extorted Gold Ransom from Rome Jewish Community to Be Tried

The commander of the German police force in Rome during the Nazi occupation of Italy will be placed on trial here shortly on charges of having extorted 50 kilograms in gold from the Jewish community as ransom for 100 Jewish leaders who had been seized as hostages.

The demand for the ransom was made by S.S. Colonel Hans Kappler on September 27, 1943, and the gold was turned over to him in October. Since the Jewish community was unable to raise the amount demanded, Pope Pius personally contributed 12 kilograms of gold to make up the required total. Many of the hostages were subsequently deported, despite payment of the ransom.

In a brief filed as “a friend of the court,” the Jewish Community Council today charged that in addition to extorting the gold, Kappler directed the pillaging of the library of the Rome Rabbinical Seminary. Kappler is also implicated in the Ardeatine Caves massacre, during which more than 300 persons, including a large number of Jews, were murdered in reprisal for the shooting of German soldiers.

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