BONN (Aug. 30)
Anneliese Kappler, wife of the former Rome Gestapo chief, Herbert Kappler and organizer of his controversial escape from a Rome military prison to West Germany, denied last night that any official German authority or any group had aided in the escape attempt.
She also denied receiving financial aid for the escape from any group, but admitted, during a TV interview, that she had received money from various groups representing former SS members. She defended these donations on the grounds that she had spent her entire savings to try and secure her husband’s release and to care for him while he was a prisoner.
Mrs. Kappler said she had received messages of support from people all over the world. Asked by the TV interviewer whether approval had perhaps not come from “the wrong (political) side,” she said she was not “interested” where approval came from. She defended her husband’s shooting of 335 Italian Jews and non-Jews in 1941 in reprisal for a partisan attack on Rome’s SS headquarters, saying he was acting under orders.
Asked whether there weren’t times when such orders should be disobeyed, Mrs. Kappler replied: “One cannot judge this today if one has not experienced war. In practice, refusal to obey orders during war is not possible.” She declined to give details of the escape, saying these would appear in a mass-circulation magazine this week.
Meanwhile, the West German government has denied German press reports that it has secretly reached agreement with the Italian government on a means of ending the Kappler controversy. The reports suggested that Bonn would place Kappler in a German hospital under strict police guard and the Italian government would find this a politically palatable solution to the row over his escape.