ROME (Oct. 19)
The widow of a Nazi war criminal has been barred from entering Italy to promote a book about her late husband, SS Col, Herbert Kappler.
The exclusion order was issued Tuesday by Interior Minister Antonio Gava. He had been asked by Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti to declare Annaliese Kappler of West Germany an undesirable alien.
Kappler planned to hold a press conference here next Saturday to launch her book, which describes how she smuggled her ill husband out of a Rome military hospital in 1977, in a large suitcase.
Leaders of the Italian Jewish community expressed satisfaction with the ban.
Kappler, who had cancer, died shortly after the escape, Excerpts from the book, published in the Turin newspaper La Stampa, show it to be an apologia.
The writer claims her husband was a good man who only carried out orders and that he really wanted to help Jews. She denies Nazi atrocities in Rome during the German occupation.
Kappler was found guilty of, among other things, ordering the massacre of 353 Roman residents in the Ardeatine pits in reprisal for an attack by resistance fighters on a Nazi patrol.
Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff of Rome said Wednesday that Jews are satisfied with the interior minister’s action, but are worried nevertheless.
“We have to be on guard against people who try to falsify history. What will happen when all the eyewitnesses to the Holocaust are gone?” he asked.
Tullia Zevi, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, also expressed satisfaction with the government’s decision.
She said Jews were particularly affronted by Kappler’s planned visit because it coincides with the observance of the 45th anniversary of the deportation of Roman Jews by the Nazis.
It is also the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of racial laws by the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini.
While praising the Italian authorities, Zevi said, “I know too that the West German Embassy and the German Evangelical Church helped avert this visit that would have been in such bad taste.”