Operation Sunrise (ii)

This was the Allied and German series of talks in Switzerland about a German surrender in Italy (April/May 1945).

Otherwise known as ‘Crossword’, the talks were initiated by SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Karl Wolff (the German armed forces’ plenipotentiary to the government of the Fascist ‘Salò republic’ in northern Italy, and the officer responsible for the internal security of German-occupied northern Italy) by means of intermediaries in Switzerland with Field Marshal the Hon. Sir Harold Alexander and a few other high-ranking Allied commanders of General Mark W. Clark’s Allied 15th Army Group, and also with Allen W. Dulles, the US intelligence-gathering chief in Switzerland.

Wolff’s object was to secure terms for Generaloberst Heinrich-Gottfried von Vietinghoff-Scheel’s (on 2 May General Friedrich Schulz’s) Heeresgruppe ‘C’, but his plans were hampered by the removal of Generalfeldmarschall Albert Kesselring, the Oberbefehlshaber ‘Südwest’, to the position of Oberbefehlshaber ‘West’, and the refusal of the new German overall commander in Italy, von Vietinghoff-Scheel, to have anything to do with Wolff’s scheme until he had informed Adolf Hitler of the withdrawal of Heeresgruppe ‘C’ to the line of the Po river. Only then did von Vietinghoff-Scheel permit Wolff to travel to Alexander’s headquarters at Caserta on 28 April. A surrender was then negotiated to come into effect at 18.00 on 2 May.