Herbert Kappler (September 23rd, 1907 - February 9th, 1978) was the Gestapo chief SS - Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel) of Rome who committed war crimes, his adjutant was SS Captain Erich Priebke.
As the Gestapo chief of Rome, he oversaw the Fosse Ardeatine massacre (with Priebke the chief executioner of the 335 men), made sure the Vatican stayed out of the Nazis way of handling their business and deported Jews to the death camps.
However he is best remembered for trying to stop Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty, a Catholic priest helping Jews and Allied POW's survive the Nazi regime in Rome. Kappler a devout atheist even tried breaking the neutrality rules in the Vatican by trying to assassinate O'Flaherty which never succeeded.
Capture and prison life
Kappler and Priebke were arrested by the Allies for their actions during their rule in Rome. Priebke later escaped from prison and fled with his family to Argentina (until he was located in 1994). Kappler, on the other hand, stayed in prison, his wife divorced him and refused to have his children visit him. His only visitor was his old enemy Hugh O'Flaherty. The two started to become friends, where they discussing literature and religion. In 1959, a remorseful Kappler converted to the Catholic church thus ending his atheist beliefs. Hugh O'Flaherty died in 1963. Kappler later married in 1972 to a nurse named Anneliese Kappler.
In 1975, Kappler was diagnosed with terminal cancer. After Italy denied appeals to have him be with Anneliese at her home in Soltau, West Germany, she carried him out in a large suitcase (Kappler weighed less than 105 pounds at the time) and escaped to West Germany. The Italians unsuccessfully demanded that Kappler is returned, but the West Germany authorities refused to extradite him. Six months after the escape, Herbert Kappler died in his wife's home on February 9th, 1978.