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The Ciano Papers: Rose Garden

acquisition of Ciano Papers (1945),
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The Ciano Papers

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December, the day before the scheduled opening of the trial. The plan at this stage was that once safe in Switzerland, Edda would threaten vengeance by publishing her husband's diary if her father would not relent. Pucci would himself come back with the letter threatening revenge against Mussolini. The arrangements were almost finished, and on the morning of 27 December Pucci and Edda drove off from Ramiola, heading for Como by way of Verona where they had arranged to meet Frau Beetz.
The three met at midday. La Burkhardt, this German interpreter, agent, and go-between, now came forward with the scheme that came to be known as "Operation Conte." She told Edda to return to Ramiola, and there she would receive a proposal from the German authorities that Count Ciano would be freed despite the wishes of the neo-Fascist government if Ciano's documents were turned over to the Germans. The proposal by Frau Beetz was confirmed by a letter from Count Ciano himself .42
The next day, 28 December, Frau Beetz came to General Harster in his office, greatly disturbed. She explained that it was Ciano's fate to be condemned and shot,-but in that case his diary and other documents would be published in America and England. Only if his life were traded for these materials, she indicated, could such publication be prevented. General Harster immediately got in touch with his superior, Kaltenbrunner, who agreed to such an exchange. Kaltenbruunner in turn obtained the consent of Himmler, the leading contender for power in the group immediately surrounding Hitler. These two, as we have noted, were extremely anxious to get hold of Ciano's papers, believing that they would provide the means for
42Pucci Report, pp. 3-4.
Cf. Dombrowski, Twilight and Fall, p. 118. Dombrowski's whole account at this point, his chapter 6, "To Save One Life," pp. 114-125, is largely based on articles which were written by Pucci for Italian newspapers after the war's end. The Marchese Pucci at this time did not know the fate of Frau Beetz and chivalrously avoided any mention of her name or even precise identification, for she was referred to only as "Mr. X." "When Edda Ciano returned to Italy she was repeatedly asked to reveal the true name of `Mr. X.' She always replied that as Pucci had kept it secret there must be good reason for it, and she felt bound to follow his example." But Edda did know that the Allies knew the correct name. (Dombrowski, op. cit., p. 125). Pucci's report, which was both closer to the event and not intended for publication, is much the better source than his newspaper accounts. See also Susmel, Vita sbagliata, pp. 323-325, and Niccoletti, Colliers, 20 April 1946, p. 53.
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Posted: May 08, 2007 08:23 AM
Last Updated: Aug 05, 2011 02:12 PM