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Obit. Paul Hofmann, Nazi Interpreter who Deserted and Subsequently Corresponded for the New York Times, dies at 96

Alex Constantine - January 1, 2009

And now for something completely obfuscatory - Paul Hofmann is lauded post mortem for "opposing" Nazi rule ...We learn that he fled his native Austria after the German invasion - for Italy. Smart move - to escape fascism, he emigrated to the birthplace and incubator of international corporate fascism. A contemporary equivalent would be a refugee of the Iraq War fleeing to Afghanistan to escape American military occupiers. In Italy, he somehow wound up in the employ of the very Nazis he fled. (This man lived in a fugue state, apparently - ran straight to the very Nazis he crossed borders to escape!) The Times obituary emphasizes that he "informed" on the Nazis he served as an interpreter, and deserted in 1944 - about the time that the German General Staff had concluded that the military phase of the war had passed and made plans to survive it, about the time it was apparent that Germany was losing. Hofmann was tried in absentia by the Germans for "desertion" - a civilian interpreter? "Desertion" is a military term - could he have been more than a quisling, possibly a recruit to the Nazi Party? It is just like the Times to hire a Nazi collaborator - who played both sides - and polish his public image. True, informed anti-fascists are blacklisted, if not smeared by the Times, but a former Nazi who "opposed" them while in their employ becomes Rome bureau chief for America's ranking "newspaper." Who arranged that? "Anti-Nazi" Allen Dulles? ... - AC

Paul Hofmann, who informed on Nazis, dies at 96

ROME (AP) — Paul Hofmann, an Austrian who informed on his Nazi commanders in occupied Rome and later became a New York Times correspondent and author, has died, the newspaper reported Thursday. He was 96.

Hofmann died in Rome on Tuesday, the Times quoted his son, Alexander Hofmann-Lord, as saying.

An ardent opponent of Nazism, Hofmann fled his native Vienna for Rome after German troops occupied his homeland. He was eventually drafted into the German Army and posted to Rome, where he worked as the personal interpreter for two successive Nazi commanders, Gen. Rainer Stahel and Gen. Kurt Maelzer, the Times said.

After befriending members of Rome's anti-Fascist Resistance, Hofmann passed information gleaned from his work onto the underground, including intelligence on the deportation of Jews from Rome and the killing of 335 Italians at the Ardeatine Caves on the outskirts of Rome, the Times said.

That March 24, 1944 massacre was in retaliation for an attack by Italian resistance fighters that killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit.
Hofmann eventually deserted, hiding his family in a convent and later a safe apartment, the Times said. In November 1944, he was tried in absentia by a German military court in occupied northern Italy and sentenced to death for desertion and treason.

After the war, Hofmann became a news assistant in the Times' Rome bureau. He remained with the paper for nearly a half-century, covering Africa, the Middle East, Brazil and the United Nations, as well as Italy and the Vatican.

Since retiring from the paper in 1990, he wrote more than a dozen books, including "That Fine Italian Hand," "The Seasons of Rome: A Journal" and "O Vatican! A Slightly Wicked View of the Holy See."

Hofmann's wife, Maria Anna Tratter, died in 2003, the Times said. He is survived by his sons, Ernesto Hofmann and Alexander Hofmann-Lord; a grandchild; and Alexander's mother, Christine Lord.

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