Hannes Richter

Paul Hofmann (1912 – 2009)

Hannes Richter

Paul Hoffmann, born in Vienna, known for his resistance against the rise of the Nazis in Austria and as an informer for the Allies while serving on the staff of the commanders in occupied Rome during WW II, died at the age of 96 on January 2, 2009 in Rome. Years later he became a foreign news correspondent for the New York Times and an author of travel books.

An ardent opponent of Nazism, Hofmann fled his native Vienna for Rome after German troops occupied Austria in 1938. He was eventually drafted into the German army and posted to Rome, where he became the personal interpreter for two successive Nazi commanders, Gen. Rainer Stahel and Gen. Kurt Maetzer.

After befriending members of Rome’s anti-Fascist Resistance, Hofmann passed on news to the anti-Nazi underground, including the deportation of Jews from Rome in October 1943 and on the mass murder of 335 Italians at the Ardeatine Caves in 1944.

Hofmann eventually deserted the German army, and after the war was a prosecution witness in the war crimes trial of those generals involved in the mass killing at the Ardeatine Caves.Years after, Hofmann joined the New York Times bureau in Rome, reporting nearly half-a-century on Africa, the Middle East, Brazil and the United Nations as well as the Vatican.

Retiring as a reporter in 1990, he wrote more than a dozen books, mainly on Rome, the Vatican and Italy.