Operation Sunrise was a series of secret negotiations arranged through a number of intermediaries and facilitated by Swiss Army Intelligence. They were held in March 1945 in Switzerland between representitives of the western Allies and Germany.
Allen Dulles (who later became the Director of the CIA) and Waffen-SS General Karl Wolff (a senior Nazi, once known as the "eyes and ears of Heinrich Himmler") were the senior figures involved. After a number of confidence building measures, the main meeting was on the 19th March 1945 in a secluded estate at Ascona (close to the Italian border north of Milan).
The initial aim was to agree on the terms for a German surrender of their forces in Italy.
Allen Dulles and Karl Wolff are pictured above.
Photo credit: Unknown
As a result of the complex negotiations, at 18:00hrs on Saturday 28th April 1945 in the Royal Palace at Caserta, Lt. Col. von Schweinitz and SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Wenner, representing General von Vietinghoff and SS General Wolff were given the surrender document to study by General W. D. Morgan. The two German officers were told that there would be a further meeting at 21:00hrs to confirm that they accepted the details of the document.
The Royal Palace at Caserta, parts of which were used as a US rest centre.
Photo credit: Unknown
At the second meeting, the German officers agreed to the terms of the "Instrument of Surrender" which would be signed at 14:00hrs on Sunday 29th April 1945.
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The German officers (in civilian clothes) formally agree to the terms of surrender before signing the document.....the terms of which came into force at 12:00GMT on May 2nd 1945. General Morgan stands on the RHS with his hands behind his back.
In the group was a Russian observer.
Photo credit: A still from a Pathe News video
SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Wenner signs the Instrument of Surrender whilst Lt. Col. von Schweinitz looks on.
Photo credit: US Army in WW2 website.
The location of Caserta.
Following a surrender in Italy (involving between six and nine hundred thousand enemy troops), it was clear that the wholesale surrender of Germany would be imminent and the Swiss talks were useful to consider the location of an unconditional German capitulation. If only for reasons of prestige, the Western Allies preferred that this would happen on the Western Front. There were a number of possibilities, especially as the Germans were keen to surrender to the British or Americans and 'steer' the maximum number of Wehrmacht units into their captivity.
The Russians, although informed of the talks, were not allowed to attend, a situation which led to heightened tensions between the big three Allied powers.
"If Sunrise revealed tensions that would quickly culminate into the Cold War, the German surrender in Northern Italy saved Russian lives as well as those of Anglo-Americans and Germans. Partly because of the Sunrise talks, Wehrmacht troops were not transferred to fight on the Eastern Front".
(Quoted from.......Operation Sunrise by Stephen P Halbrook)