Skip to comments.'Hitler's Pope' praised for preventing their deportations to death camps
Posted on 03/02/2012 8:35:33 AM PST by NYer
Pius XII, who was elected in 1939, has been accused of turning a blind eye to the Nazis’ extermination of the Jews in Europe, including a round-up by the Gestapo of 2,000 Italian Jews in Rome’s Ghetto area in 1943.
They were sent to concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and only a handful survived the war.
The Vatican has until now refused to release any documents from Pius’s papacy, despite calls for them to be made available by Jewish groups and historians, who in the past have dubbed the Italian pontiff “Hitler’s Pope” and accused him of being anti-Semitic.
But in an historic move, seven documents from the so-called “closed period” went on display this week in an exhibition of 100 historic items from the Vatican Secret Archives.
They suggested that the Pope showed more concern for the plight of Jews during the war than he is often credited with.
In 1941 he sent a Vatican official, Francesco Borgongini-Duca, to check on the welfare of Jews and other prisoners being held in seven internment camps in southern Italy.
In April 1942 a rabbi and a doctor who were being held in one of the camps wrote a long letter to thank the Pope for clothing that the Vatican sent to interned children and for his concern for prisoners.
The document to cast Pius in the most flattering light is a letter from October 1944, after Italy signed an armistice with the Allies and switched sides, in which former inmates expressed their gratitude for his support during their imprisonment.
(Excerpt) Read more at telegraph.co.uk ...
A controversial wartime Pope accused by historians of being too compliant towards Hitler and failing to speak up against the Holocaust was praised by former Jewish prisoners for preventing their deportation to death camps, documents released from the Vatican Secret Archives have revealed.
When in 1942 we were under the threat of deportation to Poland, Your Holiness extended your fatherly hand to protect us and prevented the deportation of the Jews imprisoned in Italy, thereby saving us from almost certain death.
His efforts completely dwarf all others, including those of the Red Cross.
The foremost Jewish Scholar of the Holocaust at its height in Hungary, Jeno Levai, insisted some years ago that it was a "particularly regrettable irony that the one person in all of occupied Europe who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others."
The Israeli diplomat and scholar Pinchas Lapide concluded his careful review of Pius XIIs wartime activities with the following words: "The Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."
He went on to add that this "figure far exceeds those saved by all other Churches and rescue organizations combined."
After recounting statements of appreciation from a variety of preeminent Jewish spokespersons, he noted. "No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews . . . .Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff ("Three Popes and the Jews" pp. 214215)."
Levai in his own book did not hesitate to argue that the attacks on the Popes wartime record are "demonstrably malicious and fabricated . . . . The archives of the Vatican of diocesan authorities of Ribbentrops foreign ministry, contain a whole series of protestsdirect and indirect, diplomatic and public, secret and open. The nuncios and bishops of the Catholic Church intervened again and again on the instructions of the Pope," he wrote.
Hungarian Jews and the Papacy: The former chief rabbi of Rome during the German occupation, Emilio Zolli, concluded his firsthand account of wartime events thus: "Volumes could be written on the multiform works of Pius XII, and the countless priests, religious and laity who stood with him throughout the world during the war." "No hero," he said, "in all of history was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic, than Pius XII in pursuing the works of true charity . . . and thus on behalf of all the suffering children of God."
Zolli was so moved by Pius XIIs work that he became a Catholic after the war and took the Popes name
Pinchas Lapide acknowledged in his book (Before the Dawn). that the Church "in an endless flood of sermons, allocutions, pastoral letters and encyclicals was a clear and unrelenting foe to all forms of racism at the time, and everyone knew itJews, Poles, Russians and most ominously the Nazi secret police." Their files mention recalcitrant Catholic clergy in this regard more than any other group.
The New York Times in its Christmas editorials of 1941 and 1942 praised Pius XII for his moral leadership as a "lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent" and for, among other things, assailing "the violent occupation of territory, and the exile and persecution of human beings, for no other reason than race."
Golda Meir, Israels representative to the United Nations, was the first of the delegates to react to the news of Pope Pius XIIs death. She sent an eloquent message: "We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation afflicted by wars and discords he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace."
Leonard Bernstein, on learning of Pope Pius XIIs death while conducting his orchestra in New Yorks Carnegie Hall, tapped his baton for a moment of silence to pay tribute to the Pope who had saved the lives of so many people without distinction of race, nationality, or religion.
The great Jewish physicist, Albert Einstein, who himself barely escaped annihilation at Nazi hands, made the point well in 1944 when he said, "Being a lover of freedom, when the Nazi revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, but the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, but they, like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks. Then I looked to individual writers . . . . they too were mute. Only the Church," Einstein concluded, "stood squarely across the path of Hitlers campaign for suppressing the truth. . . . I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel great affection and admiration . . . . and am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly."
And a lot of them helped ex-Nazi’s excape to South America also in the Rat Line.
They need to do a movie about this.
What is it about Hungarian Jews that makes me think of George Soros?
Area of interest ping.
Kind of an overstatement. Einstein was working at Cal Tech when Hitler came to power in 1933. He never returned to Germany after that. He lived in Belgium for a few months, then moved to England for a few more, and returned to the US permanently that October.
Unlike most fugitives there was a specific bounty on Einstein's head when he escaped to England in 1933. He had to leave Europe in a hurry. IIRC he used Swiss papers.
When the Nazis came to Italy to round up Jews, because they didn't think the Italians were being efficient enough, there were Jews being hidden in Parishes, convents and monasteries all over Italy. There were even some Jews at Castel Gandalfo, the Pope's summer residence.
When my mother died I found a copy of this play with side writings on the dialogue pages. She wrote about what she knew from newspapers during the war that reported his speeches and sermons.
I also met the nephew of Pope Pius by delivering to him. He lived in roslyn ,NY. He had pictures as a child growing up in the Vatican during the 1950's. His uncle to him was the greatest person and saint of God. He declared all this anti-Semitic stuff a gross lie.
The “Hitler’s Pope” monniker came straight from Moscow.
Thanks. The truth of the matter is fairly complex, and we must begin by understanding that Christian churches themselves were under attack by Nazis -- that along with Jews in concentration and death camps were many thousands of clergy, thousands of whom died at the hands of Nazis.
Catholic clergy in concentration camps served as hostages, whom Nazis could murder at will if or when the Pope's actions or words displeased them.
That's why everything the Pope did to help Nazi victims had to be done in secret, least the effort would do more harm than good.
So the first claim regarding allegedly "Hitler's Pope" is true: that he kept publicly silent about the Holocaust of Jews.
Of course the Pope opposed and criticized Nazism, but even there his words became muted once the Church itself was put under threat.
The second charge regarding allegedly "Hitler's Pope" is that he did little or nothing to discipline pro-Nazi clergy in countries like Yugoslavia and Slovakia.
This is also true, at least regarding what was done officially and publicly.
What may have gone on behind the scenes is murky at best.
A third charge is that the Pope was more concerned with opposing Stalin's Communists than Hitler's Nazis, and so in effect gave the Nazis a pass on the Holocaust.
I think that's a stretch, and the Pope's actions -- or lack of actions -- are fully explained by his intense desire to protect the Church from the worst.
Finally, we should remember the Pope himself was under physical threat of abduction to be held hostage by Nazis.
So there is no doubt the Pope did everything he felt he could, under the circumstances.
The real question is whether he could have, or should have, pushed the boundaries to the point of risking martyrdom for himself and many other Church leaders?
I would ask that question this way: if the Pope had suffered martyrdom in the war against Nazism, would that war have ended differently, and would the Church in Europe today be better or worse off?