Skip to comments.Under the Roman Sky (film details heroic efforts of Pius XII to save Jews of Rome from the Nazis)
Posted on 06/15/2013 4:03:11 PM PDT by NYer
A new film, Under the Roman Sky, starring James Cromwell as Pius XII, details the heroic efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews of Rome from the Nazis, after Rome came under Nazi occupation subsequent to the fall of Mussolini following the Allied invasion of southern Italy in 1943.
Rabbi David G. Dalin, in his review of a Moral Reckoning, a tome by Daniel Goldhagen which sought to blame Catholicism for the Holocaust, details the efforts of the Pope to save the Jews of Rome:
Goldhagen’s centerpiece is the outrageous allegation that Pius XII “did not lift a finger to forfend the deportations of the Jews of Rome” or of other parts of Italy “by instructing his priests and nuns to give the hunted Jewish men, women and children sanctuary.” Much of this is lifted straight from anti-Pius books like Susan Zuccotti’s Under His Very Windows–and thus Goldhagen repeats the errors of those books and adds extras, all his own, in his determined attempt to extend their thesis into over-the-top railings against the sheer existence of Catholicism.
GOLDHAGEN IS APPARENTLY UNAWARE (or, more probably, doesn’t care) that many distinguished scholars have declared Zuccotti’s book “not history but guesswork,” as the historian Owen Chadwick put it. Zuccotti’s principal charge, mindlessly repeated by Goldhagen, is that there is no credible evidence that Pius XII ever explicitly ordered his subordinates to assist Jews in Italy. In fact, there is a whole body of evidence that proves Pius did. In 1964 Cardinal Paolo Dezza, the wartime rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, published a signed article stating unequivocally that during the German occupation of Rome, Pius XII explicitly told him to help “persecuted Jews” and do so “most willingly.” In his 2001 book Gli ebrei salvati da Pio XII, Antonio Gaspari compiles additional testimonies. And more recently, Gaspari came across new documents, establishing that as early as 1940 Pius XII explicitly ordered his secretary of state, Luigi Maglione, and Maglione’s assistant, Giovanni Battista Montini (the future Paul VI), to send money to Jews protected by the bishop of Campagna.
The Nazi deportations of Italy’s Jews began in October 1943. Pope Pius ordered churches and convents throughout Italy to shelter Jews, and in Rome itself 155 convents and monasteries sheltered five thousand Jews throughout the German occupation. Pius himself granted sanctuary within the walls of the Vatican, and his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, to countless homeless Jews. Goldhagen’s book conspicuously lacks any discussion of Castel Gandolfo, which enjoys a unique place in the annals of Jewish rescue (and Catholic rescuers) during the Holocaust: In no other site in all of Nazi-occupied Europe were as many Jews saved and sheltered for as long a period.
The recently released memoirs of Adolf Eichmann also contain new evidence disproving Goldhagen’s claim. The memoirs confirm that Vatican protests played a crucial part in obstructing Nazi intentions for Roman Jews. Eichmann wrote that the Vatican “vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such action.” At Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, Israeli attorney general Gideon Hausner said, “the pope himself intervened personally in support of the Jews of Rome.” Documents introduced at the trial provide further evidence of Vatican efforts to halt the arrest and deportation of Roman Jews.
Over 6,000 Roman Jews were secretly sheltered within churches, convents and monasteries in and around Rome during the occupation. Other Jews were the recipients of baptismal and birth records forged by Church officials. When the Nazis sought a large sum of gold from the Jews of Rome, Pius offered to pay it, although the Jews were able to pay the sum without his help. The evidence that these efforts were done at the command of the Pope mounts each day:
Pope Pius XII created a clandestine network to save the lives of Jews who were being persecuted by the Nazis. One of the members of this group is still alive: an Italian priest, Giancarlo Centioni, who was born in 1912. Between 1940 and 1945, he served as a military chaplain for the National Security Volunteer Militia in Rome and lived in a house of German priests who become involved in the network in order to save lives.
I lived in the General House of the Pallottine Fathers and my fellow German priests invited me to take part. Given that I was a chaplain for the fascists, it was easier for me to help the Jews.
The other Pallottine priests from Hamburg, Germany, had founded a group called St. Raphaels Society, instituted to help the Jews.
It offered the opportunity to first escape from Germany to Italy, and then later to Switzerland and to Lisbon, Portugal.
In Germany, Father Centioni recalls, the society was lead by Father Kentenich, known throughout the world as the founder of the apostolic movement Schönstatt. This Pallottine Father was later incarcerated and confined in the Dachau concentration camp until the end of the war.
This activity was based in Rome on 57 Pettinari Street by Father Anton Weber, who kept in contact with Pius XII and his secretary.
This network gave passports and money to Jewish families so that they could escape.
The money and the passports were handed over to Father Anton Weber; yet he received them directly from the His Holiness Secretary of State, in the name of and paid by Pius XII.
I often brought money to Jewish homes.
At least 12 German priests in Rome were allowed to help me.
The network’s intervention had already begun even before Germany had invaded Italy.
They began prior to the war; they kept going as far as I know at least until after 1945, because Father Weber had an intense relationship with the Vatican, with the Jews, and with a lot of people it was very strong. Among those who helped us afterwards were two Jews whom we had helped to hide: author Melchiorre Gioia and from Vienna, Erwin Frimm Kozab, a great composer during that time who wrote songs and operas. One we hid on Giuseppe Street, near Bari, and the other on 57 Pettinari Street. Later they assisted us quite a lot, giving us very explicit information, etc.
After the liberation of Rome by the Allies, a delegation of Roman Jews came to the Pope to thank him for his protection of them during the occupation. Pius responded as follows: “For centuries, Jews have been unjustly treated and despised. It is time they were treated with justice and humanity, God wills it and the Church wills it. St. Paul tells us that the Jews are our brothers. They should also be welcomed as friends.”
The efforts of Pius XII to save the Jews of Rome from the Nazis was in microcosm a reflection of the efforts he made to save the Jews of Europe from the Nazis. Everyone knew this at the time. During and after the war Pius XII was hailed as both an enemy of the Nazis and a friend of the Jews. No one disputed this. It was only after his death in 1958 that a campaign of lies, originally begun as part of Soviet propaganda against the Church, was instigated to smear the good name of this great and holy man. These calumnies have been seized upon in recent years by those who hate the Church, as one more weapon they use in their never-ending war against the Church. The historical record is crystal clear as to Pius and always has been crystal clear. He did more than any other single man or woman to aid the Jews of Europe at their time of greatest peril, and he deserves to be honored for it.
Cromwell is quite a Lefty. I’m a little surprised he chose to be involved.
The Catholic POPE did 1000 times more than AMERICAN JEWS did to help Jews during the Holocaust!! And the American JEWS VOTE FOR THE KENNEDY’s whose patriarch was a NAZI SUPPORTER!!!
Oh yeah...and AMerican Jews ADORE FDR who sent the St. Louis ship back to Germany FULL of JEWS trying to escape Nazis....back to their DEATHS!! And the Jews LOVE FDR....my in-laws included....and they even KNOW about the St. Louis debabcle, but because FDR was a Democrat he could do no wrong.....and the Pope, well the Pope is Catholic, so he could do no RIGHT!!
The Catholics and Jews voted about the same for JFK, 80 and 82%.
The Catholics and Jews both always loved and voted for FDR, until he finally died as our only American ‘President for life’.
So isn’t just the Jews who loved those guys.
Worth reading. Soviet anti-Catholic propaganda is finally being countered with the truth.
When catholics have been slaughtered NO ONE ever comes to help them.
Under Communism in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America no one helped the Catholics being slaughtered.. In Mexico, a hundred years ago, no one helped. In Africa and the Middle East today no one helped. In China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia millions of Catholics were slaughtered. No one helped.
Catholics help others. NO ONE ever helps Catholics.
Aside from ignoring other Christians and other religions and pretending that Catholics are hunted all over the world, you do have almost 50 years worth of American survivors of the Cold War here at freerepublic that would challenge you on some of that.
Mexico was almost 100% Catholic, that was just Mexicans fighting for power among themselves.
“So isnt just the Jews who loved those guys.”
You’re right. Protestants put both of them in office after all.
“Mexico was almost 100% Catholic, that was just Mexicans fighting for power among themselves.”
The people killing Mexican Catholics precisely because they were loyal to the Catholic Church were NOT Catholic. They were Masons and Marxists. It might help if you studied some history.
It is correct that 2 of the three times in history that the democrats have won a majority of the protestant vote, was for FDR in 1932 and 1936, but the protestant vote was against him by 1940 and in 1944, and it was overwhelmingly for Nixon in 1960, with the democrats always having won the Catholic vote, the Kennedys depended on the Catholic’s 80% support to take him to victory.
Mexico was almost 100% baptized members of the catholic denomination, so all the struggle was among Mexicans themselves.
“Aside from ignoring other Christians and other religions”
I am not ignoring other Christians and other religions. The article was about Catholics protecting Jews before and during WWII. My point was simply that Catholics protected and helped Jews but that no one protected the Catholics that were being slaughtered at the same time in the former Soviet Union.
The Catholics slaughtered in Mexico were Catholics loyal to their faith. They were slaughtered by anti-Catholic Marxist and Masons who took over the Mexican government.
Catholics are being slaughtered today by Muslims in the Middle East and Africa. No one is helping to protect them?
Catholics were slaughtered in China, Cambodia and Vietnam. No one protected them.
The Soviet Union was against all religions, including all Christian denominations, including the largest one, the Orthodox, and Protestant America lost many lives and much wealth defeating the Soviet Union over a 75 year period.
“MarxistLeninist atheism has consistently advocated the control, suppression, and elimination of religion. Within about a year of the revolution, the state expropriated all church property, including the churches themselves, and in the period from 1922 to 1926, 28 Russian Orthodox bishops and more than 1,200 (Orthodox) priests were killed. Many more were persecuted.
Christians belonged to various churches: Orthodox (which had the largest number of followers), Catholic, and Baptist and various other Protestant denominations. The majority of the Muslims in the Soviet Union were Sunni. Judaism also had many followers. Other religions, practiced by a small number of believers, included Buddhism and Shamanism.”
Mexico was almost 100% Catholic, and everything to the south of Mexico was Catholic, countries of 95% and more Catholic, even countries where law required the leaders to be Catholic.
So as long as one is a Christian but not a member of the Catholic denomination, everything is OK in all those places?
The article was about Catholics protecting the Jews. My point was no one protects Catholics. Lutherans also protected Jews in Germany under the NAZI’s. I could have said no one protects Christians. That would have also been correct.
I did not mean to diminish the suffering of faithful Christians who were non-Catholics.
I was commenting on the article.
Aren’t you going to provide a link to yet another worthless exit poll in a feeble attempt to bolster your assertion?
Yes, other Christians indeed, Catholics were just a small number in the Soviet Union, the Orthodox were the masses, but what do you mean no one protects them, protects who, and how?
Where are the ovens running and who is being put into them?
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Protestant America did not defeat the Soviet Union over a 75 year period. Americans helped the Soviet union in the 1930’s. The Roosevelt Administration was very pro Soviet.
After WWII the anti-communists in our government were persecuted and forced out. MacArthur, Forestall, Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon and many others had their careers destroyed for standing up to Communists.
Truman was a pro-Communist and allowed the Soviet Empire to expand. His administration sabotaged Gen. MacArthur and American troops.
Politicians in Washington gave Soviets American weapons, technology and secrets. In the 1970’s under detente they financed the failed Soviet economy and protected it from collapse. Only Reagan worked to undermine Soviet evil empire. Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul and others helped bring about the downfall.