Skip to comments.PIUS XII AND THE HOLOCAUST, Truth vs. Myth
Posted on 07/15/2003 9:23:23 AM PDT by Dqban22
PIUS XII AND THE HOLOCAUST, Truth vs. Myth
Culture/Society Opinion (Published) Source: http://www.idealpress.com Published: August 2000 Author: Jesus J. Chao Posted on 08/22/2000 12:20:35 PDT by Dqban22 PIUS XII AND THE HOLOCAUST, Truth vs. Myth
By: Jesus J. Chao
One of the greatest yet, undeservedly controversial figures of the XX Century was without a doubt Pius XII-an extraordinary man who had been revered by many but maligned by others. Consequentially some of his achievements have remained relatively unknown.
He played an important role during the most convulsive and bloody period in the history of mankind. We must find out how Pius XII, as the head of the Catholic Church, coped with the persecution and annihilation of whole ethnic and religious groups by the Nazis. We also must find from historical records an answer to a series of allegations that have been obscuring his legacy. As Pius XIIs biographer, Michael OCarroll said: Pius XII remains a personality challenging, enigmatic to the point of mystery, who enriches all those who are satisfied with nothing but the truth.
HISTORICAL FRAME: THE ROLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN EUROPE 1920-1945
There are many questions about Pius XIIs Papacy
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli was elected Pope Pius XII on March 2, 1939 on the eve of World War II.
Does Pacelli or does the Catholic Church share any responsibility, by action, or by omission, for the Jewish Holocaust? Was Pius XII the Hitlers Pope? Was Pope Pius XII or The Catholic Church anti-Semite? Was Pius XII silent during War World II while the Nazis were murdering the Jews, along with Catholics, gypsies and Orthodox Christians? Did the Pope do his best in trying to rescue the innocent victims of the Holocaust? What was the role of the Catholic Church, the United States of America, England, France, the Red Cross, the Jewish organizations and any other religious and international organizations in trying to save the Jewish people from total extermination in the Nazi occupied nations?
Eugenio Pacelli was born in Rome on March 2, 1876, to an upper middle-class family of lawyers, which had been linked with the Papacy for over a century. Of frail health in his youth but with a keen and brilliant intellect, Pacelli excelled in his studies becoming fluent in six languages, including the mastery of German and French. Tall, slender and with great charisma, he was a man of great virtue, piety and spirituality. Pius XII did not fear criticisms, opposition, lamentation or accusation and proved to be a man of great personal courage. With a phenomenal capacity for work, his day stretched from 6:30 a.m. until past midnight with a short siesta at noon.
Pacelli was ordained as a priest on April 2, 1899 and in 1901 began his ministry in the Roman Curia at the Secretariat of State. He would serve the Holy See under four Popes, Leo XIII, St. Pius X (1903-1914), Benedict XV (1914-1922) and Pius XI (1922-1939), for a period of 50 years, including his own pontificate (1939-1958). Before long, Fr. Pacelli was chosen to collaborate in the monumental task of the codification of church law. Centuries of church legislation were reduced to the Codex Juris Canonici.
While World War I was ravaging Europe, Pacelli, through his position in the Secretariat of State, was in contact with the innermost circles of the world diplomacy. He was involved in Benedict XVs international policies in search of peace and humanitarian relief for the victims of the War.
Bavaria in 1917
In 1917 the young Msgr. Pacelli was consecrated as Archbishop and chosen as Nuncio in Munich to the old court of Bavaria in the hopes that he could help to end at the earliest moment the terrible struggle that appears increasingly a useless carnage.
The situation in Bavaria was chaotic. A Soviet Republic was set up which lasted for three bloody weeks, from April 7 to May 1, 1919, until the German troops defeated the Communist revolution. During that interlude, a band of armed Communist hooligans took over the Nuncios residence and attempted to ransack it. The Archbishop found them waiting for him upon his return. The armed men demanded the Nuncios automobile. However, taken aback by the composure and dignity of Msgr. Pacelli, they fled.
The main task of the Nuncio was the negotiation of a Concordat with the Bavarian government. This accord was signed on March 29, 1924 after Archbishop Pacelli had already been transferred to the Nunciature of Berlin in 1920 where he worked in another Concordat. On August 13, 1929, the Prussian Chamber ratified the Concordat - an extraordinary diplomatic triumph for Pacelli to reach a Concordat with the Weimar Republic, the Protestant Prussia. At the time there were over 40 million Catholics living in Bavaria and Prussia.
The Vatican was recognized as a sovereign state in early 1929
At the beginning of 1929, while Pacelli was in Germany, his brother Francesco, achieved on behalf of the Vatican a very important Concordat with the Italian government that settled the Roman Question, ending the fifty-nine year conflict between the Italian State and The Church. As a result, the Vatican city-state was recognized as an independent state and Pius XII was going to be the first Pope since 1846 to begin his pontificate as ruler of a sovereign state. This meant that he could declare neutrality, which he did when the war broke out.
Return to Rome, Pacelli is consecrated Cardinal and appointed Secretary of State.
On December 16, 1929, the Nuncio Pacelli was recalled to Rome and elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals, and, on February 7, 1930, he was named Secretary of State. His departure from Berlin was a remarkable event. Enthusiastic crowds lined the way with torch lights and a warm speech was said by Cardinal Bertram who in the name of the whole German episcopate affirmed: Your Excellency has succeeded in capturing popular affection. In 1932 Cardinal Pacelli concluded the Concordat with Baden, in 1933 with Austria, and in 1935 with Yugoslavia. The new Cardinal was already recognized and respected worldwide.
It did not take long for Pius XI to confront Benito Mussolinis Fascist regime. The Encyclical Non Abbiamo Bisogno was published in 1931 strongly condemning the Italian Fascist doctrines. Secretary of State Pacellis contribution was very important to this Encyclical. When the War broke in 1939, The Holy See tried unsuccessfully to keep Italy out of the War. On June 10, 1940 Mussolini entered the war in the side of Germany.
Hitler takes power over Germany
On January 30, 1933, the German President Hindeburg appointed Adolph Hitler as Chancellor. Since the elections in March 1933, the Nazis were the lawful government of the German people. With the help of the Nationalist allies they had a majority, though small, in the Reichstag. The Enabling Act, passed by the Reichstag, made them rulers with extraordinary powers and without a possibility of change for four years. Very soon, the Nazi regime was to become a brutal totalitarian state destroying the parliamentary democracy. It was the beginning of the end for the Weimar Republic.
According to Fr. Peter Gumbel, S.J., a prestigious historian with open access to the Vaticans archives; even before the Nazis came to power, the German Bishops had already condemned the National Socialist Movement and prohibited Catholics from being associated with it or voting for it. On January 30, and in the March 5, 1933s elections, virtually all the Catholics voted for the Zentrum Christian party, well known for its opposition to Hitlers party.
England, France and Italy recognized the new German regime immediately and proceeded to sign what was called the four countries pact. Later, on July 20, 1933, the Holy See signed a Concordat with Germany.
Nazi Germany and the Vatican sign a Concordat in 1933,
Leaving aside his hatred for The Church, Hitler offered to negotiate a Concordat with the Holy See as a kind of détente while he was trying to consolidate his power grasp.
Pius XII explained in 1937 the reasons for reaching a Concordat with the German regime. The Church, said the Pope, was prompted by the desire to secure the freedom of The Churchs beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care, as well as by the sincere wish to render the German people a service essential for its peaceful development and prosperity. Hence, despite many and grave misgivings, we decided not to withhold our consent, for we wished to spare the faithful in Germany, as far as humanly possible, the trials and difficulties they would have had to face given the circumstances, had the negotiations fallen through. Vice-chancellor Franz Von Papen, a Catholic and a former member of the Zentrum party, acted on behalf of the German government.
Later, Cardinal Pacelli explained in theOsservatore Romano, the Vaticans official newspaper: The Church neither nourished excessive hopes nor intended any approval of the doctrines and tendencies of Nazism. Yet, it must be admitted that, in succeeding years, the Concordat brought certain advantages, or at least prevented greater evils. Though often violated, it did give Catholics a legal ground of defense, a platform from which to resist as long as possible the tide of persecution. Pacelli told the French diplomat François Charles-Roux, that he never regretted signing the Concordat, for without it, The Church would have had no legal basis for protest against the evils of the regime. His final remark was that he was under no illusion whatsoever: They will scarcely break all the articles at the same time. (1)
The Holy Sees assessment of Hitlers intentions was right on target. As early as July1933, and as soon as Hitler felt he had absolute control of Germany, he began not only the persecution of Jews but also of the Christians. The Nazis infiltrated the German Evangelical Federation (the Lutheran Church), removing those leaders who were opposed to Hitlers agenda. Many of these ministers, such as the famous Deitrich Bonhoffer, died in concentration camps or prisons.
The persecution was even more intense for the Catholic Church. Gestapo agents attended Mass in order to arrest any priest who dared to criticize the regime. The Nazis propaganda machine presented the Catholic clergy as unpatriotic, and by 1940 they had closed down all Catholic schools and most Catholics associations.
Cardinal Pacelli visits United States in 1936
In October 1936, Cardinal Pacelli visited the United States where he stayed for one month and was accompanied in an 8,000-mile trip by his friend, Msgr. Spellman, then the Auxiliary Bishop of Cardinal OConnor, Archbishop of Boston. The future Pope visited twelve of the sixteen ecclesiastical provinces, talked with seventy-nine bishops, visited religious institutions, colleges, hospitals, seminaries, and received honorary degrees from four universities. Before leaving Cardinal Pacelli had lunch at Hyde Park with President Roosevelt. This was the prelude of a long personal relationship and cooperation between the Holy See and the U.S. One of the earliest fruits of that friendship was an innovation in American diplomacy. In the first year of the war, Myron C. Taylor was named Special Representative of the President to the Vatican in spite of strong Protestant opposition. As soon as Pacelli was elected Pope, he appointed Bishop Spellman as Archbishop of New York and later as a Cardinal. Spellman became a most trusted conduit during the years of collaboration between Pius XII and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The Third Reich gets ready for war- Hitler annexes Austria
In March 1938, Hitler annexed Austria. When Cardinal Innitzer gave the Führer a public welcome and urged the Austrians to vote for the Anschluss, he was summoned to Rome where he was made to sign a retraction. Pius XI and his Secretary of State left no doubt about their understanding of the rising malady that was going to imperil the very existence of a civilized Judeo-Christian Europe. In Germany thousands of Catholic priests and laymen were imprisoned or taken to concentration camps for opposing the Nazi regime. Among them there were the Jesuit Alfred Delp and the famous Protestant theologian Bonhoffer, a real martyr and witness of the anti-Nazi resistance.
During the few months between his election as Pope and the beginning of the World War II, Pius XII worked fervently to avoid the catastrophe, but not in the spirit of appeasement. The Vatican opposed the 1938 Munich agreement in which Britain and France cowardly sacrificed Czechoslovakia to the Nazis. Also, at the end of the War, The Holy See strongly opposed the Western democracies betrayal of the Eastern European nations at the Yalta and Postdams accords where half of Europe was delivered unto slavery to the Soviets rule as mere spoils of war.
With the invasion of Poland by Germany and the Soviet Union, World War II begins
The Hitler-Stalins pact started War World II with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. Pius XII strongly denounced Polands invasion and proposed a peace plan. The attack was aimed to annihilate the most faithful and loyal Roman Catholic nation in the World. Both dictators shared a pathological hatred against Catholics. The Nazis ravaged half of the country and the Soviets the other. There was a systematic extermination of the intelligentsia. Warsaw, the capital, was targeted to be erased from the map. Ten million Poles fell prey to the Soviets. The Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were delivered to Stalin as part of the war booty and annexed to the Soviet Union. The Poles courageously tried to resist the craven double attacks of Nazi Germany and the Communist Soviets. Hundreds of thousands of Poles were sent to Soviet concentration camps. At the Pawiak prison in the heart of the city, the Nazis put 130,000 Poles to death. Not too far away were the infamous death camps of Treblinka, Madjanek and Auschwitz.
WAS PIUS XII THE HITLERS POPE?
The facts negate this vile and often-made baseless allegation. Unfortunately, many people of good will, lacking reliable information, had fallen victims to this campaign of character assassination against Pius XII and the Catholic Church.
Church historian, Dr. Peter Gumpel S.J., who is the postulator of the cause for the beatification of Pius XII and has carried out years of extensive research on the life and historical facts surrounding his pontificate, wrote in Zenit, September 16, 1999, A Nasty Caricature of a Noble and Saintly Man, a point by point rebuttal of Peter Cornwells book Hitlers Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII. Dr. Gumpel, article is a must read document for those interested in finding the truth.
There was never any ambiguity on the Vatican Secretary of States feelings about Hitlers regime, and the Nazis knew it. When Cardinal Pacelli was elected Pope on March 2, 1939, the next day the Berlin Morgenpost (the Nazi partys newspaper) wrote: The election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor. (2)
According to Mother Pasqualina Lehner, his close collaborator, Nuncio Pacelli said of Hitler: This man is completely carried away; everything he says and writes has the mark of his egocentrism; this man is capable of trampling on corpses and eliminating anything that is an obstacle. I cannot understand how there are so many people in Germany who do not understand him, and cannot draw conclusions from what he says or writes. Has any of them even read his horrifying Mein Kampf? (3)
During Pacellis twelve years as Apostolic Nuncio in Germany (1917-29), he made 44 public speeches and in 40 of these attacked the fundamental tenets of the Communism and National Socialism. Already in April 1933, as Secretary of State of Pope Pius XI, he sent an urgent request to the new Nazi government not to let it be influenced by anti-Semitic aims.
In fact, Pius XII never met Hitler, neither when he was Apostolic Nuncio in Berlin, or as a Pope. He left Berlin in 1929, before Hitler came to power, and never returned to Germany.
On April 28, 1935, at Lourdes, where he went as the Pope Legate, Pacelli said to 250,000 pilgrims: They (the Nazis) are in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false conception of the world of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult. (4) Certainly, these were very strong words coming from such a consummated diplomat.
Hitlers discussions with his closest collaborators, as well as the diaries and decrees by Goebbles, Bormann, Rosenberg and Himmler, denote that from the beginning Hitler and his followers were motivated by a pathological hatred toward the Catholic Church. All those who did not adhere unconditionally to their way of thinking and acting were considered and treated as enemies, who had to be annihilated, said Church historian, Dr. Gumpel.
As Jewish historian Dr. Joseph L. Litchen wrote in the October, 1958, Anti-Defamation Bulletin, commenting on Pius XII, the new Vicar of Christ said Litchen, showed no softening after his election toward Hitlers brutal policies; Pius the Pope was the same as Pacelli the priest. (5)
WAS PIUS XII OR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ANTI-SEMITE?
Pius XII had a deep knowledge of Germany where he served for 13 years as Papal Nuncio during Pope Benedictus XV and Pius XI. No other world leader at that time was more aware than him of the evil nature of Nazism and Communism, the two ideologies that were to bring rivers of blood to mankind. A consummated and experienced diplomat, Pacelli was well groomed by Pius XI to be his successor. There was an extraordinary spiritual and ideological communion between these two great Popes; they both were of one mind. Pacelli dedicated his life to the service of God, The Church, and mankind, through five decades of indefatigable struggle for world peace.
In 1928 the Holy Office had already condemned anti-Semitism. On September 6, 1938, Pius XI told a group of Belgian pilgrims: Through Christ and in Christ, we are spiritual descendants of Abraham. Incontrovertible facts prove the extraordinary efforts that Pius XI, Pius XII, and the Catholic Church made in saving the Jews during the Holocaust.
As early as 1935, Cardinal Pacelli describes Nazism as diabolical
Before becoming Pope, and as early as 1935, Pius XII had described as diabolical the new German Regime in conversations with the French Ambassador to the Holy See, Charles-Roux, while the rest of the world were willingly accepting Hitlers power grasp upon the German government.
The Duke of Windsor, who was a Nazi sympathizer, visited Hitler and former English Prime Minister, Lloyd George, even went so far as to call him the greatest living German! Lloyd George was the leader of the radical left within the Liberal Party. In the U.S. there were also people in high positions who were openly sympathizers of Hitler, such as Henry Ford I, who was also a strong anti-Semitic.
In 1937, Pius XI published the EncyclicalMit Brennender Sorge, stating that Catholics must never be anti-Semite.
On March 14, 1937, before it was fashionable to denounce the German Führer as a villain and long before the creation of the concentration camps and the gas chambers, Pius XI, ably seconded by his Secretary of State, wrote the Encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge meaning with burning anxiety. It dealt with the nazi threat to racial minorities and specifically the Jews addressing the Encyclical directly to the German people. The Encyclical exhorted that Catholics must never be anti-Semitic because we are all Semites spirituallyand ought to hold the Jewish people in high regard accordingly. The Encyclical exposed to the world the III Reichs persecution of the Catholic Church as well as the incompatibility between the principles of the National Socialism and those of the Catholic faith.
The German government prohibited the entrance of the Encyclical to the country and it became necessary to smuggle it into Germany under the nose of the ruthless Gestapo. On Sunday March 21, The Encyclical was read from 12,000 Catholic pulpits across Germany. As a result, the Nazis campaign of innuendoes against The Church as well as the persecution of Catholics worsened.
The German Catholic hierarchy thanked Pope Pius XI for the letter, which strongly condemned both, racism and anti-Semitism. The Pope pointed to Cardinal Pacelli saying that it was he who had been responsible for the Encyclical. It was the Secretary of State, who asked the German Cardinal Faulhaber to submit a draft text, which he amended carefully. Pacelli also bore the burden of its defense when the Encyclical was the subject of strong German diplomatic protests; he did so personally, not by delegation.
The Vatican condemns Communism with the Encyclical Divini Redemptori in 1937
Pius XI and his Secretary of State were following the Magisterium of the Church when they published on March 19, 1937, the Encyclical Divini Redemptori. It was a most comprehensive and devastating condemnation of Communism as intrinsically perverse. Already Pius IX, as early as 1846, pronounced in the Encyclical Qui pluribus, a solemn condemnation of Communism that infamous doctrine which is absolutely contrary to natural law itself, and if once adopted would utterly destroy the rights, the property and possessions of all men, and even society itself. Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Quod apostolici muneri, defined communism as the fatal plague that insinuates itself into the very marrow of human society only to bring about its ruin. Pius XI and Pius XII were highly active, energetic and zealous opponents of totalitarianism and oppression in every form-for them, National Socialism and Communism were both intrinsically evil.
Pope Pius XIIs first Encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, in 1939, attacks Nazism and Communism
Pius XIIs first encyclical on October 27, 1939, Summi Pontificatus reiterated the attack on the German regime and the Gestapo was ordered to prevent its distribution. In it, the Pope declared his position against exacerbated nationalism, the idolatry of the state, totalitarianism, racism, the cult of brutal force, contempt of international agreements , against all the characteristics of Hitlers political system; he laid the responsibility for the scourge of the war on these aberrations. The Allies airdropped 88,000 copies of the Encyclical over Germany.
WERE PIUS XII AND THE CHURCH REALLY SILENT DURING THE HOLOCAUST?
The Pope was well aware that any public denunciation against Hitler would make things even worse for the Jews. His polices were aimed at saving the Jews. In fact, that was the same policy followed by the International Red Cross and the World Council of Churches both based in Geneva as well as the one recommended by most of the International Jewish organizations involved in the rescue operations of Jews. Gerhart Riegner, the representative of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, accepted the validity of this policy preferring action rather than words, as the common goal.
Historian Fr. W. Saunders has stated that we must remember that any defiance of the Nazi regime meant immediate and severe retaliation. Jean Bernard, Catholic Bishop of Luxembourg, who was detained at Dachau, later wrote: The detained priests trembled every time news reached us of some protest by a religious authority, but particularly by the Vatican. We all had the impression that our warders made us atone heavily for the fury these protest evoke (on them.) (6)
Fr. Robert A.Graham, S.J., has said that: it may surprise the contemporary generation to learn that the local Jewish communities and the world Jewish bodies did not, for the most part, urge the Pope to speak out. Their objective was far more concrete and down-to-earth Appeals to world opinion, high-sounding though it may appear, would have seemed cheap and trivial gestures to those engaged in rescue work The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such a delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles. (7)
When an Italian priest, Fr. Scavizzi, a chaplain on a military train travelling through Poland, told the Pope of the conditions in the camps, especially of the Jews, the Holy Father broke down and wept. Bitterly, Pius XII confided to him: After many tears and many prayers I have judged that a protest of mine not only would fail to help anyone, but would create even more fury against the Jews, multiplying acts of cruelty. Perhaps my solemn protest would have earned me praise from the civilized world, but it would also have brought more implacable persecution of the Jews I love the Jews. (8)
Massive onslaught of Jews and Catholics after Dutch Bishops publicly protested Jewish deportations
The Pope knew first hand of the results of open confrontation with the Nazis. The Catholic clergy of Holland protested more loudly, and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the Catholic hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country. The end result was that over 110,000, or 80 percent of all the Jews, were deported to death camps, even more, in comparison, than anywhere else in the West. The reprisal included also thousands of Catholics, including the distinguished Catholic Carmelite philosopher Edith Stein, a converted Jew. In fact, Pius XII had his own even stronger protest ready to be published that very evening in the LOsservatore Romano. But he had the draft burnt saying: If the protest of the Catholic Bishops has cost the lives of 40,000 people, my intervention would take at least 200,000 to their deaths. (9) Without an army to support him, the struggle was fought through diplomatic and humanitarian channels, and through covert actions, that risked the neutral status of the Vatican State.
The Protestant Dutch Reformed Church refrained from protesting openly the Nazis persecution of the Jews, as a result, the lives of the Jews converted to the Reformed Church were spared, and none was deported to the concentration camps. In Germany, most of the Protestants not only supported Hitler, but many of them became part of the political German Protestant church, the so-called German Christians, under a Bishop of the Reich imposed by the Nazis. The German authorities had repeatedly complained to the Papal Nuncio that the Catholic clergy were unwilling or slow to celebrate their military victories, whereas the Protestant ministers did so. Nevertheless a small minority of anti-Nazis Protestants existed under the leadership of the great evangelical theologians, Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as the hero of the German resistance, the pastor of Dahlem, Rev. Martin Niemoller.
With the existing proven facts, can in all consciousness, truly be said that Pope Pius XII remained silent throughout WWII while millions of Jews and gentiles were exterminated? I do not think so. The Pope was not silent during WWII, he was not even neutral-he was on the Allies side.
THE ALLIES WERE SLOW IN RESPONDING TO THE JEWS PLEAS.
Unfortunately, anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism exist even today. Certainly there was anti-Semitism at that time all around the world, but it was not mainly from Catholics and much less from the Catholic Church. Germany was not alone; there was plenty of anti-Semitism in the highest spheres of the Allied governments.
Jewish historian Richard Breitman has written five books, one on the Holocaust and another on Nazism. He is, up to this day, the only person authorized to study the OSS secret documents of U.S. espionage during WWII. The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. interviewed him on June 29, 2000. In the article, Breitman not only confirms the role played by Pius XII in defending and safeguarding the persecuted during the Nazi regime but he also found the Allied silence on the Holocaust surprising. Their first testimonies are from the end of 1942 He also remarked that the documents denoted how the Nazis considered that the Vatican was in the side of the Allies. (10)
The reaction of the US, French and British governments at that time, and even later, when knowledge of the concentration camps existed, were certainly not in solidarity for the persecuted Jews. In the middle of the genocide, Britain closed the doors of Palestine to the Jews. The U.S. government accepted a total of 10,000-15,000 Jewish refugees throughout the war, a truly scandalous statistic.
Jewish leaders ask Allies to bomb railway lines to concentration camps
The posturing with strong public declarations followed by the empty deeds of the allied leaders did not save any Jewish lives. On June 6, 1944, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, the well known Zionist leader, later president of Israel, proposed to the British Minister, Anthony Eden, that the railway line to Auschwitz ought to be bombed. The British, after consultation, denied the request alleging the great technical difficulties involved. As the Jews died by the thousands daily, why was there not a rescue plan on the Allied side to counter the Nazi machinery of extermination? The Allies had already dropped tens of thousands of bombs on German cities. Why was that simple request which would have saved hundreds of thousands Jews and Christians refused? Later on, J.F. Martin, chief private secretary of Winston Churchill, explained the great technical difficulties. In a letter to Dr. Weizmann he wrote that they had discussed the matter with the Soviets and that the Soviets vetoed it.
When the evacuation of over 60,000 Jews from Bulgaria was suggested, Eden replied that the whole problem with the Jews was very difficult. If we do that (said Eden) then the Jews of the world will be wanting us to make similar offers in Poland and Germany. (11)
In 1943, there was a memorandum from British embassy sent to the U.S. State Department expressing their fear that the Germans may change over from a policy of extermination to one of extrusion, and aim, as they did before the war, at embarrassing other countries by flooding them with refugees. The State Department blocked, with Roosevelts connivance, efforts in Congress to help the Jewish refugees on their way to Palestine. (12)
When a passenger ship, the Saint Louis, full of Dutch Jews fleeing the nazis arrived in the United States, President Roosevelts government refused to grant them refuge. They were forced to return to Holland where they found certain death on the nazis concentration camps. No other country offered refugee to these unfortunate people.
The Jews depended on the success of The Catholic Churchs lone efforts -they had no other friends on the side of the Allies.
Franco offers refuge in Spain to persecuted Jews.
The reaction of the Western democracies was in stark contrast with that of Fascist Spain. General Francos regime, even though his country was devastated and impoverished after a bloody civil war, recognized all the Sephardic Jews living in the Nazi occupied territories as Spanish citizens. That measure allowed them to return to Spain- the beloved Sepharad, land of their ancestors where they lived a golden age more than five centuries ago. Francos government also collaborated with the Holy See and several South American countries in providing false passports for Jews trying to flee the Nazi scourge. More than 50,000 Jews were saved thanks to the Spanish government actions. When the Nazis discovered the covert operation, some of the Latin American countries retracted from accepting the validity of the faked passports. The Vatican, on January 24, 1944, interceded with the Latin American governments asking them to recognize the passports no matter how illegally obtained , and the humanitarian operation proceeded. Brazil gave 3,000 enter visas. Paraguay, Chile and others South American countries were also very receptive to the Popes pleas in favor of the Jews.
THE FORGOTTEN VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST. The persecution of Catholics.
Without belittling the unspeakable horrors suffered by Jews, we should not ignore the fact that millions of Catholics were also victims of the Holocaust, as were gypsies, homosexuals, and in much less scale, Orthodox and Protestants.
Poland had the biggest Jewish population in Europe and was the only country where there was a mandatory death penalty for those hiding Jews. Many, who were caught sheltering Jews, were killed in a gruesome manner, such as being publicly burned as a warning to others.
Although not every Catholic was a victim of the Nazis, it is certain that all the Jews were victims of Hitlers hatred. Hitlers Final Solution was targeted to the total extermination of the Jewish race-an abhorrent and unforgivable crime against humanity.
We should keep in mind the prevailing situation of complete despair throughout Europe at the beginning of the forties. The Germans already occupied Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Norway; and the invasion of the Soviet Union was going on while England was being bombed daily in preparation for the eventual invasion. The United States stayed out of the war until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the American naval base in Pearl Harbor. The neutral nations, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and the Vatican, were the only temporarily remaining free territories. Without any military force, all the Pope had was his powerful moral pulpit to encounter the all powerful and victorious German troops. Although the Vatican was neutral, The Church and its flock were being brutally attacked and decimated in the Nazis occupied countries.
According to historian William J. OMalley, S.J., to the genocide of six millions Jews we have to add nine to ten millions Slavic victims (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Yugoslavs) who were eliminated-not in war, not as saboteurs, not as guerrillas, but sorely because they were Slavic. The Nazis genocide, based on race, should also include half a million gypsies who, just as the Slavs, were executed because they were not member of the superior race, the Aryans. The Nazis in Poland alone murdered more than 3 million Catholics together with over 3 million Jews. (13)
About 2,800 clergymen were interned between 1940 and 1945, at Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp. Among them, 2,579 were Catholic clergymen, 109 Protestants, 30 orthodox and two Moslem clergymen. The Catholics came from 38 nations; 1,780 were Polish, 447 German and Austrian, 109 Czech and Slovaks, 50 Yugoslavs, 156 French, 63 Dutch. The auxiliary Polish Bishop of Wladislava died of typhus while imprisoned at Dachau. At least 1034 died in the camp, some victims of medical experimentation by the infamous Dr. Rascher. In 1940, 800 priests died in Buchenwald, 1,200 in 1942 and 3,000 in 1943. And that was just in Buchenwald.
As OMalley, pointed out, That figure, surprising as it might be, does not include the clergy or nuns who were shot, beheaded or tortured to death in squares and alleys and jails all over Europe In France, in February 1944, the Gestapo had arrested 162 priests, of whom 123 were shot or decapitated before ever reaching any camp. According to the International Tribunal at Nuremberg, 780 priests died of exhaustion at Mauthausen and 300 at Sachsenhausen, and there were hundreds of other camps in the network. Nor does the total figure of 2,771 take into consideration that one-quarter to one-third of those shipped to any camps often arrived dead. (14)
Polish Cardinal Stephan Wyszynski, in his prison memoirs, notes that he was the only member of his ordination class who escaped the concentration camps; seven died in Dachau; of the six who survived the concentrations camps, several soon died as the result of torture and medical experimentation. It is estimated that the Nazis imprisoned half of the Polish clergy.
The Pope not only had to answer to the pleas from the Jews, but also to those from his own flock. Quite an extraordinary burden to bear. In March 1942 a shattering letter from the Polish Archbishop Sapieha arrived to the Vatican: Our condition is in truth most tragic, he wrote to the Pope, deprived of almost all human rights, delivered to the cruelty of men lacking for the most part any human sentiment, we live continuously under horrible terror in constant danger of losing everything, either by trying to escape or by deportation, or incarceration in the so-called concentration camps, from which few come out alive. In these camps thousands and thousands of our brothers are held, without any judicial trial, people wholly innocent. Among them there are many priests, secular and religious to these things the typhus is now added spreading more and more daily. (15)
Catholic martyrdom was rich in examples of courage.
Catholic martyrdom was rich in examples of courage. When Msgr. Andrew Szeptyckyi was consecrated as Archbishop of Lwow of the Ruthenians, he asked the Pope during the ceremony, an explicit vocation for martyrdom. With that idea he approached Himmler personally on behalf of the Jews; their fate rent his noble spirit. There were many Catholics such as Oskar Schindler and St. Maximilian Kolbe who in brotherly love risked and even offered their own lives in behalf of the Jews.
Hitler, a self-proclaimed pagan, considered the Catholic Church on par with the Jews, as his mortal enemies.
It is documented that Hitler planned for the total obliteration of the Church. For Hitler Jews and Christians were the sources of every evil. The heaviest blow to humanity he once said, was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianitys illegitimate child. Both are inventions of Jews. In his diabolical mind, the extermination of the Jews would be needed for victory. Hitler designed and implemented a plan at Warthegau, in western Poland, to extirpate the Catholic and the Protestant churches from Europe. There is documentation that Count Von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster, who was an outspoken critic of the racial and eugenic policies of the Nazis, if it were not for the prominence and prestige of his position, would have been annihilated
In 1942, Pius XII told Fr. Paolo Dezza, rector of the Gregorian University, They want to destroy the Church and crush it as a toad there will be no place for the Pope in the new Europe, they say that I am going to America, I have no fear and I shall remain here. (16) Among the many ideological fundaments shared by the Nazis and the Communist was the hatred for religion, specially the Catholic Church. The only form of worship allowed was the cult to the leader of the totalitarian state. Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty went from a Nazi jail to a Communist jail after the war. There was no respite for Catholics after the War; in fact, the persecution of Catholics increased in the Soviet occupied countries.
In occupied Poland, Arthur Greiser was in charge of the annihilation of the Catholic Church
Arthur Greiser was in charge of the annihilation of the Catholic Church and the creation of a national German Church loyal to the Führer in Warthegau. The final goal was the complete Germanization of that Polish region, to which end Greiser worked without respite. Bishops were driven out, priests killed or imprisoned. Within a few years one third of the pre-war 2,000 priests were dead and 700 imprisoned; seminaries were closed, the Catholic press and voluntary associations suppressed. The Holy See found itself desperately fighting in two fronts, for the survival of the Jews and for the survival of his own flock. The Church in a beleaguered Poland was being bled to death by the two great scourges of humanity, the Nazis and Communists. In Poland three million Catholics went to their death along with three million Jews at the Nazis concentration camps in addition to the millions murdered by the Soviets.
It is documented that, according to Robert M.W. Kempner, former U.S. Deputy Chief of Counsel at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, among the measures scheduled to follow upon Hitlers victory were the following: every Catholic State must select its own Pope (and) the Bishop of Muenster will go before the firing squad one day. Every propaganda move by the Catholic Church against Hitlers Reich would have been not only provoking suicide, but would have hastened the execution of still more Jews and Priests. These and similar threats appeared in the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, the nazi theoretician of racial purity, and in Hitlers Table Talk.
Millions of Catholics were victims first of the Nazis and later of the Communists.
Most Catholics were anti-Nazi and anti-Communist. We should not forget the fact that hundreds of thousands of anti-Nazis from communist occupied territories as Poland, the Baltic States and Bessarabia, were sent by Moscow to German concentration camps, while hundreds of thousands of anti-Stalinists refugees living in Nazis territories were sent by Berlin to the Soviet concentration camps as part of the Stalin / Hitlers diabolical pact. Shamefully, the Western democracies did the same after WWII; thousands of anti-Communists who fled the Soviet Union during the war were forcedly deported to the Soviet concentration camps, the dreadful gulags. Entire families opted for suicide rather than deportation.
THE RESCUE OF THE JEWS. The Holy See made every possible effort to help the Jews.
Jewish population in Europe as the war begins
When Hitler came to power, about 6 million Jews lived in Central and Western Europe and 3 million inside the Soviet Union. About 600,000 were German, 180,000 Austrian, 270,000 French, 340,000 British, 150,000 Dutch, 360,000 Checks, 500,000 Hungarian, and 3 ½ million Poles. The first attacks against the German Jews started in March 1933 by way of several anti-Semite laws. Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and many other important scientists were among the 100,000 Jews who were able to escape between 1933 and 1939.
Israel Honors Pius XII
Israeli senior diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Pinchas Lapide, with access to Yad Vashems archives, has stated in his book, Three Popes and the Jews, that The Catholic Church relief and rescue program under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazis hands. That was more than all other Churches, religious institutions and international rescue organizations put together. (17) The Israelis recognized the lives saved by planting a forest, in commemoration, of as many trees in the Negeb, SE of Jerusalem. This forest was shown to Pope Paul VI during his first state visit to Israel.
At the end of the War, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, Albert Einstein, and many other prominent Jewish leaders expressed their deep gratitude toward Pius XII and the Catholic Church. On the death of Pius XII (1958), Golda Meir, the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a heartfelt eulogy for the Pope before the UN Assembly.
In his scholar book, The Last Three Popes and the Jews , Lapide said that Pius XII was one of the few world leaders outside the Jewry itself who was quick to recognize the danger of Nazism. Lapide demonstrates convincingly the consistent and active protection provided to the Jews in Europe by the papacy. In Lapides words:
When armed force ruled well-nigh omnipotent, and morality was at its lowest ebb, Pius XI commanded non of the former and could only appeal to the latter, in confronting with bare hands, the full might of evil.
A sounding protest, which might turn out to be self-thwarting-or quiet piecemeal rescue? Loud words- or prudent deeds? The dilemma must have been sheer agony, for whichever course he chose horrible consequences were inevitable. Unable to cure the sickness of an entire civilization, and unwilling to bear the brunt of Hitlers fury, the Pope, unlike many far mightier than he, alleviated, relieved, appealed, petitioned-and saved as most efficient he could by his own lights.
Who, but a prophet or a martyr could have done much more?
The Talmud teaches us that whoever preserves one life, it is accounted to him by Scripture as if he had preserved a whole world.
If this is true-and it is as true as that of most Jewish of tenets, the sanctity of human life-then Pius XII deserves that forest in Judean hills, which kindly people of Israel proposed for him in October 1958. A memorial forest with 860,000 trees. (Emphasis added. Three Popes and the Jews. pp.267-269)
Did not take long for the Nazis to violate the Concordat accords, Catholics schools and associations were closed as soon as The Church vocally opposed the racist and anti-Semite policies of the III Reich. Bishop von Galen of Munich exhorted the faithful to resist the pagan racism of the Nazi regime. Msgr. Walter Adolph, Vicar-General of the diocese of Berlin brought to light unpublished correspondence of Pius XII with Bishop (later Cardinal) von Pressing of Berlin in which the Pope encouraged the German clergy in their protest against every sort of inhumanity. Many German Catholic prelates were murdered as a result of their criticism for the treatment of Jews. Msgr. Bernhard Lichtenberg, dean of St. Hedwigs Cathedral in Berlin, asked on his congregation to pray for Jews and inmates in concentration camps after the pogroms of November 1938. He was arrested in 1942 and died while in route to Dachau, the infamous concentration camp.
The German and Austrian clergy at Dachau (447) were there for realizing that being a good Christian and a good Nazi were as irreconcilable as compassion and sadism. They had run underground presses and underground railways to rescue retarded children from the euthanasia laws (the other abhorrent Nazi crime) and Jews from deportation.
Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, wrote in 1963 a monograph entitled A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews, while serving as director of the Intercultural Affairs Department for the Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith. Dr. Lichten revealed how the Holy See and the Jewish organizations worked together to save Jewish lives. He cites that during the German occupation of Italy, The Church, following the Popes instructions, hid and fed thousands of Jews in Vatican City and in Castel Gandolfo (the papal Summer residence outside Rome), as well as in various churches and convents. As a result of this, the Jews in Italy had a much higher survival rate than in other of the nazi occupied countries. There were about 50,000 Jews in Italy in 1939. Dr. Litchen recorded that at the end of the war the Nazis took only 8,000 Jews from Italy. Miraculously, during the whole period of the mass hiding of the Jews, the Germans only raided the Churchs refuges twice capturing only a handful of people.
In 1943,The Pope publicly denounced the first mass arrest of Italian Jews in an article in LOsservatore Roman and protested their internment and the confiscation of their properties.
In August 1943, Pius XII received a plea from the World Jewish Congress to try to persuade the Italian authorities to release 20,000 Jewish refugees from internment in Northern Italy. They wrote, Our terror-stricken brethren look to Your Holiness as the only hope for saving them from persecution and death. In September 1943, A.L. Easterman on behalf of the WJC reported to the Apostolic Delegate in London that the efforts of the Holy See on behalf of the Jews had been successful. He wrote, I feel sure that the effort of your Grace, and of the Holy See have brought about this fortunate result, and I should like to express to the Holy See and yourself the warmest thanks of the World Jewish Congress.
Around the same time, the German Chief of Police in Rome threatened to send about 200 Jews to the Russian front unless they produced within 36 hours 50 Kg of gold or the equivalent in currency. The Chief Rabbi approached the Holy See, who immediately placed at the Rabbis disposal the 15 Kg. of gold they needed to complete the ransom. More than half of the Jews in Rome were sheltered in ecclesiastical buildings opened on the express instructions of Pius XII himself. The Vatican Secretariat of State saved more Jews by faking their baptisms and sending lists of baptized Jews to the German Ambassador, Weizsacker, so that they could be evacuated. Many of those saved were helped to escape by the massive issuing of Vatican passports.
Indeed, Adolph Eichman, the Nazi butcher in charge of the deportation of the Jews in Italy, noted in his diary The Churchs role in the rescuing of Jews. The German Ambassador at the Vatican, Ernst von Weizsacker, a humane man who did not approve of the genocide, was receptive to the Holy Sees complaints. According to Eichman, the objections given and the excessive delay in the steps necessary to complete the implementation of the operation, resulted in a great part of the Italian Jews being able to hide and escape capture.
The Chief Rabbi in Rome during the German occupation, Israel Zolli, once said, No hero in history was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic, than Pius XII. In fact, Zolli was so moved by Pius XII, with whom he worked closely in the saving of Jewish lives, that he converted to Catholicism after the war and took the Popes own name, Eugenio, as his baptismal name.
Rome under German occupation
At the beginning of 1944 Rome had already been under German control for four months. More than six months were yet to pass before the German troops would retreat to the North. The churches, seminaries, and convents, even those solemnly bound to the cloister were opened to all categories of refugees, regardless of political leanings, religion or race (the dispensation was granted by the Pope). More than 180 Churchs facilities were used in the rescue effort. They harbored Jews, military officers and members of the resistance. Of the refugees hidden at Castel Gandolfo more than 3,000 were Jews. In the convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion there was a group of 200 Jewish men and women for several months. In the Roman Seminary of St. John Lateran nearly the entire National Committee of Liberation was hidden-only a few paces from the headquarters of the Gestapo police. In a raid into the extra-territorial Basilica of St. Pauls Out-side the Walls; the neo-Fascist police found that the monastery was a shelter for the very people they were seeking. During the German occupation of Rome, more than half of the Jewish population found refuge in The Churchs facilities, including the Vatican itself.
The Vatican City was in imminent risk of being occupied by the German troops. Spain and Brazil offered refuge to the Pope, but the Pope adamantly refused any possibility of abandoning Rome. As Cardinal Tisserant said: Everyone knew that the Pope was ready to go to a concentration camp. Speaking to the College of Cardinals on February 9, 1944, when the fate of Rome was in question, Pius XII surely manifested his courage:
There is no need to declare that we, whatever may happen, will never leave the Apostolic See or our beloved Rome. We shall yield only to violence. We do not have anxiety for our lot, but we do for yours, Venerable Brothers. Therefore we dispense you from your obligation to share our fate. Each of you is free to do as he thinks most efficient for his own safety. (18)
German troops advance towards St. Peter Square
As German troops advanced towards St Peter Square, the Pope ordered the Papal Swiss Guards to move to the white demarcation line with their arms ready while machine guns posts were placed on high alert in the surrounding Vatican buildings. The German troops retreated.
The Vatican was thoroughly aware of the Nazis ruthlessness and intransigence, especially toward the Jews, and intensified its diplomatic maneuvers in favor of the Jews in Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. The Nuncio in Bucharest, Msgr. Andreas Cassulo, had a close relationship of trust with the Chief Rabbi, Dr. Alexander Shafran and the Jewish community. An exodus operation of orphan Jews under the age of 16 was under way with the Nuncios tutelage. Thanks to the Holy Sees intervention the age of those allowed to leave was made to include those until the age of 16 years instead of until the age of 12. In cooperation with Jewish organizations, the aim was to send the children through Turkey to Palestine. On July 11, 1944 the first Rumanian refugee ship arrived in Istanbul carrying 250 children from Costanza.
On May 25, 1945, Nuncio Cassulo transmitted to the Holy See two messages from Rabbi Shafran, in one he referred to Cassulo: The high moral authority of the Nuncio saved us, he prevailed so that the deportation should not take place. It was he who obtained the repatriation of all the Jews from Transnystria, but for the Jewish orphans in particular he was a loving father. With deep satisfaction he did inform me that they might leave for the Holy Land. (19)
In his message to the Pope, Rabbi Shafran expressed his gratitude for what has been done for him and for the Jewish community. Now he has begged me (the Nuncio) to convey to the Holy Father his feelings of thankfulness for the generous aid granted to prisoners in concentration camps on the occasion of the Christmas festivities. At the same time he told me he had written to Jerusalem, to the Chief Rabbi Herzog, and also elsewhere, in America, to point out what the Nunciature has done for them in the time of present difficulties. (20)
Jewish historian, David Herstig, wrote in 1967 in the Stuttgarts newspaper Die Rettung, that he calculated that 360,000 Romanian Jews in Israel owed their life to Pope Pius XII.
The Pope protested strongly against the deportations of Jews in Slovakia, Hungary and Vichy, France, since these were formerly Catholic countries where Fascists had gained control and they still had a majority of Catholic citizens. In Hungary the Nunciature used thousands of blank and forged forms to help Jews escape. A Red Cross worker even complained that the use of forged documents was against the Geneva Convention! The Apostolic Nuncio in Hungary, Msgr. Angelo Rotta, responded; my son, you need have no qualms of conscience because rescuing innocent men and women is a virtue. Continue your work for the glory of God. And the Nuncio continued with the covert operation.
In Hungary, until 1944, in spite of the enactment of severe anti-Semitic laws, the Jews enjoyed relative safety beyond Nazi control. The Hungarian government of the Regent, Admiral Nicholas Horthy, a Protestant with good relations with the Vatican, did not turn over to the Germans any of its Jews, not even the many refugees from Poland and Slovakia. In fact, he had allowed his country to become the haven of refuge for Jews. Unfortunately, on March 23, 1944, German troops marched into Hungary. Budapest and its outskirts remained under the Regents control until October, but massive deportations to Auschwitz from outlying parts of the country began in mid-May. The deportations were interrupted, acting upon direct appeal from the Pope, in early June when Admiral Horthy temporarily regained control. However, the Germans arrested Horthy in October, putting control of all Hungary in the hands of the fanatical anti-Semites of the Arrow Cross, and the massacre of Jews resumed. From that moment the Jews were also being deported to labor camps in Austria. Not until December 23, 1944, did the Eichmann Kommando leave Budapest.
Jewish organizations and the Holy See work together in the rescue of Jews.
The efforts of the Vatican, in coordination with Jewish organizations, to save the Hungarian Jews during those tragic months is well documented in the chronicles of the Holy See day by day, week by week. On March 25, 1944 the Apostolic Delegate in Washington, Msgr. Cicognani, informed the Vatican that the Jewish War Refugee Board were urging that measures be taken to aid the nearly 2 million Jews from Hungary (and Romania) and the Polish refugees who were living under terror and persecution and now threatened with extinction.
he Nuncios insisted, many times unsuccessfully, that the baptized Jews had all the rights of the non-Jewish Catholics, and for the other Jews they demanded that they be treated according to the norms of fundamental human rights. Nuncio Msgr. Rotta protested to no avail to the prime minister, Dom Sztojay, and to the foreign minister himself: The very fact of persecuting men merely on account of their racial origin, is a violation of the natural law. It is estimated that Msgr. Rotta alone had given over 80,000 false baptism certificates as a safeguard for the Jews, but, as the Hungarian Foreign Minister replied to the Nuncios protestations, the problem is one of race, which is not changed by baptism.
The atrocities multiplied and the nuncio, as head of the diplomatic corps in Budapest, mobilized the Ambassadors of the four other neutral Nations. On August 21, Rotta and the envoys of Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland, presented a very strong protest to the government. The deportations were unjust in their motive-for it is absolutely inadmissible that men should be persecuted and put to death just because of their racial origin- and brutal in their execution; (21) said the draft note written by Rotta. The indefatigable Nuncio and the Holy See continued their struggle in favor of the Jews.
On October 29, The Holy Father sent an open telegram to Hungarian Cardinal Seredi asking for a special day of prayers and a collection to help the Jews. Encouraged by the Pope, the Hungarian priests and religious opened their houses to the Jews. In the end, in spite of all the efforts, about 550,000 Hungarian and refugee Jews had died; 150,000 survived in Budapest and 40,000 in the provinces. As Jeno Levai, the foremost scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, said of Pius XII that it was a particularly regrettable irony that the one person in all 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. (22)
The most heartbreaking and humiliating case for the Holy Father was that in Slovakia the head of State, Tiso, was a Catholic priest and the population mostly Catholic. Slovakia was a protectorate of Germany since 1939, and as such, the racial anti-Semite laws were applied. Dr. Livia Rotkirchen of Yad Vashem, affirms that it may be said that the letters of protest delivered by the Vatican during the years 1941-1944 prove sufficiently that the Vatican objected to the deportation of Jews from Slovakia and later added that they were backed by numerous oral pleas and protests. As everywhere else, the clergy and religious took Jews into hiding.
Unfortunately, there were other cases where the Catholics supported the Nazis. Some Catholics betrayed one of the main tenets of their faith, to love your neighbor, and were involved with the Nazi terror. But one cannot blame Pius XII, nor the Church for the actions of those who strayed from the faith-any more than one can not put the blame upon the Jewish leaders for the fact that there were Jewish Kapos and Jewish policemen who helped the Nazis enforce their extermination policies.
There are allegations that The Church helped some Nazis war criminals escape to South America after the end of the war. While it is fully proven and documented that The Church helped over 800,000 Jews to escape from certain death, there is not a single proven case of a Nazi criminal who had been helped to escape by the Vatican. That does not mean that there may exist a case in which a clergy helped a Nazi to escape, but certainly, not with the knowledge, and much less the approval, of the Holy See. We must not forget that the Nazis tortured thousands of Catholic priests and nuns to death.
The Belgian Jews were more fortunate. Seventy-five percent of the 90,000 living during the Nazi occupation were saved. Among the reasons, the German Commander in Chief, General von Falkenhausen, was a humane individual who heeded to the pleas of Queen Elizabeth and Cardinal Van Roey. Countless priests organized rescue networks. Refuge was widely available. The Bishop of Liege gave the Rabbi of the city a cassock and introduced him to the Gestapo as his secretary.
In France of the 350,000 pre-war Jews, 150,000 were deported; including 22,000 children; of the deported only 3,000 survived. The 200,000 that were saved were due to the help of the laity and the courage of three Church leaders, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Saliege of Toulouse, Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons and Bishop Theas of Montauban (later Lourdes). Theas was imprisoned; Saliege would have had the same fate but for his illness; so would Gerlier but for his rank in the Church.
Saliege referring to the horrible scenes witnessed in his diocese strongly denounced the crimes. He cried, Jews (who) are our brothers. Theas described the scenes of indescribable suffering and horror all men are brothers, created by one God the current anti-Semitic measures are a violation of human dignity and the sacred rights of the individual and the family. May God comfort and strengthen those who are persecuted. Cardinal Gerlier exhorted: The deportations of Jews now in course cause such painful scenes that we must lift our voices in conscientious protest who will stop the Church from loudly confirming in this dark hour the irrefutable rights of men, the sanctity of family ties, the inviolability of the right to asylum, and that brotherly charity which Christ has taught us? In the middle of the tragedy, the French people, individuals, families, clergy, religious communities all worked together to save the Jews. Many French Catholics went to jail rather than betray the Jews. (23)
In Yugoslavia, Cardinal Stepinac was at the forefront in the defense of the Jews. When in March 1943, the government ordered all the Jews to report to the police for transfer to camps in Poland, Stepinac sent a strong protest to the dictator, and, from the pulpit he condemned the rule: No civil power or political system has the right to persecute a person on account of his racial origins. We Catholics protest against such measures, and we will combat them. Earlier, Stepinac had led a delegation to protest against the persecution of the Jews, and the anti-Jewish program was canceled.
At the end of the War and with the conquest of Yugoslavia by the Communists, the Catholics were to become the victims again of violent oppression and repression. Priests were killed and imprisoned and Cardinal Stepinac was the victim of a mock trial and condemned to sixteen years of hard labor. The world also remained silent while the onslaught of Christians was going on at the hands of the Communist thugs.
Pius XII created agencies to coordinate relief work. American Jews and Cardinal Spellman channeled throughout the Pope generous humanitarian aid for the Jews.
From the first days of the war, Pope Pius XII distributed untold sums to aid the Jews all over Nazi occupied Europe. One of Pius XIIs first steps at the beginning of the War was the creation of two official agencies with pontifical rank to coordinate relief work, the Pontifical Aid Commission and the Office for Information. The first body, in liaison with local organizations, channeled supplies of food, medicine, and clothing, to the needy, to the prisoners of war in particular. It was a task of vast proportions involving 40 countries; financial grants were provided for the repatriation of 630,000 displaced persons; full responsibility was taken for 53,000 victims. Church authorities joined forces with national and international Jewish agencies. American Jews also trusted on the hands of the Pope large sums that were distributed according to the wishes of the donors. Cardinal Spellman also channeled generous humanitarian aid from the U.S. Catholics.
The Vatican Information Office handled over one and a quarter million requests and succeeded in locating over half a million of the displaced persons, mostly Jews, a success ratio of 44 percent, in spite of the non cooperation from the Nazis and little, if at all, cooperation from the Allies. The communication with prisoners of war was another of its important services. Both Agencies were under the direction of Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
PIUS XII AND THE RESISTANCE
Pius XII, a man of great personal courage dared to be involved in a high risk venture that could even endanger the very existence of The Church-the support of the internal resistance to the Nazis inside the German Armed Forces. The French and the British governments were deaf to the pleas of the Vatican to assist the German internal resistance to the Nazi government. From the very beginning Pius XII tried to persuade the Allies to support the inside German opposition, but they did not heed the Pope.
A number of anti-Nazi plotters inside the Abwehr, the intelligence branch of the armed forces, made repeated, and ultimately futile attempts through the Holy See to reach and persuade the British to back, or even to talk with the German resistance. They were all killed in the July 20, 1944; plot to assassinate Hitler, the last in a long line of foiled attempts to get rid of the dictator. The leader, a Roman Catholic officer, Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg was shot on he spot. Other conspirators, mostly Protestants, were not so lucky; they were hung by using piano strings from butchers hooks and filmed on Hitlers orders so that he could watch it himself later.
ccording to historian OCarroll, in 1983 the Italian magazine Gente, published the testimony of General Wolff, the commander of the German forces in Italy during WWII. He revealed that in 1943 Pius XII had invited him to the Vatican and tried to persuade him to end the war in Italy on his own initiative. General Wolff was impressed and gave the matter thought; he finally decided against the Popes plea. But he recorded the immense personal impression that Pius XII made on him. We already mentioned how the whole leadership of the Italian resistance found refugee in the Churchs facilities in Rome.
Pius XII also served as a conduit for an offer made by a group of anti-Nazi German generals to topple Hitler from power. They wanted to know if the British would make peace with Germany if they succeeded in arresting Hitler and removing him from power. The proposal was made by Colonel-General Ludwig Beck (four star general), who latter was made chief of the German General Staff, but who resigned in 1938 convinced that Hitler was a criminal. Pius XII had known Beck when he was Nuncio in Berlin and highly esteemed his honesty and integrity.
The Pope also allowed the Vatican diplomatic corps, which was protected by diplomatic immunity, to carry messages between the Allied powers. There was a close collaboration between the Vatican and the Allies intelligence services. In fact, the Vatican forewarned Holland and Belgium of the upcoming German invasion.
TESTIMONIALS ON PIUS XII FROM WORLD LEADERS.
The fact is, as affirmed Graham, that even before 1944, the world Jewish organizations had recognized in the Vatican a friend who was willing- and often able- to help their people during their tragic ordeal in occupied Europe. The concerns of the Jewish organizations were also those of the Holy See. Sometimes The Church acted on the appeal of a Jewish organization, at other times, they acted on the basis of reports received from its own representatives in the occupied territories where they held a relationship of confidence with the local Jewish leaders. In many instances, the Holy See had already acted upon information received from its own nuncios before the appeals from Jewish organizations arrived at the Vatican.
Pope Paul VI, who was a close collaborator with Pius XII, authorized in 1964 the publications of the documents of the Holy See relating World War II. In Volume X, there is a day-by-day record of the Holy Sees correspondence with the most active international Jewish organizations. Among the more important of these are the ones from the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe, the World Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Congress, Agudas Israel World Organization, Vaad Hahatzala of the Unions of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, Hijefs (Schweizerischer Hillfsverein fur Judische Fluchling im Ausland), the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the American Jewish Committee.
In November, 1943, Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, wrote to Cardinal Roncalli, (the future Pope John XXIII) then Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece, stating: I take this opportunity to express to your Eminence my sincere thanks as well as my deep appreciation of your kindly attitude to Israel and of the invaluable help given by the Catholic Church to the Jewish people in its affliction. Would you please convey these sentiments which come from Sion, to His Holiness the Pope (Pius XII) along with the assurances that the people of Israel know how to value his assistance and his attitude. (24) The American Jewish Welfare Board wrote to Pius XII on July 1944 to express their appreciation for the protection given to the Jews during the German occupation of Italy.
In 1944 the War Refugee Board came into existence as the united effort of several American Jewish organizations. During and after the war, the War Refugee Board publicly acknowledged its close relationship with the Holy See. The documentation includes the correspondence from eminent rabbinical leaders who made special appeals to the Holy See; among them are the Grand Rabbi of Jerusalem, Dr. Issac Herzog; the Grand Rabbi of the British Empire, Dr. Joseph Hertz; and Rabbi Abraham Kalmanowitz, leader of the rabbinical school of Mir, in Lithuania.
Fr. William Saunders has quoted Dr. Raphael Cantoni, a leader in Italys Jewish Assistance Committee, declaring that The Church and the Papacy have saved Jews as much and insofar as they could Christians. Six million of my co-religionists have been murdered by the Nazis but there would have been many more victims had it not been for the efficacious intervention of Pius XII. (25)
New York Times praises Pius XIIs Christmas Messages in 1941 and 1942
On Christmas Day 1941, the editorial of the New York Times, commenting on Pius XIIs Christmas Message, said: The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas as we realize that he is about the only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all In calling for a real new order based on liberty, justice and love, to be attained only by a return to social and international principles capable of creating a barrier against the abuse of liberty and the abuse of power. The Pope, said the NYT, put himself squarely against Hitlerism, he left no doubt that the Nazi aims are also irreconcilable with his own conception of a Christian peace.
On Christmas Day 1942, the New York Times editorialized on Pius XIIs Christmas Message and again praised the Pope for his moral leadership. This Christmas, said de NYT, more than ever he (Pius XII) is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent. The Pulpit whence he speaks is more than ever like the rock on which the Church was founded, a tiny island lashed and surrounded by a sea of war (Pius XII) condemns as heresy the new form of national state which subordinates every thing to itself, he declared that whoever wants peace must protect against arbitrary attacks the juridical safety of individuals. The Pope assailed the violent occupation of territory, the exile and persecution of human beings for no other reason than race or political opinion. The address also contained the first formal enunciation of human rights made by a Pope.
Pope Pius XII, said the NYT, expresses as passionately as any leader on our side of the war aims of the struggle for freedom when he says that those who aim at building a new world order must fight for free choice of government and religious order. They must refuse that the state should make of individuals a herd of whom the state disposes as if they were a lifeless thing.
The British Ambassador to the Vatican says that the Pope was the most warmly humane, kindly, sympathetic, and saintly character he had known
DArcy Osborne, the Protestant Minister of Britain to the Vatican wrote of Pope Pius XII: as the most warmly humane, kindly, generous, sympathetic, and incidentally saintly, character who has been my privilege to meet in the course of a long life. (26)
Charles de Gaulle described the Pope as pious and compassionate
Charles de Gaulle, after an audience with the Pope on June 30, 1944, declared: The Holy Father receives me. Beneath the kindly welcome and the simplicity of his language, I am gripped by the sharpness and power of his thought. Pius XII judges everything from a viewpoint superior to that of men the supernatural burden, which is laid on him alone in all the world, weighs, one feels, on his soul, but he carries it without flinching, certain of his goal, sure of his way Pious, compassionate, political in the highest meaning these words can have, thus this pontiff and sovereign appears to me, through the respect which he inspires in me. (27)
The World Jewish Congress give Piux XII a token of gratitude
On October 12, 1945, Leo Kubwitsky, on behalf of the World Jewish Congress made a gift of 2 million lire (the equivalent of over one million dollars at present value) to the Vatican as a token of gratitude. Pius XII decided that the sum should go exclusively to needy people of Jewish origin. Jews who had first hand knowledge, or participated in the extraordinary efforts of Pius XII and the Catholic Church in saving Jewish lives during this most tragic period, were not short in publicly expressing their profound gratitude while this great Pope was still alive. Moshe Sharett, Israels first Foreign Minister, (and later the second Prime of Minister), met Pius XII in 1945 and said later: I told him that my first duty was to thank him, and through him, the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish people, for all they had done in various countries to rescue Jews, to save children and Jews in general. (28)
The Founders of the State of Israel express their condolences at the death of Pius XII in 1958
Among those who mourned the death of Pius XII pronouncing heartfelt tributes were the President of Israel Ben-Zevi, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress and the World Zionist Organization, and many Rabbis including Dr. Israel Goldstein of New York. Rabbi Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, said: More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror, when it seemed that there was no hope left for us. Rabbi Israel Zolli stated: What the Vatican did will indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts Priests and even high prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism. (29)
The Israelis Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Golda Meirs cablegram to the Vatican read; 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 the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace. (30)
Unfortunately, today we are witnessing a campaign against this great benefactor of Humanity. His memory is being slandered and dishonored through falsehoods and innuendoes. This matter should be open to honest analysis and discussion. Legitimate discrepancies might exist while studying historical facts, but that should not be of excuse for those people who are moved by the same great evils of ignorance, hatred, and bigotry that made possible the brutal onslaught of innocent people by the Nazis and the Communists.
The relationship of trust and collaboration during WW II between the Holy See, the Jewish organizations, the Allies intelligence services and their governments, including the anti-Nazi German Generals, is well proven and documented. However, there is not the slightest thread of evidence to substantiate the preposterous and vicious allegations raised against Pius XII and the Catholic Church of collaboration or sympathizing with the Nazis.
Did the Church do enough to save the Jews? As usual those who do the less complain the most and those who do the most always think they could have done even more. When Michael OCarroll, author of the scholar book Pius XII: Greatness Dishonoured related in the Foreword that in 1957 he met Dr. Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel, and he told him with emotion of an audience he had with the Pope and how they discussed the prophet Ezechiel. My blessing to him said the saintly old man, and OCarroll promised to be the bearer of the message of his goodwill. When OCarroll gave the message to Pius XII he added I think Jews everywhere are grateful for what you did for them during the war. I wish I could have done more was the Popes reply.
On February 28, 1945, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, sent a letter of gratitude to the Apostolic Nuncio in Rumania, Msgr. Andrea Cassulo, stating that: The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living prove of divine Providence in this world. (31)
Rabbi Herzogs heartfelt words should suffice to forever end the slanderous attacks to the memory of the great protector of the Jews, Pius XII and the Catholic Church.
Those testimonies aforementioned, as powerful as they might be, are just a few samples of the hundreds of messages of gratitude sent to Pius XII by Jews from around the world. There are at least 4 to 5 million descendants of those 860,000 Jews around the world whose lives were saved by Pius XII and the Catholic Church. They should be able to bring to light much more valuable documentation if they were to delve into their familys historical records, the Israelis archives, and so many other serious, unbiased, Jewish scholarly research in this matter.
In Pius XIIs own words in an address given on June 13, 1943, he said: Our speeches and messages will not be able to be crossed out or run down by anyone, neither in their intentions nor essence. Everyone has been able to hear them as words of truth and peace The Church is not afraid of the light of truth, neither of the past, the present, nor the future. (32)
To those seeking the truth, what a better witness than the testimony of Albert Einstein, the great Jewish physicist, who had first hand experience of the horrors of Nazism? In 1944 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 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. (33)
Just as the evils of the Holocaust must never be forgotten, neither should the kindness of those spiritual brothers from another faith who tried to help the Jews, at the risk of their own lives, under the most enormously dangerous travails be forgotten. The new generations ought to honor the moral commitment made by the founding leaders of the State of Israel towards the memory of Pius XII. The truth will prevail and with it, a greater understanding and brotherhood among Jews and Catholics.
Houston, Texas, August 2000
Pius XII Greatness Dishonoured Michael OCarroll, 1980, Laetare Press (a major source for this article).
Christian Resistance to Anti-Semitism Memories from 1940-1944, Henri de Lubac, Ignatius Press, 1988
The Last Three Popes and the Jews, Pinchas Lapide, London, 1967.
The Real Story of Pius XII and the Jews,
Las Puertas del Infierno Ricardo de la Cierva, 1995, Editorial Fenix (Spanish historian and a prolific writer who has published numerous books on the History of the Catholic Church.)
Pius XII and the Holocaust The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, 1988. Including:
Pius XIIs Defense of Jews and Others : 1944-45 Robert A. Graham, S.J. (1987) (Foremost scholar in Pius XII. Since 1965 he formed part of a group of experts who had been working in the Vatican archives in the monumental task of editing an 11-volumen series containing the private records of the Secretariat of State during World War II.)
A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews Dr. Joseph L. Lichten (1963) (He wrote this work while serving as director of the International Affairs Department for the Anti-Defamation League for Bnai Brith.)
The Priest of Dachau and Priests of the Holocaust William J. OMalley, S.J. (1987)
International Congress on Martyrs of Hitlers Regime. Rome, May 2, 2000 (ZENIT) http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/zchrcnaz.htm
Did Pius XII Remain Silent? Fr. William Saunders. http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/piusjews.htm
How to Manufacture a Legend: the Controversy Over the Alleged Silence of Pope Pius XII in World War II Robert A. Graham, S.J. http://www.ewtn.com/library/answers/p12holo.htm
The Real History of Pius XII and the Jews , James Bogle The Salisbury Review Spring 1996 http://www.catholicleague.org/Inventory/bool5.htm
New Documents Prove Nazis Distrusted Him for Helping Jews http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/zpi12rhb.htm
Jewish-Catholic Commission to study World War II Vatican City, November 23, 1999 (ZENIT) http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/zjwwctww2.htm
Historical Truth of Pius XIIs Work Rome, April 16, 2000 (ZENITH) http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/zpi12his.htm
Eichmanns Diary Reveals Churchs Assistance to Jews Jerusalem, march 1, 2000 (ZENITH) http://www.ewtn.com/library/chistory/zpi12eic.htm
Saviour of the Jews Michael OCarroll http://www.ewtn.cm/library/answers/piurs12jw.htm
The Myth in the Light of the Archives, the recurring accusations against Pope Pius XII Pierre Blet, S.J. http://www.ewtn.com/library/issues/bletp12.htm
World Press Unmasks Fallacies in Book Defaming Pius XII Vatican City, October 3, 1999 http://www.ewtn.com/library/issues/zpius12b.htm
A Nasty Caricature of a Noble and Saintly Man Dr. Peter Gumpel http;//www.ewtn.com/library/issues/zpius12a.htm
(1) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured , Michael OCarroll, p.39
(2) A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews. Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, p.107
(3) International Congress on Martyrs of Hitlers Regime. p.1
(4) A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews. Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, p. 106
(5) A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews. Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, p. 107
(6) Did Pius XII Remain Silent? Fr. William Saunders, p.3
(7) How to Manufacture a Legend: the Controversy Over the Alleged Silence of Pope Pius XII in World War II Robert A. Graham, S.J., p.3.
(8) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 84
(9) The Real History of Pius XII and the Jews, James Bogle, p. 14
(10) New Documents Prove Nazis Distrusted Him for Helping Jews p. 1
(11) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.103
(12) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 103
(13) Priests of the Holocaust William J. OMalley, p.153
(14) Priests of Dachau William J. OMalley, p.143
(15) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.135
(16) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.60
(17) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 11
(18) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 70
(19) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.105
(20) Pius XIIs Defense of Jews and Others: 1944-45 Robert A. Graham, p.25
(21) Pius XIIs Defense of Jews and Others: 1944-45 Robert A. Graham, p. 40
(22) "The Truth about Pope Pius XII Sister Margherita Marchione, Ph.D. http://www.catholicleague.org/ truth.htm
(23) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 108
(24) The Real History of Pius XII and the Jews, James Bogle, p.4
(25) Did Pius XII Remain Silent? Fr. William Saunders, p. 4
(26) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.70
(27) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p. 70
(28) Pius XII, Greatness Dishonoured, Michael OCarroll, p.149
(29) A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews. Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, p. 129
(30) A Question of Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews. Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, p. 129
(31) Pius XIIs Defense of Jews and Others: 1944-45 Robert A. Graham, p. 26
(32) Historical Truth of Pius XIIs Work Sister Margherita Marchione Ph.D p. 2
(33) The Truth about Pope Pius XII Sister Margherita Marchione Ph.D p.3 http://www.catholicleague.org/ truth.htm
1 Posted on 08/22/2000 12:20:35 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 close tags?
2 Posted on 08/22/2000 12:27:36 PDT by Romulus [ Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Romulus fixed?
3 Posted on 08/22/2000 12:29:44 PDT by Romulus [ Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 Robert A. Graham, S.J. (1987) (Foremost scholar in Pius XII. Since 1965 he formed part of a group of experts who had been working in the Vatican archives in the monumental task of editing an 11-volumen series containing the private records of the Secretariat of State during World War II.)
I had the happy fortune of meeting Fr. Graham in Rome 23 years ago, at a reception on the occasion of the Synod of Bishops. Spotting me for the clueless and ill-at-ease student that I was, Fr. Graham strolled over and introduced himself. When I asked him what he did, he mentioned that he was a historian specializing in the Vatican during WWII. Little did I know that this modest, friendly man was the world's foremost authority on the subject. I'll never forget what he said just before we parted: "Let me give you some advice. Don't let anything you see around here surprise you." Not bad advice from a historian.
4 Posted on 08/22/2000 12:41:47 PDT by Romulus [ Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 This was truly worth the time it took to read it. Thank you for posting it. As I understand it, the push to "get" Pius XII didn't really begin until John Paul II started sainthood proceedings on Pius XII.
Our present Holy Father sounds a lot like Pius XII.
5 Posted on 08/22/2000 14:16:52 PDT by Slyfox [ Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Slyfox
The slanderous attacks against Pius XII and the Catholic Churchs handling of the Jewish Holocaust started in Germany in 1963 with Rolf Hochhuths play, Der Stellvertreter, (The Deputy) , which dealt with Pius XII and the Holocaust. Rolf was a Protestant who in his youth was a member of the Nazi Youth Organization and his father a member of the Nazi repressive apparatus.
At the time, many of the Jewish leaders who worked closely with the Pope in the rescue of the Jews were still alive and tried to correct the record, but to not avail. Jewish historian and senior Israeli diplomat, Pinchas Lapide, who was one of the foremost scholars in the matter, made a spirited defense of Pius record. Historian Jeno Levai, the only foreign Jew invited as an expert at the Eichman trial in Jerusalem, did speak in a courtroom in defense of Pius XII and repudiated Hochhuths judgment unreservedly.
The anti-Catholic bigotry became a full speed runaway train. Even more vicious films followed in 1973 to date. We saw recently a complete distortion of historical facts by a televised , "60 Minutes" ,program on Pius XII and the Holocaust. Open anti-Catholic bigotry is today the only "politically correct" accepted practice in the liberal press. The American taxpayers are even forced to pay for hatred art such as the one depicting a crucifix in a bucket of urine or a picture of the Virgin Mary among genitals and elephant dung, something that would never be allowed if that hatred were directed against Muslims, Jews, or members of any other religion.
6 Posted on 08/23/2000 09:09:10 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 Thanks for the clarification. I do know that the modernist's have been holding up a number of saints. A few years ago there was clamor for Martin Luther. The Venerable Anne Catherine Emmerich, who is past due for canonization, has been held back because of her anti-masonic views. Interesting, huh?
7 Posted on 08/23/2000 10:17:38 PDT by Slyfox [ Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Slyfox I just received this article by e.mail and I believe you may it find very interesting.
JAN KARSKI, A Hero for Catholics and Jews
It is said of the Poles that they are among the few people who would send out cavalry to fight tanks but they are the only people who would expect to win. By their refusal to give way to Hitler over Danzig, they did as much a any nation to start the destruction of German Nazism. Through their defiance of a regime imposed on them by the Kremlin, they did more than any nation to bring down Soviet communism.
Jan Kozielewski-he took de nom de guerre Karski when Poland was invaded jointly by the Wehrmacht and the Red Army in September 1939-was a Polish hero of the resistance to both Nazi and communist tyranny, but he will be remembered, above all, as a courageous witness to the Holocaust. He was the first person to inform Anthony Eden, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and other allied leaders, in 1942, of the Nazi extermination camps and to give them a detailed account of the genocide of the Jews.
Mr. Karski was born into a Catholic family in Lodz and educated by the Jesuits. Polands grimy second city was a haunted feel today. Its giant textile mills are broken down; its alleys daubed with slogans that mindlessly defame rival football teams. But before the second world war it was the Manchester Poland.
The princess of Lodtz, industrialists like Izrael Poznanski, were Jews. Future prominent Israelis grew up beside Mr. Karski. But when papers and memorabilia associated with Mr. Karski were returned to his home town last year, to be displayed in the city museum, the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe was just about the only remaining sing that Lodz once housed a large Jewish population.
The eyes, ears and voice of the Polish underground Mr. Karski served as a Polish diplomat in Bucharest, Berlin, Geneva and London until, on the outbreak of war, he joined the Polish army as lieutenant. He was wise enough to pass as a private when he was captured by the Red Army and so escaped the Katyn massacre of Polish officers that took place on Stalins orders.
On his release by the Russians, Mr. Karski joined the Polish resistance. His photographic memory and fluency in several languages persuade its leaders to entrust him with two courier missions to Paris. On his return from the second of these, he was captured by the Germans. The Gestapo tortured him so mercilessly that he was set on committing suicide before he was sprung by a resistance cell of the Polish Socialist Party. As a devout Catholic and a fervent anti-communist, Mr. Karkski was ever afterwards to savor the irony that his life had been saved by Jozef Cyrankiewicz, a future communist prime minister of Poland.
After his recuperation in Warsaw, Mr. Karski was given the mission that made him famous: to find out all he could about the extermination of the Jews. He crawled into the Warsaw ghetto through a tunnel and witnessed summary executions, naked corpses choking the streets and other gruesome sights. Disguised as a Ukranian guard, he then smuggled himself into the extermination camp at Izbica Lubelska in eastern Poland and gathered facts on its mass executions.
Yet few were ready to believe him when he escaped from occupied Poland to inform influential people in the West about what he had seen and heard. They remembered how during the first world war Britain had accused the Germans of making soap from the dead, and suspected the Polish resistance of similarly crude propaganda.
Even Felis Frankfurter was skeptical. Mr. Karsky recalled that at a meeting he had with Frankfurter in 1943, the American Supreme Court Justice, who was a Jew, said: A man like me, talking to man like you, must be totally frank. So I say, I am unable to believe what you told me.
With his alleged Holocaust fantasies finally confirmed as facts, Mr. Karski got a far better hearing after the war as a professor of diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His courses in comparative government and theory of communism were always over-subscribed. He continue to have a grudging respect for some Polish communists, including his liberator Cyrankiewicz, but he was flattered rather than abashed when his accounts of the evils of Soviet communism persuaded his students to dub him McCarthyski.
As an academic, Mr. Karski wrote a lot on the treatment of Poland during and after the war. His bitterness over the policies of the western allied powers was only partly assuaged by the liberation of Poland from Soviet rule a decade ago.
Free Poland heaped awards on him. Lech Walesa presented him with the Order of the White Eagle, the countrys highest honour. He returned home for the last time this spring to celebrate the publication, at last, of a Polish edition of his 1944 American bestseller, Story of a Secret State, about the Polish underground.
He was even prouder to be created in 1994 an honorary citizen of the state of Israel and to be nominated in 1998 for the Nobel peace prize by the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The anti-Semitism of so many Poles made him feel ashamed and he liked to describe himself as a Catholic-Jew. The comparisons drawn between Jan Karski and Oscar Schindler are not faciful. Mr. Karski died on July 13th, aged 86.
8 Posted on 09/01/2000 15:18:41 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 What a wonderful account. Thanks for sending it my way.
My great-grandfather was born in Lidice. That was the town where the Nazi officer was killed and so Hitler ordered the men to be killed and the women and children to be removed while the entire town was burnt to the ground. It is just really something to read about what the Polish people have endured.
9 Posted on 09/03/2000 13:55:20 PDT by Slyfox [ Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Slyfox I believe you would like the history of one of the Saints of the Holocaust, Edith Stein
Edith Stein, Bl. (1891-1942): German Carmelite (Teresa Benedicta of the Cross); born of Jewish parents, author and lecturer; baptized in the Catholic Church 1922; arrested with her sister Rosa in 1942 and put to death in Auschwitz: beatified 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
A woman of striking beauty, with dark piercing eyes, Edith Stein was an intellectual and feminist when the word meant acknowledging women as contributors, on par with men, to academic excellence.
Besides such accomplishments as translating (in German) the Letters and Diary of John Henry Newman before his entry into the Church, and St. Thomas Aquinas' Quaestiones Disputatae Veritate, one of his most important works, Edith Stein's own impressive writings include such titles as "The Ethos of Women's Profession," "Problems of Women's Education," and "Spirituality of the Christian Woman."
Studying in such prestigious European universities as Breslau, where contemporaries included the likes of Dietrich von Hildebrand, young Edith, nonetheless, interrupted her studies during WWI to enlist as a Red Cross nurse to serve at the Carpathian Front.
As one of her biographers notes: "It seemed to her, women of high principle should make up the nursing staff so that the wounded could be assured of proper care in the last days of their young lives."
While it is true as she often agonized that her beloved mother remained saddened to her death over the daughter's turning to the Catholic Church, Edith saw her embracing of Catholicism as an extension of her Jewish faith. From age 13 to 21, she could not believe in a personal God. Then one day she stumbled upon The Book of Her Life by St. Teresa of Avila- whose grandfather had been a Jewish Spanish converse and her own life took on new meaning.
After much difficulty, Edith was finally allowed to enter the Carmelite Order where she joyously relinquished her life as an intellectual somebody, to the everyday life of a religious servant of God. Of those days she wrote: "The peace I experience each day seems too much of a gift to be meant for one person alone." Her superiors, however, urged her to continue her writings, which led to the following Edith Stein lament: "Thank God, I don't have to write today; today I can pray."
Moving to a convent in Holland to spare her Carmelites possible trouble with the Gestapo over her Jewish origin a member of their congregation who also happened to be a Jew Sister Teresa of the Cross was revising a manuscript she was writing on the death of St. John of the Cross when two S.S. officers appeared and ordered Edith and her sister, Rosa, to pack their belongings in five minutes for deportation.
At the front gate, where angry townspeople had gathered upon hearing of her arrest, Edith took the hand of her sister Rosa disoriented with fear and said, gently: "Come, Rosa. We're going for our people."
In her way to Auschwitz, with sister Rosa, various eye-witnesses recall her final days. Two local men who drove supplies from her convent to an intermediate camp where she was being held recall:
"After a few tense moments, the barbed-wire gates opened, and in the distance we could see Edith Stein dressed in her black and brown habit, together with her sister Rosa...We had both been smoking as she spoke to us, and after she finished, in the hope of relieving the tension a little, we jokingly offered her a cigarette. That made her laugh. She told us that back in her days as a university student she had done her share of smoking, and dancing too..."
They added: "For all her quiet composure, there was a lighthearted happiness in the way she spoke to us. The glow of a saintly Carmelite radiated from her eyes. You could feel the heavenly atmosphere that her faith had created around her."
Julius Marcan of Cologne, a camp survivor, remembered: "It was Edith Stein's complete calm and self-possession that marked her out from the rest of the prisoners...Edith Stein was among the women like an angel, comforting, helping and consoling them. Many of the mothers were on the brink of insanity and had sat moaning for days, without giving any thought to their children. Edith Stein immediately set about taking care of these little ones. She washed them, combed their hair, and tried to make sure they were fed and cared for...."
An interview with an eye-witness published in the Dutch newspaper, De Tijd, ten years after Edith's death revealed that at one point in her journey to death, the possibility of securing her release because she was a baptized Jew was anxiously proposed: "With a smile, she asked me not to do anything. Why should there be an exception made in the case of a particular group? Wasn't it fair that baptism not be allowed to become an advantage? If somebody intervened at this point and took away her chance to share in the fate of her brothers and sisters, that would be utter annihilation...Then I saw her go off to the train with her sister, praying as she went, and smiling the smile of unbroken resolve that accompanied her to Auschwitz..."
There were no survivors to report on her final moments. Only an entry into the extermination camp's records:
Number 44074: Edith Theresia Hedwig Stein,
Born: Oct. 12, 1891, Breslau
Died: Aug. 9,1942 The Mindszenty Report, March 1994
10 Posted on 09/12/2000 10:26:21 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 Thank you. The world needs to know about these heroes and heroines. Have you ever been to a Mindzenty conference? Among the best.
11 Posted on 09/12/2000 13:04:41 PDT by Slyfox [ Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Slyfox No, I have never attended a Mindszenti conference. Although, some years back, I was receiving their reports. Having lived under a Communist tyrany, I was very attracted to their eye openning reports. I will renew my subscripition again.
There are two good books on Edith Stein, "Edith Stein: Philosopher and Mystic" by Josephine Koeppel. OCD (The Liturgical Press) and "Edith Stein, A Biography" by W. Herbstrith.
For those interested The Mindszenti Report address is P.O. Box 11321, St. Louis, MO 63105. 314-727-6279.
12 Posted on 09/13/2000 09:08:33 PDT by Dqban22 (email@example.com) [ Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Romulus
Saints of the Holocaust
Maximilian Kolbe (1894-1941): Polish Conventual Franciscan; prisoner of Auschwitz who heroically offered his life in place of a fellow prisoner; beatified in 19761 and canonized in 1982.
Maximilian returned to Poland, as the terrible time with the Nazis had begun. His religious publishing house which he had also demanded be "a school for saints" -- was shut down. No matter, he introduced the practice of perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as an alternative to publishing (and at the same time secretly printed and distributed circular letters to keep in contact with his followers.)
On September 1, 1939 the Nazi armies invaded his country. Several weeks later motorized SS men arrived and arrested him for the first time. Released, he was arrested again at the gates of his monastery on Feb. 17, 1941. The end of his story is well known:
Treated harshly in the camp by his sadistic jailers, Maximilian was cheerful and a comfort to his fellow prisoners.Transferred to Auschwitz, he was even more serene in his sufferings. One day, ten prisoners were being selected to die of starvation in the camp's "hunger bunker" in punishment for a prison escape.
When the tenth man was chosen, he began weeping for his wife and children he would never see again. Maximilian stepped forward and asked to take mans place. The stunned guard was too taken-aback by the request to refuse.
On August 14, 1941 the bunker became strangely silent. For days, instead of horrible screaming and pleas for food and water, the ten inside were heard only murmuring prayers and humming hymns softly. Opening the cell door, the guards found all but Father Kolbe dead. Sitting on the floor, he stretched his arms out to them like Christ on the Cross. One of them plunged a syringe with a lethal poison into his emaciated limb. The priest was then dragged out of the cell and soon disappeared in the furnaces of Auschwitz.
The Mindszenty Report, March 1994.
13 Posted on 09/16/2000 10:35:36 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 Anyone old enough can remember Pius XII and the death chambers revealed after the war. Everyone knew how helpful Pius XII was to the European Jews. Enough time had to pass to wait for the eye witnesses to die and for younger people without recollections to be around, to attack the Pope. But are these inventors of history really attacking the Pope, or are they attacking the Papacy? Destroy the Shepherd and the sheep will disperse! I think this is the real agenda.
14 Posted on 10/04/2000 21:45:52 PDT by bernardosiboney [ Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 On January 30, and in the March 5, 1933s elections, virtually all the Catholics voted for the Zentrum Christian party, well known for its opposition to Hitlers party.
I fear this article is not entirely factual or objective, although I would be delighted if it were. What was the vote for Hitler in mostly Catholic Barvaria for example?
15 Posted on 10/04/2000 22:00:20 PDT by Torie [ Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 I didn't finish reading this, so I hope this isn't repetitive, but one of my favorite Pacelli stories is when a famous Jewish mapmaker was fired in 1939 because of his race. Pacelli immediately hired him to make maps for the Vatican and told him to make a beautiful map of ancient Germany. When it was finished he had it presented to Ribbentrop as a gift to the German people. The Nazi's were not amused. This is from the Lapides book.
16 Posted on 10/04/2000 22:32:06 PDT by brianthomas [ Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Torie "I fear this article is not entirely factual or objective, although I would be delighted if it were. What was the vote for Hitler in mostly Catholic Barvaria for example? "
People who make the claim that catholics didn't vote for Hitler do so on the basis of the Catholic Center Party not losing any votes from 1928 to 1933. In 1928 Hitler got 3%. In 1933(when he came to power) he got 38%. The extra votes did not come from the CCP because their vote total was virtually the same in all elections. I think the CPP always got around 10% of the vote. I don't know what the % of catholics in germany was.
17 Posted on 10/04/2000 22:43:26 PDT by brianthomas [ Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: Dqban22 "It is said of the Poles that they are among the few people who would send out cavalry to fight tanks but they are the only people who would expect to win. By their refusal to give way to Hitler over Danzig, they did as much a any nation to start the destruction of German Nazism."
The Poles were very brave but they had a secret treaty with the French whereby France would invade Germany if Poland was attaced. The French attack was supposed to start 2 weeks after the first German attack. The Poles fought alone, but thinking they would have help. If the French had attacked the lightly guarded border the war would have been won.
18 Posted on 10/04/2000 23:10:24 PDT by brianthomas [ Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: brianthomas On the 1933 elections more than 95% of the Catholic vote went for the Centre Catholic party which strongly oppossed Hitler. They were allied with the Social Democrats against the Nazi party.
19 Posted on 06/19/2001 06:58:43 PDT by Cardenas [ Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: brianthomas Most of the documentation used in this essay is based in testimonies of Jewish witnesses and political and religious leaders who knew first hand the extraordinary help received from the Church by the persecuted Jews when the rest of the world remained insensible to their tragedy.
20 Posted on 08/28/2001 11:23:02 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | Top | Last ]
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- To: brianthomas Most of the documentation used in this essay is based in testimonies of Jewish witnesses and political and religious leaders who knew first hand the extraordinary help received from the Church by the persecuted Jews when the rest of the world remained insensible to their tragedy.
21 Posted on 08/28/2001 11:24:38 PDT by Dqban22 [ Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | Top | Last ]
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.
[ Top | Latest Posts | Latest Articles | Self Search | Add Bookmark | Post | Abuse | Help! ]
FreeRepublic , LLC
PO BOX 9771
FRESNO, CA 93794
It is in the breaking news sidebar!
Was the Catholic Church Silent During the Holocaust?
April 24, 2000
It’s time to talk about Pope Pius XII and the slander inflicted upon him by the psychotics in the liberal media, who will stoop to outright propaganda to force their will on this country and the world. We live in extremely dangerous times because few dare stand up to the idol mammon, which in our day is the God Media, the Golden Calf of the self-anointed priesthood of the major networks. Their temple is the little box in our living rooms in which they preach their truths to gullible minds.
With respect to the truth of the Holocaust, I want every Jew to listen carefully to what I’m about to say, for half-truths are no truths at all. First, if the Jewish reader forgets the seven-million Christians murdered by the Nazis along with the Jews, then not only will he let five-million Jews die in vain, but he has betrayed also the Jewish heritage of compassion and justice. This is not a question of the survival of the Jewish people; it is a question of the survival of mankind. If you’re one of those knee-jerk liberals who runs around screaming with a martyr complex about what the Pope could have done to save the Jews, you’d better read on to see the whole picture.
According to Max I. Dimont*, there were 1.4 Christians murdered for every Jew murdered in the Nazi death camps. That makes seven-million Christians and five-million Jews exterminated in concentration camps by firing squads and in gas chambers. There were also approximately 3,000 Christian clergyman who were killed in the camps for their refusal to knuckle under to Hitler’s Big Lie. Should we ignore this? Don’t you see how dangerous it is if we view Nazism only as a Jewish problem? The Nazi didn’t start with the Jews. They attacked the Christian Church and tried to eliminate Christians who wouldn’t play ball with Hitler’s Neue Ordnung before focusing on the Jews and other non-Aryans. In fact, at the end of the war the Russians found enough Zyklon-B lethal-gas crystals to kill another twenty-million non-Aryans-and this was after most of Europe’s Jews had been murdered.
The truth is also that Pope Pius XII was not Hitler’s Pope but was one of the great men of all time in that he saved hundreds of thousands of Jewish people. But the very opposite was recently shown on “60 Minutes,” whose lies tens of millions of viewers take as gospel. It’s time that these lies were knocked to the floor like false idols and trodden upon as they deserve. I know it’s like David taking on the giant media Goliath, but truth is truth. This is all part of the radical agenda, an attempt to debase the Catholic Church and Christianity so that religion can be subverted by rabid leftist perverts. This is not just a threat against Catholics, but against Protestants, Jews and others as well. Remember, the early Bolsheviks said “religion is the opiate of the masses.” They replaced the church with the state, and God was replaced by communist “heros.” It takes a village!
Now who are we going to believe about Pius XII, a blathering ear-ringed script reader on “60 Minutes,” with no proof for his slanders? Or are we going to believe Golda Meir, Israel’s former prime minister and a Jew who lived at the time of the Nazi horrors? Here’s what she had to say about Eugenio Pacelli-called “Hitler’s Pope” by the media slanderers—on the occasion of his funeral: “When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims.”
Here is another voice we didn’t hear on “60 Minutes,” that of Israel’s second prime minister, Moishe Sharat. He met with Pius XII in the closing stages of WWII, and here is what he had to say: “I told Pope Pius XII that my first duty was to thank him and, through him, the Catholic Church on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews. We are deeply grateful to the Catholic Church.” You decide: Who are you going to believe, the slobbering church-hater on TV or the former prime minister of Israel?
On the death of Pius XII in 1958 there was a serious move in Israel to dedicate a forest in his honor, a fact that few are aware of. How could this be possible if he were a betrayer of the Jews in WWII? How and when did the story start that he collaborated with Hitler?
Actually, there were no such stories—until a doctrinaire-socialist German author decided to play out his anti-religion agenda by inciting hatred between Jews and Catholics. The radical-left author was Rolf Hochhut, who, interestingly enough, was a member of the Hitler Youth as a child (remember, Hitler and his Nazis were socialists). Hochhut’s play, The Deputy, appeared in 1963, five years after the Pope’s death, during the 60s cultural revolution in the West and was acclaimed by the left as if it were a true-life documentary of the period. He depicted the Pope as a heartless, cold cynic who was deaf to any reports about the Nazi death camps. And few have questioned this slanderous portrayal since.
These same sentiments were voiced in a more recent book Hitler’s Pope by John Cornwell,. And now we find them mouthed again as gospel truth on “60 Minutes.” They will never tell you that Pius XII has numerous scholarly defenders. And you are also not told that one of the interesting features of the attacks on Pius XII is that they have emanated from non-Jewish sources.
If we let this slander against Pius XII and the Catholics go by, we will give the anti-God perverts one of the biggest victories they’ve had. This is just one more move among many to destroy all religion except the religion of the state. It’s an ongoing battle, one, unfortunately, that was not won with the victory over the German Nazis or the fall of the Soviet empire. The perverts never learn. Leftism, totalitarianism, communism, fascism, are perversions, a pathological hatred of religion and the family. It’s irrational and blind. If thwarted at one time and place, it merely attempts to impose its will under a new guise elsewhere. If we ever imagine we’ve conquered it once and for all, it will likely conquer us instead.
Never before in the history of our nation have we had a media as compliant with government propaganda as we have now. In the past journalists were the ornery outsiders looking in. Today the lapdog liberal “reporters,” TV script readers and “commentators” may as well work for the Reich! Leni Reifenstahl and Josef Goebbels never held the kind of power over the mass-mind of Germany held today by the alphabet moguls (i.e., ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox).
Our only hope for liberation from the tyranny of government propaganda is a new administration, one that will “bust the trusts” (break the media monopolies) and let the diversity of opinion flow again.
*Max I. Dimont, Jews, God and History, 1962, Simon & Schuster, New York.
Michael Savage’s radio broadcasts can be heard from occupied San Francisco on KSFO 560 AM Monday through Friday, 4 PM to 7 PM PST (7-10 PM EST) and on www.TalkRadioNetwork.com (Channel 2) from 12 noon to 2 PM PST (3 PM to 5 PM EST).
Savage is the number-one afternoon drive-time host in this liberal-dominated market.
How Pius XII Protected Jews
Share on twitterShare on emailShare on printShare on gmailShare on stumbleuponMore Sharing Services
By Jimmy Akin
The twentieth century was marked by genocides on an monstrous scale. One of the most terrible was the Holocaust wrought by Nazi Germany, which killed an estimated six million European Jews and almost as many other victims.
During this dark time, the Catholic Church was shepherded by Pope Pius XII, who proved himself an untiring foe of the Nazis, determined to save as many Jewish lives as he could. Yet today Pius XII gets almost no credit for his actions before or during the war.
Anti-Catholic author Dave Hunt writes, “The Vatican had no excuse for its Nazi partnership or for its continued commendation of Hitler on the one hand and its thunderous silence regarding the Jewish question on the other hand. . . . [The popes] continued in the alliance with Hitler until the end of the war, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from the Nazi government to the Vatican.”
Jack Chick, infamous for his anti-Catholic comic books, tells us in Smokescreens, “When World War II ended, the Vatican had egg all over its face. Pope Pius XII, after building the Nazi war machine, saw Hitler losing his battle against Russia, and he immediately jumped to the other side when he saw the handwriting on the wall. . . . Pope Pius XII should have stood before the judges in Nuremberg. His war crimes were worthy of death.”
One is tempted simply to dismiss these accusations, so wildly out of touch with reality, as the deluded ravings of persons with no sense of historical truth. This would underestimate the power of such erroneous charges to influence people: Many take these writers at their word.
Stepping out of the nightmare fantasyland of Hunt and Chick and back into sunlight of the real world, we discover that, not only was Pius XII no friend of the Nazis, but that his opposition to them began years before the War, before he was elected to the papacy, when he was still Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican Secretary of State.
On April 28, 1935, four years before the War even started, Pacelli gave a speech that aroused the attention of the world press. Speaking to an audience of 250,000 pilgrims in Lourdes, France, the future Pius XII stated that the Nazis “are in reality only miserable plagiarists who dress up old errors with new tinsel. It does not make any difference whether they flock to the banners of social revolution, whether they are guided by a false concept of the world and of life, or whether they are possessed by the superstition of a race and blood cult.” It was talks like this, in addition to private remarks and numerous notes of protest that Pacelli sent to Berlin in his capacity as Vatican Secretary of State, that earned him a reputation as an enemy of the Nazi party.
The Germans were likewise displeased with the reigning pontiff, Pius XI, who showed himself to be a unrelenting opponent of the new German “ideals”even writing an entire encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge (1937), to condemn them. When Pius XI died in 1939, the Nazis abhorred the prospect that Pacelli might be elected his successor.
Dr. Joseph Lichten, a Polish Jew who served as a diplomat and later an official of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League of Bnai Brith, writes: “Pacelli had obviously established his position clearly, for the Fascist governments of both Italy and Germany spoke out vigorously against the possibility of his election to succeed Pius XI in March of 1939, though the cardinal secretary of state had served as papal nuncio in Germany from 1917 to 1929. . . . The day after his election, the Berlin Morgenpost said: The election of cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor. “
Former Israeli diplomat and now Orthodox Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide states that Pius XI “had good reason to make Pacelli the architect of his anti-Nazi policy. Of the forty-four speeches which the Nuncio Pacelli had made on German soil between 1917 and 1929, at least forty contained attacks on Nazism or condemnations of Hitlers doctrines. . . . Pacelli, who never met the Führer, called it neo-Paganism. “
A few weeks after Pacelli was elected pope, the German Reichs Chief Security Service issued a then-secret report on the new Pope. Rabbi Lapide provides an excerpt:
“Pacelli has already made himself prominent by his attacks on National Socialism during his tenure as Cardinal Secretary of State, a fact which earned him the hearty approval of the Democratic States during the papal elections. . . . How much Pacelli is celebrated as an ally of the Democracies is especially emphasized in the French Press.”
Unfortunately, joy in the election of a strong pope who would continue Pius XIs defiance of the Nazis was darkened by the ominous political developments in Europe. War finally came on September 1, 1939, when German troops overran Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany.
Early in 1940, Hitler made an attempt to prevent the new Pope from maintaining the anti-Nazi stance he had taken before his election. He sent his underling, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to try to dissuade Pius XII from following his predecessors policies. “Von Ribbentrop, granted a formal audience on March 11, 1940, went into a lengthy harangue on the invincibility of the Third Reich, the inevitability of a Nazi victory, and the futility of papal alignment with the enemies of the Führer. Pius XII heard von Ribbentrop out politely and impassively. Then he opened an enormous ledger on his desk and, in his perfect German, began to recite a catalogue of the persecutions inflicted by the Third Reich in Poland, listing the date, place, and precise details of each crime. The audience was terminated; the Popes position was clearly unshakable.”
The Pope secretly worked to save as many Jewish lives as possible from the Nazis, whose extermination campaign began its most intense phase only after the War had started. It is here that the anti-Catholics try to make their hay: Pius XII is charged either with cowardly silence or with outright support of the Nazi extermination of millions of Jews.
Much of the impetus to smear the Vatican regarding World War II came, appropriately enough, from a work of fictiona stage play called The Deputy, written after the War by a little-known German Protestant playwright named Rolf Hochhuth.
The play appeared in 1963, and it painted a portrait of a pope too timid to speak out publicly against the Nazis. Ironically, even Hochhuth admitted that Pius XII was materially very active in support of the Jews. Historian Robert Graham explains: “Playwright Rolf Hochhuth criticized the Pontiff for his (alleged) silence, but even he admitted that, on the level of action, Pius XII generously aided the Jews to the best of his ability. Today, after a quarter-century of the arbitrary and one-sided presentation offered the public, the word silence has taken on a much wider connotation. It stands also for indifference, apathy, inaction, and, implicitly, for anti-Semitism.”
Hochhuths fictional image of a silent (though active) pope has been transformed by the anti-Catholic rumor mill into the image of a silent and inactive popeand by some even into an actively pro-Nazi monster. If there were any truth to the charge that Pius XII was silent, the silence would not have been out of moral cowardice in the face of the Nazis, but because the Pope was waging a subversive, clandestine war against them in an attempt to save Jews.
“The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles. It was in fact the basic rule of all those agencies in wartime Europe who keenly felt the duty to do all that was possible for the victims of Nazi atrocities and in particular for the Jews in proximate danger of deportation to an unknown destination. “ The negative consequences of speaking out strongly were only too well known.
“In one tragic instance, the Archbishop of Utrecht was warned by the Nazis not to protest the deportation of Dutch Jews. He spoke out anyway and in retaliation the Catholic Jews of Holland were sent to their death. One of them was the Carmelite philosopher, Edith Stein.”
While the armchair quarterbacks of anti-Catholic circles may have wished the Pope to issue, in Axis territory and during wartime, ringing, propagandistic statements against the Nazis, the Pope realized that such was not an option if he were actually to save Jewish lives rather than simply mug for the cameras.
The desire to keep a low profile was expressed by the people Pius XII helped. A Jewish couple from Berlin who had been held in concentration camps but escaped to Spain with the help of Pius XII, stated: “None of us wanted the Pope to take an open stand. We were all fugitives, and fugitives do not wish to be pointed at. The Gestapo would have become more excited and would have intensified its inquisitions. If the Pope had protested, Rome would have become the center of attention. It was better that the Pope said nothing. We all shared this opinion at the time, and this is still our conviction today.”
While the U.S., Great Britain, and other countries often refused to allow Jewish refugees to immigrate during the war, the Vatican was issuing tens of thousands of false documents to allow Jews to pass secretly as Christians so they could escape the Nazis. What is more, the financial aid Pius XII helped provide the Jews was very real. Lichten, Lapide, and other Jewish chroniclers record those funds as being in the millions of dollarsdollars even more valuable then than they are now.
In late 1943, Mussolini, who had been at odds with the papacy all through his tenure, was removed from power by the Italians, but Hitler, fearing Italy would negotiate a separate peace with the Allies, invaded, took control, and set up Mussolini again as a puppet ruler. It was in this hour, when the Jews of Rome themselves were threatenedthose whom the Pope had the most direct ability to helpthat Pius XII really showed his mettle.
Joseph Lichten records that on September 27, 1943, one of the Nazi commanders demanded of the Jewish community in Rome payment of one hundred pounds of gold within thirty-six hours or three hundred Jews would be taken prisoner. When the Jewish Community Council was only able to gather only seventy pounds of gold, they turned to the Vatican.
“In his memoirs, the then Chief Rabbi Zolli of Rome writes that he was sent to the Vatican, where arrangements had already been made to receive him as an engineer called to survey a construction problem so that the Gestapo on watch at the Vatican would not bar his entry. He was met by the Vatican treasurer and secretary of state, who told him that the Holy Father himself had given orders for the deficit to be filled with gold vessels taken from the Treasury.”
Pius XII also took a public stance concerning the Jews of Italy: “The Pope spoke out strongly in their defense with the first mass arrests of Jews in 1943, and LOsservatore Romano carried an article protesting the internment of Jews and the confiscation of their property. The Fascist press came to call the Vatican paper a mouthpiece of the Jews. “
Prior to the Nazi invasion, the Pope had been working hard to get Jews out of Italy by emigration; he now was forced to turn his attention to finding them hiding places. “The Pope sent out the order that religious buildings were to give refuge to Jews, even at the price of great personal sacrifice on the part of their occupants; he released monasteries and convents from the cloister rule forbidding entry into these religious houses to all but a few specified outsiders, so that they could be used as hiding places. Thousands of Jewsthe figures run from 4,000 to 7,000were hidden, fed, clothed, and bedded in the 180 known places of refuge in Vatican City, churches and basilicas, Church administrative buildings, and parish houses. Unknown numbers of Jews were sheltered in Castel Gandolfo, the site of the Popes summer residence, private homes, hospitals, and nursing institutions; and the Pope took personal responsibility for the care of the children of Jews deported from Italy.”
Rabbi Lapide records that “in Rome we saw a list of 155 convents and monasteriesItalian, French, Spanish, English, American, and also Germanmostly extraterritorial property of the Vatican . . . which sheltered throughout the German occupation some 5,000 Jews in Rome. No less than 3,000 Jews found refuge at one time at the Popes summer residence at Castel Gandolfo; sixty lived for nine months at the Jesuit Gregorian University, and half a dozen slept in the cellar of the Pontifical Bible Institute.”
Notice in particular that the Pope was not merely allowing Jews to be hidden in different church buildings around Rome. He was hiding them in the Vatican itself and in his own summer home, Castel Gandolfo. His success in protecting Italian Jews against the Nazis was remarkable. Lichten records that after the War was over it was determined that only 8,000 Jews were taken from Italy by the Nazis far less than in other European countries. In June,1944, Pius XII sent a telegram to Admiral Miklos Horthy, the ruler of Hungary, and was able to halt the planned deportation of 800,000 Jews from that country.
The Popes efforts did not go unrecognized by Jewish authorities, even during the War. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, sent the Pope a personal message of thanks on February 28, 1944, in which he said: “The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world.”
Other Jewish leaders chimed in also. Rabbi Safran of Bucharest, Romania, sent a note of thanks to the papal nuncio on April 7, 1944: “It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews. . . . The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance.”
The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, also made a statement of thanks: “What the Vatican did will be indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts. . . . Priests and even high prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism.”
After the war, Zolli became a Catholic and, to honor the Pope for what he had done for the Jews and the role he had played in Zollis conversion, took the name “Eugenio”the Popes given nameas his own baptismal name. Zolli stressed that his conversion was for theological reasons, which was certainly true, but the fact that the Pope had worked so hard on behalf of the Jews no doubt played a role in inspiring him to look at the truths of Christianity.
Lapide writes: “When Zolli accepted baptism in 1945 and adopted Piuss Christian name of Eugene, most Roman Jews were convinced that his conversion was an act of gratitude for wartime succor to Jewish refugees and, repeated denials not withstanding, many are still of his opinion. Thus, Rabbi Barry Dov Schwartz wrote in the summer issue, 1964, of Conservative Judaism: Many Jews were persuaded to convert after the war, as a sign of gratitude, to that institution which had saved their lives. “
In Three Popes and the Jews Lapide estimated the total number of Jews that had been spared as a result of Pius XIIs throwing the Churchs weight into the clandestine struggle to save them. After totaling the numbers of Jews saved in different areas and deducting the numbers saved by other causes, such as the praiseworthy efforts of some European Protestants, “The final number of Jewish lives in whose rescue the Catholic Church had been the instrument is thus at least 700,000 souls, but in all probability it is much closer to . . . 860,000.” This is a total larger than all other Jewish relief organizations in Europe, combined, were able to save. Lapide calculated that Pius XII and the Church he headed constituted the most successful Jewish aid organization in all of Europe during the war, dwarfing the Red Cross and all other aid societies.
This fact continued to be recognized when Pius XII died in 1958. Lapides book records the eulogies of a number of Jewish leaders concerning the Pope, and far from agreeing with Jack Chick that he deserved death because of his “war crimes,” Jewish leaders praised the man highly:
“We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. . . . During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people passed through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims” (Golda Meir, Israeli representative to the U.N. and future prime minister of Israel).
“With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history (Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress).
“More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror” (Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, following Rabbi Zollis conversion).
Finally, let us conclude with a quotation from Lapides record that was not given at the death of Pius XII, but was given after the War by the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: “Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.”
 Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994), 284.
 Jack Chick, Smokescreens (China, California: Chick Publications, 1983), 45.
 Robert Graham, S.J., ed., Pius XII and the Holocaust (New Rochelle, New York: Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, 1988), 106.
 Joseph Lichten, “A Question of Moral Judgement: Pius XII and the Jews,” in Graham, 107.
 Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews (New York: Hawthorn, 1967), 118.
 Ibid., 121.
 Lichten, 107.
 Graham, 18.
 Ibid., 19.
 Lichten, 30.
 Ibid., 99.
 Ibid., 120.
 Ibid., 125.
 Ibid., 126.
 Lapide, 133.
 Lichten, 127.
 Graham, 62.
 Lichten, 130.
 American Jewish Yearbook 1944-1945, 233.
 Lapide, 133.
 Ibid., 215.
 Ibid., 227-228.
 Ibid., 251.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.