Saturday, July 10, 2010

'Hitler's Pope' saved thousands of Jewish lives

Nazi cartoon suggesting the closeness of Nuncio Pacelli to Jews
An interesting article by Simon Caldwell
Pope Pius, who was labelled “Hitler’s Pope” because of his silence during the Holocaust, may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht, when thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

The claim was made by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian carrying out research in the Vatican archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a US-based inter-faith group.

He said that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli – the future Pius XII – wrote to Catholic archbishops around the world to urge them to apply for visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” and Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted to leave Germany.

Elliot Hershberg, the chairman of the Pave the Way Foundation, said:“ We believe that many Jews who were successful in leaving

Europe may not have had any idea that their visas and travel documents were obtained through these Vatican efforts.

“Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate

the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong.”

Pius XII was criticised for failing to denounce explicitly the Holocaust, the Nazi regime or to excommunicate Hitler.

Dr Hesemann says that additional evidence suggests that the visas would have been given to ordinary Jews desperate to escape persecution.

“The fact that this letter speaks of 'converted Jews’ and 'non-Aryan’ Catholics indeed seems to be a cover,” said Dr Hesemann.

“You couldn’t be sure that Nazi agents wouldn’t learn about this initiative,” he said.

“Pacelli had to make sure they didn’t misuse it for their propaganda, that they could not claim that the Church is an ally of the Jews.”

The appeal from Cardinal Pacelli, then the Vatican’s Secretary of State, was dated Nov 30, 1938 – 20 days after Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass”.

Cardinal Pacelli was able to ask for the visas because the 1933 concordat he signed with the Nazis specifically provided protection for Jews who converted to Christianity.

Dr Ed Kessler, the director of the Cambridge-based Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, said: “It is clear that Pius XII facilitated the saving of Roman Jews.”

In December, Pope Benedict XVI placed Pius one step closer to sainthood when he declared him “Venerable”, meaning that the Church believes he lived a life of “heroic virtue”.

Two miracles are needed to canonise him as a saint and the Vatican is investigating at least one apparently inexplicable healing.

Some Jewish groups want the process frozen until the Vatican is ready to open its secret wartime archives in 2014.

Sir Martin Gilbert, a British historian and the world’s leading expert on the Holocaust, has said that Pope Pius XII should be considered as a “Righteous Gentile” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust remembrance authority.


Independent said...

Martin Gilbert is himself a Jew and also Winston Churchill's biographer.

Most of the criticism of Pius XII has not come from Jews but from the New Left and from renegade catholics.

Communists took their cue from Hochhuth's "The Representative" in an attempt to undermine the only effective opposition in Eastern Europe. In the 90's ex-catholic priests antagonistic to Pope John Paul II attacked Pius XII as a safer substitute.

The latest research will come as no surprise to readers of Rabbi David Dalin's book "The Myth of Hitler's Pope".

Michael Petek said...

It think the cartoon is about the Pope's alleged links with the Communists.

'Humanite' was and I think still is a Communist newspaper.

The notice on the wall says "The Poison Kitchen of the People's Front".

Richard Collins said...

Pope Pius XII made several statements attacking the Nazis and the process of genocide but, after his 4th statement nearly 4,000 Priests, Nuns and religious were executed by Hitler as retaliation for the Holy Father's stance.
As a result, he, quite correctly,refrained from further public criticism.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Quite right, but remember the Nazi's linking of Communism to Judaism, as I think this cartoon was meant to illustrate.

Michael Petek said...

There's no overt indication that the cartoon is about Jews.

The caption below reads: "She isn't beautiful, but she can cook."

Independent said...

A case is never improved when over- stated and I would be very interested to hear on what Shepherd bases his statement that "Pope Pius XII made several statements attacking the Nazis and the process of genocide". I would be delighted to know where he gets this from ( with chapter and verse please) as it seems to me that the Pope was much too circumspect to make such statements and instead concentrated on actions.
His great predecessor Pius XI was much more given to outright denunciation, such as in Mit Brennender Sorge, but the Nazis paid no attention. Pius XII, a diplomat and a realist was wise enough to concentrate on saving lives. He saw what happened in Holland when the Dutch episcopate denounced the mass murder of the Jews. The case of the visas for non-Aryan Catholics illustrates his realism.

As for excommunication of Hitler , Professor Owen Chadwick alleges that the Vatican, with a long memory and considering the precedent of the excommunication of Elizabeth I, believed it would be counterproductive and would put German Catholics in an impossible position.

Pius XII saved lives not with ineffective words but with real actions.

johnf said...

I watched a very interesting lecture by Sir Martin Gilbert given a few years ago to a Jewish audience in California. He goes into great detail of how Pius XII saved Jews. In another interview He is also scathing about Cornwell's book 'Hitler's Pope'

Martin Gilbert says that throughout his career he has tried to portray history as it happened.

Shame on those renegade Catholics such as Cornwell who would rather follow their own perverted agenda. Thanks to their efforts, the rest of the world would rather believe their lies than true history.

berenike said...

Father, do you know my compatriots are singing the Shrek Alleluia in your church? 8-0

Liberator_Rev said...

I have studied the iportant issue of "Hitler's Pope" for years and have found that when it suits apologists for Pius XII they will argue that Pope Pius XII DID speak out against the Nazi campaign of mass-murder of the Jews.
But when they are dealling with people who know the FACTS that Pius said close to nothing to publicly oppose that Nazi monstrosity, they make the VERY OPPOSITE argument, i.e. that Pope Pius DID NOT SPEAK OUT PUBLICLY, (because that was supposedly the prudent course of action).

Fr Ray Blake said...

The Poles! Don't tell anyone.

Martin said...

For Pius Xll the War was not just a Jewish problem but a massive struggle with a godless ideology which took control over humanity. The separation of people by race is one aspect of this. Summi Pontificatus - Pius's first encylical - is a classic example of Pius' resolute stance against totalitarian philosophy.

Pius made his points time and time again, while maintaining a pontifical discretion in his comments. His Christmas 1942 message was close to the wire when he condemned a situation "of hundreds of thousands, who without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or progressive extinction."

Note that there was no equivalent condemnation from the Allies.

As far as I can see Pius walked a dangerous trightrope and if he had overstepped this, he would have made things far worse for millions of Jews and Catholics. This would also have jeapordised the discrete help being given through providing food and shelter, false visas and also using diplomatic pressures where possible. His relative discretion was forced early on when the Polish bishops begged him to moderate his criticism of Nazi conduct in Poland. This was borne out by the results in Holland when the bishops did speak out.

Anyway, the facts don't come into the argument now which is more about fighting our present battles where truth is not really important.

Independent said...

Liberator Rev should be aware that others have studied the history of Pius XII and with knowledge of the facts of the case have come to different conclusions from his. To do so does not make them apologists for anyone, merely simple searchers for historical truth.

One such of course is Martin Gilbert, another is Rabbi Dalin. Both are Jews with no particular axe to grind. Married to a survivor of the Shoah who lost her father and some of her relatives to Nazi persecution, I would agree with them.

Please assume a respect for truth on the part of those who do not agree with you. You give the impression, which I hope is erroneous, that you are out to get Pius XII. If I misjudge you please accept my apologies.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

To add to 'Independent':

Jewish scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, Jeno Levai called it a 'regettable irony that the one person in all of occupied Europe who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others'.

Liberator_Rev said...

"Independent" doesn't think that a Jew like David Dalin can have "an ax to grind" where criticism of the Roman Catholic Church is concerned.
I beg to differ, as this Jewish Rabbi has been on the R.C. payroll for years, as a professor at the ultra-conservative "Ave Maria University' an institution with a student body of 500, less than many a public U.S. gramar school.
See how Dalin's and Corwell's books on "Hitler's Po[e" compare at http://CatholicArrogance.Org/Hitlerspope.html .

Liberator_Rev said...

It's funny how some people are more impressed with the 800,000 or so Jews that Pius may have saved (once the tide had turned against Hitler) than people like me are with the 6 million who were hunted down and exterminated by Roman Catholics and their close cousins the Lutherans under the leadership of people with Roman Catholic roots, like Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Josef Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Rudolf Hoess, Julius Streicher, Fritz Thyssen (who bankrolled the Nazi rise to power), Klaus Barbie, and Franz Von Papen all of whom were Roman Catholics, as were the heads of all of these NAZI countries : Leon Degrelle of Belgium, Emil Hacha of Bohemia-Moravia, Ante Pavelic of Croatia, Konrad Henlein of Sudetenland, Pierre Laval and then Henry Petain of Vichy-France. and the R.C. priest, Msgr. Josef Tiso, of Slovakia (who wasn't even defrocked after the defeat of the Nazis). Although these were among the most visible Catholic lay people in their countries at the time, did Pope Pius XII excommunicate a single one of them? NO. How can anyone say that this pope did "all that he could", when he failed to take this obvious measure so as to make it clear to the millions of Catholic faithful who were enabling the Nazis to carry out their campaigns of mass murder, not only against Jews, but against their fellow Catholics in Poland, that they should have no part in these monstrous of crimes and most mortal of sins?

Liberator_Rev said...

Independent said...
"Most of the criticism of Pius XII has not come from Jews but from the New Left.."
Some of the following authors may not be Jewish, but I believe most of them are:
Saul Friedlander published
Pius XII and the Third Reich. (1966)
The Years of Persecution 1933-1939, (1997),
The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews 1939-1945, (2007)
"The Popes Against the Jews : The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism", by David I. Kertzer, (2001)
"The Crucified Jew: Twenty Centuries of Anti-semitism " by Dan Cohen-Sherbok , (1992)
The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965, by Michael Phayer, (2001).
"Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War", by Michael Phayer, (2007).
"The Real Odessa", by Uki Goni, 2002, demonstrates that Pius knew that ecclesiastical institutions in Rome were hiding war criminals.
"Hitler's Willing Executioners", by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, (1996)
( particularly, pp. 431-441 ) and a whole new book on the topic
"A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust
and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair", by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (2002)
"The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany" by Guenter Lewy, (McGraw-Hill, 1964)
"NAZI Terror, The Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans" (1999), by Eric Johnson, a professor of history.
"Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, The NAZIs, and The Swiss Banks (1998) " by Mark Aarons, John Loftus &
"The Vatican and the Holocaust: A Preliminary Report. International Jewish Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission: Submitted to The Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews. (2000).
[ too many to fit in one box, so see part 2]

Liberator_Rev said...

[ part 2 of my response to the claim by "Independent"]

"The Abandonment of the Jews"by David Wyman:
"The NAZI Holocaust" (2006) , by Ronnie S. Landau
"Perpetrators Victims Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe", by Hilberg, Raul, 1933-1945. NY: Harper Perennial Library, (1993). "When the Witnesses Were Silent", by Wolfgang Gerhach.
"The Holocaust Conspiracy: An International Policy of Genocide."by William R. Perl, (1989)
"The Secret War Against the Jews :
How Western Espionage Betrayed the Jewish People" (1997) , by John Loftus, Mark Aarons
"The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum" by Michael Berenbaum, MA: Little, Brown and Co., (1993).
"A (brief) History of the Holocaust" R.S. Botwinick (Prentice-Hall, 2001)
"Encyclopedia of the Holocaustby Israel Gutman, editor: Vol. 3. NY: Macmillan, (1995).
"The Destruction of the European Jews", by Raul Hilberg, , . NY: Holmes & Meier, (1985).
"Holocaust. Israel Pocket Library. Jerusalem", Keter Publishing House (1974)
"Red Orchestra", The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler, by Anne Nelson, Random House (2009).
Hunting Evil: the Nazi War Criminals Who Escaped and the Hunt to Bring Them to Justice, by Guy Walters , Bantam, (528 pages - 2009)
[from my http://CatholicArrogance.Org/bibliography.html ]

Fr Ray Blake said...

Lib Rev.
I would try to restrict myself to two or three consecutive comments, nine might make people question my..., well try a little restraint!

The Moderate Jacobite said...

If we're talking about having axes to grind, reference to a site which modestly calls itself "Catholic Arrogance" hardly builds confidence in balance.

Independent said...

Liberator Rev. I have read the books which you list and have many of them- the serious ones worth reading - in my library and I do not come to your conclusions. Nor does it appear does Martin Gilbert who presumably has read them all and has a wider archival knowledge of the sources than either of us.

I am afraid that like Mr Cornwell your approach to history seems to be polemical rather than that of a historian. Proper historians look at the facts and seek to produce hypothesis which fit them rather than seek to prove a preconceived

However I would agree with much of which you say regarding the German Church and on its 1933-45 history and with Gunter Lewy whom you cite in your bibliography. However Lewy thinks it very doubtful that an excommunication of Hitler ( who had given up any link with the Church many years before) would not have achieved a mass defection of the faithful. In other words the Pope would not have been obeyed ,and he realised the danger. As I pointed out earlier Owen Chadwick is quoted elsewhere as alleging that the Vatican looked back to the disastrous effect of the excommunication of Elizabeth I. Like you I am concerned for the 6,000,000 who perished in the Shoah, especially as they include my children's ancestors, but I cannot see what Pius XII could have done better in a truly awful and unprecedented situation. A futile gesture could well have resulted in even greater slaughter as it did in Holland.

No doubt ineffective denunciations would have made the person making them feel better, but, as Martin Gilbert points out, could have made the situation worse. I trust that since you make an attack on the scholarly integrity of Rabbi Dalin, you will not make a similar one on Martin Gilbert.

Thank you in your later communications from refraining from the use of capital letters, as contributors to this blog can understand an argument without such aids.

As Dalin points out Hitler's clergyman was not the Pope but the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...


The Nazis wished replace both the liturgical Christian and Secular Calendar events with their own commemorative days, based on 'solar' calendars associated with pagan worship. ( Catholics ended up in the camps for their faith. The Catholic faith was antithetical to Nazi ideology. St Kolbe (Father Kolbe who printed a monthly apostolate magazine with a circulation of over a million) was arrested at the beginning of the war and murdered in Auschwitz by lethal injection after having in his final weeks in a 'starvation chamber'. If there were people who were Roman Catholic, or atheistic, or Protestant, etc. who supported the crime of Nazism, it was not because they were those things, but rather in spite of them.

Richard Collins said...

Independent: You ask for chapter and verse. I refer you to the numerous websites on the issue, nearly all of which, mention Pius XII's statements on the Nazi treatment of all, not just the Jews. He was circumspect, of course. His last broadcast was at Christmas 1942. His media stance is also recognised by Eamon Duffy in a Sunday Telegraph article 19 September 1999.
As for the 4,000 religious that were executed following his last broadcast, I do not have a record but this information appeared in the early 90s when another flair up over "Hitler's Pope" occurred.
I have no reason to disbelieve that information.

Independent said...

Thank you Shepherd, but I prefer hard archival evidence and we are discussing not the general atrocities of the Nazis, but their persecution of the Jews.
The bibliograpy provided from the presumably objective(?) website by Liberator Rev is not chronological and does not therefore illustrate the effects both of Hochuth and Cornwell in creating polemical bandwagons. Nor does he differentiate between actual Jews and those who are merely of Jewish origin who are influenced by the New Left. He also conflates actual Catholics with those who are merely of catholic origin. To regard as Catholic and blame the Church for Hitler , Himmler etc is as logical as some of the anti-semitic commentators who publish lists of Bolsheviks of Jewish origin, such as Trotsky, and seek to link Judaism with the Russian Revolution. This is the politics not of reason but of defamation.

The Jews who were actually around during the Shoah paid tribute to the efforts of the Pope. In the 1950's Albert Einstein, Golda Meir, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, the members of the Israeli Symphony Orchestra who performed a concert in his honour, spoke with one voice.

After Hochuth the intellectual climate changed. Perhaps symptomatic of his approach in what is admittedly a work of fiction is the scene when the Pope is depicted as disdaining the Shield(Star) of David. One can only speculate as to Hochuth's motives in including such nonsense. The Magen David appears in some cathedral windows, namely that of Palma de Mallorca, and on the habit of the Franciscan Friars od the Atonement.

Fr Blake has suggested that another contributor exercise some restraint. I will therefor do likewise and shut up.

Richard Collins said... you find that, in life, you often get given a fat lip for being so patronising?
Internet researches are just as valuable as dusty archival searches provided that you retain a sense of balance.
Pope Pius XII spoke out against the Nazi extermination of Jews, Homosexuals, Mentally ill, Physically handicapped, Gypsies and Catholics.
It would have been unthinkable if he had selected just one category to comment upon.

Anonymous said...

See how the Protestants voted for the NSPD:

What do you say to that, Lib Rev??

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