Catholic Herald: Documents show Pius saved Jews from Nazis

This is in from The Catholic Herald.   

Documents show Pius saved Jews from Nazis
By Ed West
27 February 2009

Documents discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives prove that Pope Pius XII helped to save thousands of Jews during the Second World War and firmly opposed anti-Semitism before he became pope, it emerged this week.

The 300 pages of documentation, posted online last week, suggest that Pius saved 80,000 lives by persuading the Hungarian regent to prevent deportation of the Jews, and that he saved a further 12,000 by securing visas for them to leave Europe for the Caribbean.

The documents, discovered by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian, show that, as Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future pope intervened with the German government to assure that their Turkish allies would not harm the Jews living in the Ottoman province of Palestine.

As nuncio to Bavaria, Pacelli personally helped World Zionist Organisation representative Nachum Sokolov to meet Pope Benedict XV in 1917 to discuss a Jewish homeland in Palestine. And in 1926 Cardinal Pacelli encouraged German Catholics to join the Committee Pro Palestina, which supported Jewish settlements in Palestine.

Other documents include an entry written by a nun detailing Pope Pius XII’s order of 1943 to hide the Jews of Rome in religious houses, and listing the names of Jews sheltered.

Furthermore, they show that Pius’s anti-Nazi tendencies went back to before the war. A 1939 US Foreign Service document in which the US Consul General to Cologne reports to Washington on the "new Pope", stating that he surprised him by his hatred of Hitler and the Nazi regime, and how Pope Pius supported the German hierarchy’s opposition to Nazism, even if it meant losing the support of German Catholics.

A 1938 document, signed by Cardinal Pacelli during his last months as Vatican Secretary of State, declare the Vatican’s opposition to a planned Polish law to make Kosher slaughtering illegal. The anti-Semitic bill was defeated. Other documents show that Pius XII convinced the Brazilian government to accept 3,000 Jews and helped to forge baptismal papers to allow Jews to pass as "Aryans".

The Pave the Way Foundation, invited by Yad Vashem to carry out research into the conducted of a man vilified as "Hitler’s Pope", has also posted several video interviews on its website (, including an interview with an elderly priest who describes how Pope Pius helped 12,000 Jews to escape to the Dominican Republic.

Pius XII died in 1958 but his wartime reputation became a source of controversy five years later, when German Communist Rolf Hochhuth wrote The Deputy, a fictional play that indicts Pius for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust.

Pave the Way now has testimony from Lt General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking KGB agent ever to defect to the West, that The Deputy was financed and edited by the Soviets, and sustained by doctored Vatican documents as part of a KGB plot to discredit the Vatican.

Gary Krupp, the president of Pave the Way Foundation said: "Personally, as a Jew, I find that correcting this revision of history according to documented proof has really nothing to do with the Catholic Church. In the interest of Jewish justice we must acknowledge the efforts of one man during a period when as a people we were abandoned by the rest of the world. It’s time to recognise Pope Pius XII for what he really did rather than what he didn’t say."

Some scholars, including Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish diplomat and historian, estimate that the Catholic Church under Pius saved between 700,000 and 850,000 Jews from the Nazis, mostly by either providing sanctuary or passage to safe countries but also by intervening, when practicable, to stop their round-up in occupied countries.

But John Cornwell, author of Hitler’s Pope, a critical biography of Pius, said: "If Pius is to take credit for non-Aryans given safe passage to Brazil via Rome during the war, then he should take responsibility, by the same token, for Nazis given safe passage via Rome after the war. It could well be that he was ultimately responsible for neither."

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  1. Richard says:

    What further need have we of witnesses?

  2. supertradmom says:

    Can the Vatican canonize this Pope in quick time?

    We also need a new play to refute the horrible “The Deputy”.

  3. canonize Pius XII now.

  4. John 6:54 says:

    It no longer matters to the media is there is proof of something. They see their job as stirring the “stink pot” to grab viewers and readers. It no longer matters if what they report is true or not. What matters these days is does it cause a stir?

  5. Memphis Aggie says:

    It’s very helpful to know the origin and mechanics of the smear in this season of spiritual warfare. Certainly there are those who will try to/have already tried to smear Benedict XVI.

  6. tertullian says:

    I fully anticipate the usual suspects to opine:
    “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

    with apologies to Groucho

  7. TJM says:

    I always had faith in Pius XII and was generally aware of his efforts to assist Jewish people during the Holocaust. However, the left-wing loon,
    anti-Catholic media doesn’t care, and I’m including left-wing “Catholic” publications in the mix. Tom

  8. Mike T says:

    Hmm, interesting comment by Mr. Cornwell. If you want credit for providing
    passage to Jews, you must take blame for providing post-war passage to

    Of the Germans who left Germany after the war, how many were Nazi party
    members? Of those who were Nazi party members, how many could be reasonably
    implicated for involvement in war crimes? Should everyone be forced to
    remain in Germany until all of the possible war criminals were apprehended?

    I always used to admire the Nuremberg trials as a triumph of justice on the
    secular plane. My appreciation has been somewhat tempered by the more
    recent insistence of the international community to bring Slobodan
    Milosevic to trial in the Hague rather than let him remain in prison
    in Yugoslavia. The more contemporary case is a more egregious one, because
    there was an actual Yugoslav government whose sovereignty was being
    trampled, while no sovereign German government had yet been rebuilt at
    the time of Nuremberg. Nevertheless, both of these cases document the
    slippery slope of insisting on global justice over national sovereignty.
    (Or in the case of blame for helping Germans emigrate, it’s a case of
    global justice trumps private mercy.)

    I’m not a great fan of the Iraq war, but I believe it was a good thing
    that Saddam Hussein was tried by Iraqis. In this case, the globalist
    outcry was “too brutal” rather than “too merciful.” Whatever the globalist
    sensitivity du jour, respect for national sovereignty never rises high
    on the list.

  9. Paladin says:

    I really do wonder if Satan fomented the +Williamson brouhaha for the main purpose of running a counter-offensive against the canonization of Pope Pius XII, and depriving the Church Militant of an explicit recognition of (who may be, in my opinion) one of our most powerful advocates in Heaven…

    I dream of the day when he’s elevated to the altar (and I also dream of his name added to the Litany of Saints… but I admit to being a romantic, on that point)…

  10. Thing is, the information in these documents has been out for some time. Rabbi David Dalin discussed much of it in his book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope. And Ion Pacepa wrote an article in National Review a couple of years ago documenting the KGB plot to discredit the Church by attacking Pope Pius XII, applying the lessons it learned in the botched frontal attack on Cardinal Mindszenty. We have also been aware for quite some time now of Hitler’s plot to kidnap Pope Pius during the war.

    And yet, so many are still determined to believe the lies that were hatched by the Soviet Union. It’s ironic that so many who profess to take up arms against anti-Semitism are themselves stooges of the most murderous and most anti-Semitic regime in history.

  11. Corleone says:

    “Blessed are those who have not seen, but who still believe.”

    Never a doubt in my mind. But I sincerely don’t think this changes anything. There are many people who have built their entire lives, reputations, fame and wealth at slandering Pius XII. I don’t expect people to come out of the woodwork to apologyze.

  12. Prof. Basto says:

    Santo subito.

    I hope that Pope Benedict will approve the heroic virtues in the next consistory.

  13. gerrit blydorp says:

    I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church to an early and favorable
    declaration of sainthood for Pope Pius XII.
    This would only be right based upon truth and justice. It is perfectly clear
    to me that this Pope was a holy man who kept the bark of Peter safe during a tremendously difficult time and who in truth did all he could to protect the lives of countless jews.
    The time is now for truth to triumph over falsehood. Christe, exaudi nos.

  14. julian says:

    I cannot even imagine WHY anyone would include the words of that cretin at the conclusion of the article! As if anyone cared what he had to say!
    Otherwise – very good piece!

  15. I remember exactly where I was when the news broke about Roch Hockbuth’s play. Personally I never took it seriously in light of the testimonials of Jews following WWII but the play obvioulsy raised many questions which went unaswered to this day because of the snail’s pace with which the Vatican has gone thorugh the relevant documents.

    Fifty yeras? In our day that is far too long to go plodding though records and meanwhile the assualt continued until it came to be commonlly believed.

    This is good news but it’s going to take more before this matter is closed

  16. Luigi says:

    There will always be a market for materials that attack the Church, whether it’s the Da Vinci Code or Hitler’s Pope; there is always going to be an audience willing to swallow damn near anything in spite of evidence to the contrary.

    This audience, BTW, is typically overloaded with fallen away Catholics. The reason is simple; there is an unrest in the hearts of these people that demands attention. They are so desperate for confirmation that justifies their rejection of the Church that they will hang their hats on just about anything. Of course it doesn’t truly satisfy, and so they remain ever ready to grab the next piece of garbage that comes down the pike. A recession proof industry if there eer was one.

    I say, canonize Pius XII ASAP. Forget PR problems with the Jewish community. The greater PR message is that the Church is not beholden to public opinion; a point the renegades still don’t get.

  17. fortradition says:

    I never doubted the saintly Pope Pius XII for a minute. He had to deal with the Fascists, Nazis, and Communists. Through it all he was a wonderful and holy Pontiff when unity and cohesiveness reigned in the Catholic Church. As far as I’m concerned, he already is a saint.

  18. Mark says:

    Ion Pacepa’s article on USSR’s sophisticated assaults on our Church, published in the National Review, are worth reading, especially for those of us who are younger. This man knows what he’s talking about, since for a time before his conversion, he was directing them. The consequences of these assaults are still with us, and seem to have acquired a life of their own.

    The link is below:

  19. my kidz mom says:

    Anyone see this covered in the mainstream media?

    The silence is deafening.

  20. Gordon says:

    None of this is particulaly new. I have several books about the role of Pius during the Hitler war. “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope”, by Rabbi David Dalin, from I think Florida, mentioned in one of the above posts.Published 2005 by Regnery Publishing,Inc. “The Defamation of Pius XII” by Ralph McInerny,of the University of Notre Dame.Published by St Augustine’s Press, 2001. and the huge tome…”Pius XII and the Second World War”..(according to the Archives of the Vatican)By the French Jesuit, Pierre Blet. Published by Gracewing in England, 1997. Either John Cornwell couldn’t be bothered to read this last one or he didn’t care to. Perhaps now he may have much more time, Bishop Williamson should read some of these books. It is very revealing stuff. Nobody likes to mention the 4000 Polish priests slaughtered in the camps within the first few months of the war. But having lived in America, I did get to read some of the stuff put out by the revisionists. It can sound quite convincing to us younger plebs, but that is part of the danger of it. So reading these historical facts from the times in question certainly retores one’s knowledge of the awful events and the truly shocking numbers of Jewish people killed. But The Bishop actually plays into the hands of those who dare deny the couragious actions and efforts of Pacelli whom I consider the greatest pope since St. Great the Great! (To date)Alas…I offered one of these volumes to a mad anti Catholic person at a place I used to work. He wasn’t interested, preferring evil lies to truth! It is unacceptable that we have all this stuff out there in the public domain, yet many don’t want to know, because, if truth be told, they don’t want to accept that Church which Pius represented. Defame the great Pacelli and you also help defame the traditional Catholic Church. I must also add that Sister Margherita Marchione has written dozens of books in defence of Pius XII

  21. Gordon says:

    That post midway should’ve read St. Gregory The Great!

  22. Mitchell NY says:

    I wonder how the politics of information work at the Vatican. Why wasn’t this released before unfair opinions were allowed to set in? It boggles the mind. I agree with David’s post..50 years is too long to find something..

  23. Kaneohe says:

    Wonderful news, albeit it may be late to change the minds of many.

    “…300 pages of documentation, posted online last week,…” Does anyone have the link to this? I checked out the Vatican website but was unable to find the documents.

    Have any of you read Owen Chadwick’s “Britian and the Vatican during the Second World War”? The book was published by Cambridge University in 1986. Though I don’t agree with everything Chadwick proposes, he certainly present us with a clear picture of a world at war and the diplomacy between the countries affected, the fascinating day to day drama and challenges that faced our Holiness, his priests, cardinals, and aides (Mgr.Hugh O’Flaherty, Domenico Tardini, Cardinal Maglione, et. al.), and various diplomats to the Holy See (especially D’Arcy Osborne.) He clearly shows us this was not a simple black/white period of history but a very complex and difficult time = not everything done was perfect – these men were looking hell in the face and did their best. (Again, I don’t agree with every conclusion Chadwick presnts, but it is by far one of the best portraits of the time and of those holding center stage when the bombs were falling.)

    Can anyone post a link to the docs? Many thanks for your help!

    Thanks be to God for those who labor in the Vatican Library and Archives. They are the vindication of many holy souls.

    Grace and peace

  24. johapin says:

    John Cornwell can suck an egg now.

  25. J. Bennett says:

    But this contradicts Abe Foxman, the head of the ADL! To say that Pius XII saved Jews rather then supported the Nazis is an anti-semitic sentiment!

  26. Nicandro says:

    Why were the Nuremberg trials cut short? Weren’t there supposed to be a lot more Nazis prosecuted? They got let off.
    Setting up Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church as patsies suits some folks.
    When are the “brights” and liberals going to examine their collective consciences and take reposnsibility for a murderous “enlightenment” that allowed despots like Stalin and Hitler to play the evolutionary God the first place?
    All this blame game stuff is just attempts to cover up their nasty smell.
    You would think the critics would want to get deeper into holocaust truth. Strange they don’t?

  27. veritas says:

    In the 60’s attacking Pius XII as a means of seeking to discredit the Church is Eastern Europe where it was the main barrier to Communism was taken up by Hochuth and the Left generally. In the 90’s anti-Pius books were produced by renegade Catholic ex-priests eager to undermine the authority of John Paul II. It is interesting that some Jewish historians, such as Sir Martin Gilbert and Rabbi David Dalin have not followed this fashion. Dalin’s book even speaks of Jewish children being born in the Papal Residence where they were safe from the Nazis.

    It is surely time to do away with this anti-historical nonsense about Pius, it is as reliable as Williamson on the Shoah. Pius was prudent, especially when he saw the consequences in Holland of an outright confrontation. He managed a difficult situation very well and saved what he could. Jist after the war he was widely thanked by Jews and Israelis.

  28. I wonder why the Anti-Defamation League isn’t saying anything about this? Very telling if you ask me.

  29. Corleone says:

    David O’rourke said “Fifty yeras? In our day that is far too long to go plodding though records and meanwhile the assualt continued until it came to be commonlly believed.”

    David, I think you hit on the appropriate point in the sentence preceding this. Immediately after the War, Jews, politicians, and secularists were praising the Pope left and right. There was no backlash or need to produce any evidence until AFTER these people who had 1st hand experience and testimony were gone. That’s when the worms came out from under the rocks. So, to say the Vatican waited 50 years is a bit misleading, since they had no need to “dig” for any “evidence” until within about the last 20 years or so.

  30. “So, to say the Vatican waited 50 years is a bit misleading, since they had no need to “dig” for any “evidence” until within about the last 20 years or so.”

    According the Pope’s critics like the ADL, Abe Foxman thinks that the Pope is hiding new evidence under his bed. (rolling my eyes). you can’t win these people. The same critics who are for abortion rights, gay marriages and birth control it’s an attempt to get the Church to reverse many of her teachings and to undermine the Church’s authority that Christ gave it. Goes to show you who the real anti-semites are, those who accuse the Church of remaining silent.

  31. Mark says:

    Roman Crusader:

    Conspiracy theories respect no ethnic or religious bounds; they can also be useful in creating a siege mentality. People prone to such thinking exist in both the Catholic and Jewish worlds. However, consider that the mishandling of the sexual scandals within our Church undoubtedly continues to fuel suspicions of all kinds against Her.

    These are some of the reasons why, for the most part, Pope John Paul II valued personal, face to face contacts with people from various backgrounds. When there is charity, personal contacts can lay to rest many prejudices.

  32. i don’t hold any prejudices against anyone and my previous post didn’t display that. other religions would rather the Church not follow her own laws. that’s what they want.

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