Vatican Archives Opened for Period 1922-1939

Relating to Germany and Pius XI’s Pontificate

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2003 ( Researchers now have access to the so-called diplomatic funds of the Vatican Archives concerning relations between the Holy See and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

The «funds» include correspondence between the Holy See’s nunciatures in Munich and Berlin, kept in the archives of the Vatican State Secretariat’s Section for Relations with States, during Pius XI’s pontificate (1922-1939).

The documents have stirred great interest as they testify to the work of Eugenio Pacelli, first apostolic nuncio in Germany and later Vatican secretary of state. Pacelli in 1939 became Pope Pius XII.

Speaking on Vatican Radio, Father Sergio Pagano, prefect of the Vatican Secret Archive, addressed the question whether the opening of the archive last Saturday would add anything to what historians already know.

Father Pagano said that historians themselves should answer the question after carrying out their research. Speaking for himself, he said he does not think that they will find «startling revelations.»

But he added: «None of us can know what these hundreds of envelopes contain in detail. There are millions of documents that must be analyzed one by one.» Therefore, «neither can we exclude some discovery,» he said.

Preparation for the opening of the archives entailed the compilation of inventories and an index. John Paul II has established that all the material relating to Pius XI’s pontificate will be available by 2005.

Researchers already have access to the inventory of the Bavaria nunciature of Eugenio Pacelli (1917-1925), as well as of Berlin’s, from the time of Pacelli’s arrival to that of his successor, Monsignor Cesare Orsenigo.

Father Pagano explained that the archive of the Berlin nunciature was destroyed during the bombing at the end of 1943, resulting in the loss of all the documents kept there for the period 1930-31 to 1942.

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