Allies Urged Pope Pius XII's "Silence"

British, US Documents Unearthed

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

ROME, MAY 17, 2011 ( The United States and Great Britain discouraged Pope Pius XII from speaking out against Nazi brutality, warning the Pope that a public protest could have grave consequences.

The Allies’ recommendation is reported in a document unearthed recently by the New York-based Pave the Way Foundation, founded by an American Jew, Gary Krupp.

Krupp asserted that these revelations help to give context for the way in which Pius XII handled the Nazi horror.

The document is correspondence between the British representative to the Holy See, Sir D’Arcy Osborne, and Myron Taylor, his U.S. counterpart.

A Nov. 7, 1944, note signed by Taylor’s assistant, Franklin C. Gowen, reports to Taylor that Osborne «called and said that he feared the Holy Father may make Radio appeal on behalf of Jews in Hungary and that in his appeal he may also criticise what the Russians are doing in occupied territory.»

«Sir D’Arcy said something should be done to prevail upon the Pope not to do this,» the note added, «as it would have very serious political repercussions.»

Krupp showed ZENIT another note between the envoys’ offices that references a letter about help for Jewish refugees. The note «clearly states that the letter must be destroyed in order to prevent it from falling into enemy hands,» Krupp said.

Osborne wrote the May 20, 1944, note to Harold Tittman, another of Taylor’s assistants.

The British representative tells the U.S. envoy’s assistant that he will destroy the letter, saying that if it were to fall into enemy hands it would incriminate a priest called Father Benedetto.

Krupp observed that the destruction of documents was necessarily common during the war. «There are some critics who do not seem to understand that this is why so many written orders also had to be destroyed,» Krupp noted.


Further information about the Catholic response to the Holocaust has been uncovered by Dimitri Cavalli, a journalist, researcher, and contributor to Pave the Way archives and publications. He has located documents from an international Jewish press called the JTA (Jewish Telegraph Agency).

One release dated June 28, 1943, reports Vatican Radio denunciations of the treatment of Jews in France.

A few days earlier, June 25, 1943, the JTA reported the denunciation in German of anti-Semitic actions in Slovakia.

Cavalli also discovered a May 19, 1940, Jewish Chronicle magazine published by B’nai B’rith featuring Pope Pius XII’s picture on the front cover with the lead article titled the Pope’s Jewish scholars.

This article reports how the Vatican was hiring Jewish academics who were fired by Italian institutions due to Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws.

The JTA also reported a confrontation between Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier, archbishop of Lyon, when he was visited by Nazi authorities in France.

The Nazis told the archbishop they would leave the Church alone, if the cardinal and other clergy would not oppose the anti-Jewish laws and would stop protecting Jews.

The cardinal responded that the French clergy did not engage in politics but «is obeying the Pope.» He cut short the confrontation telling the Nazis, «You no doubt know that the Holy Father has condemned the anti-Semitic laws and all anti-Jewish measures.»

Another JTA article, from Feb. 5, 1943, reported a strong condemnation of Nazi theories from Cardinal Jusztinián Györg Serédi, archbishop of Esztergom.

On the same page is a short article on how Mussolini is reported to be relaxing his Jewish racial laws in order to try to strengthen his relations with the Vatican.

The Jewish Chronicle of London dated Sept. 9, 1942, reports that Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, printed 10 million pamphlets in multiple languages for distribution in Europe and Latin America, condemning Pope Pius XII for his pro-Jewish stance.


Krupp told ZENIT that «to date, Pave the Way foundation has amassed over 46,000 pages of news articles, original documents, research materials, along with numerous eyewitness video testimonies, and audio and video files answering the 47 questions left unanswered by a Jewish Catholic study session in 2001.»

This material is available at the Pave the Way site.

Elliot Hershberg, Pave the Way chairman, said the abundance of material unearthed and recorded by the foundation gives plenty of material to scholars studying the Vatican’s response to the Nazi regime, even as the Vatican archives on this period are still unopened.

Hershberg said the foundation is aware of the Vatican’s eagerness to complete the cataloguing process and to open the archives as soon as possible. Benedict XVI has quintupled the numbers of trained archival personnel to complete this tedious work, he explained, adding that with more than 31 million documents needing to be sewn into books, numbered page by page, and summarized, this job is difficult.

Hershberg pledged that in the meantime, Pave the Way will continue to research and post all documents relative to this period in order to hasten the resolution of this 47-year-old obstacle between Jews and Catholics worldwide.

— — —

On the Net:

Pave the Way Foundation: 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation