RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Adolf Hitler once ordered his SS troops to level the Vatican with “blood and fire” and kidnap Pope Pius XII, a new book says.
In “Pius XII, Pope of the Jews,” Italian historian Andrea Tornielli reveals that Hitler ordered the destruction of the Vatican and the deportation of Pius XII to Liechtenstein in 1943, in reprisal for the Pontiff´s reported assistance to Jews and for the Church´s opposition to the Nazi regime.
In his work, which has just gone on sale in Italy, Tornielli explains that the “Führer” was livid after the signing of the armistice between the Badoglio government and the Allies on Sept. 8, 1943, and ordered the SS to destroy the Holy See with “blood and fire.”
Hitler´s plan did not materialize, however, thanks to General Karl Wolff, then SS commander in Italy, who succeeded in dissuading the Nazi dictator from this course of action.
Former Italian Minister Giulio Andreotti defended the validity of Tornielli´s thesis last week when he addressed the meeting of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation. The meeting ended Saturday in this northern coastal city.
Andreotti supported Pius XII and rejected the criticisms leveled against the Pontiff at the end of World War II, accusing him of passivity in face of the Holocaust.
“The hostility against Pope Pacelli was not due to his weakness against Nazism, but to his rejection of Communism,” Andreotti said.
Tornielli´s arguments had already been noted in recent years by historians and scholars, who quoted testimonies and documents from the time of the Nazi occupation of Rome.
Among Pius XII´s defenders is Antonio Gaspari, author of “The Jews, Pius XII, and the Black Legend,” which offers testimonies of Jews in Rome who were saved from the Nazi-Fascist persecution thanks to the help of men and women of the Church, as requested by Pius XII himself.
Pius XII´s process of beatification is under way, though it is opposed by some Jews and leaders of the right in the Israeli government.
Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII, died Oct. 9, 1958, in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, after a 19-year pontificate.
Pius XII´s actions helped save 800,000 Jewish lives, either directly or indirectly, according to Jewish researcher Pinchas Lapide.
Far from affinity with Hitler, as claimed by Rolf Hochhuth in his play “The Vicar,” Pius XII was actively involved in the German resistance´s plans to remove the tyrant, as revealed in the British Foreign Office documents on the so-called Schwarze Kapelle, which involved Admiral Canaris, Count Von Stauffenberg and other German personalities opposed to the Führer.