Sunday, October 31, 2010

I "Fogli di udienza" - The Records of the Audiences of Pius XI and Cardinal Pacelli

Volume I of what will be a very interesting series arrived a few weeks ago.  The Archivio Segreto Vaticano have been working on "the Pacelli files" for some time and have begun publishing a detailed study of Cardinal Pacelli as Secretary of State to Pius XI, 1930-1939.  The first volume,is  I "Fogli di Udienza" del Cardinale Eugenio Pacelli Segretario di Stato I 1930. (The Pages or Records of the Audiences of Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli Secretary of State, I 1930)

While much of Pacelli's work with Pius XI is known through the material that has come to light since the opening of the files for the papacy of Pius XI (since 2003), there had been little information on the meetings held regularly between the Pope and his Secretary of State.  As Hubert Wolf reveals clearly in his book "Pope and Devil" these meetings were significant moments in the creation and execution of Vatican policy in its engagement with governments and powers.

The contents of this volume include essays by members of the ASV team that collated the documents, followed by the archival material.  There is an impressive and very helpful collection of biographical material on people mentioned throughout the documents as well as a comprehensive bibliography and index.

ASV plans to publish a series of volumes covering the years of Pacelli's secretariat and if this first volume is an indication of the scholarship we will see, expect to be very impressed.  The footnotes are considerable and include a vast array of references to works both contemporary to the 1930s and the present.   

Statistically, the planned series will document some 2627 folios ranging in size from several paragraphs to several pages. 

Historians will find the series a great help in our continued study of this period.

It is readily available through the ASV Economato for €65.00.  But, be warned - you will need a letter opener or sharp knife to slice pages!  I spent several hours cutting pages - after several hundred pages it does get a bit tiring.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Conference on Pius XI at Brown University, Rhode Island.

Over this weekend an international conference is underway at Brown University, RI.  It is one of the (few) hardships of living in Australia, that we are so far away from exciting events such as this!  A quick glance at who is speaking and the list of topics indicates it should be an academic cornucopia - and I am green with envy.  I look forward to reading the papers when they are published (and may that be soon!) 
The speaker list is impressive.  The quality of this gathering will be first class.

Pius XI and America

International Conference

October 28-30, 2010, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

The Vatican's opening in 2006 of its archives for the period of the papacy of Pius XI (1922-1939) has prompted a burst of historical research which is not only shedding new light on the role of the Holy See and the Church in this period of extraordinary political and social turmoil, but also on some of the major world events of this period. In an effort to bring scholars from the many different countries who are working in these archives together and to highlight this emerging work to the broader scholarly community, a number of institutions have come together to create a research network. The principal sponsors of this initiative are the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XIII in Bologna; the University of Münster; the École Française de Rome; the Biblioteca Ambrosiana of Milan; and Brown University (USA). Following a June 2009 conference in Milan and a March 2010 conference in Münster, a conference is planned for October 28-30, 2010 at Brown University.

A major theme of the Brown conference is the relationship between the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church in the Americas during the papacy of Pius XI. However, other topics will also be treated, including a concluding debate focusing on the relationship between the Church and Italian Fascism

The conference schedule is well worth looking at.

Organizing committee:

David Kertzer, Brown University, USA, chair

Charles R. Gallagher, S.J., Boston College, USA

Alberto Melloni , Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII, Bologna, Italy

Pius XI and America is sponsored by:

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione CRT

Fondazione Goria

PRIN - Università di Modena/Reggio

PRIN - Università di Roma1

PRIN - Università di Roma Tor Vergata

PRIN - Università di Roma 3

PRIN - Università di Verona

Brown University

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Review of the revised edition of "Hitler, the War and the Pope"

Terry Oberg of Brisbane has given me permission to publish his review of Ronald Rychlak's "Hitler, the War and the Pope."  I read the first edition some years ago.  While Rychlak's collection of data is impressive, his analysis lacks the historical rigour and contextual detail demanded of the subject.  However, this post belongs to Terry and his review.

Title: Hitler, the War and the Pope.

Author: Ronald Rychlak

Publisher: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing

Price: $35

Reviewed for the Catholic Leader, Brisbane, Australia, by Terry Oberg.

In his preface the author claims the first edition of this work was written to prove that Pius XII was not a Nazi. Surely this is the classic example of demolishing the straw man. George Cochran who is alleged to have made that claim comes from the same legal background as Ronald Rychlak. Both lack any formal academic background as historians.

What is presented is a well organised catalogue of words, thoughts and deeds emanating from the diplomat, Eugenio Pacelli, who then becomes Pius XII. In both positions his championing of the Jewish cause and his condemnation of Nazism are unchallenged. The reader is positioned to construe the content this way.

Yet it is general knowledge that several reputable, professional historians do not share these unqualified conclusions. The memory of a Pope charged with guiding the Church through one of its most difficult periods is not honoured by such an unbalanced treatment as this.

Much evidence is cited that appears convincing and the documentation is copious. In a chapter on his critics the author names mainstream historians who disagree with him. Michael Phayer, Michael Burleigh, Robert Katz and Susan Zucotti are mentioned. These are too lightly dismissed by reference to a Rabbi who heaps them under the subjectivity of, “distorting the truth in order to influence the future of the Catholic Church.”

Kevin Rudd, in some of his worst PR moments as Prime Minister, used to ask himself questions to which he then proceeded to give his interviewers the answers; a variation of the maligned Dorothy Dix strategy. The final chapter of this book takes this form.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The story of Enrico Galeazzi 1943

One of the strangest stories to emerge from a close reading of ADSS is one that I had clearly missed on the first read through several years ago.  I say "missed", because I was not looking for it, was not expecting anything like it, and so did not see it.  Now that I am engaged in a slow detailed reading of the whole of ADSS (I am now into year three and only up to Volume 7 - leaving out Volume 6 for the moment) I am cranky at myself for being so focused on finding evidence about Vatican engagement in rescue work etc that I missed this incident.

Throughout 1943 the Vatican was increasingly concerned at the threat of Allied bombing of Rome.  When the city was badly hit on 19 July Pius wrote urgently to Roosevelt, pleading to spare the city.  The tone was more desperate but the substance of the Pope's letter and those of the Cardinal Secretary of State, Luigi Maglione, was in keeping with a large number of documents written since late 1942 appealing to the Allies to spare Rome. 

Saving Rome was clearly one of the priorities of the Holy See and part of the strategy was to convince both the Italian government and the Allies to respect Rome as an "Open City".  Things seemed to be working towards this goal until the debacle in late July when Mussolini was sacked and arrested.  The interim government under Marshal Badoglio promised to demilitarise Rome and continue the war - though it was clear that very few believed him.  Hitler certainly did not.  The Allies were not convinced of the sincerity of much of the Badoglio rhetoric and refused to rule out future raids over Rome.  The Germans were watching the situation carefully; Rommel moved from the Brenner Pass into Bologna and was waiting for the order to occupy the peninsula.  Marshal Albert Kesselring had withdrawn from Sicily with an intact German military force that was vastly superior to the Italians.  The Pope dreaded a slow "scorched earth" fate for Italy.

Believing FDR would be more impressed by an eye-witness to the devastation caused by the bombing of Rome, Pius asked an architect, Enrico Pietro Galeazzi (1896-1986) to travel to Washington and plead the cause of the Eternal City.  Galeazzi was the Rome director of the Catholic men's fraternity the American based "Knights of Columbus".

Reading the account from the documents in Volume 7 of ADSS I have reconstructed a timeline:

In early August 1943 the Vatican was convinced that the Badoglio government would declare Rome an "Open City".  This was sent out to the Nuncios and Apostolic Delegates with instructions to publish the news in the Catholic press.

13 August:  Rome bombed for a second time.  Papal diplomatic activity becomes frantic.

Doc 339: 13 August: Cardinal Maglione wrote to William Godfrey, the Apostolic Delegate in the UK asking for a visa for Enrico Galeazzi to travel to Washington on Vatican business.

As a personal representative of the Pope, Galeazzi travelled on a Vatican passport.

A visa was issued by Harold Tittmann, the USA Charge d'affaires in the Vatican on 26 August (valid from 21 August) which allowed Galeazzi permission to make one journey to the USA.

Doc 374: 28 August: Maglione telegraphed Galeazzi's instructions to Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate in Washington.  In summary - Situation in Italy is serious; fears of a German coup and occupation, desire for peace.  Dangerous situation for Rome and the Vatican.  Danger of communism.

Galeazzi left Rome shortly after and travelled to the USA via Spain and Portugal.  He arrived in Washington on 8 September.  Unknown to Galeazzi, the Italian government signed an armistice with the Allies on 3 September in Sicily.  His mission was about to be scuttled.   

Doc 381: 6 September: Maglione telegraphed Cicognani in Washington informing him that the situation in Italy had changed and that Galeazzi's letter for FDR now only partially corresponded to the reality.

On 8 September the Armistice was announced in Italy.  Galeazzi's mission was effectively over.  Pius knew the Germans would move quickly to secure the country and impose a military government.  All diplomatic efforts to have Rome declared an "Open City" were now void.  It would be up to the Germans to decide if they would make an announcement.  The situation in mid-September did not bode well for such a decision.

Doc 402: 13 September: Maglione instructed Cicognani that Galeazzi was to limit his discussion with FDR to administrative issues concerning prisoners of war and Sicily.

Doc 412: 21 September: Pietro Ciriaci, Nuncio in Portugal telegraphed Maglione asking for instructions for Galeazzi's return to Italy.  Would he proceed to Rome via Switzerland and Germany or through Algeria and Sicily?  (Instructions arrived in Lisbon from Rome on 2 October [Doc 419])

Galeazzi left the USA on 19 September 1943.  He arrived in Lisbon on 20 September before travelling to Madrid where he applied for a German visa to travel through Occupied Europe.  The German visa was issued on 18 October permitting him to travel through France.  Galeazzi arrived back in Rome on 23.10.1943.

On 26 June 1944, Domenico Tardini, who worked in the Secretariat of State wrote an assessment of Galeazzi's mission within the context of the collapse of Italy over the summer of 1943.  It is an attachment to Doc 374.

What struck me most about the Galeazzi mission was the high level of energy put into the attempts to spare Rome from bombing and have it declared an "Open City".  While the cause was noble and had enormous popular support from Catholics around the world, it begs the question of "what if?"  If the Pope could send a private emissary to Washington to plead for Rome, could he have sent a similar emissary to plead for the most persecuted people on the continent - the Jews?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Some thoughts from reading ADSS Volume 7

I was emailed earlier today by a colleague who had some questions about how the Vatican Secretariat of State worked and how involved the Holy See was in the collapse of the fascist regime in Italy in 1943.  What follows is the substance of my response. 

The response is based on my reading of ADSS Volume 7 Le Saint-Siège La Première Guerre mondiale et Novembre 1942 - Décembre 1943 (1973).  The volume contains 506 documents with footnotes and index.  It also contains an introductory essay of 67 pages that is, in effect, a summary of the volume.  The volume deals with the "conventional war", not with the atrocities, although there is some mention.

One example is contained in Document 282 (p 473) dated 8 July 1943 of Angelo Roncalli, Apostolic Delegate to Turkey, to Giovanni Montini, Secretariat of State, Rome.  Roncalli relates a private meeting with the German ambassador, Franz von Papen during which mention is made of "the Katyn affair" (discovery by the Germans of the mass graves of Polish officers murdered by the NKVD in 1940 on the orders of Stalin).  von Papen then went on to say:

 ...  with a sad smile that it was necessary first of all to forget the millions of Jews expelled and suppressed in Poland, and that in any case this was a good chance for the Reich to make a change in its treatment of the Poles. (p 474) 

The document was an account of a meeting, written with a minimum of detail, but with what I can only imagine from what we know of Roncalli, an exceedingly heavy heart.  It is also a reminder to see what the document says, not what it does not.  An historical argument cannot hang on one document, however unpleasant.

Now to my thoughts from my reading of ADSS 7.

The daily workings of the Vatican Secretariat of State mirrored any number of other agencies of like nature, with the one glaring exception, it was a supra-national identity that sought to promote its agenda through an extensive, but ultimately powerless, group of diplomats. The powerless aspect was what I believe forced Vatican diplomacy to master the craft of diplomacy to an almost perfect degree. Stalin's remark "how many divisions has the Pope?" sums it up. Pius had not way of enforcing his will - it was done entirely through connections, argument, moral persuasion and old fashioned, gentlemens' agreements.

From what I have read in ADSS follows a familiar pattern. The Cardinal Secretary of State and his office received dozens (probably more) pieces of information throughout the day. Most of the ADSS documents record the form of the information - telegram, letter, memo, diplomatic correspondence, private mail from FDR to Pius (most of which has been published - 1947).

Cardinal Maglione, the Secretary of State, along with Monsignors Domenico Tardini and Giovanni Montini (later Pope Paul VI) sorted through the material, determined which would receive priority and would be shown to the Pope. It goes without saying that anything considered of top priority went to Pius' desk - many of the documents have a note at the end Visto dal Santo Padre or similar (see / shown to the Holy Father).

Often there are other notes with directions given by Pius, such as "instruct Nuncio X to do A, B or C", or "make no reply". There are also notes taken by one or other or the men mentioned, clarifying points of discussion with either the Pope or another figure, such as a representative of a foreign power etc. And there are drafts for letters, telegrams etc.

The footnotes indicate a lot of material that is not included in ADSS because it has been published elsewhere such as in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS). However, in my own reading I have gone looking for additional material because there has been so much published since the last volume of ADSS was published in 1981. I have found a lot of detail on many of the people mentioned throughout and created an extensive list of names, dates and roles - largely through google searches. The footnotes also indicate that there is material the editors saw but chose not to use - the reasons for this are not clear. However, I am prepared to accept that in choosing documents for publication the editors were keen to get as wide a cross-section of Vatican activity as possible, so space is probably the main reason for leaving some material out. Although having said that I am surprised, (or aghast) that two seminal pieces of Holocaust related documentation never made it into ADSS - the Riegner Report and Richard Vrba's Auschwitz Protocols, both of which were known of. Indeed the Riegner Report is mentioned in footnotes.

My reference to the Vatican "being in the know" refers in this instance to the collapse of Italy from early 1943 onwards. It was an open secret that Galeazzo Ciano commented on in his diary that the Vatican was in league with other anti-fascist groups in Italy trying to find a way of getting Italy out of the war and keeping the Germans out of Italy. From early1943 many of the documents in ADSS 7 are concerned with 1) preventing the bombing of Rome, 2) getting Italy out of the war, 3) having Rome declared "Open City, 4) preserving the fiction of Vatican neutrality (ironic given the above), 5) convincing President Roosevelt (FDR) and, to a lesser extent, Churchill, that bombing Italian cities was counter-productive and only encouraging communist activities, 6) concerns for Sicily after the 9 July invasion and the prospect of an impending invasion of the peninsula, and 7) several other issues, but one that was growing in intensity - the fear of a Soviet dominated Europe.

How involved was Pius in all this? Knowing that no major decision was made without his direct input and often at his explicit direction, the simple answer is - the Pope was involved in every aspect of all the issues mentioned above. ADSS published a lot of the war-time correspondence between FDR and Pius, and much of that includes appeals to spare Rome. And when that did not work as well as the Vatican hoped, they went to the US bishops and appealed to them to whip up support among Catholics. It is also very interesting to note the change in direction in Vatican policy from mid-1941 with regard to the USA. Pius threw in his lot with the US from an earlier date than I suspect was believed in earlier work.


Pius had met FDR in 1936 and clearly liked the man. The liking was mutual. Both distrusted the politics of the left, although FDR was more pragmatic about it and when one mentions "left" politics in the US case it does mean something quite different to what a conservative Italian/European Catholic understood by the word. In any case, both men respected each other and believed both were working for the good of humanity. I think Pius' positive estimation of FDR convinced him, along with the loyalty of the American bishops who worked tirelessly supporting the Vatican cause (not surprising, many Catholics were horrified at the thought of Rome being bombed, and were more horrified at the thought of the Holy Father being held hostage by Hitler), and the economic and industrial power of America, that the US would be the only force able to defeat Germany. It is important to rremember that until mid-1943 the prospect of a German victory remained a very real possibility. From 1943 onwards Pius' relied more and more on appeals to FDR than to any other Allied leader.

The letters between Pius and FDR.

The published material is general in nature - lots of appeals for common values, respect for America as the guarantor of freedom for Europe etc.

It is the material that was not published that is far more revealing! Memos from Amleto Cicognani, the Apostolic Delegate in Washington to Maglione, Sumner-Wells and others in FDR's administration on issues such as the bombing of Rome and other Italian cities, the desire of Italy to get out of the war, calls for support Rome "Open City", the situation of the monarchy, and urging support for the new government after the deposition of Mussolini, point to a high degree of frank discussion and diplomatic "argy bargy". The amount of tooing and frooing between June and September 1943 is considerable. There is disagreement, frustration and sometimes a sense of desperation from the Vatican side as things appear to be going ahead and then be suddenly derailed.

The second bombing of Rome on 13 August is a case in point. I believe the Vatican had felt it had secured a deal from the US and the UK that Rome would not be bombed again after 16 July. The diplomatic seesaw to have the city declared "Open" took quite a while and then the Allies bombed the city again "striking military targets". On a global scale this might not seem all that much, but for the Vatican it was integral to the policy to preserve Rome and ensure that chaos did not ensue, the communists did not get active and the Germans remained on the sidelines. Of course, we see this with hindsight, but the tenor of many of the documents reveals very real fears.

Volume 7 deals with the "conventional" war, not with victims. At the moment I am up to late August - document 357 out of 506. I will be working on that side once I get through this volume and Volume 11 (which will take me up to the end of the war).

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gabriel Wilensky on Pius XII and the current state of research.

One of the things that I have thought long and hard about in the furore over Eugenio Pacelli is what Gabriel Wilensky discusses in this post of his from the blog "Politics Net News".  I agree with most of his proposition and I rather like his chutzpah in saying like it is! Yes, there is some refinement that could be done and some other points added - such as the Dutch Catholic Bishops statement in July 1942 and the sermons preached by Jules-Gerard Saliege, archbishop of Toulouse - but the general thrust is clear.

By Gabriel Wilensky

When it comes to the role of the churches and of Pope Pius XII during WWII, the world seems to be divided into three camps: those who are neutral or don't care, those who defend the actions of the churches and the Pope at all costs and sometimes by twisting and stretching facts to make them fit with their position, and by those who think that the churches and the Pope simply accepted the fate of the Jews as something they deserved and/or as an acceptable casualty of war. Most of the times apologists for the churches or the Pope accuse those in the latter group of not "getting it" and of being unable to see that the Pope worked tirelessly to save Jews.

Actually, I think we "get it" all right. I think it's them that are failing to understand. Why would millions of people around the globe, including the world's foremost Holocaust scholars and historians fail to be persuaded by their arguments and their documentation? Do they ever ask themselves this question? Are we all malicious, bigoted, or just plain stupid? Apologists for the Pope gather documents and testimonials, and organize symposiums to discuss all this. But none of the most respected Holocaust scholars ever attend these symposiums. Why is that? Historians go to symposiums and conferences all the time, and they would jump at the possibility to get exposure to new documents. But as the defenders of the Pope bitterly complain, mainstream scholars do not attend their symposiums. Not even via teleconference. So, it isn't a financial reason. No, they simply do not want to attend. Why do you think that is? Could it have something to do with their belief that the research performed by the apologists is poor? Could it be that mainstream scholars believe the interpretation of the data the apologist are presenting is wrong? Could it be these scholars suspect the affidavits they've got? Could it be they suspect their motives? Could it be they see an attempt to mislead the layman by presenting facts to mean things they don't mean?

The reason why papal apologists are not getting traction with mainstream scholars is because scholars think that discussing history with them is akin to discussing religion with religious fundamentalists. In essence, it's a futile effort, like arguing with someone who believes the Earth is flat. No amount of evidence, no amount of argument and disputation seems to move them form their preconceived, immutable position. So, no reputable scholars want to join them in their symposiums because they do not want to lend their prestige to the event, and because they know they would be talking to a wall.

I think the world would change its mind about Pope Pius if his defenders found that he had acted like the leaders in the Danish and Norwegian Lutheran Churches or the Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, or even like some of his own bishops in the Catholic Church in France, for instance. When the Germans were about to deport Bulgaria's Jews, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church successfully mobilized the faithful to prevent just that. When the Germans were about to deport Denmark's Jews, the leaders of the Danish Lutheran Church mobilized the faithful to prevent just that as well. In a letter of protest sent to the German authorities before the deportations from Denmark began in October 1943, which was read from the pulpit in churches in Denmark, Bishop Hans Fuglsang-Damgaard, with the support of all the Danish Church's bishops, said:

"Whenever persecutions are undertaken for racial or religious reasons against the Jews, it is the duty of the Christian Church to raise a protest against it for the following reasons:

. . . Because the persecution of the Jews is irreconcilable with the humanitarian concept of love of neighbors which follows from the message which the Church of Jesus Christ is commissioned to proclaim. With Christ there is no respect of persons, and he has taught us that every man is precious in the eyes of God. . . .

. . . race and religion can never be in themselves a reason to deprive a man of his rights, freedom or property. . . . We shall therefore struggle to ensure the continued guarantee to our Jewish brothers and sisters [of] the same freedom which we ourselves treasure more than life.

. . . We are obliged by our conscience to maintain the law and to protest against any violation of human rights. Therefore we desire to declare unambiguously our allegiance to the word, we must obey God rather than man."

Scholarly and world opinion about Pope Pius XII would change in his favor if he were found to have publicly said something like this. His moral standing would be restored if he was found to have spoken plainly and clearly through pastoral letters, encyclicals, Vatican Radio broadcasts or through his bishops from the pulpits of all churches so everyone would know that he specifically instructed the faithful to act, not just to save Jews, but to stop denouncing, hunting them down, deporting them, and murdering them.

But not through veiled messages no one understood. Not through secret missions. Not through silence, which was interpreted as tacit approval. There was nothing "heroic" about the Pope's supposed "discreet" behind the scenes work on behalf of the Jews. There was nothing "heroic" about his silence, and even less of his obtuse, vague messages. As a consequence of the Pope's inaction (or at least ineffective action), the Germans deported over 1000 Roman Jews to their deaths with what was perceived to be carte blanche from the Pope. As a consequence of what Bishop Fuglsang-Damgaard and all the Danish Lutheran Church's bishops did, and what Archbishop Krill and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church did, the Danish and Bulgarian people were mobilized to save Jews, which was accomplished in a myriad ways by regular people, without vast resources, and in front of and in defiance of Nazi eyes. These people surely feared the Gestapo as much as anyone else. Yet the Danes and Bulgarians spoke out, they told the faithful in no uncertain terms what was happening and what they should and should not do, they mobilized, and as a result almost all Danish and Bulgarians Jews survived the war. And the saddest part of this story? The rescue of Denmark's Jews took place two weeks before the deportation of the Jews of Rome. Pope Pius chose not to follow this proven example.

Gabriel Wilensky can be found (and followed) at:
Six Million Crucifixions: How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust

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