Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Emma Fattorini: Hitler, Mussolini, and the Vatican

A number of weeks ago I posted a link to Richard Bosworth's review of Fattorini's book published on the Times Higher Education on 20 October 2011. 

Bosworth's review is generally positive with a number of cautions and criticisms.  He asserts that Fattorini needed to go deeper into issues and that she has not been served well by the translation of the Italian into English. However, what Bosworth does not make clear is Fattorini's attempt to give a global portrait of the pontificate of Pius XI and place Germany and Italy within that context.  This is, I believe, her strength.  Nonetheless, I do agree with him that she needed to work more on Eugenio Pacelli and provide greater analysis of his role as Secretary of State. 

Book titles can be deceptive.  The Italian title - Pio XI, Hitler e Mussolini - is better, and Fattorini's work would have been better served by retaining it.  And yet, her work encompasses much more than this. 

I found her greatest strength in the recognition that any fruitful study of the papacy and the Vatican has to be seen through the matrix of religion and religious identity.  This is something I argued forcefully in my own work.  Pius XI was first and foremost a religious leader.  He viewed the world through the Tradition of Catholic Christianity, through his life-long religious practices and his strong devotion to Therese of the Child Jesus (1873-1897) the Discalced Carmelite nun from Lisieux he canonised in 1925.  The "little way" of Therese profoundly marked the religious life of Pius XI.  Her "Autobiography of a Soul" published shortly after her death taught that the spiritual path consisted not in doing great things, but in serving God in the ordinariness of everyday life, and doing the little things well.  Serving Christ in those around her, pondering on his life in the Gospels and remaining faithful to her religious duties in the Carmel, was Therese's antidote to a popular religious piety that often drew people away from the core essentials of the faith and ran the risk of becoming superstitions.  Pius saw in Therese's spirituality a pattern for Catholic Action - the movement that would empower lay Catholics to engage in the world around them, a world often hostile to institutional religion - and be a tool for the re-evangelisation of Europe.  This became part of the way the pope sought to provide Catholics with tools to combat anti-Catholic movements of the right and the left from the early 1920s.  Along with the very deliberate creation of the feast of Christ the King to demonstrate that the loyalty of the Catholic church was to Christ first and foremost, Pius XI endeavoured to lead the Church through a "rebirth of Christian Society" (title of Chapter 1).

Pius XI's relationship with Cardinal Pacelli is described clearly as that of two opposites who respected each other enormously, were close workers and who shared a common vision of the Church and a passion for the faith.  They were also two men marked by two very different ways of approaching issues.  Pius was forthright, blunt and spoke his mind forcefully without fear of favour.  He was known to have a fiery temper and was not above displaying his emotions, even in public. He was a deep thinker, read widely in many disciplines, especially theology, social justice and history, had a considerable grasp of world affairs, discussed strategies with Pacelli, but at the end of deliberations, he made decisions and acted accordingly.  He was also pope and expected his decisions to be obeyed. 

Pacelli was reticent, guarded and spoke his mind only after long considerations and usually in complex and highly refined diplomatic language.  He rarely lost his temper or showed emotion, and never in public. He was a deep thinker, read widely in many disciplines, but remained conservative in his opinions, had a phenomenal grasp of world affairs, discussed strategies with the pope, but found decision making to be an agonising process.  He was the servant of his master, the Vicar or Christ, and executed the pope's decisions faithfully.

Together Pius XI and Pacelli made a partnership between 1930 and 1939 that served the Catholic church well. 

Fattorini's use of the material from the Archivio Segreto Vaticano is detailed and covers a considerable part of the pontificate of Pius XI.  The use of recent projects such as Hubert Wolf's digital presentation of the Pacelli nunciature reports from 1918 and contemporary scholarship makes this book an important addition to our understanding of this period.

It is the use of archival material that provides another strength to Fattorini's work.  Her survey of the complex realities within the Roman curia, and the role played by the "black pope", the General of the Jesuits, Ledochowski, helps bring into perspective the responses of the Vatican to the "proffered hand" of the French communists, the Spanish civil war and then to Italy and Germany.

The chapters on Germany and Italy are the heart of the book.  But, they are enhanced through the survey of Vatican diplomacy from 1918 onwards and especially the awareness of realpolitik shared by Pius and Pacelli as well as the treatment of France, Spain and Mexico.

I share the conclusion that Fattorini makes about Pius' planned speech on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Lateran Accord.  It was looking more and more certain that Pius was convinced that a "show down" with Hitler and Mussolini was inevitable and he was more than ready for it.  The pope's death literally hours before he was to speak is one of those moments which tempt us with a "what if" speculation.  Pacelli's destruction of the speech is both testament to his obedience to papal protocol in his role as caretaker after Pius' death as well as a piece of circumstantial evidence pointing to a hope for a new direction.  It would be presumptuous to think that Pacelli hoped or believed he would be elected pope, so his actions as caretaker cannot be construed as a pre-emptive papal strike.

At the end of the book I had a far better understanding of Pius XI and a greater admiration for this pope who worked tirelessly to steer the Church without compromising to the dictators of whom he had a clear and accurate understanding.

I always begin reading a book with a quick look at the chapter headings, a glance at the index, and then go to the notes.  Here is where one finds evidence of scholarship.  There are 33 pages of detailed notes at the end of the text.  Of 380 notes, 94 or 25%, are references to Vatican archival material.  Many of the archive notes are accompanied by further details.  Fattorini is an historian who knows the importance of archives and also knows of their importance to other historians who wish to delve further into aspects she has opened up.

Does Fattorini add to the body of knowledge?  Much of the "big picture" is already well known.  Fattorini does what other historians do, and deepens our understanding of aspects of the period under study.  There is more work to be done on Pius XI.  Emma Fattorini has helped us come to a more complete appreciation of this highly significant man and his forceful voice that was heard between 1922-1939.  It is a book well worth reading.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Kevin Madigan: Pope Pius XII, the Church and Nazi War Criminals

Kevin Madigan is a respected academic and writer.  I have republished one of his articles before.  In this review of two new books - Gerald Steinacher, "Nazis on the Run" (Oxford UP, 2011), and David Cymet "History versus Apologetics: the Holocaust, the Third Reich and the Catholic Church" (Lexington, 2010), Madigan does not resile from conclusions that are damning of Pius XII and his role both during and after the war.

I have read Steinacher's excellent work and am waiting for Cymet's to arrive.  I agree with Madigan that Steinacher's concerns do not lie with Pius.  I will have to read Cymet to see if I agree with Madigan's assessment.  Nonetheless, review so far seem to be in agreement with Madigan.  I am curious to know more about the Jewish children baptised in order to save them from death and their post-war fate.  There are several avenues to be explored on that.

As more and more evidence emerges and is reviewed with care for context and corroboration, the more complex and bespeckled with grey the emerging picture appears.  Apologists will have a hard time concocting a "spin" for these works.

How the Catholic Church Sheltered Nazi War Criminals

Redacted from an astounding in-depth, painfully factual expose.

By Kevin J. Madigan

(Complete article available from COMMENTARY, December, 2011)

SHORTLY AFTER THE END of the Second World War, an Austrian, Franz Stangl wandered into Rome looking for a Catholic prelate. He needed the help of a bishop he thought was named Hudal. After a short walk, the Austrian arrived at the episcopal residence he was seeking. “You must be Franz Stangl” the bishop said, warmly holding out both his hands. “I was expecting you.”

Stangl had been commandant of the Sobibor and Treblinka concentration camps. Wanted for the murder of nearly a million Jews, he was desperately seeking to escape the clutches of Allied forces justice. He had come to the right man. Bishop Alois Hudal (1885-1963) was rector of a college in Rome known as the “Anima,” a seminary for German-speaking priests. He was also a profound sympathizer with National Socialism and dedicated to extending papal charity to Nazi war criminals. After finding Stangl a job at the German College, the bishop eventually supplied him with travel documents, a steamer ticket, and a factory job in Syria. Later, Stangl was extradicted to Brazil, where he would bring his wife and family.

While it would be consoling to suppose this act of benevolence was an isolated incident, in the deliverance of ex-Nazis, SS men, and known criminals, it was repeated hundreds of times by prelates and priests. Their actions were not only known to diplomats in the highest echelons of the Catholic hierarchy, they were morally and financially supported by them—and, horrifyingly, supported by unknowing American Catholics and some of their all-to-knowing leaders.

With so much attention given to the conduct during the Shoah of the Catholic Church, the Vatican, and Pius XII, there has been little attention paid to the social role played by men like Hudal in the immediate aftermath of the war. As it happens, a recently published book by another Austrian, the brilliant young scholar Gerald Steinacher, lays out in powerful detail, how and why the Catholic church, through its personnel, financing, and aid from institutions, committees, and priests, protected Nazi war criminals.

The Catholic priests and prelates who helped spring the Nazis were part of an organization called the Vatican Relief Commission (Pontificia Commissione di Assistenza, or PCA). They supplied invaluable, indeed, crucial aid in sheltering Nazi war criminals, SS men, and ordinary Nazis. Steinacher tells us that the PCA viewed itself as a sort of papal mercy program for National Socialists and Fascists. The most stunning, and well-supported, claim in Steinacher’s book is that enthusiasm for the general mission of the PCA went to the very top of the Vatican hierarchy. “Pope Pius XII supported this aid organization whole-heartedly,”

By far the most influential figure of the National Welfare Conference that supplied the major portion of funds was the redoubtable archbishop of New York, Cardinal Francis Spellman. Spellman was a close confidant of the pope and owed the pontiff for a major boost up the ecclesiastical career ladder. This debt he paid back with munificent contributions to the organization that would free the Pontif’s beloved Germans. Spellman directed the flow of money from the United States into the Vatican coffers.

Among the men aided by Catholic prelates, diplomats, and priests, and supported by papal funding, was not only Stangl but Auschwitz “doctor” Josef Mengele, who was already wanted (according to a contemporary warrant) for “mass murder and other crimes.” Also supported was Adolf Eichmann, the SS lieutenant colonel and the principal organizer of the Holocaust.

Authors Gerald Steinacher and David Cymet emphasize that not only Germans and Austrians were aided by the Catholic organizers of the so-called rat-line. Cymet estimates that some 30,000 Croatian Ustashis and roughly a similar number of Slovak Hlinkas, nominal Catholics, all were hurried along the rat-line with the help of Catholic clerics.

STEINACHER is not much interested in the controversial issues surrounding Pius XII, but Cymet emphatically is. He is also quite angry with Pius’s defenders. Indeed, the title of his book, History vs. Apologetics, says it all. What Pius’s defenders are doing, in Cymet’s view, can be classified as apologetics, in the cruder sense of the word. But Cymet goes much further in his criticism of the untruths and deception expressed in the writings of those who would vindicate Pius XII. Cymet finds it reprehensible, first of all, that Pius, who acted neutrally during the war and never intervened vigorously on behalf of victims of the Shoah, actually sought leniency after the war for Einsatzgruppen and death-camp commanders. According to the private diaries of Muench, who was his personal representative in occupied Germany, Pius sought pardons for Einsatzkommando Otto Ohiendor, a close associate of Hummer. Cymet rightly calls this “one of the saddest chapters of his postwar activities.”

The second issue was Pius’s heartless intransigence in preventing Jewish war orphans, many of whom had been baptized for protection (and many, less nobly, for the purpose of being saved in a religious sense), from being released from Catholic institutions and individuals after the war’s end. In stories that appallingly resemble the heartbreaking case from the 19th century of Edgardo Mortara, we hear, to our amazement, Pius’s refusing to allow any child who had been baptized to return to his Jewish parents or to parties who “had no right to them”—that is, to Jewish organizations requesting the care of these children.

We are indebted to Steinacher and Cymet for bringing this shameful record to the light of day. As is now painfully obvious, the very top of the Catholic Church, in the postwar years, cared more about the perpetrators of the atrocity than thir countlesss victims. Hardly a priest can be identified in the PCA who was his Jewish Brother’s keeper. For the mortal sins of its priests, for the monstrous evil of which they were guilty in collaborating with Nazi male factors, the church wll bear an ugly blemish, one that no amount of extenuation or special pleading can erase.

KEVIN J. MADIGAN is Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard. He is the author, with Jon Levenson, of Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews (Yale University Press, 2008). His last article for COMMENTARY, “Two Popes, One Holocaust,” appeared in the December 2010 issue.

Monday, December 5, 2011

ADSS 8.426 Note by Domenico Tardini on Slovakia

In the ultra-careful world of Vatican diplomacy even the private notes between members of the Secretariat of State were couched in restrained language.  In this note penned by Domenico Tardini, we come as close as possible to an expression of controlled anger at the seemingly impossible situation in which the Vatican found itself.  Without any ambiguity, Tardini wrote that the world would understand that the Holy See had no way of controlling Hitler; but how could it understand that Rome could not control a priest.  And herein lay the great weakness of the Roman system: the Pope was as strong and powerful as the Catholic world in its global diversity allowed him to be.  If a priest, in this case Jozef Tiso, would not accept the authority of the Pope and be obedient, and if the local bishop to whom this priest had promised "respect and obedience" could not rein him in, there was not much anyone else in the hierarchy or Curia could do.

ADSS 8.426

Reference: AES 5085/42

Location and date: Vatican 13.07.1942

Summary statement: Steps taken by the Holy See for the Jews of Slovakia.

Language: Italian


I can send the memo to the English Minister [D’Arcy Osborne] to you. (1) It would be good to also recognise the action of the Slovak bishops who protested [against the deportations].

NB: The trouble is that the President of Slovakia is a priest. Everyone understands that the Holy See can not put Hitler in his place. But who can understand that it can’t restrain a priest?

Attachment: From the Secretariat of State to the British Legation.

With reference to the notes 39/2/42 (2) and 39/6/42 (3), respectively on 25 March and 6 July [1942] the Secretary of State of His Holiness is pleased to inform His Britannic Majesty’s Legation that it did not fail to make repeated representations to the Slovak government in favour of non-Aryans who lived there, seeking to support the action taken in this direction by the bishops of Slovakia.

The Secretary of State had the honour of giving verbal notice to the Legation of these steps and has also reported them to the Apostolic Delegate in London.(4)

(1) Follows.
(2) ADSS 8.328
(3) Not published. 06.07.1942 Osborne asked for information on the activities of the Holy See reported in an article in the Basler Nachrichten (Basel News) on Alexander Mach.
Cf ADSS 8.334.
(4) ADSS 8.345, note 1.

ADSS 8.382 Burzio to Maglione: Slovakian race laws

This and the next document continue the Vatican's growing alarm at the progress of the deportation of the Slovakian Jews despite the escalation of protest and appeals for the trains to halt.  Added to this is the carefully worded outrage that some priests who were members of parliament voted in favour of the legislation to deport the Jews.  Other priest members abstained, but none voted against the legislation.  It would appear that the bishops' cautious statement had no impact on the political solution being found for a "final solution" of the "Jewish Question" in Slovakia.

ADSS 8.382

Reference: Report nr. 940 (AES 4374/42 original)
Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava), 23.05.1942

Summary statement: A special law passed to deport Slovak Jews.

Language: Italian


In order to legalise, in some way, the severe measures taken against the Jews, the Slovak government induced the Parliament to vote a constitutional law, authorising the deportation of Jews (1) from the territory of the Republic, and deprive them of Slovakian citizenship and decree the confiscation of their property.

In the attached document (2), which I hasten to send to your Eminence, is the translation of the law, which was promulgated on the 15th of this month (May 1942).

There are only two categories of persons exempt from deportation: those who have become members of a Christian confession before 14 March 1939, and those who have contracted a valid marriage with a non-Jewish spouse before 10 September 1941 (the date the “Jewish Code” was published forbidding such marriages. Naturally, there are Jews who have obtained the “discrimination” from the President and are not subject to deportation.

Unfortunately, and I have been assured of this, some priests who are members of Parliament, voted in favour of the law, others abstained, but none voted against. (3)

(1) ADSS 8.343
(2) Not published
(3) Cf ADSS 8.400

ADSS 8.400 Maglione to Burzio: Slovakian race laws

As the diplomatic correspondence flowed to and fro from the Vatican and other European cities about the deportation of the Jews of Slovakia, Cardinal Maglione wrote a simple summary note to Giuseppe Burzio in Bratislava in response to Burzio's earlier note on 23.05.1942.  For the first time there is open mention of the Vatican's annoyance at the behaviour of some Slovakian parliamentarians who were also priests, as well as the frustration with Fr Tiso, the president.  This frustration will be found soon after in a significant document where a sense of impotence emerges very clearly in the Secretariat of State. And since we know that the Pope was kept informed of the situation in Slovakia, as well as the rest of Europe, it is safe to assume he felt the same impotence that men such as Maglione and Burzio felt.

ADSS 8.400

Reference: AES 4374/32, minute
Location and date: Vatican, 19.06.1942

Summary statement: Holy See deplores the Slovakian race laws.

Language: Italian


I have received your Excellency’s regular report with the attachment, number 940, on 23 May 1942 (1), on the matter of “Law on the deportation of Jews”.

The Holy See has learned. With deep regret, of the serious measures taken by the Slovakian government against non-Aryans, and this is all the more serious because, it would seem, as has been related, that the aforementioned law was enacted with the participation of some priests who are members of Parliament. (2)

Cross references:

(1) ADSS 8.382
(2) A few days later, the Secretary of State received this information from the Italian Embassy/ (AES 4642/42, 21.06.1942)
“The vote on the constitutional law for the expulsion of the Jews from Slovakia had no adverse effects on the majority of public opinion. It basically did nothing but legalise a procedure that has been in place for some time now … ecclesiastical circles still remain largely hostile to the anti-Jewish measures and the law itself, not only for moral reasons but also because they find it absurd that such measures have been taken in a country whose head of state is a priest …”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

ADSS 8.383 Karel Sidor to Maglione - Slovakian spin

On 23 May 1942 the Slovakian government made its formal response to the Vatican's protest against the anti-Jewish laws passed in 1941 and the deportations that commenced in March 1942.

In a piece of hyperbole that is breath-taking for its "spin" on the anti-Jewish laws, Slovakian minister Karel Sidor, communicated the formal response of the Slovak government's attempt to justify the anti-Jewish laws that the Vatican had objected to.  Sidor expressed the Slovakian government's "belief" that there was a "Jewish Question" that needed a "solution".  In language that echoed German euphemisms for deportation and worse, Sidor parroted the line that Germany would honour all its agreements to treat the deported Slovak Jews "humanely". 

Did Sidor or his masters in Pressburg (Bratislava) honestly believe Maglione and the Pope would believe the official statement?  We have seen in previous documents that information was arriving in Rome detailing the appaling conditions faced by Jews in Poland, and Jews deported from other places.  Indeed, Sidor makes reference to deportations from France, Holland, Belgium and other places and the creation of a Jewish "district" around Lublin.  Even Hungary was prepared to surrender its 800,000 Jews to the Germans.

By the time Sidor sent his note to the Secretary of State, the Vatican knew of the mass murder of Jews in Belarus and Ukraine, had reports of horrific conditions in ghettos across Poland and the Baltic States and had some indication of worse things going on "in the East".

The Slovakian note also used a book written by Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, Secretary of State to Pius XI until 1929, where an argument was advanced justifying the State's right to limit the natural right to marry under certain circumstances. Gasparri's book, "Canonical Tracts concerning Marriage" published in 1932, did not discriminate on the grounds of race.  His arguments were an exploration of the legitimate role of the State to govern within the boundaries of the natural and civil law.

Catholic marriage theology recognised civil marriage as a legal and valid marriage, but did not have the status of a sacramental marriage conducted before a deacon, priest or bishop.  Sacramental marriage was indissoluble either by civil or canonical courts.  Catholic theology understood "nullity" to exist when the appropriate disposition, age or willingness to have children was absent.  Officially, the Church was not well disposed to the idea of Catholics entering into civil marriage without also contracting a sacramental marriage as well.

According to the Slovak government there were renegade ministers, mostly Protestants, who were busy baptising Jews at an alarming rate.  However, since all baptisms after September 1941 were not recognised for the purposes of deportation, this was a minor irritation.  Jews baptised before September were exempt from deportation.

At the end of the document was a note written by Domenico Tardini: "returned by His Holiness", indicating Pius had seen and read the note.  The Pope's response is not recorded.  At the same time the call for a formal protest against the murder of the Jews was mounting among the immured diplomats in the Vatican as well as from many sources outside.  This was to cause Pius considerable anxiety as he struggled to maintain the facade of strict neutrality.  However, the killing frenzy was now beyond anything remotely comparable in recorded history; it was something new.  It demanded a response.

ADSS 8.383

Reference: Number 428/42 (AES 3919/42 original)
Location and date: Rome, 23.05.1942

Summary statement: Attempted justification and explanation of the Slovakian race laws and false information about the treatment of the Jews.

Language: Italian

The undersigned, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Slovak Republic to the Holy See has the honour to communicate to His Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State to his Holiness a note from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic in response to the note of the Secretary of State of His Holiness number 8355/41 of 12 November 1941 with his note of 8 May 1942 number 8325/1/42 has notified our Legation of the following direction:

The response to the Note of the Secretary of State of His Holiness of 12 November 1941, number 8355/41 could not be given immediately for the following reasons:

The solution of the Jewish Question is a very serious problem on which the competent authorities of Slovakia have had to apply their full attention. It was planned that the President of the Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs, a few days after receiving the Verbal Note (in December) would go to Rome. Monsignor Burzio, the Charge d’affaires of the Holy See expressed the same opinion during talks with the President of the Council. Instead of exchanging formal notes, it would be better do deal with the problem of the plight of the Jews in Slovakia face to face so as to provide exact and detailed information for any questions in this regard.

For various reasons the Prime Minister’s trip to Rome was first postponed to January 1942 and then to March.

But at this time there was a change in the solution of the Jewish question. Between the Slovak government and the German government negotiations took place on the solution of the Jewish problem in Europe and it was considered that the emigration of the Jews from Slovakia is only a part of a larger program. (2) Currently, half a million Jews in Europe will be sent to Eastern Europe. Slovakia was the first state whose Jewish residents would be accepted by Germany. At the same time the emigration of Jews from German occupied France, Holland, Belgium, the Protectorate, from Reich territory is also underway. Even Hungary has expressed its readiness to send its 800,000 Jews as reported a speech of Dr Kallay, President of the Council on 20 April this year.

The Slovak Jews will be located in different places around Lublin where they will stay permanently. The Aryan population will be transferred from these territories and in its place will be an exclusively Jewish district with its own administration, where Jews can live together, and provide for their existence through work. Families will remain together. There was some alarm expressed that some Jewish girls and men of Jewish origin emigrated and were sent to work before their families, but this was done in order for them to prepare the necessary things for the other Jews, especially women, the old, sick and children. The emigration of the remaining members of Jewish families has already begun so that all Jewish families will be reunited. All Jews will be under the protection of the Reich (Schutzbefohlene – literally “wards”).

We have received the promise of the Reich government that Christians of Jewish origin will be placed in a separate area.

According to our law they are regarded as Christians of Jewish origin who were baptised before 10 September 1941, that is, before the Jewish law came into force. This exception does not apply to Jews who have been recently baptised or baptised for the sake of some expediency. That some have received baptism on the eve of emigration for material interests has determined as demonstrated in the following statistics:

In Žilina Stefano Puskas, a Calvinist pastor, baptised 180 Jews on one day, 110 on the next, and another 40 on the third day; a total of 330 Jews baptised in three days. He received from every Jew he baptised thousands and thousands of Slovak crowns. In Vrútky, 86 Jews were baptised, and in Zvolen, 160. Another Protestant pastor in Nitra baptised 80 Jews. In Bratislava a Protestant pastor baptised 276 Jews in one day. A Protestant pastor in Trenčin baptised 50 Jews in one day, in Ružomberok 28, Prešov 46, Spišská Nováves 87, Trnava 107, Hlohovec 29. The greater number were baptised by Protestant pastors. The German government for its part, has told us that the Jews will be treated humanely.

During his recent visit to Bratislava, the Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to the Holy See, Karel Sidor, reported verbally that the Holy See had received information according to which the Slovak government had given orders to capture all young people of Jewish origin and send them to the military front to be placed at the free disposal of the German soldiers. Such a thing has never been done and can not be done because according to the Nuremberg laws such behaviour is punished heavily. Officially we were told that some German soldiers who had affairs with Jewish women were sentenced by military tribunals and shot.

In Slovakia, after the current emigration of Jews, there will be only a small minority so that the concerns mentioned in the Note cited above may not even be present even in a single marriage case.

With regard to Article 9 of the Government ordinance which prohibits marriages between Jews and non-Jews, permit us to draw attention to the book by Cardinal Gasparri: Canonical Tracts concerning Marriage – published in 1932, Part 1, page 143 where it says:

(Latin) “The civil authority can, in some circumstances, for reasons of the public good, may prohibit, for a time, the right to marry and determine the conditions of marriage for those able to fulfil it”. Then: “But since the law of nature does not bind a case under pain of nullity, so the marriage entered into was, perhaps, against civil law and is valid, (sometimes it is even lawful), and therefore the civil authority can negate the effects of civil marriage separately from inseparable ones”. (Note: This is based on the Catholic theology of marriage which recognises civil marriages which can be nullified, as opposed to sacramental marriages which cannot.)

The Slovak law thus sets: “the improper impediment has been stated” (quote is in Latin) that prohibits marriages of this type and punishes those husbands and wives who dare to contract marriage against this law. The Ministry of the Interior also permits exemptions in exceptional circumstances and for grace reasons.

According to Article 38 of the government ordinance, young people of the Jewish race are not excluded from those schools where they can receive necessary instruction for their religious life. It is also not forbidden to Catholics of Jewish origin for them to take part in religious events, such as Mass, pilgrimages, processions, Marian groups etc.

Note of Tardini:

Returned from His Holiness 03.06.1942.

Cross references:
(1) ADSS 8.153 and Part Two.
(2) Compare this with the declarations of Minister Mach. See ADSS 8.368, note 4.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pius XII's Legacy Divides Catholics Too

From Forward 25 November 2012.

Adam Gregerman's comments are worth the read.  He places much of the "debate" over Pius XII within the context of current tensions within contemporary Catholicism.  And while I disagree with the naming of sides as "progressive" and "conservative" - too black and white in my opinion - I recognise that they are convenient terms.  However, I hope that readers go beyond the labels and show a willingness to explore the subtleties within different positions.

This is my response to Gregerman's article posted on the Forward website:

Adam Gregerman has written a well balanced summary of the current tensions within Catholic Christianity.  His comments about Pius XII are based on what is known from the available historical record, a record that is incomplete and in need of ongoing serious study - a process that has been underway for nearly half a century in the work of mainstream scholars, Christian, Jewish and neither. From my reading of the available material, and especially of the published Vatican records from WWII, the war objectives of the Catholic Church under the leadership of Pius XII were to preserve the Church throughout Europe, and then Asia once Japan began expanding, prevent the spread of Communism in whatever ways it could, speak and act for the victims of the war using the extensive networks of papal representatives, local bishops and Catholics of good will and work for the establishment of a new world order built on Christian principles.  Pius XII did act for the Jews of Europe, but in an emerging and reactive manner that was always tempered by diplomatic protocols.  Whereas he spoke out clearly in defence of "innocent victims" of war, for POWs, for refugees and displaced people, he spoke of Jews using a cumbersome and non-explicit language that was interpreted as support for the suffering Jews of Europe, but was not a vigorous protest in the same manner as used for other groups.  From my reading of the published data as well as documents emerging from the Vatican archives (up to 1939) the picture emerges of a very able and competent diplomat who understood Hitler, Nazism and the hatred that motivated them, but whose first priority was the safety and well being of the Church, and that is in accord with his position.  Concern for the Jews was also there, but it was never a "top" priority in the way the fear of a communist takeover of Europe was.  Pius was no antisemite or Jew-hater.  He was a devout, conservative Tridentine Catholic who believed Judaism was a superceded religion.  In the noise surrounding Pius XII, historians need a quiet space to get on with what we do best - read, research and write.  The full story of Pius XII may never be completely known, but there is a mass of evidence that is available and broad lines can be seen clearly and there are several clear statements that can be made: Was he "silent" - no.  Was he a "saviour" of the Jews - no. Was he a good man - yes.  Did he make mistakes - yes. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pius XII: Poliakov versus Pave The Way

One of the claims made by organisations such as Pave The Way is that criticism of Pope Pius XII did not begin until well after his death in 1958.  In this short editorial from The Jewish Week Eric Fettmann makes the pertinent and historically accurate comment that criticism of Pius XII was made during the pope's lifetime.  The isolation of historians such as Poliakov speaks more of the general lack of interest in the study of the Holocaust in the 1950s as well as a reluctance in the English-speaking world to publically criticise the most vocal anti-communist on the planet.  This "old fashioned" historical research is what is sorely needed in the study of Pius XII.  I have added Gary Krupp's after Fettmann's editorial with the contentious paragraph highlighted in red.

Early Criticism Of Pius XII

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eric Fettmann

It is simply not true, as Gary Krupp of Pave the Way Foundation asserts, that criticism of Pope Pius XII’s public behavior during the Holocaust was “artificially created” and unknown until Rolf Hochhuth’s play “The Deputy” (Letters, Nov. 11 - sic).

The noted Holocaust historian Leon Poliakov first raised concerns in his article, “The Vatican and the ‘Jewish Question’: The Record of the Hitler Period — and After,” which appeared in the November 1950 issue of Commentary. While dealing extensively with the “glorious record of the Catholic Church in its efforts to save [individual] Jewish lives from the Nazi murderers,” he also bemoaned the Pope’s failure to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, the stridently anti-Nazi Pius XI.

“What led the present Pope, Pius XII, to adopt a less forthright policy than Pius XI?” Poliakov asked. “The fact is that during Hitler’s lifetime, the present Pope never clearly condemned the criminal policy of the Third Reich, and that the diplomatic relations between Berlin and the Vatican, although cold and reserved, remained correct.”

Indeed, he wrote, “Nothing similar to certain statements of Pius XI (let us recall his famous words: ‘We are all Semites spiritually ...’) was said at Rome under the pontificate of Pius XII.”

Despite “resounding protests made at the local [church] level, the Pope did not consider it wise to add to these protests the authority of his own voice; or if he did make a public statements, it was with such caution that his words had no effect, or were misunderstood.”

True, Poliakov’s was a lonely voice during this period. But his essay, besides being the first, continues to be one of the most insightful on this painful and complicated subject.

Here is Gary Krupp's letter to the editor - 8 November 2011. My own opinions and evaluation of Pave The Way's methodology are well known and I have written about the organisation on my blog and mentioned it in my book.  I see no reason to reiterate them here.

Countering Cardinal Koch

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I believe Cardinal Koch, in his sincere attempt to quell the controversy, may have misspoken. Pave the Way Foundation does not support the canonization of anyone (“New Dialogue Leader Off To Bad Start,” Nov. 4). PTWF is a nonsectarian organization that impartially moves to identify and eliminate non-theological obstacles between religions. We never endorse specific religious processes such as canonization. Personally, speaking as a Jew, canonization is Catholic concept. Just as we would not favor Catholic intervention or commentary of our prayers and traditions, we should simply allow the Catholic Church to follow its canon law to determine who is or is not a saint.

Pave the Way is far from alone in its assessment of discovered documentation. There are literally dozens of true historians both Jews and non-Jews, who believe that our findings are quite real and legitimate. These include Hans Jansen of the Netherlands, Pierre Blet and Philippe Chenaux, Michael Feldkamp and Sister Margherita Marchione, among others. Jews who have defended the wartime pope include Albert Einstein, Rabbi David Dalin, Rabbi Chaim Herzog, Rabbi Toaf of Rome, Golda Meir, Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld and Sir Martin Gilbert, to mention a few.

To date we have posted on our website (www.ptwf.org) over 46,000 pages of original documents, news articles and video eyewitness testimonies, which clearly show that the current opinion of Pope Pius XII is wrong and was artificially created. We discovered that literally every Jewish leader and every Jewish organization of the day (including Rabbi Eric Greenberg’s Anti-Defamation League), showered affection, and praise upon Pius XII up until five years after his death. What happened to change this? Where are the documents that prove these new allegations? How did this happen?

The fictional play “The Deputy” was produced, translated into 20 languages, and strategically played worldwide by the Soviet disinformation department in an operation called “Seat Twelve.” This was specifically planned to isolate the Jewish people from the Catholics timed to discredit Vatican II and its new relationship with the non-Catholic world. It also was intended to discredit the Holy See and Pius XII personally.

Instantly the positive well-earned expressions of Jewish gratitude changed. The new accusations took hold, and a slew of new biased, historically incorrect books were written to feed into the controversy and to make a fortune for their authors. This effort was at the cost of legitimate Jewish gratitude. As Jews, we bought these allegations hook, line and sinker and the demonization moved forward.

Then we discovered the real “smoking gun.” Those who we have come to trust for historical accuracy have not attempted original firsthand research nor have they visited the open Vatican archives up to 1939.

Throughout our investigation and our effort to post the evidence online for public consumption, we have not been able to locate one document to support the calumnies leveled again Pius XII.

I reiterate that we do not support the canonization of Pope Pius XII, but we do emphatically support his recognition by Yad Vashem as “Righteous Among Nations.”

Founder and President Pave the Way Foundation

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeping up to date on Pius XII news

Over the last week or so there have been more than a few news stories related to Pius XII.  Some are serious, many are apologetics masquerading as history and some are just plain irrelevant.

I've classified my email inbox collection under three headings:  Worth the read; Worth a look; Don't bother.  This is only a taste of what appears most days via google alerts.  I have not made reference to some of the material, there is simply too much.  Some posts are so offensive I would not want to give them any publicity, and that includes references to Holocaust deniers and other assorted fringe-dwellers, religious or otherwise.

Worth the read

1.  Greek Catholic Monastery Recalls Saving Jews in War  A good news story of an Eastern Rite Catholic monastery near Lviv where a significant number of Jewish boys were hidden and saved.  The Abbot of the monastery was Klement Sheptysky, (1869-1951), brother of Andrei (1865-1944) the Metropolitan (Archbishop) of Lviv. Their coworker was the priest Omelyan Kovch, (1884-1944) who was later arrested and sent to KL Majdanek were he died.  Both Klement Sheptysky and Omelyan Kovch were beatified by John Paul II in 2001.
(The link gives a redirect to the original source, the Kyiv Post.)

2.  Cardinal says Jews want Sainthood for Nazi-era Pope  This ranks as one of the most amazing "foot in mouth" articles I have seen in a long while.  Successor to the highly sensitive and diplomatic Walter Kasper, Kurt Koch appears to have not understood the debate surrounding Pius XII.  Koch's claim that many Jews are supportive of the eventual canonisation of Pius is an extraordinary claim to make.  Rabbi Eric Greenberg, director of Inter-faith relations with the ADL summed up the consensus of the gathering at Seton Hall, when he expressed his dismay that Koch seems to have learned his history from non-historical sources.

3.  New Dialogue Leader off to bad start Steve Lipman from The Jewish Week continues the Cardinal Koch story.  Eric Greenberg's comments are very apt.  The New Jersey Jewish News report on the Cardinal's comments was placed within the context of the three day Inter-Faith conference where Koch was one of the principal speakers.

4.  Challenges facing the Vatican's Jewish Point Man  Rabbi Noam Marans, one of the participants at Seton Hall gives his side of the story.  It is a well-written and thoughtful article that places Christian-Jewish relations within its bigger context.

Worth a look

1. The Fighting Nun in Rome and the Pope Pius XII Museum  Worth a look for the document quoted in its entirety.  A W Klieforth, US Consul General wrote an appraisal of the newly elected Pius XII addressed to Jay Pierrepont Moffat, Chief of the Division of European Affairs at the Department of State.  Klieforth noted Pacelli's anti-communist position as well as his strong condemnation of Nazism. 

2. It didn't take long for some groups to respond to Cardinal Koch's statements at Seton Hall.  Joseph Bottum's comments on Catholic Vote suggest that the Cardinal's words were taken out of context.

Don't bother
1.  Don't have the energy to write your own apologia on Pius XII?  Well, you can use one that has been written online!  Gregory Luther or Gelinde Cobbs, (I'm not sure which one is the author) on Essaypedia does the work for you.  True to the non-historians format, Lapide gets a front row seat in the bibliography.

2.  The claim made by Pave The Way that Pius XII went undercover to get a Jewish family out of the Rome ghetto is one thing.  The comments by readers of the California Catholic Daily are quite another.  It is part of the availability of the Internet - we can all have a voice, rational or otherwise.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Unbelievable, unsubstantiated, unacceptable - Pius XII "undercover".

This very strange article came through the Catholic News Agency last night and was forwarded to me by a colleague in New York.

Before I discuss the article, I will begin with a story from Australian literary history.  In 1995 an unknown first-time author, daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Helen Demidenko, was awarded Australia's premier literature prize, The Miles Franklin Award.  The Hand that signed the Paper was supposedly the blended account given to Demidenko by her uncle "Uncle Vitaly" and told a shockingly frank tale of a Ukrainian family's life under Stalinist terror through to collaboration with the Nazis.  At the heart of the tale was the revelation that Vitaly and his younger brother, Evheny were intimately involved in the Holocaust.  Vitaly was a guard at Treblinka; Evheny was a member of Einzatsgruppen C and possibly active at Babi Yar.

Demidenko's book sold out in a matter of days.  I bought a copy and found it riveting.  I had been a student of Holocaust history for a number of years by 1995 and appreciated the frank writing that presented a story of collaboration that was consistent with what the historical record had told for several decades.  The Hand the Signed the Paper received considerable acclaim as a searing recount of one of the worst episodes in modern history.

Then ...

Shortly after the Miles Franklin Prize was given to Demidenko it was revealed that the author was really Helen Darville, daughter of English migrants, with no connection to Ukraine at all.  The story was, from beginning to end, the fabrication of an English literature student at the University of Queensland.  Darville initially claimed that she had sourced the material from Ukrainian migrants before finally admitting the story was just based on historical fact.

It would appear that Darville found her ethnic origins rather mundane and decided that adopting a Ukrainian persona would be more exciting.  She has not been the first to do so.  For decades there were people who hoped that Anna Anderson was really the Grand Duchess Anastasia, youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II and they refused to believe that she was the daughter of Polish peasants.

In 1995 the startling memoir Stoker was published.  It told the story of Donald Watt, an Australian POW in Poland who claimed he had been sent to Auschwitz where he worked as a stoker in the crematoria alongside the Sonderkommando.  The book was received  with great fanfare and acclaim. Watt was invited by Jewish groups around Australia to tell his story.  It was not long before historians began reading Stoker and asking serious questions.  The summary of the investigation was that the story not only did not happen as Watt described, it could not have happened. (I suggest reading Professor Konrad Kwiet's analysis).

My point is that the creation or invention of a story however positive and edifying, whether done for the noblest of reasons or otherwise, serves only to muddy the waters and create confusion.  When authors write fiction they do so to tell a story for the entertainment of their readers.  They are not required to justify or qualify their writing.  For historians the reading and writing process about the human story demands basic standards of verification, research and corroborative evidence.  David' Kerr's article does not meet this criteria.

If this was a first year university student's essay on an aspect of the life of Pope Pius XII it would fail simply because there are no citations to refer the reader to sources, no corroborating evidence, and selective use of material that can and has been read in a number of ways.  However, David Kerr's greatest omissions are the lack of context and the verification of his material through consultation with scholars.  In less than 24 hours the story has been picked up by conservative Catholic news services around the world.  I fear it will develop a life of its own and become yet another part of the "faction" that is so much apologia for Pius XII.

Just as Dan Brown did when he wrote the Da Vinci Code, certain pro-Pius XII fans have combined a certain amount of historical truth with fantasy to create a story that to the lay audience has all the veneer of accuracy.  Holocaust denialists do the same.

My comments appear in RED.

By David Kerr, Rome, Italy, Nov 4, 2011 / 06:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).

The Jewish New Yorker who has made it his life’s work to clear the name of Pope Pius XII of being anti-Semitic believes the wartime pontiff actually went undercover to save the lives of Jews in Rome.Gary Krupp came across the evidence in a letter from a Jewish woman whose family was rescued thanks to direct Vatican intervention.

Who is this unnamed Jewish woman?  Where did Mr Krupp come across this extraordinary find? Why, after sixty years, has this story finally emerged?

“It is an unusual letter, written by a woman who is alive today in northern Italy, who said she was with her mother, her uncle, and a few other relatives in an audience with Pius XII in 1947.”

Next to Pope Pius during the meeting was his Assistant Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI. “Her uncle immediately looks at the Pope and he says, ‘You were dressed as a Franciscan,’ and looked at Montini who was standing next to him, ‘and you as a regular priest. You took me out of the ghetto into the Vatican.’ Montini immediately said, ‘Silence, do not ever repeat that story.’”

Giovanni Battista Montini (1897-1978) served in the Secretariat of State from 1922 to 1954.  During the war Montini was one of the closest collaborators of Pius XII.  When the Allies bombed Rome in July 1943 Montini and Pius XII were driven to San Lorenzo fuori le mura.  This is well known.  There is no evidence recorded anywhere, outside of this newly revealed account, that Pius ever left the Vatican in disguise alone or with any one else.  The claim flies in the face of everything known about Pope Pius XII.   

There are questions that come out of this story.  Rome did not have a closed ghetto, unlike cities in Eastern Europe, so assertions of Pius "entering" the ghetto and taking someone "out of the ghetto" do not seem to make sense.  What is meant here?  Why did the Pope and Montini take someone "out of the ghetto" and into the Vatican when it was relatively easy for people to enter the Vatican?  Given that the Jews of Rome were not confined to a ghetto, why was there a need to take someone out?

How was it possible that the Pope and one of his closest collaborators were able to leave the Vatican, cross the Tiber and enter the ghetto and apparently take a Jewish family out and bring them to the Vatican and no one has ever recorded anything about it?

When Montini, as Pope Paul VI, ordered a team of Jesuit historians to examine the files of the Secretariat of State during the war, why was this story not revealed?  Pius had been dead for nearly ten years and Paul had publically defended Pius from accusations of silence.  Why did he not reveal this story then?

Why is there no mention of this event in any of the memoirs of those who worked with Pius on a daily basis and at close quarters: Cardinals Tardini, Tisserant and Mother Pascalina Lehnert?

This story ranks on the same level as the Papal Order to open the convents.  It is a good story, but there is no concrete evidence to support it.

Krupp believes the claim to be true because the personality of the wartime Pope was such that he “needed to see things with his own eyes.”

This seems to contradict what historians know about the pope.  He relied on reports from others and did not need to go out and "see things."  In fact between May 1940 and July 1943 the pope did not leave the Vatican at all.

"He used to take the car out into bombed areas in Rome, and he certainly wasn't afraid of that. I can see him going into the ghetto and seeing what was happening,” says Krupp.

There are two records of Pius going and seeing the damage caused by bombing: July 1943.  Both occasions were spontaneous instances to go and be with the suffering people of his diocese.  There is no record of Pius entering the ghetto - not since he was a boy.  This is the stuff of fantasy.  If there was any evidence of such an unparalleled adventure it would have been revealed well before now.  The pope was such a public figure, even in the little city state of the Vatican that his movements were known at all times by at least a dozen people.  Italian and German spies also kept track of papal movements as part of their work.  If Pius left the Vatican in disguise, someone would have known about it.

Another aspect of this report is Mr Krupp's statement: "I can see him going into the ghetto and seeing what was happening."  What was there to see?  Italy had no closed ghettos - therefore there was nothing to see. 

Krupp and his wife Meredith founded the Pave the Way Foundation in 2002 to “identify and eliminate the non-theological obstacles between religions.” In 2006 he was asked by both Jewish and Catholic leaders to investigate the “stumbling block” of Pope Pius XII’s wartime reputation. Krupp, a very optimistic 64-year-old from Long Island, N.Y., thought he had finally hit a wall.

“We are Jewish. We grew up hating the name Pius XII,” he says. “We believed that he was anti-Semitic, we believed that he was a Nazi collaborator­all of the statements that have been made about him, we believed.”But when he started looking at the documents from the time, he was shocked. And “then it went from shock to anger. I was lied to,” says Krupp.“In Judaism, one of the most important character traits one must have is gratitude, this is very important, it is part of Jewish law. Ingratitude is one of the most terrible traits, and this was ingratitude as far as I was concerned.”

Krupp now firmly agrees with the conclusions of Pinchas Lapide, the late Jewish historian and Israeli diplomat who said the direct actions of Pope Pius XII and the Vatican saved approximately 897,000 Jewish lives during the war. Pave the Way has over 46,000 pages of historical documentation supporting that proposition, which it has posted on its website along with numerous interviews with eye-witnesses and historians.“I believe that it is a moral responsibility, this has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church,” says Krupp, “it has only to do with the Jewish responsibility to come to recognize a man who actually acted to save a huge number of Jewish lives throughout the entire world while being surrounded by hostile forces, infiltrated by spies and under the threat of death.”

This is an ahistorical argument.  Pinchas Lapide's assertion is totally unfounded and has no historical foundation at all.  I have written on this before.  Pave The Way has an impressive library but has not demonstrated an ability to critically analysise much of it.  Assertions made regarding the number of Jews supposedly rescued by Pius show a serious lack of scholarship that is not accepted by historians.  Curiously, Lapide's number has risen from 860,000 to 897,000.

Krupp explained that Pope Pius used the Holy See’s global network of embassies to help smuggle Jews out of occupied Europe. In one such instance, the Vatican secretly asked for visas to the Dominican Republic– 800 at a time – to aid Jewish rescue efforts. This one initiative alone is estimated to have saved over 11,000 Jewish lives between 1939 and 1945.

How was Pius XII able to "smuggle Jews out of occupied Europe"?  This is not clear.  German policy towards Jewish emigration changed over the years prior to and during the war.  Emigration was not stopped until July 1941 when the decision to murder all the Jews in the German sphere of influence was made.  Some Jews escaped occupied Europe through one or other of the German allies such as Hungary and Slovakia, but these were very few.  The Dominican Republic issued 5000 visas for Jewish refugees from Europe between 1940 and 1945.  645 Jews made it to the Dominican Republic, but several thousand others survived because they held the visas. 

Closer to home, the convents and monasteries of Rome­ neutral territory during the war­ were used as hiding places for Jews. Krupp speculates that the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII, whose birth name was Eugenio Pacelli, can be further understood in the light of his own personal history. His great boyhood friend was Guido Mendes who hailed from a well-known Jewish family in Rome. Together they learned the Hebrew language and shared Shabbat dinners on the Jewish Sabbath.

There is no evidence that Pacelli knew Hebrew or that he participated in shabbat dinners.  This would have been unthinkable for someone raised in a religiously devout and conservative Tridentine Catholic home. 

Later, upon his election to the papacy in 1939, A.W. Klieforth, the American consul general in Cologne, sent a secret telegram to the U.S. Department of State explaining Pope Pius’s attitude towards Nazism in Germany. The new Pope “opposed unalterably every compromise with National Socialism,” Klieforth wrote, after a private chat with the pontiff in the Vatican. The two men had got to know each other during Archbishop Pacelli’s 12 years as nuncio in Germany. Pope Pius, explained Klieforth, “regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person,” and “did not believe Hitler capable of moderation.” Hence he “fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand.”

This is all well known.

Krupp describes the reputation of the wartime Pope as both glowing and intact until 1963, when German writer Rolf Hochhuth penned his play “The Deputy.” It portrayed Pope Pius as a hypocrite who remained silent about Jewish persecution.

The Pave the Way website carries evidence from a former high-ranking KGB officer, Ion Mihai Pacepa, who claims that the tarnishing of the Pope’s reputation was a Soviet plot. Krupp explains how the communists wanted to “discredit the Pope after his death, to destroy the reputation of the Catholic Church and, more significantly to us, to isolate the Jews from the Catholics. It succeeded very well in all three areas.”But he also firmly believes that a fundamental revision of Pope Pius’s wartime record is now well underway. “The dam is cracking now, without question,” he says.

Ion Mihai Pacepa's story has never been corroborated.  His story ws effectively debunked by Thomas Brechenmacher in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "Hochhuths Quellen. War der 'Stellvertreter' vom KGB inspiriert?", (April 26, 2007)

Ironically, perhaps, Krupp says he meets more resistance when he speaks at Catholic parishes than in Jewish synagogues. “Many Jews,” he explains, “have been extremely grateful, saying, ‘I’m very happy to hear that. I never wanted to believe this about him,’ especially those of us who knew him, who were old enough to know him.

I do not dispute the noble aim of Pave The Way, but I disagree with the methodology that flies in the face of reliable and reputable scholarship.  The claim that Pius XII disguised himself as a Franciscan friar to leave the Vatican secretly to go to the Rome ghetto to rescue a Jewish family has no substance. 

My response to this article drew on my own research into Pius XII conducted over the last fifteen years and from sources I found in the public domain on the internet.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emma Fattorini reviewed in Times Higher Education

Over the last few days I have had a very interesting and informative email exchange with Karen Shook, the Books Editor with Times Higher Education

What began this exchange was the review of Emma Fattorini's new book Hitler, Mussolini and the Vatican: Pope Pius XI and the speech that was never made I read via one of my google alerts.  I emailed Karen asking her permission to publish the review by Australian academic Richard Bosworth.  Karen explained something of the contemporary difficulties and challenges confronting journalism and especially academic journalism. 

Much of the profile of a media source such as Times Higher Education comes from regular visits to the site by an established clientele.  However, valuable resources need greater promotion, and I am happy to add my contribution and support to this academic enterprise.  For this reason I readily accepted Karen's request to publish the link alone and encourage readers to go and read the review on the home site.

Emma Fattorini is professor of Modern History at La Sapienza University in Rome.  La Sapienza is also alma mater to Eugenio Pacelli who studied there in the 1890s. 

I read her Germania e Santa Sede (Bologna 1992) which was one of the first major studies of German-Vatican relations in the post-war era.  At that time the documents available in the Archivio Segreto Vaticano extended only to 1922, the death of Benedict XV.  Nonetheless, she completed one of the first significant studies of the nunciature of Eugenio Pacelli in his first years in Bavaria and then in Germany.  I found Bosworth's review interesting and I look forward to the Australian summer holidays to read the book which is currently sitting on the shelf.

Bosworth's review can be found here.

Emma Fattorini

Saturday, October 29, 2011

ADSS 8.368 Notes from the Italian Embassy on Slovakia

As the deportation of the Slovak Jews continued to create unpleasant reactions for the government, Prime Minister, Alexander Mach, called a press conference in late March to explain the government's decision.  The secretary of the Italian embassy to the Holy See, Francesco Babuscio Rizzo recorded notes from the meeting and forwarded them to the Vatican Secretariat of State.  There was some confusion over the dating of the memo.  Babuscio Rizzo dated his notes "7 May 1942" which was the day he wrote the version that was sent to the Vatican.  Babuscio Rizzo had received news of the meeting some time around 16 April, and the press conference itself was convened on or around 27 March.  Whatever the correct day, the content of Mach's "justification" for the race laws is an exercise in self-delusion.  We know that the nunciatures in Switzerland and Hungary had reports that Slovakian Jews were suffering terrible privation and were expected to die shortly after their deportation from Slovakia.

The notes made by Domenico Tardini and, later, the editors of ADSS, show very clearly that Mach's words were not taken seriously and in no manner reflected the truth that was becoming clearer and supported by reports from other parts of German-occupied Europe and Russia.

ADSS 8.368

Reference: No number. (AES 3657/42 original)
Location and date: Rome 07.05.1942 (1)

Summary statement: Declaration of the Slovak government on the race laws.

Language: Italian


At 12 o’clock this morning (2) journalists of allied countries and members of the press were summoned to a meeting by Prime Minister Mach to be briefed on the Jewish question in Slovakia (3) particularly in relation to protests made among the people.

“The Jewish question in Slovakia – began the Minister – must be resolved in a total way and must lead to the exclusion of all the Jews from the life of Slovakia …” (4)

The final decision for the total resolution of the Jewish problem was taken in the Council of State, also I wish to say, against the wishes of some of the Council members who raised objections. I gave assurances that the Jews expelled from Slovakia and sent to preselected places, would be treated humanely. Families will be reunited. I strongly deny the rumours that Jewish women are being sent to “sexual” destinations, as well as inhuman processes that the Jews will be submitted to. They will find in the towns to which they are sent the means to work and live.

I repeat that the women with children left behind, will be reunited as soon as possible.

I have given assurances, to the objections made to me, that the Jews who leave Slovakia, and that will be all of them, will never return. An international agreement guarantees this. The constitutional law permits us to remove citizenship from Jews who will be deported. Those who attempt to escape the action underway, trying to hide, will be liable to arrest. We do not keep any account of all the baptisms performed by certain clerics in recent times. Baptised or not, all the Jews must go … (5)


1. Babuscio Rizzo corrected the date at the time of recording his notes. It should read 16.04.1942. Tardini notes: “Babuscio Rizzo was correct in saying that the information was forwarded to the Italian government on 16 April.”

2. Tardini note: “Which day? 27.03?”

3. Cf ADSS 8.334, 343, 360.

4. The minister explained the reason for the racial legislation and gave false assurances: “… the Jews in Slovakia, up until 14 March, influenced the economic, cultural, political and social life of the country and radical action against them could not be taken without causing damage and serious imbalance …”

5. Frivolous accusations against the Slovak Jews omitted.

Note of Monsignor Tardini: 08.05.1942. From Francesco Babuscio.

ADSS 8.364 Rotta to Maglione: The Pozdech letter

As the Slovak Jews were deported "to Poland" attempts were made by some non-Jews to stop the trains.  We have seen the efforts undertaken by the Vatican's charge d'affaires in Bratislava, Giuseppe Burzio, Cardinal Maglione acting on the instructions of Pius XII and the reports sent by the Hungarian and Swiss nuncios. 

In late April 1942, Angelo Rotta, nuncio to Hungary, received a copy of a letter sent by a Bratislavan parish priest, Augustine Pozdech.  The letter was addressed to the Jewish communal leadership in Budapest and was a wrenching plea from a Catholic priest unable to remain silent in the face of the terrors inflicted on the Jews of Slovakia.  Pozdech wrote to the Budapest community asking them to wake the conscience of the world and so save some of their coreligionists.  Rotta sent the letter to Rome on 1 May 1942.

From the parish website of the Assumption in Bratislava I found these biographical details.  Augustine Pozdech was born in 1895 and ordained priest in 1923.  From 1934 to 1948 he was parish priest of the Assumption parish in Old Bratislava.  In 1931 he was appointed the Vicar General of the diocese.  He was connected with the Slovakian underground during the war.  In early 1945 he was arrested by the Gestapo but was saved by the swift approach of the Red Army.  Having fought against the fascists Pozdech soon found himself the target of the anti-Catholic persecution of the new Czechoslovak communists.  He was arrested in 1949 and sentenced to twelve years in prison.  Pozdech was released in 1957 and died in 1961.

There is no indication in ADSS if a response was made to Fr Pozdech's letter.

ADSS 8.364

Reference: Rap n 7298 / 42 (N. Pr. 573) AES 3619 / 42

Location and date: Budapest 01.05.1942

Summary statement: Nuncio sends a letter from Augustine Pozdech, PP in Bratislava, appealing for the Jews of Slovakia.

Language: Italian and French


Angelo Rotta to Maglione.

Further to my report, number 7220/42, 17 April 1942 (Doc 352) about the plight of Slovakian Jews deported from their homeland, I have the honour to forward to Your Eminence this one page letter, translated into French, received at the nunciature.

It is a latter from a Slovakian Catholic priest sent to the Jewish community of Budapest which asks them to intervene for the Jews of Slovakia. The person who brought it to me asked me to send it to the Secretariat of State. It will have to serve as is, for there is no other documentation.

Letter of Fr Augustin Pozdech to the President of the Jewish Community of Budapest.

Presbourg (Bratislava) 20.04.1942

You may find it strange that a Catholic priest addressed you about this subject. I decided upon this action because it is impossible for me to remain a silent witness of the horrible sufferings that afflicts my Jewish neighbours. I am appalled to the bottom of my heart as human beings, who have no fault other than being born Jews, have their property stolen from them, forced onto trains with the remnant of their personal freedom, and sent to a foreign country as slaves.

I wish to awaken the conscience of the world against this persecution. But alas, I am not able to make my words heard beyond this narrow circle. It is you, to whom I urge, to wake up and shake the conscience of the world, so that the atrocious suffering of the Jews in Slovakia be relieved. However, it is impossible that the world witnesses this and remains inactive, while little children, the mortally ill elderly, young girls torn from their families and young people are deported like cattle: transports of livestock wagons going to an unknown place, to an uncertain future.

Act, before it is too late, act quickly, and it may still be possible to save some of Slovakian Jewry.

I hope my words will be heard, I hope you will do everything possible for the sake of your poor, unfortunate coreligionists.