Friday, January 25, 2013

Pius XII and Christmas 1942: an analysis

In December 2012 Yad Vashem hosted a conference on the subject of The end of 1942 - a  turning point in World War Two and in the Comprehension of the Final Solution?  I was invited to present a paper on the papal Christmas Address of 1942 and although  I was unable to attend I sent my paper through and a recording was played to the gathered historians.

This is the synopsis of my paper:


During the second half of 1942 Pius XII's awareness of the scope of the German-led murder of European Jewry was considerable and, from the archival material available, largely accurate.  From various sources across German-occupied Europe and the Soviet Union, Vichy France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Vatican gradually pieced together a considerable archive of data that led to the dreadful and unavoidable conclusion that the Germans were engaged in a process of intentional mass-murder that beggared belief.  The Holy See was determined to preserve its public policy of neutrality at all costs, even at the risk of appearing unsympathetic or worse, towards the plight of the Jews, even if some of the murdered were Catholics of Jewish descent, such as Edith and Rosa Stein.  In the autumn of 1942 as war news gave hope that an Allied victory might be possible, diplomats immured within the Vatican led several official delegations to demand a papal response based on the pope’s religious and moral leadership. Under increasing pressure to add his voice to the condemnation of the slaughter and all too aware of the power politics of the Allied Declaration on 17 December the pope addressed the world on the eve of the Solemnity of Christmas.  Opinion has been divided as to whether Pope Pius XII fulfilled the ethical demand “to do good and avoid evil”.

The full text may be found in the pages section of the blog.

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