Historian Fritz Stern explains: On the face of it, the Vatican had scored a great triumph. What did the Church do when Hitler broke his promises? The Catholic Church kept its side of the bargain. But did the Vatican . . . really believe that National Socialism would abide by the concordat, was there really much likelihood that the regime would leave untouched a rival organization with its own dogmas and with such sweeping power over education?3, In the months and years after the concordat was signed, the Nazis regularly violated the agreement by shutting down some Catholic organizations, confiscating church property, interfering with Catholic newspapers, and imprisoning or murdering clergy and other Church leaders. Meanwhile, other German diplomats—and, the Vatican would say, the pope’s nephew—urged an eminent priest, whom Berlin trusted, to write an urgent note to a cooperative German commander in Italy that was to be wired to Berlin echoing Cardinal Maglione’s warning. In 1939, realizing what was at stake, Pius had actually joined in a conspiracy by some German generals to overthrow Hitler and, if necessary, a high Vatican official told me, to kill him. The kidnap plot had failed, but it had helped to shape the policies and attitudes of the pope, Hitler, and their subordinates during a most important segment of World War II history. But in the end the plot fell through. The concordat was his first international agreement, and it vastly enhanced his respectability in Germany and abroad. The grand mufti was the Nazi collaborator par excellence. Archives of this nature are typically not released until 70 years after a pope’s death, but Francis has decided to release them about a decade early. And friends of the pope prepared a plan for him to flee to Spain if necessary, though he vowed to remain in the Vatican unless he was carried out. According to this message, which repeated what a high SS official (perhaps Wolff) told the fascist writer, the purpose of the plot was to avenge “the papal protest in favor of the Jews”— apparently referring to an expected papal outcry when the Roman Jews were rounded up. In the end, Joseph Goebbels’s position won out. What other options did it have? If the pope tried to escape (or was perceived as trying to), he, too, would be shot. Consider the different ways that the German Christian movement and the Confessing Church movement navigated their relationships with the Nazi government. This number is freely available, Cornwell must have known it well: about 5,000. Wolff could perhaps also save his own life if Germany lost the war and he was tried for his war crimes. Dr. Paul Bookbinder discusses the roles of bystanders and resisters during the Holocaust. From columns in newspapers to a new book titled Hitlers Pope, the line is that Pius did not do enough to save Jews from the Holocaust and, therefore, that his imminent canonization would be provocative and unjust.. Early literature on the war time leadership of Pius XII was positive, including Halecki and Murray's Pius XII: Eugenio Pacelli, Pope of Peace (1954) and Nazareno Padellaro's Portrait of Pius XII (first published in Italian in 1949). . The princess told me she rushed to the Vatican and, interrupting a papal mass, blurted the news to the pope, crying, “Only you can stop them!”, “But they promised me that they would not touch the Jews in Rome!” Pius exclaimed. Following the war Bishop Hudal, a German, helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America. Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice. Known as “Hitler’s Pope” Pope Pius XII did not do enough to try to save the doomed Jews of Europe. He then ordered Cardinal Luigi Maglione, his secretary of state, to summon Ambassador Weizsaecker urgently and protest the action. Pius XII has long been vilified as "Hitler's pope", accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe's Jews. By then it was too late. Roman Catholic opposition at this point was limited to isolated individuals who could easily be removed from their positions and lacked the support of their Church. Most of Hitler’s men seemed cool to an attack, fearing such a reaction. And Wolff assured the pope that he would try to frustrate any new plot against him. But the pope did not openly criticize the Nazis until 1937. And “we must occupy Rome” and “destroy the Vatican’s power, capture the pope, and say that we are protecting him.” The pope might even have to be killed. The pope smiled forbearingly. (Catalyst, June, 2007) As soon as Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was ousted from power on July 25, 1943, Adolf Hitler began hatching a plan to kidnap Pope Pius XII and plunder the Vatican. According to Bergen: “The Concordat pulled the rug out from under potential Catholic opposition in Germany. It had seemingly started well after Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933. This event ended negotiations that began after Adolf Hitler became Germany’s chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933. These are strong words and bold claims, but Hitchens goes on: The very first diplomatic accord undertaken by Hitler’s government was consummated on July 8, 1933, a few months after the seizure of power, and took the form of a treaty with the Vatican. Shaken, the ambassador responded, “I think of the consequences that a protest by the Holy See might precipitate.”. The Pope Pius XII was suspected of Nazi collaboration and was called Hitlers Pope. His newly released book, A Special Mission: Hitler’s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII, is available from Da Capo Press. The Vatican is opening files on ‘Hitler’s Pope’ almost a decade ahead of schedule. Pope Pius XI did not respond to Edith Stein, nor did his successor, Cardinal Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII in 1939. Church leaders and clergy held a range of opinions about National Socialism. Pope Francis has decided to open secret Vatican archives on May 2, 2020, to reveal details about the papacy of World War II era pope Pius XII. As for the Nazis, they considered her a Jew despite her conversion to Christianity; she was eventually murdered in a death camp as part of the Holocaust. Hitler had even more reason to be satisfied. Directed by Christopher Cassel. In 1933, almost 40% of Germany’s population was Roman Catholic. Ernst von Weizsaecker, the German ambassador to the Vatican, another anti-Hitler conspirator, tried to convince Pius that he should remain silent when the Nazis rounded up the Jews of Rome. The Vatican had reason to be satisfied: Catholic rights had been put on a new basis and at the same time a regime had been strengthened that seemed to correspond to the Vatican’s sense that Mussolini and Hitler were indispensable bulwarks against Bolshevism. They must liberate Mussolini and return him to power, he cried. The publisher's description of Hitler's Pope, (The Secret History of Pius XII) :. “Hitler’s pope… British journalist John Cornwell, for example, referred to Pope Pius XII (r. 1939–1958) as “Hitler’s Pope.” Far from collaborating with the Nazis, however, the Church of the time directly opposed them and repeatedly warned the faithful of the grave danger they posed. It was headed Massacre of Pius XII with the Entire Vatican. The Vatican quarreled with both Hitler and Mussolini on race, but hardly out of concern for the welfare of Jews. As a minority in a country with a Protestant majority, Catholics had always felt vulnerable to accusations that they were not “true Germans” because of suspicions that they “took orders from Rome.” Over the years, they had protected their rights by organizing and supporting the Catholic Center Party. With Andreas Berg, Arnas Danusas, Michael Deffert, Dan Nachtrab. Pius XI signature. Several months later, in May 1944, Wolff secretly met with Pius, who, having learned of the general’s role in helping to sabotage the kidnap plot, felt that the man must have some good in him, whatever his background. And the pope, who had apparently been prepared to publicly condemn the roundup, felt there was no longer a need to do so now. That rainy morning, Princess Enza Pignatelli Aragona, a friend of Pius, was awakened by a phone call from a friend, who informed her of the arrests. Meanwhile, General Wolff revealed to the Vatican that Pius was in danger. "1 Some who opposed the Nazis also urged great caution; they were fearful of attacks on priests and nuns. He now had the full confidence of both the Vicar of Christ and the Antichrist, an incredible interworld feat. They saw Nazi ideas as anti-Christian, especially the emphasis on race and blood and the obvious disrespect for human life . . . some priests had refused to administer the sacrament of communion to church members in Stormtrooper or SS uniforms. A deal with the new German state would demonstrate the patriotism of German Catholicism. But Wolff, who revered the SS, may have been prompted as well by other more sordid details of the kidnap plot that were later discovered in a letter that one Italian fascist leader wrote to another. The two men, although holding diametrically contrary views, were to the calculating general like earthly gods. And on October 16, the Gestapo in Rome began rounding up the Jews. On p. 310 of Hitler's Pope, John Cornwell, after numbering the deported Roman Jews at 1,060, notes that "an unspecified number of Jews" were sheltered from deportation by the Vatican. Wolff was overwhelmed when the pope then blessed him. The problem is that the campaign against Pacelli is a defamation. Pope Pius XII's actions to help persecuted Jews speak far louder than his alleged "silence," experts say. Besides, he worshipped power, and the pope, like Hitler, was one of the world’s most powerful leaders. *Material from this website may be reprinted and disseminated with accompanying attribution. What effect did it have on the way other nations perceived the Nazi government? He also has sharp criticism for the “rigid” conservative Catholics who back them, The Daily Mail reports. . Historian Fritz Stern explains: On the face of it, the Vatican had scored a great triumph. Playing on the church’s goals and weaknesses of the time, he managed to cow two popes into submission. Was Pope Pius XII secretly in league with Adolf Hitler? Now Vatican records may reveal whether he collaborated with the Nazis. The relationship between the Catholic Church and the hierarchy in Nazi Germany was fraught with difficulties. In 1929, the Pope struck a peace deal with the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. Pope Pius XII led the Catholic Church during the tumult of World War II, but his silence on the fate of the millions of Jews killed during the Holocaust has clouded his legacy with controversy. By the terms of the concordat the church renounced all political activities and in turn the state guaranteed the right to free worship, to circulate pastoral epistles, to maintain Catholic schools and property. Others opposed the Nazis. Clearly, the Fuehrer thought, the “Jew-loving” pope had encouraged King Victor Emanuel II and some rival fascist leaders to overthrow his Italian puppet. The Duce was now to regain power in Nazi-occupied northern Italy, and Wolff would be sent to the capital in Fasano, near Salo, primarily to make sure that Mussolini followed the Nazi line. In her letter, she argued: Everything that happened [in Germany] and continues to happen on a daily basis originates with a government that calls itself “Christian.” For weeks not only Jews but also thousands of fearful Catholics in Germany, and, I believe, all over the world have been waiting and hoping for the Church of Christ [the Roman Catholic Church] to raise its voice to put a stop to this abuse of Christ’s name. Hitler’s Plan to Kidnap the Pope. Award-winning author Dan Kurzman is the only journalist who ever interviewed General Karl Wolff. Is not this idolization of race and governmental power which is being pounded into the public consciousness by the radio open heresy? . . . As journalist and scholar John Cornwell noted, in his book “Hitler’s Pope,” the discussions “were conducted exclusively by Pacelli on behalf of the Pope over the heads of the faithful, the clergy and the German bishops.” As the princess departed, the pope promised, “I’ll do all I can.”, When Weizsaecker arrived for a meeting with Maglione, he said he would “try to do something for these poor Jews.” But, he asked, “what would the Holy See do if these things were to continue?”. Still, he felt, his mission might be useful—if he could sabotage it and obtain a blessing from Pius for saving his life and the Church itself. While it led some to question his character, he nevertheless passed an investigation by the Wiesenthal Center, clearing him of any accusation of antisemitism. Referring to the threat of an Allied invasion of Italy, he added: “I do not want the pope to fall into the hands of the Allies or to be under their political pressure and influence.”. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google, Spanish Translations from Holocaust and Human Behavior, The Weimar Republic: The Fragility of Democracy, Conformity and Consent in the National Community, Storm Troopers, Elite Guards, and Secret Police, Letter of Saint Edith Stein to Pope Pius XI in 1933, Facing History Scholar Reflections: Bystanders and Resisters. Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) during World War II met with Hitler several times. The Pope, until then, had felt that if he spoke out strongly against the Jewish genocide, Hitler would not only attack the Vatican but would drag out the hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Vatican institutions in which they were hiding throughout occupied Europe, as well as their Christian protectors. Assuming the other criteria for sainthood are met, not to proceed is to be complicit. The plan called for soldiers of the SS Florian Geyer Cavalry, disguised in Italian uniforms, to invade the Vatican shielded by night, kill all members of the curia, and take the pope prisoner. Feb. 12, 2013— -- When Benedict XVI ascended to the papacy after the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005, world Jewish leaders were nervous about the new German-born pope. According to notes that Wolff told me he had taken during and after the meeting, Hitler barked: “I want you and your troops to occupy Vatican City as soon as possible, secure its files and art treasures, and take the pope and the curia to the north,” probably Liechtenstein. Himmler, Wolff told me, bellowed that the Fuehrer wanted to see him urgently. In July 1933, Hitler and Pope Pius XI signed a concordat, or treaty. The general, who had previously served as Himmler’s chief of staff, suspected why. Bormann, Rahn told me, turned beet-red with anger as he, the ambassador, made his plea. What were the long-term consequences. But he would eventually betray one of them—surrendering the entire German army in Italy, on his own, to the Americans. Hitler wanted him to stand trial before the People’s Court. Clearly, the word “kidnap” was on both their minds. In July 1933, just six months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the … Francis is too polite to … “Hitler’s mufti” is truth. In his new book “Let Us Dream,” Pope Francis takes aim at populist politicians whose rallies conjure memories of 1930s fascism, fanned by the likes of Adolf Hitler. The question of Joseph Ratzinger’s involvement with Nazi Germany and the Hitler Youth is important in consideration of the life of the man who became Pope Benedict XVI. And Hitler loathed him, viewing him as an obstacle to his —and Bormann’s—grandiose plan to capture the minds and souls of much of mankind after a victorious war. Meanwhile, Wolff described Hitler’s order to Rudolf Rahn, the German ambassador to Italy, who was to be transferred from Rome to Fasano as the emissary to Mussolini’s new republic. What were the short-term consequences of those options? But Himmler had revealed to Wolff that Hitler had an additional secret mission in mind for him. The only one present who strongly supported an attack was Martin Bormann, Hitler’s ruthless secretary, who wanted to replace Christianity with a new religion headed by the Fuehrer. As word of these talks spread, Edith Stein wrote an urgent letter to the pope. His visitor had simply confused his gods. A great moral authority had trusted his word. Then troops of the Hermann Goering Panzer Division would surge into the Vatican to “rescue” the pontiff and kill the disguised SS men, assuming they were Italian assassins rather than SS compatriots. Since the end of World War II, Pope Pius XII — who reigned from 1939 to 1958 — has been accused of being “Hitler’s Pope” for his notable silence on the Holocaust and the deportation of Italian-born Jews. Two years ago, the Vatican made a deal with Beijing that bought the pope’s silence. The general rose, clicked his heels together—and raised his arm in the Nazi salute! No, says Rabbi David G. Dalin but there was a cleric in league with Hitler: the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. But Hitler trusted his secretary most, and it appeared that his advice would be taken. At the end of the day, Hitler handled the Papacy with unsettling efficiency. “The Holy See would not want to be faced with the need to express its disapproval,” the cardinal answered …”If the Holy See were forced to [protest], it would trust the consequences to Divine Providence.” In other words, he would speak out publicly if the roundup of Jews continued. When he did, millions of Catholics joined the Nazi Party. Thus, no witnesses. Stein, born a Jew, had converted to Catholicism in 1922 and had become a nun and a respected Catholic educator. Pope Pius XII was silent during the Holocaust. It was decided to postpone dealing with Galen until the final victory. The risks, he said, to both the pope personally and the Church were incalculable. According to historian Doris Bergen, “Many German Catholic clergy were initially suspicious of Nazism. What effect did the concordat have on opposition to the Nazis within Germany? The “most dangerous” cleric in modern history, to use John Cornwell’s phrase, was not Pope Pius XII but Hajj Amin al-Husseini, whose anti-Jewish Islamic fundamentalism was as dangerous in World War II as it is today . Is not all this diametrically opposed to the conduct of our Lord and Savior, who, even on the cross, still prayed for his persecutors?2. Get insight into the German public opinion on Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939 with these primary source excerpts.Â, Learn about role the Soviet Union played in the Nazis’ plans for “space and race.”. Wolff promised to do his best but was conflicted, feeling that such an operation could alienate Italy and the entire Catholic world. If the people learned that their pope had been abducted, Rahn told the Fuehrer and his chief lieutenants, they might rise up against the Germans. How could parish priests criticize a chancellor who had been recognized by their pope?"4. Clearly, the Fuehrer thought, the “Jew-loving” pope had encouraged King Victor Emanuel II and some rival fascist leaders to overthrow his Italian puppet. Rahn then joined in a conspiracy with Wolff and several other like-minded German officials against the plot and went to see Hitler. What compromises did he make? By Dan Kurzman. Three days earlier, on September 10, German troops had marched into Rome, and German intelligence soon snatched Mussolini from captivity. In 1943, as the tension between the two men grew, Monsignor Domenica Tardini, the Vatican’s assistant secretary of state, told the cardinals to “keep a suitcase ready because we might be deported at any time.” The pope himself called a meeting of cardinals to choose a possible successor in case he was kidnapped. The pope loathed Hitler. What did Hitler hope to gain? Pacelli first agreed to help Hitler in 1933, when as a Vatican diplomat he promised Hitler he'd disband a German Catholic political party in a deal that protected the Vatican's rights in Germany. However, the breakdown started in 1936 and ended with many Catholic priests being imprisoned. No government under Weimar had been willing to sign such a concordat, which would recognize the principal rights of the church—rights that presumably would render it immune from the kind of persecution it had suffered [in the past]. Even Himmler, who had been meeting secretly with the German Resistance, was uncertain; he had to choose between striking the Church, which he hated, and seeking to improve his image in Allied eyes in case Germany lost the war. In July 1933, Hitler and Pope Pius XI signed a concordat, or treaty. If he did, they argued, there was virtually no chance that Hitler would cancel his kidnap plan. That concern prompted officials of the Vatican to discuss with Hitler the possibility of an agreement: the Church would pledge to abstain from political activity in Germany in exchange for the Reich’s promise not to persecute the Catholic Church and its members. So, finally, Himmler ordered that the roundup stop after only about 1,000 of the 8,000 Roman Jews were picked up. Rabbi Dalin's book titled THE MYTH OF HITLER'S POPE is a well documented book which gives Pope Pius XII the credit which he deserves. However, the Vatican had plans for murdering 'Der Führer'. Copyright © 1997-2011 by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. John Jay Study Undermined by Its Own Data. About six weeks later, on September 13, SS General Karl Wolff, the SS commander in Italy, received a phone call from his boss, SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, orchestrator of the Holocaust. Some Catholic leaders welcomed Hitler’s call to “overcome the un-Germanic spirit” and feared that “atheistic communism” was more of a threat to the Catholic Church than the Nazis were. The world, like the panzer soldiers, would be led to believe that the “Italians” were guilty. At the same time, in Germany, General Wolff managed to convince Hitler that he would have a hard time suppressing an uprising in Italy if the pope felt forced to speak out and had to be dethroned. Now, as the Nazis were outlawing opposing political parties (see reading, Outlawing the Opposition), Catholics had to decide whether to continue to support the party. Both men agreed that the war would best end in an Allied-German alliance, without Hitler, to halt the Soviet advance on Europe. But the German diplomats were afraid that he would nevertheless speak out publicly if the Roman Jews, his neighbors, were deported. This documentary tells the story about one of the biggest controversies of the twentieth century: the Vatican versus Nazi cruelties. Later, more critical accounts were written. 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