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. This event ended negotiations that began after Adolf Hitler became Germany’s chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933. The Catholic Church kept its side of the bargain. 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. So, finally, Himmler ordered that the roundup stop after only about 1,000 of the 8,000 Roman Jews were picked up. 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.. In July 1933, Hitler and Pope Pius XI signed a concordat, or treaty. Church leaders and clergy held a range of opinions about National Socialism. Two years ago, the Vatican made a deal with Beijing that bought the pope’s silence. Bormann, Rahn told me, turned beet-red with anger as he, the ambassador, made his plea. If he did, they argued, there was virtually no chance that Hitler would cancel his kidnap plan. Among the witnesses to this event were Msgr. 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? 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. 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. Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) during World War II met with Hitler several times. Copyright © 1997-2011 by Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. 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. What did Hitler hope to gain? By then it was too late. 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. The Pope Pius XII was suspected of Nazi collaboration and was called Hitlers Pope. But the German diplomats were afraid that he would nevertheless speak out publicly if the Roman Jews, his neighbors, were deported. 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’s pope… As word of these talks spread, Edith Stein wrote an urgent letter to the pope. And Wolff assured the pope that he would try to frustrate any new plot against him. Historian Fritz Stern explains: On the face of it, the Vatican had scored a great triumph. And on October 16, the Gestapo in Rome began rounding up the Jews. John Jay Study Undermined by Its Own Data. He then ordered Cardinal Luigi Maglione, his secretary of state, to summon Ambassador Weizsaecker urgently and protest the action. He also has sharp criticism for the “rigid” conservative Catholics who back them, The Daily Mail reports. 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. Clearly, the word “kidnap” was on both their minds. In 1933, almost 40% of Germany’s population was Roman Catholic. Clearly, the Fuehrer thought, the “Jew-loving” pope had encouraged King Victor Emanuel II and some rival fascist leaders to overthrow his Italian puppet. 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. Francis is too polite to … Known as “Hitler’s Pope” Pope Pius XII did not do enough to try to save the doomed Jews of Europe. Dr. Paul Bookbinder discusses the roles of bystanders and resisters during the Holocaust. 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. 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. Pius XI signature. Thus, no witnesses. 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. 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?”. 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. 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. Playing on the church’s goals and weaknesses of the time, he managed to cow two popes into submission. His visitor had simply confused his gods. What were the long-term consequences. Hitler had even more reason to be satisfied. “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. What effect did it have on the way other nations perceived the Nazi government? When he did, millions of Catholics joined the Nazi Party. In July 1933, just six months after Hitler was appointed Chancellor, the … Wolff promised to do his best but was conflicted, feeling that such an operation could alienate Italy and the entire Catholic world. He now had the full confidence of both the Vicar of Christ and the Antichrist, an incredible interworld feat. Following the war Bishop Hudal, a German, helped Nazi war criminals escape to South America. Both men agreed that the war would best end in an Allied-German alliance, without Hitler, to halt the Soviet advance on Europe. A deal with the new German state would demonstrate the patriotism of German Catholicism. The relationship between the Catholic Church and the hierarchy in Nazi Germany was fraught with difficulties. Now Vatican records may reveal whether he collaborated with the Nazis. 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. 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. Stein, born a Jew, had converted to Catholicism in 1922 and had become a nun and a respected Catholic educator. 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. In Hitler's Pope, award-winning journalist John Cornwell shows that Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, was instrumental in negotiating an accord that helped the Nazis' rise to unhindered power – and sealed the fate of the Jews in Europe.. 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.” 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. Pope Pius XI did not respond to Edith Stein, nor did his successor, Cardinal Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII in 1939. Three days earlier, on September 10, German troops had marched into Rome, and German intelligence soon snatched Mussolini from captivity. 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. However, the Vatican had plans for murdering 'Der Führer'. 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. No, says Rabbi David G. Dalin but there was a cleric in league with Hitler: the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini. . If the pope tried to escape (or was perceived as trying to), he, too, would be shot. . Meanwhile, General Wolff revealed to the Vatican that Pius was in danger. 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.”. 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. 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. But Hitler trusted his secretary most, and it appeared that his advice would be taken. Was Pope Pius XII secretly in league with Adolf Hitler? Most of Hitler’s men seemed cool to an attack, fearing such a reaction. The general, who had previously served as Himmler’s chief of staff, suspected why. 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 two men, although holding diametrically contrary views, were to the calculating general like earthly gods. Wolff could perhaps also save his own life if Germany lost the war and he was tried for his war crimes. 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 Vatican is opening files on ‘Hitler’s Pope’ almost a decade ahead of schedule. 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. Award-winning author Dan Kurzman is the only journalist who ever interviewed General Karl Wolff. "1 Some who opposed the Nazis also urged great caution; they were fearful of attacks on priests and nuns. The problem is that the campaign against Pacelli is a defamation. Is not this idolization of race and governmental power which is being pounded into the public consciousness by the radio open heresy? . . . Directed by Christopher Cassel. The publisher's description of Hitler's Pope, (The Secret History of Pius XII) :. Hitler wanted him to stand trial before the People’s Court. With Andreas Berg, Arnas Danusas, Michael Deffert, Dan Nachtrab. Consider the different ways that the German Christian movement and the Confessing Church movement navigated their relationships with the Nazi government. 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.”. Pope Pius XII's actions to help persecuted Jews speak far louder than his alleged "silence," experts say. 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 risks, he said, to both the pope personally and the Church were incalculable. A great moral authority had trusted his word. Rahn then joined in a conspiracy with Wolff and several other like-minded German officials against the plot and went to see Hitler. 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. What effect did the concordat have on opposition to the Nazis within Germany? 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. Everything you need to get started teaching your students about racism, antisemitism and prejudice. 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. By Dan Kurzman. 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. 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. At the end of the day, Hitler handled the Papacy with unsettling efficiency. Others opposed the Nazis. But Himmler had revealed to Wolff that Hitler had an additional secret mission in mind for him. The following day Hitler called for an urgent meeting of his military leaders. In 1929, the Pope struck a peace deal with the Italian Fascist leader Benito Mussolini. 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. 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