New documents reveal Pius XII saved thousands from Nazis

 Documents just released by the Vatican Archives show that Pope Pius XII saved many thousands of European Jews from the Nazis.

The papers show that the wartime Pope directly ordered convents, monasteries and Catholic churches to hide Jews from the Gestapo. He also helped them escape to safe countries. He asked the Brazilian government to receive 3,000 'non-Aryans', and requested that the Dominican Republic grant visas for a further 11,000 people.

The documents have now been posted online by the Pave the Way Foundation, a group invited by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance authority, to investigate the role of the wartime pope.

Since the 1963 play, The Deputy, by Rolf Hochhuth there have been a number of attempts to discredit Pope Pius XII war record, suggesting he did little to support the Jews and was even anti-Semitic.

Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, said that correcting the record was a matter of justice. He said: "Personally, as a Jew, I must state that correcting this perversion of history has really nothing to do with the Catholic Church. It is in the interest of Jewish justice that we must acknowledge the efforts of one man, during a period when as a people we were abandoned by the rest of the world.

"It is time to recognise Pope Pius XII for what he really did rather than what he did not say.

"From what I have seen, this is the greatest hero of World War II, without question.

"This man had German guns just 200 yards from his windows and still managed to save thousands of Jews. It is astonishing what this man actually accomplished and did secretly.

"This wasn't 'Hitler's Pope'. This wasn't a collaborator. This was a man Hitler was planning to kill."

The latest documentation was discovered in the secret Vatican archives by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian who believes the record of Pius has been badly misrepresented.

The material includes the diary of a nun who explained how Pius asked religious houses to shelter Jews after the Gestapo arrested 1,007 people in a sweep of Rome on October 16 1943.

The nun wrote that 'in these grievous situations the Holy Father wishes to save his sons, also the Jews, and orders that in convents hospitality be given to these persecuted people, and also the monasteries of enclosure must adhere to this desire of the Supreme Pontiff'.

The policy saved about 5,000 lives, nearly 85 per cent of the Jewish population of Rome, and in 1946 led to the conversion of the Chief Rabbi, Israel Zolli.

He took Eugenio as his baptismal name in honour of the Pope, who was formerly Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli.

For more information see:

Share this story