Saturday, November 5, 2005

The MYTH of Hitler's Pope

It's hard to believe it now, but there was once a time when Pope Pius XII was loved and admired by the world. Chief among his admirers were European Jews. That's because Pope Pius XII single-handedly orchestrated the exodus of some 800,000 Jews from Hitler's Third Reich. As early as 1937, working with his predecessor (Pius XI), he drafted the only papal encyclical ever written in German -- Mit Brennender Sorge. "With Burning Sorrow" was the first blanket condemnation of Nazism ever published by the Vatican. Hitler responded by unofficially declaring war on the Catholic Church, and his subsequent treatment of Catholics became evidence of that. In his inaugural encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, published in 1939, Pope Pius XII made it clear that National Socialism (i.e. "Nazism") was completely and totally incompatible with the Roman Catholic faith. During World War II, allied aircraft even dropped some 88,000 copies of the document over Germany in order to undermine the Nazi government. So serious of a threat was Pius XII to the Reich, that Hitler even launched a failed attempt to kidnap the pope in 1943. The litany of praise for Pius XII from the Jewish community of that time was enormous. Even the chief rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, decided to take Pius XII as his baptismal name upon converting to Roman Catholicism. The following is just a small sample of quotes from the Jewish community after the war's end...

We share in the grief of humanity [at the death of Pius XII]…. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.
~ Golda Meir

No keener rebuke has come to Nazism than from Pope Pius XI and his successor, Pope Pius XII.
~ Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, chancellor, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

In the most difficult hours of which we Jews of Romania have passed through, the generous assistance of the Holy See…was decisive and salutary. It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews…. The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance.
~ Rabbi Alexander Safran, chief rabbi of Romania

The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion, which form the very foundation of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of Divine Providence in this world.
~ Rabbi Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Israel

I told [Pope Pius XII] that my first duty was to thank him, and through him the Catholic Church, on behalf of the Jewish public for all they had done in the various countries to rescue Jews…. We are deeply grateful to the Catholic Church.
~ Moshe Sharett (Israel’s first foreign minister and second prime minister)

But all of that changed in Berlin 1963. The left-wing socialist writer, Rolf Hochhuth, opened a fictional play entitled "The Deputy" in which he portrayed Pius XII as callous and indifferent to Jewish suffering under the Nazi Third Reich. Within just three years, books began to appear that were critical of Pius XII in his dealings with the Jews during Hitler's reign of terror, as if Hockhuth's fictional play were some sort of documentary. Almost immediately Jews came rushing to Pius XII's defense, including the American based 'Anti-Defamation League.' But forty years of bad press can do a lot of damage. By the 1990s Pius XII's reputation had come under serious fire. In 1999 author John Cornwell published a book entitled "Hitler's Pope," in which he gave credence to Hockhuth's fiction as if it were historical fact. "Hitler's Pope" was a best seller. This smear campaign was so successful, that most people today accept Hochhuth's fiction as the truth, and Pius XII's memory is virtually lost to an alternate history of fiction and fabrication.

All of that is about to change. Rabbi David G. Dalin has written a book debunking the lies of Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope." Rabbi Dalin's book is entitled simply "The Myth of Hitler's Pope." This will come as a bombshell to those who've subscribed to Hochhuth's fiction, and a disappointment to those who regularly use Cornwell's book as a challenge to Roman Catholicism. (I'm thinking of a Jehovah's Witness who came knocking on my door about a year ago.) All together Rabbi Dalin has shed some light on this topic and exposed the venomous lies for what they are. I have nothing to benefit from recommending this book here. I make no profit from its sale. My sole interest here is in promoting the truth. It is for this reason I recommend you purchase a copy of Rabbi Dalin's book from or some other retailer. When you're done reading it, please pass it on to a friend, or at the very least, donate it to a local library.