THE HOLOCAUSTThe Problem: In 1963, Rolf Hochhuth staged a play, "Der Stellvertreter" (The Deputy), about the Holocaust, in which Pope Pius XII is portrayed as being responsible for the loss of Jewish life due to his failure to speak out. The play does not even mention Hitler, Rosenberg, Streicher, Esser, Heydrich, Himmler, or Hoess, and Eichman makes only a brief appearance. Subsequent work by revisionist historians and anti-Catholic co-travellers has lent increasing credence to this blatant falsehood.
History affirms that the Catholic Church, with Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII at her head, was in the forefront - indeed, she was often alone - in recognizing the dangers posed by the Nazi regime and in working to save as many Jewish lives as possible from the Holocaust. Pinchas Lapide, working from Yad Vashem archives, has demonstrated that the papal relief and rescue program saved 860,000 Jews - more than all other agencies combined, governmental or international. The following are contemporary quotes demonstrating the case:
Playwright Rolf Hochhuth criticized the Pointiff for his (alleged) silence, but even he admitted that, on the level of action, Piux XII generously aided the Jews to the best of his ability. Today, after a quarter-century of the arbitrary and one-sided presentation offered the public, the word 'silence' has taken on a much wider connotation. It stands also for 'indifference', 'apathy', 'inaction', and, implicitly, for anti-Semitism. ---Robert Graham, "Pius XII and the Holocaust", p. 18.
The Church and the papacy have saved Jews as much and in as far as they could save Christians...Six million of my co-religionists have been murdered by the Nazis, but there could have been many more victims, had it not been for the efficacious intervention of Pius XII. ---- Dr. Raphael Cantoni, Head, Italian Jewish Assistance Committee quoted in Pinchas Lapide, "Three Popes and the Jews", p. 133
We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of his Holiness Pope Pius XII. IN a generation afflicted by wars and discords, he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of the 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, cited in Lapide, p. 227.
Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I felt a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty ---Albert Einstein, 1940. Cited in Lapide, p. 251
Pius XII has spoken; Pius XII has condemned; Pius XII has acted... throughout those years of horror, when we listed to Vatican Radio and to the Pope's messages, we felt in communion with the Pope, in helping persecuted Jews and in fighting against Nazi violence. ---Fr. Michel Riquet, S.J. rescuer of six Jewish lives, and inmate of Dachau. Cited in Lapide, p. 254
When armed force ruled well-nigh omnipotent, and morality was at its lowest ebb, Pius XII commanded none of the former and could only appeal to the latter, in confronting, with bare hands, the full might of evil... Unable to cure the sickness of an entire civiliazation... the Pope, unlike many far mightier than he, alleviated, relieved, retrieved, appealed, petitioned - and saved as best he could by his own lights. Who but a prophet or a martyr could have done much more? ---Pinchas Lapide, "Three Popes and the Jews", p. 267
What cannot be questioned is the integrity, the charity, and the deep commitment to humanity of Pius XII. It is idle to speculate about what more he could have done, for unlike most of the leaders of his day, he did very much. ---Joseph Lichten, International Affairs Dept. for the Anti-Defamation of B'nai B'rith. "Piux XII and the Holocaust. A Reader" p. 31
"No, no I say to you, it is impossible for a Christian to take part in anti-Semitism. It is inadmissible! Through Christ and in Christ we are spiritual progeny of Abraham. Spiritually, we are all Semites." ---Pius XI speaking to a group of German pilgrims, September 20, 1938, quoted in Robert Martin "Spiritual Semites: Catholics and Jews during World War II", p. 18.
"Go bury the delusive hope About His Holiness the Pope. For all he knows concerning Race Would get a schoolboy in disgrace. Old, muddle-headed, doddering, ill, His knowledge is precisely nil. And, gone in years, he can but keep His motley flock of piebald sheep; Since he regards both Blacks and Whites As children all with equal rights, As Christians all (whate'er their hues), They're 'spiritually' not but Jews. The Vatican (e'en blockheads know) With verdigris is covered so, And wants, no doubt, the fathful band Of Christians who around it stand As far as 'ghostly welfare' goes To lead 'em by the (hooked) nose. A pretty picture all men know The firm of 'Judah-Rome and Co.' And 'Old Man' e'er can tell the tale And, sure, his pity will not fail. The banner is at last unfurled: 'Chief Rabbi of the Christian world'. ---- Nazi response to Pope Pius XI's September 20, 1938 remarks as translated by J. Derek Holmes in "The Papacy in the Modern World". pp. 116-117
"Repelled by Nazi totalitarianism and racism, [Cardinal Michael von] Faulhaber contributed to the failure of Hitler's Munich putsch (1923)... During the Nazi regime he delivered his famous sermons entitled 'Juadaism, Christianity, and Germany' which emphasized the Jewish background of Christianity and pointed out that the teachings of the New Testament logically followed those of the Old... Throught his sermons until the collapse (1945) of the Third Reich, Faulhaber vigorously criticized Nazism, despite governmental opposition. Attempts on his life were made in 1934 and 1938. Working with the U.S. occupation forces, he received the West German Republic's highest award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit" ---- Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th ed., micropaedia, vol. IV, p. 65.
"Fearlessly, [Cardinal Faulhaber] gave his famous series of Advent sermons in 1933 in which the Nazi racial ideology, with its vicious anti-Semitism, was refuted by a scholarly - and simultaneously deeply moving - treatment of the Old Testament. Nothing could have been a more obvious challenge to the Nazis than this exhortation to meditate on the beauties of the Jewish religion and its deep inner relatinoship to Christianity. The Nazis recognized this challenge and prohibited the printed and distribution of the sermons. In addition, they made it obvious that they were watching those who attended the sermons; yet the crowds were so great that loudspeakers had to be installed in two neighboring churches. The courage of their cardinal was, throughout the Hiterl period, a source of inspiration for the people of his archdiocese." ---Mary Alice Gallin, "German Resistance to Hitler: Ethical and Religious Factors", p. 210
"Hitler did not succeed in suppressing all vestiges of personal courage...there exist opponents of Hitler whose strength of sul and integrity is so great that, notwithstanding the calumnies with which the Nazis have tried to smear them, the Germans know that these men risk their lives and liberty...for these men are churchmen. Their every sermon and every pastoral letter is a political event in the Germany of today and no word of them is ever lost...[the German Catholic bishops] whose utternaces are a remarkably frank denunciation of Nazi treatment of the Jews and conquered people and their contempt for individual rights...to all practical intents and purposes Catholic oppostiion to Nazism has been much mor important and articulate than Protestant opposition... The uncomfortable truth is that neither Liberal bourgeoisie nor Labour has bred any anti-Nazi opponents who enjoy even a percentage of the veneration enjoyed by Faulhaber, archbishop of Munich... As a matter of fact, the Nazis have met their only major domestic defeat in their effort to destroy the Christian faith. In the midst of the debris of trade unions, Freemasons, lodges, and of the Socialist and Communist parties which have fallen before Hitelr as if they were papier-mache, organized Christianity still stands." ---Countess Waldeck, Jewish refugee, as quoted in Sir Arnold Lunn's "Is the Catholic Church Anti-Social?" p. 31.
"If we have been rescued; if Jews are still alive in Rome, come with us and thank the Pope in the Vatican." ---Jewish refugee quoted in Lapide, p. 131.
In 1944, Rabbi Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, and one of the foremost Old Testament scholars in the world, converted to Catholicism, along with his entire family. Rabbi Zolli took the name Eugenio in honor of the man who had demonstrated, by his example, the love of God on earth - the former Eugenio Pacelli, now Pope Pius XII. This spiritual journey is described in "Why I Became a Catholic." Eugenio Zolli died in poverty in 1956.