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May 13, 1966 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1966-05-13

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Purely Commentary

Pope Pius XII, who, before being named Sovereign
Pontiff on March 2, 1939, was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli,
Secretary of State to Pius XI, has been blamed with failure
to intercede in behalf of Jews who were condemned to
die in the crematoria, and as having refused to act even
during the most tragic years of the mass deportations from
Hungary, the brutalities in Auschwitz and in other death
When "The Deputy" by Rolf Hochhuth .was being
staged, Catholic dignitaries defended Pius XII, and some
Jews joined in condemning the criticisms of the man
who preceded John XXIII as chief dignitary at the Vatican.
But the charges are gaining ground, the evidence is
mounting, and in "a documentation," entitled "Pius XII
and the Third Reich," published by Knopf, Saul Fried-
laender presents data that saddens the imagination, brings
together proof to show that the late Pope failed to come
to the aid not only of Jews but also of the Poles, during
the years of horror.
The reasons? He was the chief Germanophile in the
Vatican, his hatred for Russia and his desire to see the
Soviet Union destroyed led him to a state of endorsing any
means that would harm communism, even if, in the
process, so many lives were to be sacrificed. The conces-
sions were so grave that the documentation represents one
of the saddest chapters in world history.
The author presents the facts and shows an anxiety
to be fair. He tell_s at the outset, in his foreword, that an
argument against his book will be that the data is from
one source — the German Foreign Office; that his pub-
lished documents are reports sent by German ambassadors
at the Holy See and that their truthfulness "could be
checked only if compared with the corresponding docu-
ments from the Vatican archives." He expresses the hope
that Vatican information will become available to supple-
ment his findings and he mentions Vatican papers already
published shortly after he had completed his book, em-
phasizing, however, that "what has been published up to
now does not, on the whole, seem to contradict in any
way the impression given by the documents published in
my book, for the same period."
Saul Friedlaender's background is essential for an
understanding of the dedication with which he pursued
his research for ' Pius XII and the Third Reich." It as-
sumes added interest because of the author's impartiality.
His book, which was translated from the German and
the French by Charles Fullman, is dedicated "to the
memory of my parents killed at Auschwitz." Born in
Prague in 1932, he was not yet 7 when his parents fled
to France. Caught by the Nazis in 1942 when they tried
to escape to Switzerland, they were deported and they
were murdered at Auschwitz. Saul,
hidden until the end of the war in a
Catholic monastery, came to Israel in
1948, is an Israeli citizen, served in
the Israel army, studied in the Tel
Aviv School of Law and Economics,
1950-53, then until 1955 studied in the
Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris
and was graduated with high honors.
He was secretary to Dr. Nahum Gold-
mann, president of the World Zionist
Organizations, from 1956 to 1961, then
became head of the scientific depart-
• Pius XII
ment of the Israel Ministry of Defense.
He earned his PhD in 1963 in the Graduate Institute of
International Studies, Geneva.
He already authored a book in 1963, "Hitler and the
United States, 1939-1941," which will be published in this
country later this year. His "Pius XII and the Third Reich"
already has been published in French, German, Dutch,
Italian and Spanish. He, Mrs. Friedlaender and their two
sons now reside in Geneva. -

Criteria of authenticity utilized in Friedlaender's study
include documents available in the form of statements that
were sent to Germany by Hitler's representatives at the
Vatican, declarations by agents of the German secret serv-
ices reporting on dialogues with the Sovereign Pontiff, Ger-
man texts of agreements as
they coincide with those
from British and American
documentary sources.
It is evident throughout
the book that Pius XII was
"v e r y Germanophile" both
as Pope and as Cardinal
;Eugenio Pacelli — as Secre-
tary of State to Pius X.
The attitude of Pius XI,
in contrast, was firm in op-
..„position to Nazism, but Pius
made constant conces-
sions. Thus: "When the Nazis
began, as early as the fall
of 1933, to infringe the
clauses of the Concordat, it
Pius XI
was Msgr. Pacelli who pre-
vented Pius XI from protesting openly."

The author's lack of prejudice toward the subject
of his research is evident at every step in his approach
to the charges against Pius XII as well as the apologetics.
He keeps emphasizing that documents at his disposal were
incomplete, that all the records of the Vatican have not
yet been made public. And he indicates two points on which
German documents show "impressive agreement":
That the Pontiff "seems to have had a predilection
for Germany which does not appear to have been dimin-
iAed by the nature of the Nazi regime and which was not
Isavowed up to 1944"; that "Pius XII feared a Bcdsheviza-
tion of Europe more than anything else and hoped, it
seems, that Hitler Germany, if it were eventually reconciled

Friedlaender's 'Pius XII and the Third Reich' Exposes
Late Pope as Germanophile, Charges Him With Pursuing

Policy of Convenience to Holy See and to Little Else

with the Western Allies, would become the essential ram-
part against any advance by the Soviet Union toward
the West."
On these bases, the questions are posed "relating
to the Pope's silence in the face of the extermination of
the Jews."- Expressing the hope that eventual documents
from the Vatican archives will bring personages and events
into proper perspective, Friedlaender asks:
"How is it conceivable that at the end of 1943 the
Pope and the highest dignitaries of the Church were
still wishing for victorious resistance by the Nazis in
the East and therefore seemingly accepted by implica-
tion the maintenance, however temporary, of the entire
Nazi extermination machine?
"How can one explain the manifestations of spe-
cial predilection which the Pope continued to lavish
on the Germans, even in 1943, when he was aware of
the nature of the Hitler regime?"
Among the very deeply moving documents is the state-
ment of Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, who, referring to the
entrance of Italy into the war on the previous day, wrote
on June 11, 1940:
"Let the French be under no illusions: what the
enemies want is their destruction. These past few days,
the Italian press has been full of statements by His Ex-
cellency Signor Mussolini saying: We are prolific and we
want land! And that means uninhibited land. Germany and
Italy therefore will direct all their efforts at destroying
the inhabitants of occupied regions, as they have done
in Poland. Instead of dying on the battlefield, Frenchmen
will be obliged to die by inches—men separated from their
wives, and children spared, perhaps, to serve their con-
querors as slaves, for, to our enemies, such is the law of
war. Our governments will not understand the true nature
of the conflict and persist in imagining that this is a war
like the wars of times gone by. But Fascist ideology and
Hitlerism have transformed the consciences of the young,
and those under 35 are willing to commit any crime for
any purpose ordered by their leader."
Commenting on this statement, Friedlaender writes:
"In this remarkable passage, Cardinal Tisserant de-
fines, if not the nature of Italian Fascism, surely the very
essence of German National Socialism. His definition cer-
tainly fell short of reality because the human imagination
has limits: 'children spared' . . . 'a slow death' . . . But
the lines that follow are the most shattering because they
have a direct bearing on the attitude of the Pope," and
Friedlaender proceeds to quote Tisserant:
"Since the beginning of November, I have per-
sistently requested the Holy See to issue an encyclical
on the duty of the individual to obey the dictates of
conscience, because this is the vital point of Chris-
tianity; whereas Islam—which served as a model for
Hitler, thanks to Hess, the son of a Moslem mother
—substitutes for the individual conscience the duty
to obey blindly the orders of the prophet or of his
Then Friedlaender comments: "I fear that history may
have reason to reproach the Holy See with -having pursued
a policy of convenience to itself and very little else. This
is sad in the extreme, particularly when one has lived
under Pius XI." •
As a preface to his book, Friedlaender reproduces the
text of a letter from Cardinal Tisserant, dean of the
Sacred College of Cardinals, dated Rome, March 4, 1965,
giving the author of this book permission to reproduce
the statement he had made 25 years earlier in his appeal
to Pope Pius XII. Cardinal Tisserant's letter, translated
from the French by Sophie Wilkins, contains this assertion:
"I avoided going to France for the entire dura-
tion of the war, because I would have had to submit
to the military honors guaranteed to cardinals by the
German concordat. It was only toward the end of
1944 that I was able to assume contact with the French
prelates. I never accepted the Petain regime, nor the
idea of collaboration with Nazi Germany."

There were the constant complications involving the
Pope's "warmest sympathy for Germany" and his fear for
a Russian triumph, his desire to remain in the good graces
of the Fuehrer and his striving to do everything possible
to contribute towards the defeat of Communism.
Pius XII, it is indicated in the review of the events in
France, had no objection to the statute on the Jews that
was devised by Vichy.
Jewish organizations pleaded in behalf of their kins-
men who were under virtual death sentence. Friedlaender's
study contains the complete text of the aide-memoirs that
was submitted on March 17, 1942, by the Jewish Agency,
World Jewish Congress and the Swiss Israelite commu-
nity, outlining the threats to Jewry, pleading for inter-
vention. There was the usual procrastination and the half-
hearted reply.
Then there is an outline of the procedures for the
deportation of the French Jews. The Holy See at this point
intervened with the government of Marshal Petain to alle-
viate the contemplated measures. This was in mid-August
1942. But 10 days later the German ambassador in Paris,
Otto Abetz, telegraphed to Berlin as follows:
"The confidential communication from the German
Embassy (at the) Vatican regarding an intervention by the
nuncio in Vichy against the measures adopted against
Jews in France are (sic) not entirely without foundation.
A few weeks ago, Valerio Valeri broached this matter in
conversation with Laval, without mentioning instructions
from Rome. Laval did not pursue the matter. Yesterday,
Laval stated that at the end of last week the Archbishop
of Toulouse issued directions to the priests in his diocese
to protest from their pulpits in the sharpest terms against
the deportation of the Jews. When this came to Laval's
knowledge, he at once summoned Monsignore Rocco, the

2—Friday, May 13, 1966

By Philip

representative of the absent Nuncio, and pressed him
vigorously to notify the Pope and Cardinal Maglione, the
Secretary of State, that the French Government would
not tolerate such interference in the affairs of the French
State. In particular, Laval served notice on Rocco that if
the clergy should lend their hands to concealing in
churches and monasteries the Jews affected by the de-
portation order, he would have no compunction in using
police to bring them out. Anyway (he said), the anti-
Jewish measures were nothing new for the Church because
the Popes had been the first to introduce the yellow hat
as a means of identifying Jews. The message from the
Archbishop of Toulouse was read in only some of tilt
churches last Sunday. According to Laval, about half the
priests did not obey the instruction, but drew the atten-
tion of their prefectures to the subversive intentions of
the Archbishop."
There was courage and resistance to the Nazi terror
in French Catholic ranks, and this portion of the Fried-
laender record must also be made known. Because of aid
given to escaping Jews, the French (Vichy) government
began to arrest (Friedlaender quotes from a report by
Diego von Bergen, German ambassador to the Holy See
from 1920 to 1943) "those priests who try, by granting
lodging or by other measures, to withhold Jews from the
deportation order issued against them. Thus, a number of
priests in the diocese of Lyons have already been ar-
rested, partly because they circulated the protest• made
by their Archbishops and partly because they refused
to hand over children of the Jewish race who had been
entrusted to them for asylum and shelter."
Friedlaender writes, in his record of French acts in
behalf of persecuted Jews:
"Among the arrested French priests was the
Reverend Father Chaillet, Father Provincial of the
Jesuits of Lyons, who was accused of having concealed
92 Jewish children.
"Part of the French Episcopate and clergy had
taken a courageous stand in opposition to the persecu-
tion of the Jews.
"As early as December 1941, Msgr. Theas, Bishop
of Montauban, sent the following letter to the rabbi
of his town: `.. . The harrassment, the brutal persecu-
tion to which your coreligionists are being subjected
arouse the protests of the Christian conscience and of
all that is honest in the human race. I am anxious
to assure you that you have my very keen sympathy
and my prayers. The hour of divine justice will strike.
Let us have faith . .
"On June 14, 1942, Father Dillard, in the midst
of a service in the Church of Saint-Louis de Vichy,
invited his congregation to pray for the prisoners of
war, 'but also for the 80,000 Frenchmen who are being
held up to mockery by being made to wear a yellow
star.' Father Dillard met his death at Dachau."
Other French Catholic dignitaries had issued public
statements condemning the Nazi atrocities and defending
the Jews. Some referred to the attitude of Pius XI who
"condemned racism" and who had spoken out against
Hitler Nazism.- "Yet, at the same time," Friedlaender
indicates, "the Bishops of Nice, of Frejus and Monaco, as
well as the Abbots of Leyrins and Frigolet, sent a tele-
gram reaffirming their loyalty to the Marshal (Petain)
and stating that they disassociated themselves from un-
patriotic Christians whose apparent concern for the Jews
Masked a lack of devotion to the regime."
Serious efforts were made by the United States and
by other governments to induce Pius XII to act and to
speak out, especially after the Nazi invasion of Poland,
but there was fear in the Vatican, the Pope expressed con-
cern that more violent deaths might result, and Harold
H. Tittman, the assistant to the American Special Envoy
to the Vatican, pointed to the "many years of condition-
ing in Germany" that affected Pius Xll's attitudes. One of
Tittman's reports to Secretary of State Cordell Hull (Dec.
26, 1942) stated: Pius XII had said that "everything possi-
ble was being done privately to relieve the distress of the
Jews," that he had "replied as before to the effect that
the Holy See was unable to denounce publicly particulal
atrocities but that it had frequently condemned atrocitief,
in general."
Indeed, the revelations by Friedlaender are that there
was much generalizing and just as often these expressions
of desire to be friends with Hitler.
Most moving among the documents in Friedlaender's
book is the quotation of the text of the statement by the
chief accuser in "The Deputy," the report of SS Colonel
Kurt Gerstein. The details given in that report of the
atrocities, the description of the routines that were fol-
lowed to send men; women and children into the ovens,
is one of the most horrifying bits of evidence against
Nazism, and it adds, indeed as in "The Deputy," to the
indictment of Pius XII for his failures to act and to pro-
test against the atrocities.
Msgr. Cesare Orsenigo, the papal nuncio in Berlin,
interceded in behalf of Poland. The Pope issued his
encyclical Summi Pontificatus, yet he "continued undimin-
ished" as reported to Berlin by Fritz Menshause, Bergen's
charge d'affaires, "to show great affection and love for
In a letter to Msgr. Preysing, Archbishop of Berlin,
Pius XII wrote: "Prayer alone, prayer to the God who
sees all, in the tabernacle of the Redeemer, enables us
to find the moral strength to overcome in our mind the
impression caused by such acts." He was referring to "the
cruelty of the technique of war" ... "inhuman acts which
have nothing whatever to do with the real necessities of
war and which fill us with consternation and terror."
Pius XII had claimed that material aid was given the Jews
during the first years of the war. Friedlaender states
that information on this point is contradictory.
Much space is devoted to consideration of the German
(Continued on Page 3)

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