The Rest of the Story
Jews Witness to Pius XII's 'Silence'

Richard Browning

"Only the Church stood squarely across the

path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth."

...Albert Einstein

(POSTED 11/30/06  Philip Johnson’s column in the October 15th  edition of The Remnant—The “Silence of Pius XII—brings to light the lies and calumnies expressed by Jews towards the pontificate of Pope Pius XII in World War II. It wasn’t always that way.

What is the case against Pius XII? That, as moral and temporal leader of the largest religion on earth, his sinful “silence” in not condemning the brutal Nazi regime’s crimes was unconscionable.  What is the case for Pius? No one, not Oskar Schindler, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill or any individual, organization or nation did more for the victims of Nazi war crimes than Pius acting as head of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. His alleged “silence” forestalled further retaliation, not only against Jews but Catholics and others as well. Despite what he did accomplish, over 3,000 of his own priests were murdered in Dachau by the Nazis.

When the Church did speak out as it did in Holland, retribution was swift and deadly.    The case in rebuttal was documented in great volume in Europe and America, even by Nazi officials, but the preponderance of evidence came from—Jews:

* Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli: “What the Vatican did will be indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts....Priests and even prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism. Volumes could be written on the multiform works of Pius XII and the countless priests, religious and laity who stood with him throughout the world during the war. No hero, in all of history, was more militant, more fought against, none more heroic, than Pius XII in pursuing the works of true charity...and thus on behalf of all the people of God.”

*Grand Rabbi of Jerusalem, Dr. Isaac Herzog (February 29, 1944): “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 us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history. Which is living proof of divine Providence in this world.”

*Rabbi Safran of Bucharest, Romania, (April 7, 1944): “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 Barry Dov Schwartz (Summer Issue 1964 of Conservative Judaism): “Many Jews were persuaded to convert after the war, as a sign of gratitude, to that institution which had saved their lives.”

*Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff (after Rabbi Zolli’s conversion): More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and error.”

*Albert Einstein (December 1940 edition of Time): “Being a lover of freedom, when the revolution came in Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities immediately were silenced. Then, I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they like the universities were silenced in a few short weeks... Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone had had the courage and intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I had once despised I now praise unreservedly.”  (After the war Einstein wrote, “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 feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.”)

*Golda Meir, Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, representative to the United Nations (first delegate to react to Pius XII’s death), later Prime Minister of Israel; “We share with the  grief of the world over the death of his Holiness Pius XII. During a generation of wars and dissensions, he affirmed the high ideals of peace and compassion. During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people went through the horrors of martyrdom, the pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims. The life of our time has been enriched by a voice which expressed the great moral truths above the tumults of daily conflicts. We grieve over the loss of a great defender of peace.”                  

*Dr. Nahum Goldmann, President of the World’s Jewish Congress: “With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history.”

*Former Israeli diplomat, scholar and Orthodox Rabbi, Pinchas Lapide: “The Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of 850,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands. Then Pius XII deserves the forest in the Judean hills which kindly people in Israel proposed for him in October 1958. A memorial forest like those planned for Winston Churchill, King Peter of Yugoslavia and Count Bernadotte of Sweden, with 86,000 trees. (Besides the honor to Pius, the trees honored nuncios, including Cardinal Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) of Istanbul who played a major humanitarian role in saving Jews.)

* Leonard Bernstein:  Conducting in New York’s Carnegie Hall, he learned of Pius XII’s death and paid personal tribute to the Pontiff responsible for saving the lives of thousands of Jews by tapping his baton for a moment of silence.

*Leo Kubitsky, Secretary-General of the world Jewish Congress presented a donation of two million liras (present value over a million dollars) on behalf of grateful Jews.

*Jeno Levae, Historian and only foreign Jew invited as an expert at Adolph Eichmann’s trial, who spoke at the Auschwitz trial in 1964: “From that day on, acting in accordance with the instruction of the Holy See and always in the name of Pius XII, the Nuncio never ceased from intervening against the disposition concerning Jews, and the inhuman character of the anti-Jewish legislation.”

*Dr. Joseph L. Lichten, Polish diplomat and director of the International Affairs Department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai Brith: “What is the case for him? That in relation to the insane behavior of the Nazis from overlords to self-styled cogs like Eichmann, he did everything possible to save lives and alleviate suffering among the Jews; that a formal statement would have provoked the Nazis to brutal retaliation and would substantially have thwarted further Catholic action on behalf of the Jews”.

*Moshe Sharrett: The former Foreign Affairs Minister and Prime Minister of Israel visited Pius XII “to thank the Catholic Church for what it did to save Jews in all parts of the world.” Rabbis of the United States, Rumanian, Italian and Hungarian Jewish communities went to Rome or sent messages thanking him for his efforts.

*Jacob Philip Rudin, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis: “His sympathy for all, his wise social vision and his extreme understanding made him a prophetic voice in the service of justice everywhere. May his memory be a blessing for the life of the Roman Catholic Church and the World.”

* Antonio Gaspari, who authored “The Jews, Pius XII, and the Black Legend”, chronicled the Nazi-fascist actions in Rome with testimonies from Jews who were saved by Pius requesting assistance from Religious (Over 150 Church institutions in and around Rome helped Italian Jews.)

*Martin Tagliacozzo, the leading authority on Roman Jews in the Holocaust: “I have a folder on my table in Israel entitled ‘Calumnies Against Pius XII.’...without him, many of our own would not be alive.”

*Sir Martin Gilbert:  The noted British historian and a Jew, stated that Pius deserved thanks not blame.

*Richard Breitman, authorized by the United States Government to study World War II’s secret espionage documents, the only historian allowed to do so, observed they proved the extent to which Hitler distrusted the Holy See because it hid Jews.

*London’s “Jewish Chronicle”: “Before during and after the Second World War, he tried to carry a message of peace. Confronting the monstrous cruelties of Nazism, Fascism and Communism, he continually proclaimed the virtues of humanity and compassion.”

*Dr. Joseph Nathan, who represented the Hebrew Commission: “Above all, we acknowledge the supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who, executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized as their brothers and with great abnegation, hastened to help them, disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed.”

* Adolph Eichmann, Nazi SS Lieutenant Colonel: In early 2000 the government of Israel, after nearly 40 years, released the diaries of Eichmann who had been executed in 1962 “for crimes against the Jewish people and against humanity.”  Eichmann wrote of the deportation of Jews from Rome and that the Vatican “vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such  action; on the contrary, the Pope would denounce it publicly.”                 

During Pope John Paul II’s visit to Israel, Jews demanded he apologize for Pope Pius XII’s failure to publicly condemn the Nazi regime during the war. The World Council of Churches, International Red Cross, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Josef Stalin and others remained silent. Roman Catholic Oskar Schindler was responsible for saving between 3,000 and 5,000 Jews. Raoul Wallenberg a like number. Neither had 860,000 trees planted southeast of Jerusalem in the Negev Desert by a grateful Israeli government. Schindler had a motion picture produced by Steven Spielberg chronicling his courageous efforts. Pius XII did not.               

Pulitzer prize winner John Toland had this to say about Pius XII, “The Church under the Pope’s guidance...saved the lives of more Jews than all other churches, religious institutions, rescue organizations combined... The British and Americas, despite lofty pronouncements, had not only avoided taking any meaningful action but gave sanctuary to few persecuted Jews.”                

Ironically the allegations, lies, calumnies, innuendoes and false charges are refuted by the statements of the best witnesses—the Jews themselves.