Pope Pius XII Saved Thousands of Jews

Published: July 7th 2010
in News » World

Pope Pius XII

Dr. Michael Hesemann, an academic researcher in the Vatican Archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a U.S based interfaith group, originally began the debate about Pope Pius XII possibly saving thousands of lives in World War II.


Now, new research claims that the once labeled “Hitler’s Pope” may have aided in the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany three weeks before Kristallnacht.


Hesmann, a German historian, carried out research showing that Pius XII urged Catholic archbishops to apply for visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” and Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted to leave Germany.


The securing of visas for Jewish refugees allowed them to leave the country before Kristallnacht, and before thousands were shipped off to concentration camps. Elliot Hershberg, chairman of the Pave the Way Foundation, told Daily Telegraph: “We believe that many Jews who were successful in leaving Europe may not have had any idea that their visas and travel documents were obtained through these Vatican efforts. Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong.”


Pius XII, originally called Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, was able to ask for the visas used to free Jews due to his signing of the 1933 concordat with the Nazis. This provided protection for Jews who had converted to Christianity.


Dr. Ed Kessler, director of the Cambridge-based Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, confirmed the Vatican’s apparent benevolence; He told the Daily Telegraph: “It is clear that Pius XII facilitated the saving of Roman Jews.”


Despite this, Jewish groups continue to remain rather skeptical, and have urged the Vatican to open its secret wartime archives before the Pope is canonized as a saint. 


The opening of the wartime archives is set to take place in the year 2014.

Related articles: (Pope Pius XII, WWII, Kristallnacht)
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