“Centuries of deeply ingrained Christian anti-Semitism erupted into violence under cover of war”
—The Complete Reference Collection, 1997, The Learning Company, Inc.
“Pius XII’s tenure was characterized by a reluctance to take the moral high ground by voicing outrage”
–American Jewish Congress, 1998
“An institution that would only criticize the Holocaust in the 1940’s in a boxed whisper.”
–USN&WR, 1/25/99, “A Pontiff in Winter”
“The newspaper La Republica suggested Pope John Paul II will apologize for the failure to resist the Nazis, but without implicating Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of ignoring the Holocaust during World War II.”
–The Guardian, Feb, 4, 2000
[Christianity is to blame for] “the engineered slaughter of the Jews in Europe.”
–E. L. Doctorow, City of God, 2000
I. "Cornwell's Pope": AN INTRODUCTION
In the fall of 2000, John Cornwell’s book Hitler’s Pope broke onto the scene and immediately raised the debate on the role of Pius XII during World War II to a new, more intense level.
The title alone was provocative, shocking, and indicting. Two little words were all it took to sear into public consciousness that the revered head of the Catholic Church, a man of austere holiness, the vicar of Christ, was, somehow, a collaborator, a tool, a henchman of the greatest evildoer in the history of the world.
The solid merits of Cornwell's case were secondary. They didn't matter. Impact is not a function of facts. It is a function of getting into print by the right publishing house accompanied by a skilled promotional campaign. And this book had impact wide-ranging and in the highest places. Cornwell's text apparently has attained to the status of operative resource on the subject: it is available in the “audio-books” format. And even more telling, only weeks after the book appeared on the shelves, the Vatican convened an international committee of scholars –three Catholics; three Jews– to study the compiled archives on the matter.
Along the way, defenses of Pius XII have not been few. However, these, too, have in common their own deficiencies. For the most part they have come to reiterate what is now a stock, recycled defense, sometimes complemented by reference to peripheral issues –discrediting Cornwell by citing the numerous misrepresentations made by, or of, himself. They rarely address the main issues he raises, and so these survive unscathed. This study directly addresses those issues. In so doing, it demonstrates the several flaws fatal to Cornwell’s case, while at the same time appraising some of the now-common points of the papal defenses.
John Cornwell, of course, did not invent the issue. He has merely taken it to new and expansive forms. The incipient school of thought blamed or pointed the finger at Christiainity, Catholicism in particular, as responsible in some critically seminal way for National Socialism. Such a phenomenon as Nazism, was the tacit presumption, couldn’t have happened in so Christian a country as Germany unless Christianity were somehow at the root of it. Nazism and the Holocaust happened, it commonly and facilely argued, because people “followed orders.” And that, because they had a culture of obeying authority. And that culture of obedience was Christianity. So, it seemed evident, without Christianity, Nazism might have existed, but it could never have succeeded. Once settled, these older theories were evolved into the consensus that antisemitism was to blame, and that Christianity, after all, was to blame for that, too. All were eventually subsumed, to one degree or another, into the attack on Pius XII. They reached a new, broad plateau in Hitler’s Pope.
Cornwell’s indictments are so broad, so severe, that one would think –the provocative and daring title alone suggests it– he presents a taught case loaded with facts and documentation, solidly rooted in objective history. This, however, does not prove to be the case. Only by the broadest of definitions can this book even be considered a work of history. It is, essentially, a polemic against Pius XII and the Catholic Church camouflaged in an historical wrapping. Any discerning reader taking but moderate care to weigh the author’s evidence, investigate his sources, examine his facts –who just takes a moment to glance at the footnotes– should easily realize he is being had.
With the Cornwell book, there are three points in particular which jut out as historical deformations:
First, that none of his crucial evidence comes from a study of the archives. The "year" spent in the archives –the official records show him actually signing in for a mere three weeks– has as its primary yield, not documents pertaining to papal political involvement, but tidbits from Sister Pasqualina, e.g., as how Pius scrupulously returned every single book he was working on back to its shelf in the wee hours of the night, or the style of pen nubs he used, or other such microbilia, which are used for no other purpose than to characterize his every move with a niggling cyncism. That is the level of the archival research of John Cornwell.
Second, through historical
reductionism ad extremis, he narrows history to two
protagonists –Hitler and Pacelli. The rest of the historical
landscape is evacuated. Thus, among other things, Cornwell ignores
Prussianism and its deep association with the Lutheran Church and
German culture; ignores the tremendous national longing –from
Left and Right– for a political messiah ("Let God send an
Alexander"), "who will break a road of Freedom through
Europe", "who will command the times"1,
a crucial factor which primed the receptivity to Hitler; and ignores
the collaboration with Soviet Russia, ("Hitler's Bolsheviks")
beginning in the '20's and extending through the '30's, without
which the re-militarization of Germany –and World War II–
would have been impossible. Only by such a denuding of history can
Cornwell attain his goal: to isolate one man, and lay it all on his
shoulders, and thus re-shape history, so that Pius XII, whose
actions accomplished more than all, is made to appear to have done,
not only less than any, but worst of all.
("Hitler's Bolsheviks") beginning in the '20's and extending through the '30's, without which the re-militarization of Germany –and World War II– would have been impossible. Only by such a denuding of history can Cornwell attain his goal: to isolate one man, and lay it all on his shoulders, and thus re-shape history, so that Pius XII, whose actions accomplished more than all, is made to appear to have done, not only less than any, but worst of all.
Third, Pius XII isn't the ultimate target. The Church and Catholicism are. His point is to align Nazism and "papal" Catholicism so that the one cannot exist without the other. Pacelli as "Hitler's Pope" is but a derivitive of "Papalism" –"the ideology of papal primacy" which, to Cornwell, only emerged in the 19th century and made Hitler possible.
“We are obliged,” asserts Cornwell, “to ask not only whether the institution of the papacy was inadequate to the challenge of the Final Solution, but also in some shocking way it was hospitable to Hitler’s plans from as early as 1933. Was there something in the modern ideology of papal power that encouraged the Holy See to acquiesce in the face of Hitler’s evil rather than oppose it?”2 [my emphases]
And “Papalism”, in turn, is a derivitive of the Church, all of it, prior to “the Council” –the Church of the Imitation of Christ, the remarkable spiritual book, second only in popularity to the Bible, which lifted untold numbers over some six centuries to pursue the path of sanctity, but which for Cornwell is merely “suited to the ascetic aspirations of . . . an interiority that was funnelled directly to God without social mediation.”3 It was that Church which was unable, or
unwilling, to make even a peep at the greatest evil the world has known, which, in effect, collaborated with it, enabled it. It is that Church, which survives still, under “its current authoritarian commitment” (as one reviewer awkwardly put it), or in Cornwell’s words, under “Pius XII Redivivus.”
“Pacelli’s failure,” Cornwell thus concludes, “was a failure of the papal office itself and the prevailing culture of Catholicism . . . implicit in the rifts Catholicism created and sustained —between the sacred and the profane, spiritual and secular, the body and soul, the exclusive truth of Catholicism over all other confessions and faiths.”4
Given all this, Cornwell has sustained an extraordinary charge, seized the day, and apparently scored a facile victory over many reader. He has no reason to.
We will attempt to show why.
II. WAS PIUS A NAZI?
Before he even begins, Cornwell hands down the final judgement: Pius XII’s “influence on the history of this century” was “fatal and culpable.”5 His
conclusion is clear: without “Hitler’s Pope”, there would have been no Hitler. For Pius XII was not merely guilty of “silence.” He “acquiesced in Hitler’s plans.”
“In pursuit of absolute power,” Vanity Fair summarized its publication of Cornwell’s promotional piece in October 1999, “Pius XII helped Adolf Hitler destroy German Catholic political opposition, betrayed the Jews of Europe, and sealed a deeply cynical pact with a 20th-century devil.”
Everything that makes Pius XII “Hitler’s Pope” revolves around that “cynical pact” –the long-sought Concordat– which Pacelli (always finding dictators amenable and expedient, according to Cornwell) worked out with Hitler. It was a deal, Cornwell contends, which crushed the Catholic Center Party, and thereby undermined the “impressive, independent democratic constituency,” a bloc of “23 million faithful” “steadfast in its condemnation of National Socialism,” solidifying the Nazis. Pius then remained unforgiveably silent in the face of the greatest crime in human history. Cornwell’s final, damning blow, the deepest affront he can muster –that rather than canonize him, Pius XII is a “deeply flawed human being from whom Catholics . . . can best profit by expressing our sincere regret”6 – seems fully justified. The only question remaining seems to be whether Pius XII was, directly or indirectly, a Nazi himself.
The reader has been lead to presume the facts indisputably and overwhelmingly support this contention. It is worth making a preliminary examination of them.
Doing so, rather than support Cornwell’s central thesis of a Catholic Center Party formidably arrayed against Nazism, we find that rather than present the facts he has skewered them. A brief overview shows how.
To begin with, the 1932 Center Party –a pivotal but never a numerically large bloc– not only had grossly underestimated the Nazi electoral threat but was itself a tragically anemic political force. After extensive and heavy campaigning by the bishops, it was able merely to hold its ground. It came in fifth out of five. Cornwell’s imaginary anti-Nazi bloc of “23 million faithful” translated into a meager 4.5 million votes. Far from “impressive”, it was a pitiful showing. Their 4.5 million votes amounted to barely more than one third of the 12.5 million Catholic voters. Cornwell’s purported “vehement front” mustered fewer votes even than the Communists. For that matter, though Nazi support in the election was generally lower than the national average in Catholic areas, Nazi support had even doubled –from 20% to 40%– in some of them, such as Lower Bavaria.7
There was no “vehement front.”
The Center Party’s critical electoral weakness has not gone unnoticed by Catholic historians. But they are at a loss to explain it. Forty years ago, Mother Mary Alice Gallin, for instance, simply reckoned “the Catholic voters failed to hold together.”8 In fact, however, they did “hold together” –by the same
numbers of party faithful as they had in immediately prior years, continuing the steady erosion from the 6 million votes they polled in 1920.
The salient point, however, is that Cornwell’s portrait of a “vehement” Catholic front is at once shown to be wholly erroneous. There was no “united and forthright response,” in the manner he implies. The electoral returns alone render his thesis void.
Likewise, the accusation that Pacelli gummed up the strident opposition of the German bishops is also without foundation. The very notion of a united, strident opposition by German bishops is wholly misleading, for even in their so-called “active opposition” period prior to 1933, never did they issue a blanket condemnation of National Socialism.
Efforts had been made to do just that. In 1931 a proposal for just such a condemnation was introduced at the Fulda bishops’ conference. But the bishops were split. They were facing millions of “faithful Catholics” –members of Cornwell’s “impressive, independent, democratic constituency”– who were already siding with the Nazis and wanted to join the party. (When the Nazis took power it would be they who decreed that party membership was incompatible with membership in Catholic organizations.) There was a wide range of opinion about how to deal with that. The Bavarian bishops, for instance, far from seeking a general condemnation of Nazism and Party membership by Catholics, wanted each application for Party membership judged separately. (Typically, rather than permit this fact to undo his “vehement front,” Cornwell simply brushes it over as “a more pluralistic, grassroots approach.”) The condemnation proposal failed. The best the conference could do was pass a proposal to fight “against extreme nationalism, as against Socialism and Communism . . . from the standpoint of the faith.”9
Cornwell’s Catholic anti-Nazi bloc “in the press and from the pulpits” likewise followed this same line. There was no wholesale condemnation, but a zeroing in on the objectionable “planks” in the Nazi platform –i.e., “positive Christianity” and a “national” faith, the “grave error” of glorifying the Nordic race, and “contempt for divine revelation” (which condemnations, though not wholesale, nevertheless struck the essence of Nazism).
Now it is critical to note that the German bishops would follow the exact same pattern after the Concordat, thus collapsing the next component of Cornwell’s portrayal. His contention that, after “vehement and sustained criticism,” “at the insistence of Rome, they fell silent,” is completely groundless.
Yes, it is true that, in mid-February 1933, one month before Hitler’s ascent, the bishops issued an instruction against racism and a statement regarding the Old Testament, and priests were instructed to declare from the pulpit that the Nazis were engaged in “Kulturkampf, irreconcilable with Catholic teaching.”
But that “vehement criticism” was only issued by direct orders from Pius XI.
So, was Pius XII a Nazi?
That such a question is even half-seriously posed shows to what an absurd level the issue has descended.
It is not a difficult question to answer. The answer is unequivocably No. And, for the record, Cornwell himself shows Pius XII was no Nazi. And what he shows quite unravels the embroidery of “Hitler’s Pope.” Pius XII, for instance, told British ambassador Ivone Kilpatrick of his “disgust” with Nazis.10 And while he supposedly hungered for the Concordat, signing it left Pacelli “in a state of near collapse.”11 In addition, he consented to the remarkable and
precarious role of a go-between in the 1939 anti-Hitler conspiracy (an anomaly which so misfits Cornwell’s “Hitler’s Pope” that he strains to explain it). Cornwell himself frankly admits of Pacelli’s “hatred of Hitler.”12 Finally, Pius XII’s extraordinary act of undertaking rites of exorcism on Hitler from afar demonstrates the depth to which he understood the evil involved.
“It is unlikely,” Cornwell states, “that Pacelli was not intimately involved in its commissioning.”13
Cornwell, however, massages these things into the background. Instead, the picture he paints of one consistently indulgent to Nazi Germany is designed to inculcate the impression of a sympathy for Nazism itself, accentuated by a hidden anti-Semitism. Besides being specious, the anti-Semitic charge is an unusual one to make: the true anti-Semites of Nazi Germany accused Pacelli of just the opposite. He was repeatedly vilified by the Nazi press, both as envoy and pope, as their enemy and the friend of the Allies. Pacelli’s election as pope, William Shirer noted at the time, was “a very popular choice, except in Germany.”14
Nevertheless, Cornwell persistently tries to tar Pacelli with a “crypto-Nazism”, as, for instance, by attempting to associate him with the “hidden Encyclical”, Humani Generis Unitas, solely to link him to so-called “anti-semitic” passages.
In fact, just the opposite is true. Pacelli, scholars say, was so isolated from the the encyclical he didn’t even know about it.15 (The encyclical, which was
never published, is generally characterized as Pius XI’s deathbed attempt to condemn Nazism definitively. Most writers use Pacelli’s isolation from it as proof of his “Germanophilia.” In a typical treatment of material, Cornwell twists this all around to try to prove both.)
No, Pius XII was neither Nazi, Nazi-sympathizer, nor anti-Semite. The vicious distortion of his character and his record which Cornwell brings to the scene is perhaps best brought out by a passage from Carlo Falconi, generally cited as writing the “primer” on Pius’ “silence.” It is worth quoting here.
“It is beyond dispute,” he says, “that Pacelli did everything possible to free the Germans from the Nazi yoke and paralyze its plans.”16
III. HOW HITLER WAS RECEIVED
Cornwell paints a flourishing idyll of a 1.5 million member Catholic Youth movement, 800 Catholic newspapers and periodicals, a vigorous Center Party, all part of that “vehement front” opposed tooth and nail to National Socialism, which Pacelli undermined and ruined.
To be sure, Catholic groups were active. But, again, they formed no “vehement front.” Very few were sounding foreboding alarms. By quoting these few, Cornwell creates the illusion of a broad front. More typically representative of these groups was the World Catholic Youth League. At the very moment Hitler rose to power in March 1933, the League leader, 26-year old “wunderkind” Dr. Wilhelm Solzbache, was on an international speaking tour. Far from sounding alarms, this extraordinary polyglot expressed complete naiveté regarding the events unfolding in his own country, speaking of his organization’s work as “contributing to the building of a new mankind based upon justice and love”, enjoining his listeners, “let us all learn Esperanto.”17
Actually, from July 1932, more and more Catholics in Germany were calling for the bishops to retract, not intensify, their opposition, arguing that “devout Catholics” by the hundreds of thousands were already members of the National Socialist movement.18
And so the Catholic bishops, who had consistently condemned National Socialist errors piecemeal, were under increasing pressure to attenuate their criticism further. And, truth be told, most Church people wish to employ their Christian principles to restrain criticism, not invoke it. They rejected the role of standing outside the new government fostering a negative environment as critics. The great Catholic newspaper of Augsburg –a prime example of Cornwell's vigorous Catholic press-- exemplifies this very deeply held Catholic approach: “We want to be inside the German community, for we love Germany. And it is unworthy especially of the Catholic attitude of mind to persist in negativistic opposition, when the hour calls for work and positive goals.”19 There were the
superior values of tolerance, even of the most wicked –separate the sin from the sinner, the ideas from the thinker, reach out, be compassionate, patient, kind, turn the other cheek, be like St. Francis, St. Anthony. Indeed, these very principles were to be invoked by leading prelates as the proper attitude for Catholics to assume under the Nazi regime. (Perhaps they shall form the basis of Cornwell’s follow-up, “Hitler’s Beatitudes.”)
It should shock no one that only a rarefied few at the outset saw National Socialism as irredeemably evil. Those that did were generally of two kinds –the pure abstractionist, who lives by principles which the average mind routinely compromises in order to survive, and the pure religious, the kind we blithely dismiss today as “religious fanatics” because their rigorous devotion puts them so far out of any mainstream. They were, as they usually are, a scattered, not a unified group, and not a few ultimately paid with their lives. To refuse to call these people heroic, because, as one historian says, “they failed to prevent the Holocaust, World War II and the destruction of Germany,”20 is not only unjust but a testimony to how supercilious the view of this period has become.
Why, it is often asked, didn’t opponents “speak out.” Some did. Yet even the reflex to “speak out” is not wholly sufficient. There was, for example, the Protestant pastor who, upon the Nazi ascent, stood up and protested the SA attacks on Jews in his town. He had not, however, fully calculated the consequences of such boldness. Soon, the pastor fell under enormous pressure. He was ordered to resign. He became distraught. Fearing concentration camp for himself and his family, he saw only one way out. His bold act of conscience ended in suicide.
Misperceptions of just how Hitler rose rest on common errors formed in people’s minds by overexposure to tabloid filmmaking and documentaries, portraying “Hitler the Mad” who, ranting about Jews, cast a hateful, bloodthirsty spell over the nation. But this is an erroneous picture.
“If a people is to become free it needs pride and will power and hate, and once again hate.” That was Hitler of 1923. The Hitler of the ‘30’s was considerably different.
Since 1928, Hitler had deliberately toned down anti-Semitism in order to appeal to voters. He even proclaimed he had nothing against “decent Jews” and was limiting criticism to those who played a role in military defeat. This was at a point when the Nazis were hardly a party to be reckoned with. They captured only 2.6 per cent of the vote.
The Depression changed everything. To draw more support, the Party realized it had to turn attention to economics. And the National Socialist “Rescue Germany” program hardly sounded radical. Fixed agricultural prices, jobs for the jobless, liberation from big business, careers to suit the talents of the young –this was the Nazi formula.
“In effect,” historian David Shoenbaum says of Hitler, “he promised a New Deal.”21
“What set Hitler’s movement apart was above all its image of activism, dynamism, èlan, youthfullness, vigor,” says Ian Kershaw.22 Young and new voters
found the National Socialists were as the party of “dynamism and youth”, as opposed to the old, stodgy SDP or the aged Hugenburg, or the Weimar parties which had brought nothing but anarchy and gridlock. Support for the Nazi Party was “above average” among university students.23 And “workers joined en masse.”24 With pride and vigor, they were reviving the nation, bringing it national unity.
While all other parties more or less stagnated, the National Socialists soared to a near 10-fold increase in the Reichstag in 1930. Suddenly, they were a force to be reckoned with. In the next election, two years later, they became not only the largest party in the Reichstag, but the largest party ever in the Reichstag.
And by the time of his first speech to the nation in February 1933, Hitler sounded openly conciliatory and moderate. He appealed to the best in people in very trying times, promising a nation reborn under a “program of national revival,” a “new German Reich of greatness and honor and strength and glory and justice.” He spoke of “securing the necessities of life” for the workingman, peasant, unemployed, and farmers –necessities which “will include the performance of social duties to the sick and the aged”25 (my emphasis). He talked about arms reduction and “overcoming the destructive menace of
communism in Germany.” He said Christianity was the foundation of the country’s morals. He spoke of the “reconciliation” of nations. He spoke, too, of term limits. “Give us four years,” he appealed, “then judge and sentence us . . . . I will then be willing to go.”26
His electoral draw was never stronger. In the March election, in a stunning electoral turnout of nearly 90 per cent, he polled 44% of the vote. It wasn’t the coveted majority, but it was more than double the nearest opponent.
Democracy had spoken. It had elected Adolf Hitler.
The turning point came, however, on March 23, 1933, when he gave a stunning speech to the Reichstag which Cornwell makes far too little of.
It was a speech which made even cautious Churchmen take notice: he referenced the decadence of the Weimar years and called for a “thorough moral purging of the body corporate of the nation.”27 The nation had been crushed in war, and there had followed years of appalling social, moral, political, and,
ultimately, economic, decay, anarchy, and collapse. But Hitler declared that he rejected war and armaments, and –a remarkable turnabout– even declared he was “ready to cultivate friendly relations with the Soviet Union.”
But Hitler was even more compromising. First, he declared the churches’ rights “are not to be infringed.” Again he forthrightly proclaimed that “the Reich regards Christianity as the unshakable foundation of the morals and moral code of the nation.” This was stunning: Adolf Hitler, leader of the Party which put race above all else, was admitting that Christianity, not race, was the foundation of the German nation. Why, this was almost a repudiation of Nazism (and not a few Nazis thought so, the increasingly alienated radicals whom Hitler later took care of with Long Knives). Could one imagine Lenin making such an admission, or Stalin? (And Hitler would be even more solicitous to Christianity in private interviews with prelates.) Wasn’t it an indication that Hitler was acknowledging cultural reality and “moderating his stance”, as observors were saying? Was this the time for dogmatic ideologues and intransigent brinkmanship? Could reasonable men, concerned about the welfare of people, about the unity of the nation, be confined to “condemnatory prejudice”?
Or should they seek “dialogue”?
Dietrich Von Hildebrand believed that “in 1933, there is no
doubt that if the Bishops had condemned National Socialism with an
absolute non-possumus and had stood like a rock . . . millions
could have been converted to the Church.”28
But they already had their non-possumus. It was called the
box.” Are we to believe that, with less than 12% of the vote, they could have mounted an effective opposition, avoiding the immediate charge of thwarting the elective will of the people by meddling in politics, by causing trouble when the Fürher had offered peace? They had lost the election, were they now to preach resistance and revolt?
But even if effective, then what? Who would lead them? Who had a plan to end unemployment and cure the Depression, to revive and unify the nation? This was where the Hitlerite votes were coming from.
So this “outstretched hand” was grasped. And a change would now take place. The bishops would not become Nazis. But persistently now they would look for the “healthy core” in National Socialism –viz., moral clean-up, patriotic renascence. For three full years Cardinal von Galen, to attain legendary renown as the “lion of Munster,” would support the Nazis for bringing a “new and better social order,” protecting the nation against “godlessness and immorality,” urging Catholics to be grateful for these “gifts of divine Providence” and pledging all Catholics to “stand united behind our Fürher.”29 (In later years, when played out by prelates with the other side of the fence –even after tens millions had already died in an avowedly atheistic system– such an approach would be termed, with generously positive connotations, as realpolitik.)
At this point –Hitler cresting to power– we have further demonstrated that a cornerstone of Cornwell’s thesis, i.e., the Catholic “vehement front”, is an illusion. The simple truth is that many prominent Catholic and Protestant leaders –even many revered later as anti-Nazi heroes– were themselves caught up in the swell of strident nationalism, of the hope of a new era of unity, order, and purpose, and welcomed the National Socialists enthusiastically. Neither war mongers or rabid anti-semites, theirs was a fervid patriotism which extended far across confessional lines. Historian Crane Brinton went so far as to say that many Jews –who had been fully assimilated, fought in the Great War, and considered themselves staunchly German– probably would have become Nazis if they had been permitted. “They would have supported Hitler in everything but anti-Semitism.”30 That is how strong the draw was.
Thus theologian Karl Adam, later held up as “hero” for being fired from Tübingen for preaching the Jewish contribution to Christianity, heroized the Führer in the most rotund of terms when he arrived, defended German pure blood, and proclaimed that National Socialism and Catholicism not only were not in conflict, but belonged together as nature and grace.
“Now he stands before us, he whom the voices of our poets and sages have summoned, the liberator of the German genius,” the great Adam wrote of Hitler in the Theological Quarterly. “He has removed the blindfolds from our eyes . . .”31
And Erich Klausener, the Catholic Action president whom Cornwell calls one of the “Catholic opponents to Hitler’s rise” was, in March 1933, describing the new movement as a “momentous awakening of the German nation.”32 His enthusiasm did not quickly wane. Only six days before his murder he addressed a huge rally of Catholics in Berlin, urging them to remain loyal to “Volk and fatherland,” following it up with a personal telegram to Hitler. After he was shot in his Transportation office on the “night of the long knives” in June 1934 –earning his place as an exemplary Catholic martyr and witness to the active Catholic resistance– his bishop wrote personally to the Führer, insisting that Klausener “repeatedly, both in private and public, professed his support to the existing National Socialist state.”33
Right in step with this enthusiasm was the American Catholic press. The NCWC correspondent –none other than Dr. Max Jordan, correspondent for ABC and colleague and friend of William Shirer, who always speaks admiringly of him– described the “Hitler movement” as “standing for a moderate sort of state socialism” and a “conservative policy in all matters pertaining education.” “It fights ‘Godlessness’,” he summarized Nazism, “and seeks a cultural regeneration of morals.”34
Jordan informed his Catholic readers in the U.S. that it was seen as “most desirable from Catholic point of view that some form of cooperation be established between the Center, Bavarian People’s Party and Hitlerites.”35
As for that “vehement front” of Cornwell’s, Jordan, the journalist on the scene, reported there was “no doubt” that Catholics, especially young ones, preferred Hitler to Hugenburg. And despite condemnation by the hierarchy, “quite a few Catholics thought that the Nazis stand for principles more in harmony with Catholic doctrines than Socialism ever was.”36 Papen himself, he said, was “known to be a devout Catholic” and “has advocated for some time cooperating with Hitler rather than Socialists.”37
Hitler –this was the big point– never criticized the Church.
In the coming months, the image of Hitler was polished even brighter. “Unreserved satisfaction” was now reported in “high church quarters” for the “spirit displayed by Chancellor Hitler” in regards the Church’s rights. By the end of July, Dr. Jordan was proclaiming that as far back as March he had reported that Hitler “felt very strongly about his Catholic origins” and “had the interests of the Church at heart.”38
Fears were stoked only by those inveterate doomsayers. Our NCWC reporter admonished them that “the observer will do well to reserve final judgement on National Socialism until it has had a chance to prove its abilities in practical government.”39
Now this welcome reception was by no means a “Catholic thing.” It crossed denominational lines. Lutheran Bishop Wurm praised the regime without reserve, and gave thanks that the nation had come under “united, purposeful leadership.”40 The celebrated Pastor Martin Niemöller, now remembered for his victim-status under the Nazis, initially accepted both National Socialism’s goals and political methods, seeing the regime as a repudiation of the spirit of Weimar and the beginning of a return to “faith and morality.” In 1933 the Nazi press commended him for writing in March:
Both as Christians and as a Church, we clearly find ourselves today at an altogether unique turning point. . . We may feel, like Jesus’ disciples . . . that the cause must now go forward and that a new beginning has been made which cannot really fail to achieve success.41
Niemöller was to sustain this support for the “new beginning” Nazism brought for months to come. Indeed, fifty years later, he still recalled that the establishment of Hitler’s dictatorship had appeared to him as a “’liberation’, a restoration of traditional values, religious belief, political stability, national pride.”42 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, another Christian martyr of the Nazis, openly professed views which would brand him “anti-semitic.” His Freiburg Circle, in early 1943, proposed a post-Nazi state in which the “Solution to the Jewish Problem” would be a Germany without Jews, or with Jews without rights.43 At the same time, other church leaders, like the great Karl Barth, who’d shrugged the Nazi ascent off saying he didn’t think it would “signify the start of great new things in any direction at all,”44 was, in Advent, 1933, describing the Jews as “an obstinate and evil people.”45 Bishop Dibelius, after the Jewish boycott, openly declared, that “notwithstanding the evil sound that the term has frequently acquired, I have always considered myself an anti-Semite.”46
Yet Cornwell describes none of this. His target is Pacelli. He blackens him with the spurious charge of “anti-semitism,” based on nothing more than some descriptions in a 1918 report of Bolshevist revolutionaries as Jewish. For the record, the report was accurate. “A number of the [Bavarian] revolutionary leaders happened to be Jewish,” says Ian Kershaw, “some of them were east European Jews with Boshevik sympathies and connections.”47 But the report, Cornwell's sole “anti-semitic”evidence, was not even authored by Pacelli. And no one cries foul.
IV. HITLER: DICTATOR
It was in such a political atmosphere that Hitler was made dictator in 1933 by the passage of the Enabling Act only a few weeks after his electoral victory. Expediency even more than enthusiasm, however, was the prime factor.
“The Republic was dead,” as Kershaw says.48 It had ground to a halt in parliamentary gridlock, setting the stage for passage of the Enabling Act.
Such action was not entirely new. Gridlock had led to similar measures before. Center Party leader Heinrich Brüning himself had ruled with decree power for two years, backed not by a parliamentary vote but only by the President and the army. (Cornwell’s exemplary hero was so unpopular and ineffective, his policies so misguided, that his leadership led directly to the first Nazi electoral landslide.) The idea for the Enabling Act was von Papen's. Nor was it a secret, sprung on the voters after the election: it was what the election was about.
The general thought was that giving Hitler dictatorial powers would only be temporary. (”Give us four years . . . and I will be willing to go.”) Whatever the case, the attitude in the Center Party at this time was not one of “vehement resistance”, but resignation and equivocation. It was best summed up by Party historian Karl Bachem, who acknowledged “a lot of dubious things in the National Socialist movement . . . but that has to be put up with for the time being.”49 Seasoned politicians, the Center thought it struck a deal with Hitler. They wrung from him promise to put in writing that there would be no persecution of Center Party government officials and ecclesial rights would be untouched. He promised. They were still waiting for the letter on March 23, 1933 when the vote on the Enabling Act came up.
Events followed in rapid order.
Hitler gave his Reichstag speech.
The Center delivered its vote. The letter from Hitler never came.
Then, word from the Bishops. An about-face.
“Prior universal interdictions and warnings,” announced the German bishops regarding the Nazi Party, “must no longer be considered necessary.”50
In mere days, the German bishops shifted 180 degrees. So pronounced was this shift, that bishops such as Konrad Groeber of Freiburg –known as “Brown Konrad” until his belated awakening (but scorned and vilified by the Nazi’s nevertheless)– soon were exhorting their clergy to “maintain peace and support the authority of the Government by avoiding all seeming criticisms of its leaders.”51 Cardinal Faulhaber sent an effusive, handwritten letter “from the bottom of my heart” to the Fuhrer saying, “May God preserve the Reich Chancellor for our people.”52 Catholic organizations followed the lead. The German Association of Catholic Teachers began negotiating to “join hands with” the National Socialist Teachers’ Union. Headlines in the Catholic Press from the ensuing months tell the story. “German Bishops Lift Ban on Hitler Party.” “German Bishops Seek Peace With Nazi Regime.” “German Bishops Laud Concordat, Pledge Reich Aid.”53
As to what brought about this shift, Church defenders, such as Mother Gallin, are at a loss to explain it.
Critics such as Cornwell exploit it. Of course, he blames it all on Cardinal Pacelli: “Catholics by the millions joined the Nazi Party, believing that it had the support of the Pope. The German bishops capitulated to Pacelli’s policy of centralization.” (At the same time, however, Cornwell contradit this, saying Catholics were “confused, perplexed” and didn’t know what to do . . . .”54)
We have already seen how distorted this picture is. No amount of manipulation by Pacelli or anyone in the Vatican could stir the patriotic fervor which was rousing the bishops to the expressions of support they would make in the coming years, despite the unrelenting Nazi attempt to destroy the Church. It was not Pacelli who commanded Bishop Berning at the Prussian Council meeting, under Göring’s lead, to throw the raised arm in the air in “Sieg-Heil!,” while enthusiastically singing “Horst Wessel.”55 Neither was Pacelli found cheering this action. In fact, his reaction was, typically, quite contrary to Cornwell’s depiction. Pinchas Lapide records that when the bishops made their announcement, he “exclaimed angrily . . . ‘Could they have not kept them waiting for at least another month?’”56
Now lest this all be perceived as some aberrant frenzy Christianity was caught up in, a few things must be firmly kept in mind.
First, the great bulk of the supporters of the Nazi Party were the workers –it was to the workers Hitler constantly appealed. It must never be lost sight of that the party’s roots “combined socialism, anticapitalism and anticlericalism with German nationalism,” as Richard Pipes says.57
Second, despite the sustained policy of the “annihilation and eradication of Marxism,” it was Socialism, not Christianity, to which such Nazi leaders aspired. Josef Goebbels, for instance, throughout the 1920’s openly stated, “I believe in proletarian socialism” and called the party “revolutionary socialists.”58 The Nazi daily newspaper called for “socialist dictatorship.” It was only later, following the world economic crisis, that they began to develop the “Rescue Germany” program that deliberately exploited Christianity, motherhood, and family. (It is thus as absurd to blame “kirche” as it would be to blame “küche” or “kinder” for “engineering the slaughter of the Jews of Europe.”) They had not abandoned socialism. In the 1930’s Gregor Strasser continued talking about “undiluted socialist principles.”
Hitler always professed himself a socialist and scorned individualism and the free economy. In 1934, Hitler himself said in an interview that the Nazi creed derived its “vital, creative socialism from the teachings of Marxism.” “What Marxism, Leninism, and Stalinism failed to accomplish,” Hitler said privately, “we shall be in a position to achieve.”59 It was thus that the Nazi flag was red and May 1 declared a national holiday. He aimed for, and by the mid-30’s claimed he had achieved, the socialist goal of a truly classless society.
Nor was it the Church the Nazis modelled themselves on. Goebbels’ and Strasser’s model –centralized power and elimination of rival parties– was Communist Russia. “The influence of Marxism in both its original and Bolshevik guises,” says Richard Pipes, “is unmistakable.”60 And though the rationale for the Holocaust came from Hitler’s linkage of the Jews with Russian Bolshevism, he still, in 1941, said “basically National Socialism and Marxism are the same.”61
All these points go unrecorded by Cornwell. For him, there were only two actors on the stage –Hitler and Pacelli, who were essentially authoritarian think-alikes (”how well these two men seemed to understand each other.”62 In essence, co-enablers.
And while the current intellegentsia –itself long enamored with Marx– persists in heaping upon Christianity a wholesale responsibility for Nazism and the Holocaust, as in the fatuous declaration from the “hero” in E. L. Doctorow’s latest book, City of God, that Christianity is responsible for “engineering the slaughter of Jews in Europe,” it conveniently forgets the fascination, admiration, and respect for the Führer which lapped over the entire political and cultural world in the 1930’s.
Arnold Toynbee, for instance, the world’s foremost historian, at that moment assaying all the permutations of human history into a five-volume, 2,500 page tome on the genesis and disintegration of civilizations, talked face to face with Hitler for nearly two hours. The great historian emerged from that personal meeting convinced of Hitler’s sincerity for peace and friendship with England.63
Martin Heidegger, the philosophical grandfather to Bultmann’s biblical criticism, coordinated students and professors in support of Hitler, and put his own rootless philosophical language of “Dasein” to the service of the new Nazi state.
In late 1936, Lloyd George gushed, “Hitler is one of the greatest men I have ever met.”64
Leftist Gertrude Stein would later propose Hitler for the Nobel Peace Prize.
And after Hitler’s ascent, right after the dictatorship, right after the Jewish boycott, the premier American journalist, Walter Lippmann, a Jew himself, said: “The outer world will do well to accept the evidence of German goodwill and seek by all possible means to merit it and justify it.”
Winston Churchill, renowned as Hitler’s greatest enemy, on numerous occasions from 1933-38, expressed his willingness to live with Nazi Germany firmly fixed in Europe. He refused to “use harsh words about Germany” (4/14/33); urged the British to “welcome the tone of Hitler” (5/22/35); admired Hitler as a “Great Leader of the country, who has raised it so high” (3/26/36); declared that if the Nazis “tread the path of peace and prosperity, they will certainly find on every side . . . goodwill of friendly nations” (1/22//37); and told the nation that Hitler’s assurances regarding Czechoslovakia “must be welcomed in a sincere spirit” (7/26/38).
Finally, in November 1939 –after the invasion of Poland– the Princeton freshmen class overwhelmingly voted Adolf Hitler the “greatest living person.”65 More tellingly, far less than half the vanguard of “the greatest generation” said they would fight overseas.
Eleven months earlier, by contrast, il Osservatore Romano, the voicebox of the pope, describing Nazism as “the most inhumane of all heresies,” declared that “Hitler is true to his role of anti-Christ.”66 And Pius XII –”Hitler’s Pope”– for his part, would soon be performing rites of exorcism on the Fürher from afar.
The boycott of Jewish businesses was staged for the first days of April 1933. It was a piqued Hitler’s response to the American Jewish Congress’ call for a boycott of German goods. As such, it is very illustrative. For it is the prime example of the Hitlerian reaction to “speaking out.”
Cornwell, intent on showing Pacelli-Catholicism alone on the side of evil, takes history into his own hands. He doesn’t bother to mention how the boycott started. He simply implies it was a window Pacelli and the Concordat opened for Hitler. Then he reports, erroneously, that there was “no word of protest” from Germany or from Rome. In fact, Pius XI issued a protest against the boycott on April 1, the first day. And this was in marked contrast to other leading churchmen whom Cornwell neglects to mention, such as Lutheran Bishop Dibelius, who supported Hitler’s action, actually calling the boycott a justifiable defensive action.
Then, retreading old material, Cornwell reports Cardinal Faulhaber’s letter to Pacelli after the Jewish boycott, in which he raises the question asked of him, “why the Catholic Church . . . does not intervene on behalf of the Jews.” (That the question was raised at all is proof that the Church’s alleged “anti-Semitism” was not shadowing opinion at the time.)
The Cardinal’s reply, “the Jews can take care of themselves,” is one of the most oft-quoted remarks by historians. Few –Cornwall, of course, included– bother to quote it whole. His entire statement –“the Jews can take care of themselves, as the sudden end of the boycott shows”67– is understood only full
context. He was referring to the international Jewish community, which had responded effectively in its own way.
Yet, here, too, history muddies on closer examination. For the Jewish response was far from united. Far from appealing for aid against the boycott, many Jewish groups scrambled to distance themselves from it. When massive rallies were being planned in New York, the president of the Zion Federation of Germany cabled the American Jewish Committee on March 25, 1933 to “protest categorically against demonstrations and unequivocally demand energetic efforts to obtain an end to demonstrations hostile to Germany.”68 The Jews in Palestine went further. They actually cabled Hitler’s Chancellery directly to assure it that no one there “had declared or intended to declare a trade boycott with Germany.”69
At any rate, the boycott ended in a matter of days, a failure for Hitler.
V. THE CONCORDAT
Cornwell’s book is built around a simple, central thesis: “Pacelli was the prime mover in the tragic Catholic surrender” of the rock-solid bulwark of the Center Party, trading necessary votes to pass the Enabling Act in exchange for the Concordat, which enabled Hitler to become dictator and Pacelli to “centralize” power.
Now to believe the Center Party could be “traded away” involves not a small amount of credulity, viz., that, after abolishing all other parties, Hitler would have permitted the Center Party –if it had opposed him and voted against the Enabling Act– to survive, with its “democratic networks” active and intact, leading a “vehement” opposition, while the Nazi regime swept everything else, from the enormously powerful Reich Association all the down to the local Singing Society and Garden Club, into the national unity of Gleichschaltung. Credulity aside, since this “trade-off” is what makes Pius XII "Hitler’s Pope", one is poised for a load of archival evidence gleaned from the author’s supposed long and laborious months of poring through the Vatican archives.
But Cornwell provides none. Not a single shred.
Indeed, in this, the critical chapter of his book, there is not even a single reference to ADSS source material. That is the overwhelmingly significant thing. Cornwell spent “13 months” in the Vatican archives and came up with absolutely nothing to support his central thesis. (It is not surprising. For Cornwell didn’t even have access to records after 1922. They have not been released yet.)
Unfortunately, this critical fact seems to have gone wholly unnoticed by many reviewers. Typical is Toledo Blade reviewer Eileen Foley. Cornwell, she wrote, “applied for and won access to Vatican archives. . . . . His effort has resulted in this book.”70 Nothing could be further from the truth. First of all,
there is nothing to “win.” Second, not only did he not have access to the Nazi years, the Vatican Archive records show him present, not over a span of “13 months”, but only three, and then not even every day. A mere scan of his footnotes shows that his whole book is derived not from the Vatican archives but from a reworking of old material, largely drawn from Klaus Scholder. His is a hyped re-write of Scholder’s book.
Furthermore, regarding the alleged “trade-off” itself, there is a trail of anomalies in Cornwell’s account.
To begin with, he describes the Führer as “dealing directly” with Pacelli. This is a blur. Pacelli never once “dealt directly” with Hitler. The intermediary was always the Catholic, ex-Center Party member, Papen. It was, in fact, Papen's initiative. But hardly a blue-sky original: Pacelli had been in concordat negotiations since 1920. These pre-Nazi drafts were what Papen carried to Rome and used as a basis for the Concordat.
Next, the idea of a “trade-off” itself is quite problematic. There was, actually, nothing to trade. At least 14 Center Party members were going to vote for the Act, and that was enough for its passage. The only issue was whether the Party would vote as a bloc. Thus, many critical researchers, foremost among them Carlo Falconi, do not even mention a “trade-off.” At any rate, Lewy says Concordat talks did not even begin until after the Enabling Act.71 And others, such as the expert Rudolf Morsey, explicitly deny it.72 Moreover, according to Holburn, there were only two opinions in the Center Party at the time: a) that the Center could not survive; b) that it could survive only by closely cooperating with the Nazis.73 (Papen's uniquely “upbeat” reading of it was
that since the Center Party was born of the Kulturkampf, and now the Kulturkampf was over, the Center Party was unnecessary.)
The fact is, the Party, which had been losing members “at an alarming rate,”74 was in no position to resist. At the height of the crisis, July 1933, Carl
Bachem openly admitted this. “Would it have been any use to call on the Catholic population and the whole Center Party to offer united resistance?” he asked. “Such resistance would have at once shown up the physical powerlessness of the party and would have been brutally suppressed.”75
There are other anomalies. For instance, Cornwell directly quotes Papen laying out the terms for a Concordat to Kaas, trading the “religious rights of Catholics in exchange for the . . . disbanding of the Center Party.” But no source is given. And the footnote is missing. Elsewhere, he has Papen informing Cardinal Bertram on March 24 of the need for a conciliatory statement from the bishops to “aid the process of the Reich Concordat.” Only four pages later, however, he asserts that the bishops were “even denied information about the fact of the negotiations.” Yet by far the strangest anomaly occurs when Cornwell tries to nail down the quid-pro-quo once and for all by quoting Brüning –who, after the Enabling Act, had himself remodelled the Center Party directly on the Nazi fürher-prinzip– in 1935 as having “no doubts about the connection”:
[Pacelli] visualized an authoritarian state and an authoritarian Church directed by the Vatican bureaucracy, the two to conclude an eternal league with one another. For this reason Catholic Parliamentary parties, i.e., the Center in Germany, were inconvenient to Pacelli and his men, and were dropped without regret in various countries.76
This certainly appears open-and-shut. There is only one thing peculiar about it. Cornwell’s footnote attributes it not to ex-Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, but to “Count Kessler of Brüning .”
In the end, the only thing his entire quid-pro-quo thesis hangs on is a bald statement by Scholder himself regarding Pius XII’s own explicit denial: “From what we know now, it is not true . . . .”
And he never establishes just “what we know now” is.
The whole issue is actually moot. For the choice, clearly, was not between Center Party or Concordat. The choice was between Concordat-and-no-Center Party, and no Center Party.
Furthermore, at this critical juncture, the Church found herself entirely outflanked. At this very moment, the three great European powers, France, England, and Italy were themselves about to sign the Four Powers Pact with Nazi Germany pledging “mutual entente, collaboration, and solidarity.” Needless to say, protection of the Church was not part of this pact. The Church was completely vulnerable.
Contrary to Cornwell’s contention, Pacelli didn’t eagerly seize upon the Concordat offer, and Pius XI himself later openly stated that the agreement was entered into “despite many serious misgivings.”77 Papen, surely one of the most abject of fellow-travelers in history, declared to Catholic academics at the
great Maria Laach monastery that the Concordat marked the “final conclusion of the Kulturkampf in Germany.” In fact, it marked the beginning of a brand new “kulturkampf.” Thus, most historians –even the severest critics– have recognized, however, that the Concordat was needed for the Church’s legal survival. Without it, she neither had a right to exist or a legal existence at all. Thus critical Catholic historian Thomas Bokenkotter concurs that “there was no way church rights in Germany could be saved except through a Concordat.”78 Likewise, Gordon Zahn admited that the Concordat “spared the Church in Germany a far greater measure of hardship.”79 Yes, there was “prestige” to be gained by Hitler for concluding the Concordat, but he had achieved prestige
already by portraying himself as the victim of an international gang-up at Geneva two months prior. To that achievement he once again owed a debt of thanks to Cornwell’s hero Brüning, who paved the way.
Yet Cornwell not only presents the Concordat “as a papal endorsement of the Nazi regime and its policies,”80 he even says it “indicated . . . Catholic moral approval of Hitler’s policies.”81 This a totally absurd assertion. The purpose of the Concordat wasn’t to endorse the Nazi regime, but to protect the Church
Cornwell here is merely parroting the Nazis themselves, who tried to
exploit the Concordat in such ways. But Pacelli himself, via articles
in l'Osservatore Romano for
which he was the source, and openly before European delegations,
directly refuted these “interpretations,” denied any such
“recognition” or “approval” of Nazi doctrines
–expressed his disgust with the Nazi reign of terror, and
declared it was entered into to protect the Church's rights and
That is why Pacelli had increaing misgivings over the Concordat and
wanted to put off its ratification. That is why, depending on the
German bishops' opinion as the “determing factor,” Pacelli
set aside those misgivings and followed their urging that it be
signed at once. And t
German bishops' opinion as the “determing factor,” Pacelli set aside those misgivings and followed their urging that it be signed at once. And that is, after all, why after the Catholic Concordat, the Protestant Church sought one of its own. Had the Jews had the mechanism for so doing, they, too, would have endeavored to do so.
But not in Cornwell’s view. It is essential to his thesis that he depict the Concordat as a Pacelli power scheme over the faithful, “a capitulation to the will of the Holy See,”83 and Canon Law, something always and everywhere the Church “imposes” –he never uses any other word– on the faithful, as its tool. The Concordat thus becomes, in Cornwell’s prism, a “collusion”, a “compact”, “an eternal league”84 of the Catholic Church with the Nazis, which “legally bound the Church to silence on outrages against Jews;”85 “imposed a moral duty on Catholics to obey the Nazi rulers”86 and “confined itself to the sacristy” (another error –he means “sanctuary”). Such characterizations impart the wholesale illusion that, if only for the Concordat, 23 million Catholics, under the uncompromising leadership of their bishops, would have risen up as a body in united protest, terminating Hitler and the Third Reich forthwith. As Lewy himself says, “the number of Catholics prepared to do battle with the Nazi regime was small.”87 Quoting Carl Amery, he concedes that the foremost factor in any “reconciliation” or “capitulation” the Concordat yielded, was not Pacelli, not the papacy, not the German episcopacy, but the “juste milieu of German Catholicism.”88
Despite the “prestige” he earned, the Concordat was not a simple, one-sided victory for Hitler. Papen's terms after all had offered the Church “more than all the governments of Weimar had been willing to grant”89 Not only had the Concordat given legal standing to the Church for the first time in 500 years and given the minority, non-German Catholic Church alone a unique, independent status within the unified Reich, but it even allowed it independent schools. His fellow Nazis had serious misgivings. For the sake of the Führer's “prestige” they had just been, as it were, “trapped into accepting the Catholic Church.” Where was the vaunted Revolution? Thus, Hitler had to justify the Concordat both to his party and to himself.
And he did, in his typical peremptory way. Full of pride at having reached “an agreement with the Curia”, he deflected all criticism by describing it as “an indescribable success” and commanded “all misgivings should be withdrawn.”
Deploying yet another mischaracterization, Cornwell contends that “the potential in the Reich Concordat for sanctioning the destruction of the Jews was acknowledged by Hitler himself . . .”90 In fact, Hitler’s triumphant remark at the signing of Concordat described the “struggle against international Jewry.” That did not mean then what we now know as “Holocaust”. For years, the plan was to move Jews from Germany to Madagascar. Goebbels himself is explicit about this in his diary all the way through 1940. In fact, the Jews themselves cooperated in this. Right up until 1939, the SS had colluded with the Jewish Mossad in a covert operation of shipping thousands of Jews out of Germany to Palestine.91
The Concordat also, Cornwell contends, immediately “trapped the Catholic Church into accepting” the Law for Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, the sterilization laws. Not only does he fail to mention that Pacelli issued numerous protests to the Reich or that, again, it was the German bishops who temporized, but he paints a picture whose analogical equivalent would be contending the U.S. Constitution “trapped” the Church into accepting Supreme Court decisions on these same matters.
Actually, the Nazis were fertilized with notions widely circulating from the turn of the century and by the ‘30’s were “widespread and by no means a preserve of the radical right.”92 By the 1930’s, sensible and humane leaders of the progressive world had already advocated and implemented them. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Holmes heartily endorsed them (“It is better for the world”). More than half the states in the U.S. had already enacted sterilization laws. They were central to the cause of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood –Hitler’s own Sterilization Director and founder of the Nazi Society for Racial Hygiene had actually written articles in her magazine.93 Eugenics, whose purpose was to “maintain the purity of the American pioneer stock,” and whose U.S. researchers declared the Jews, among others, “genetically inferior” and posing a dangerous “racial mixture,”94 was widely supported and was funded by the nation’s greatest philanthropists –Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harriman.
It is no small point that these tools for the Holocaust, legal, material, and philosophical, were active, not only in Nazi Germany, where Social Darwinism was “transposed into the sphere of State policy”95 but in the freest nation in the world, promoted by her most progressive and vocal activists and backed by the wealthy elite. It was, in fact, from these that Hitler crafted his design, having “studied with great interest” U.S. laws “concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would . . . be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock.”96 They thrived in a cultural laboratory where absolutes were being tossed aside in favor of progress and pragmatics. And from them, the personnel were to be directly recruited into the building and administering the gas chambers. To carry it out, a rationale sufficed which fit human aspirations to improve the world. Hitler had no difficulty formulating his own consisely.
“All measures were justified,” Hitler told the Cabinet, “which served to uphold nationhood.”
The only transcendence was to be found, not in absolutes, in dogmas, but in “community.”
VI. CATHOLIC RESISTANCE
Critics who link Christianity or “Church teaching” to the inception and support of Nazism (e.g., Goldhagen) –Cornwall especially– have failed to answer why, if Christianity, Catholicism especially, was so compliant to Nazi goals, was so relentless a war waged on it for its annihilation?
Quite uncritically, however, the one is linked causally to the other. This linkage is universally taken as fact and reported as such in standard resources as the General Reference collection –”centuries of deeply ingrained Christian anti-Semitism erupted into violence under cover of war.”
“Is it so astonishing then,” says Jules Isaac in this vein, “that there should emerge out of German Catholicism the cruellest, most relentless advocates of Nazi racism — a Himmler, an Eichmann, a Hitler, a Heydrich? These men have only taken and carried to its logical conclusion a tradition which, since the Middle Ages, has been well established throughout the Christian world.”97 Strange it is to find then, that this never occurred to Gestapo leaders Himmler and Heydrich. The Gestapo said in 1937: “Between the National Socialist state and the Catholic Church there can be no peace.”98 And Heydrich told his subordinates in late spring 1943: “We should not forget that in the long run the Pope in Rome is a greater enemy of National Socialism than Churchill or Roosevelt.”99 Nevertheless in the highest and most respected of academic and publishing circles, such outrageous statements as the following from Daniel Goldhagen go not only unchallenged, but are accepted writ large.
“The underlying need to think ill of Jews, to hate them, to derive meaning from this emotional stance,” Goldhagen writes, is “woven into the fabric of Christianity itself.” “Without a doubt, the definition of the moral order as a Christian one” makes anti-Semitism essential to “the foundational Christian cause.”100
This would no doubt come as a surprise to the head of the Nazis himself, Adolf Hitler. He spoke of “tearing up Christianity and annihilating it in Germany.”101 Repeatedly and succintly, we hear Hitler asserting: Christianity and Nazism have nothing in common; they are in mutual enmity. “One is either a German or a Christian. You cannot be both.” Having very forcibly extracted himself from the very devout Catholic upbringing his mother gave him, he explicitly told Herman Rauschning, whether Old Testament or New, it was “still the same Jewish swindle.”102
It is a strange and intolerable abuse for historians to accuse the Church of an anti-semitism which made it compatible with –if not the source of– Nazism. For the very reason the Nazis openly declared Christianity as incompatible with National Socialism was because of its inherent semitism, i.e., that it was a “Jewish-derived faith . . . reinforced by money-grubbing clerics.”103 It was unceasingly denigrated as a “Jewish, oriental religion.”
Messrs. Isaac and Goldhagen et al. might learn valuable insights by spending some time informing themselves of what it was like for the devout Christian to live under Nazism.
Hitler’s own anti-semitism and racism were not derived from any Church teaching. Quite the opposite. He hated the faith as much as he hated the Jews. His anti-Semitism was spawned by the vitriolic nationalists of the late 19th century, whose scathing anti-Catholicism was woven into their anti-Semitism. His political awakening, as he himself described it, came when he realized “Jewry is absolutely a race and not a religious association.”104
Historians, too, have recognized that in the Nazis’ anti-Semitism “Catholics could hear the unmistakable echoes of anti-Catholicism.”105 They didn’t have to listen hard. The Nazi press repeatedly linked the Catholic Church to the Jews, describing the Pope as the “Rabbi of all Christians” and the Church as the “Firm of Juda-Rome.”106 Streicher accused priests of “sheltering corrupters of our race [i.e., Jews] in Franciscan habits”107 and even tried to smear Archbishop Groeber with an accusation of writing love letters to a young Jewess. The violent explosion of Kristalnacht, reported the Manchester Guardian, was significant “as a warning”, especially for Catholics, who were “now being classified, most ominously, as ‘White Jews.’”108
Faulhaber’s remark, then, of how easily “Jew-baiting could turn to Jesuit-baiting” was quite to the point. Such motives, in fact, compelled many who joined the Nazi’s early on. Von Fritsch, for example, (head of the military until he was expended by the Nazis) wanting to make Germany powerful again, pledged to battle against three things: Socialism; the Catholic Church; and the Jews.109 It was, in fact, the Nazi plan to destroy the Catholic Church after the war. Hitler and Goebbels each stated this. Had Germany won the war, this plan would have proceeded.
VII. HITLER & THE CHURCH
From the outset, however, Hitler had the cunning to know the futility of a frontal assault on the Church in Germany. He held Bismarck in contempt for having tried it. According to Speer,110 he did not see direct destruction of the Church as possible or as a goal and even sharply condemned the campaign against the Church, calling it a crime against the future of the nation, for it was impossible, he said, to replace Christianity with “party ideology.” Thus, around 1937, when Hitler heard that at the instigation of the SS vast numbers of his followers had left the Church –because it was obstinately opposing his plans– he nevertheless craftily ordered his chief associates, above all Göring and Goebbels, to remain members.
He, too, remained a member of the Catholic Church, he said, although he had no real attachment to it. (Thereby, some, with incredible naiveté, believe Hitler could have been “stopped” through excommunication.) According to Rauschning, Hitler saw his Catholic birth as “fated from the beginning, for only a Catholic knows the weaknesses of the Church.”111 “If I wished to,” Hitler boasted, “I could destroy the Church in a few years; it is hollow and rotten and false through and through. . . . its day is gone. It will not fight. I’m quite satisfied.”
The Church could only be attacked gradually, incrementally, piecemeal. A Concordat –with its opportunity for being made a legal arena for piecemeal violation– was quite suited to this approach. But it was by no means the primary instrument.
“I shall certainly not make martyrs of them,” he told Rauschning of the tactics against ecclesiastics. “We shall brand them as ordinary criminals. . . . I shall make films of them. . . Let the whole mass of nonsense, selfishness, repression and deceit be revealed. The young people will accept it –the young people and the masses. I can do without the others.”
Trials of priests, monks and nuns, had begun in 1936, stimulated by Nazi propaganda which relentlessly blamed “the system adopted by the Catholic church and more especially on its monastic life” and the “alien” things the Church taught “our race”, such as the “terrifying bogey of belief in sin.”112 Using the progressive creeds of Modernism and syncretism, they dismissed Christ as a “most complicated construction, arising from sources in the Near East and Babylonia.”113 The Blessed Mother was scorned as a “harlot” and Christ as her “illegitimate offspring.” The slightest offense, such as preaching love of neighbor, (Schwarze Korps declared it “completely contradicting our moral conscience”) could land a cleric in the concentration camp –once two priests were sent to Dachau for not saluting Göring in a restaurant. Later, priests would be thrown into camps for being suspected of the “wrong attitude.” Innumerable episodes of individual courage and martyrdom did indeed occur.
Sharing both the hatred of many an intellectual for the faith and the aspirations of the “New Age,” Hitler viewed the old heathenism, latent beneath the surface of peasantry, as “true religion rooted in nature and blood.”
“The peasant will be told what the Church has destroyed for him: the whole secret knowledge of nature, of the divine, the shapeless, the demonic. The peasant will learn to hate the Church on that basis.”
Hitler had complete contempt of Protestantism and saw Liberal Christianity as readily aiding his cause, having little doubt its ministers “will replace the cross with our swastika.”
As Rauschning said, “Thoroughly and systematically, with iron logic, the war of annihilation against Christianity was being waged.”
VIII. CATHOLIC RESISTANCE & Mit Brennender Sorge
We would think this treatment led to sustained, uncompromising resistance from the Catholic hierarchy and people. Some great historians leave the implication that it did.
Peter Hoffmann, for instance, says “until the outbreak of the war, Catholic resistance stiffened until its most eminent spokesman was the Pope himself.”114 The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Cardinal Faulhaber as a “prominent opponent of the Nazis” who vigorously criticized Nazism despite governmental opposition and worked with American occupation forces after the war, receiving the West German Republic’s highest award, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit. (Others receiving post-war honors included Bishop Berning, made Archbishop in 1949; and Franz von Papen, one of the greatest dupes in history, made Papal Privy Chamberlain in 1959.)
Assembling a portrait of united, resolute resistance from such data, however, would be a serious distortion. True, there was always some form of Catholic “resistance” to Nazism, however selective, and any such resistance, was invariably courageous, often fatal. But while selective Nazi policies met protest, the Reich as a whole did not. Quite the opposite. Major Nazi national political initiatives, weighed as national policies, always elicited very supportive responses. For instance, when Hitler withdrew from the League of Nations in October 1933 –insisting he hated and would not wage war– he did so with the very vocal support of most churchmen and prominent Catholics (such as Klausener of Catholic Action). Likewise, his march into the Rhineland was cheered and blessed by the clergy, led by Cardinal von Galen, who described Hitler as “the Fürher to whom divine Providence has entrusted the direction of our policy,” the one who “has by his courageous resolve broken the chains in which . . . hostile powers kept our nation permanently imprisoned.”115 Galen and Cardinal Schulte, in another burst of nationalistic fervor, issued an unsolicited declaration on the Saar plebiscite, instructing that German Catholics were “duty bound to stand up for the greatness, welfare, and peace of the fatherland,” and mandating special prayers be said on plebiscite Sunday that will bring “blessings for our German people.” World War II would meet the same, fervent support.
Even when made, protests were measured and equivocal. Faulhaber’s oft-cited 1933 Advent sermons defending the Old Testament, for instance, were done strictly as a defense of divinely inspired Scripture. He made it quite clear that he was not talking about the “Israel of today” and later protested directly to Hitler that an alleged sermon of his against anti-Semitism –which had received Jewish commendation– was in fact a “Marxist forgery.”116 In Advent the following year, he openly commended Hitler as one who “has committed himself to peace” against “demonic forces.”117
Faulhaber actually met with Hitler at Obersalzburg in 1936 for three hours –discussing mostly the danger of Bolshevism. The future recipient of the Grand Cross was so impressed with Hitler that he reported “the Führer commands diplomatic and social form better than a born sovereign.”118
At this date, Faulhaber was apparently still quite convinced of the “March 23 Hitler” who “recognizes Christianity as the foundation of western culture.” And though the Cardinal found Hitler “not as clear in his conception of the Catholic Church as a God-established institution,” Germans were assured that there was “no doubt the Chancellor lives in faith in God.”119 But Faulhaber also experienced another critical aspect of Hitler’s persona –mad rage. Significantly, it occurred when euthanasia and sterilization were brought up and was accompanied by dire warnings against political meddling. (The exact same thing, if not worse, happened in the presence of other ecclesial prelates, such as Nuncio Msgr. Orsenigo.)
Protests were largely aimed at direct issues of infringement of Church rights, of which there were many, since the Nazis were waging a war of attrition against the Church, and it was these which led up to the papal encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge –the composition of which Cardinal Faulhaber played a major role.
The odd thing about the papal encyclical is that it is almost universally mischaracterized, by critics and defenders of Pius XII alike. Cornwell mischaracterizes it as an “encyclical on anti-racism,” oddly putting himself in the same camp as papal defenders, who describe it as a “bold manifesto against Nazism.”120
It wasn’t exactly that.
The encyclical’s “burning anxiety” was over violations of the Concordat, which had begun immediately in 1933 and never ceased, and the consequent “suffering of the Church” and the “growing and steady oppression” of the faithful. The encyclical was blunt enough. It cited “machinations from the beginning that had no other aim than a war of extermination”, conducted through an overall effort “to change the meaning of the agreement, to evade the agreement, to empty the agreement of all its significance, to violate the agreement.”
As for Nazism itself, objections to it were familiar: its “myth of blood and race”, its “pantheistic vagueness” and “ancient pan-Christian German concepts” which “takes the race or state” as “ultimate norm of all” and “deifies them with idolatrous worship,” along with the “heresy of speaking of a national God” and the “manifest apostasy” of the German National Church. It also protested the banishing of Biblical history and the wisdom of the Old Testament from Church and school; “leaving the Church . . . to profess loyalty to the State”; mandatory Hitler Youth; and the “cult of physical fitness.” As for those responsible, it described them as “enemies of the Church,” “enemies of Christ,” and declared the state obliged to cleanse the “spirit hostile to Church and Christianity.” (It described as a “false prophet” anyone who would place any mortal alongside, or above, Christ, but the encyclical did not call Hitler himself a “mad prophet”, as some contend.)
Though its impact was great owing to the fact that it came from the Pope, and had to be smuggled into Germany at great risk, and though it stated in stark terms that the “time of spiritual profanation of the temple is at hand,” and though it furnished yet another lesson in the consequences of “speaking out” in that it so enfuriated Hitler that he resumed the immorality trials and increased attacks on the Church, it was nevertheless nothing like the “vast campaign of the Church against Atheistic Communism” put forth in the encyclical Divini Redemptoris only five days later.
One other aspect of this encyclical, rarely, if ever, touched on illustrates this great contrast. It is that, quite remarkably, Mit Brennender held out great hope. Despite the long trail of grievances and “machinations from the beginning”, it insisted that “we have no more wish than true peace between Church and State in Germany,” and so purposefully avoided “needless severity” in the express hope that “homesickness will drive back into the Church” the “erring sons of today.” Perhaps with this happy eventuality in mind, to the suffering faithful, “some even in concentration camps and prison”, it gently counseled “heroic fortitude.”
Cornwell says the encyclical “arrived late in the day.”121 But Cornwell himself is “late in the day.” Berlin Catholics, it was already reported in 1937, felt the document was “Too Late to Help” in the fight for the rights of the Church. “The German bishops lost one fight after another,” the New York Times reported. “The Church’s cultural activities are virtually liquidated.”122 Late or not, harsh or not, this official act of “speaking out” did carry with it one consequence –it changed nothing.
The German Bishops continued the same theme of very patient, restricted protest, complemented with solicitous appeal.
“The Church can support the Third Reich the more strongly . . . the more it enjoys the legal freedom guaranteed in the concordat,” they said shortly after Mit Brennender. “Blasphemy and mockery of the Catholic faith is spreading,” they grieved, adding in “tones which do not aid the Führer’s work of reconstruction.”123
And the Nazis, of course, continued their same aggressive course.
“We are armed and prepared to continue the battle against Catholicism,” declared the official Party newspaper, Volkische Beobachter, “until the final, frightful decision, until the point of total annihilation.”124
Despite the onslaught, the Church in Germany turned the other cheek. An open declamation of the Nazi Government per se was certainly not possible at this point. Nor was there ever a call whatsoever to either revolt or open resistance. (Faulhaber denounced anti-Hitler plots as immoral.) And this restraint cannot be read as a stratagem to avoid any semblance of provocation, for the Third Reich was not met with diffident, stone-cold silence. Instead, over all the protests, over all the objections, over the relentless vilification of the Church and the faith in the Nazi press, the bishops repeatedly instructed the faithful that the Reich Government was to be embraced and supported. While maintaining their earlier criticisms of the Nazi creed, they repeatedly went to extraordinary lengths to demonstrate that the Church in no way politically threatened the regime and to profess their unswerving loyalty to and faith in the beloved fatherland and Reich.
The operative rule behind this was plain: “Wherever authority exists, it is ordained by God.”125 Such authority is expressed in a legitimate government, and from the beginning, the Nazi government was accepted as legitimate. There simply was no legitimate way to oppose a legitimate government. Acceptance of this principle was universal in Germany. It included the full range of Catholic activists, as Klausener demonstrates. And undergirding the principle, it must be conceded, was the Concordat. Not only did it require support of the government, Article 16 obliged the bishops to profess an “oath of fealty” to the government, actually swearing on the Holy Gospels “loyalty to the German Reich.” Given what we now know of the Reich, this was truly an obscene price to pay for the freedom of the Church. But it was a price prelates such as Berning –Sieg-Heiling and Horst Wesseling with Herman Göring – were quite willing to pay.
At this point we must be clear. What occurred in the Germany hierarchy was not a love affair with Nazism, nor a paralysis brought on by the Concordat which required loyalty of them, or by “Roman centralization”, but the bishops’ unbroken efforts to stress, together or singly, their unimpeachable love for their nation. “One is either a German or a Christian. You cannot be both,” said Hitler. This struck the bishops heart and soul. “We are patriotic because we are German and Catholic,” Archbishop Groeber wrote emphatically in his book.
This fervant patriotism, coupled with their devout effort to avoid the charge of “Reichsfeinde” levelled against them in the Great War, led the Church in Germany to go so far in gradually seeking out and co-opting the “healthy core” in National Socialist ideas and transposing “Nazi martyrs” into “staunchly Catholic men” that the Nazis actually began to suspect it of “fifth columning” and put a stop to it.
The turning point of this patriotism came with the annexation of Austria.
The devout Catholic socialist, Kurt Schussnigg, literally caved in under Hitler’s overt bullying (which, according to Speer, was “a pretended fit of passion . . . probably carefully staged”126). Instead of reflexive indignation, he agreed to hand over his country to the Nazis.
Yet when it came, Anschluss was widely supported in Catholic Germany and Austria, and priests who protested by staying away from the “plebisite” were variously punished and disciplined by their dioceses. Bishop after bishop hailed it ecstatically. They permitted the ringing of the church bells for the occasion. (This very act of annexation, so applauded by the two countries’ hierarchies, was exactly what Sister Lucia, the visionary of Fatima, said indicated that War was inevitable.) The German bishops, Faulhaber at their head, went even deeper into blindness, (they were not alone!) applauding the Munich accord and thanking God “for his goodness” in hearing “the prayer of all Christendom for peace.” In the Munich diocese’s own paper, in the name of the entire Catholic community, on Sunday, October 16, 1938, they thanked the Führer “for the act of peace.”127 Six months later they would be ordering the bells be peeled again, this time for Hitler’s birthday.
It was, at best, pathetic naiveté. Love for nation blinded their discernment. The German Church, in this strange and seductive way, had become an “unwanted ally whom the Nazis intended to destroy as a force in Germany as soon as the war was over.”128
Complementing their burning patriotism was another factor. Surprisingly, it is another facet of the Concordat Cornwell fails to mention. It was found in the Concordat’s two secret clauses.
“First remove the dangers of Communism,” said Karl Bachem early on, reasoning regarding Nazism which would be amplified by the bishops through the Reich years, “then everything will sort itself out.”
Such a view summed up the substance of these secret clauses. The first clause pledged a common front against Russia; the other –insisted on by the German bishops– regarded duties of conscripted priests, indicating Pacelli was conceding violation of Versailles on conscription before it even took place.129 These clauses colored everything.
Let no one consider it at all unreasonable. Fascism was something threatening Europe. The Church had to, and could, survive under it. Communism was something else entirely. It was militantly, murderously atheistic. Under it, tens of millions had already died and were dying of starvation and incredible persecution (although the premier press, The New York Times, was neatly covering all this up). The threat of it spreading across Europe was increasingly real. In the summer of 1937, back from a trip to France, Bishop Fulton Sheen was informing American audiences that dangerously unstable France was right then on the verge of a Communist revolution. Everyone knew that in Russia the Bolsheviks had openly declared war on religion and confiscated every last church in the country; in Germany, Hitler had marched the SA to church services, carrying charity collection cans.
So, in their January 1938 pastoral, while decrying “religious Bolshevism” and the “whispering campaign” against the Church by National Socialism, the German bishops nonetheless commended Hitler for having “sighted the approach of bolshevism from afar” and took it as their duty to support the Führer in this “crusade against Bolshevism” “with all the holy means at their disposal.”130
“Bolshevism,” they told the faithful regarding the war, “in its innermost essence and its deepest roots is the negation of all religion. It is godlessness organized by the State, the gate of Hell, the advance guard of the anti-Christ . . .” Having as “their basic misunderstanding” the totalitarian nature of Nazism,131 never could they fathom that the same described the Reich of their beloved Germany. They could not fathom an anti-Christ was in their midst, leading their nation.
So, when Hitler crushed Poland in two weeks –his one explicit extermination statement was the order to “liquidate Poland and Poles”-- church bells were rung in celebration at midday throughout the land for seven days. The rape of Poland had begun immediately. SS troops rounded up intelligentsia and executed them. Polish priests by the hundreds were the first victims. Entire dioceses were being emptied of them. Many were simply shot on site. Auschwitz –for two full years– would be used primarily for the execution of Polish Catholics. And the German hierarchy jubilantly rang the bells for seven days.
Totally, unswervingly convinced of the cause, the German bishops professed “we pray that God grant us victory” in pastoral letters, hoping for an honorable peace guaranteeing Germany “the necessary Lebensraum.” And they declared, unashamedly: “inspired by God’s love, we faithfully stand behind our Führer.”
From the first shot, Cardinal Faulhaber defended Hitler’s wars with such terms as “Christian duty”, “heroism”, “death with honor”. “May God protect our Heimau, our holy Church, our brave soldiers, our beloved children on the battlefield,” he prayed. He allowed Church bells confiscated for use in Reich war production.
After the 1939 assassination attempt, he led a Te Deum to “Thank Divine Providence for the Führer’s fortunate escape . . . We Catholic Christians are joined with the entire German Volk in the burning wish that God may protect our Führer and Volk.”132 Faulhaber vehemently insisted he knew nothing about the officers’ 1943 assassination attempt and, though Hitler was by then indiscriminately murdering innocents by the millions, this “prominent opponent of the Nazis” prepared a statement regarding the 5th Commandment regarding the assassination attempt that killing is wrong.133 In the end, when the grisly Holocaust photos were circulated, he protested that the American bombings of civilian areas showed equivalent mass killing and carnage, and those “pictures would be no less horrifying.”134 He even issued a pastoral letter which insisted on the equivalence of the crimes.
In the same vein we find Cardinal von Galen, “typical of the many fearless Catholic speakers”135 by enraging the Nazis with his anti-euthanasia campaign, at the same time saying, “we Christians make no revolution. We will continue to do our duty in obedience to God, out of love for our people and fatherland. Our soldiers will fight and die for Germany . . . .”136
This genre of episcopal support continued right to the very end, when, at Hitler’s suicide, Cardinal Bertram said a Requiem Mass for the “faithful departed.”
One can only wonder how, given this atmosphere, the Catholic with serious misgivings was to “resist”, or why “apologies” are now made for German Catholics “not doing enough”? How could the solemn ringing of bells throughout the land create anything but a solemn injunction that the Third Reich was to be devoutly embraced and supported; that its goals were, overall, legitimate? How could any Catholic be expected to “stand against” it? It wasn’t a matter of standing only “against Hitler,” or “defying the Nazis.” One would be resisting legitimate government. One would be standing against one’s own whole people. One would be standing against the express, repeated instruction of the bishops, in a matter which he was told he had no Christian right to do, against the explicit instruction to be “ready to sacrifice their whole person” to Hitler’s war. As sympathetic an observor as Mother Gallin clearly noted this dilemma. And Zahn himself concedes that to stand against such a “flood would have required an extraordinary degree of self-determination –and more.”137
Thus, Catholics would serve in the army, and fight in the War, bravely, and with the intention of victory for the Reich. And they served, as all soldiers served, under this oath: “I swear by God . . . unconditional obedience . . . to Adolf Hitler . . . .” So unquestioned were the underlying principles, so strong the love of country, that during the entire Reich, only seven refused to serve, and six of them were Austrian. The celebrated German, Edward Jagerstätter, was not merely “atypical”; he was singular. Six paid with their lives; one with his mind. (As an excellent example of this, see The Shadow of His Wings, the Franciscan priest Fr. Gereon Goldmann's experiences as a chaplain –even, for a time, an SS officer– in the German army.)
Cornwell feasts on this. To him, all this was the German Church giving “its blessing . . . to the policies of National Socialism” at Rome’s direction.
It is evident from the above that is exactly what did not happen. No one outside of Germany could possibly have directed the fulsome support of the Reich which emanated from the episcopacy. Nor were these nationalistic effusions limited to the hierarchy. Our great “hero” theologian Karl Adam criticized the hierarchy for not being nationalistic enough, saying in 1939 that Catholicism in Germany should be “German to the core.”138 Such sentiments flowed from the beginning of the Reich. But not from Pacelli. In October 1933, when the bishops –and everyone from Klausener to the Catholic Students Association– were cheering Hitler for the Geneva pullout, Pacelli was already protesting “open violations of the Concordat,” looking impatiently to the bishops for “words of fearless remonstrance.”139
These facts alone undermine Cornwall’s thesis of Rome-directed submission. But it is wholly overturned by a subsequent incident.
As time, went on –despite the “war of extermination” against the Church– the Germany hierarchy was preparing to go even further. In fact, it came frighteningly close to achieving wholesale integration. And it was thwarted only by direct intervention of the Vatican.
This near-turning point occurred at the Fulda conference, August, 1940.
By this time the German bishops had gone so far that the international press was reporting the stunning news that their forthcoming pastoral letter “will indicate a reorientation of the Catholic Church in its relations with the National Socialist regime.” Earlier that year, in probably one of the most grotesquely shameful distortions in all of history, a Catholic Cardinal –Bertram– not only declared the justice of war for “Lebensraum” but called World War II, and thus the victory of the Third Reich, a “holy struggle” whose purpose was the highest of earthly goals: “life in accordance with God’s commands.” Archbishop Schulte –another one of Cornwell’s “heroes”– had given thanks in a special proclamation for the blitzkrieg victory over France. In the meantime, Bishop Wilhelm von Berning had been saying “since his 1933 meeting with Hitler that the Church should give up its opposition to the National Socialist regime.” And the bishop’s influence was said to be “ascending.”140
Berning’s motivations? He loved his country, his volk. The movement which would unite nation and people was a healthy correction to the self-empowering individualism of the 18th and 19th centuries. He’d written a book on this and sent it to Hitler “as a token of my devotion.”
Others in the German episcopacy expressed similar beliefs. In 1935, Cardinal Bertram told his clergy that many Nazi ideas –specifically, the significance given to blood, race, soil– were found in Catholic thinking.
The synod letter “reorienting the Church” was on the verge of being published. Suddenly, it vanished into oblivion. Two weeks later, in an extremely brief announcement, it was reported that the “Vatican forbids publication of the German bishops’ letter.” Nothing was ever heard of it again. The Vatican’s “centralized, authoritarian” power –namely, “Hitler’s Pope”– had prevented the German bishops from taking a stand from which they, and probably the Church in Germany, may never have recovered.
So muted had the German bishops’ criticism been that it would not be until mid-1941 that headlines would read “Catholic Bishops in Germany Assail Nazis For Church Policy in First Protest Since War.”141 By then, schools had been closed, cloisters and monasteries taken over, and the Catholic press shut down. Having nearly endorsed the Nazi state in 1940, now they were declaring the “existence or non-existence of Christianity in Germany is at stake.” And though again the bishops hastened to praise the German soldiers and their “achievements” which “encouraged constant prayers” and –yet again– forswore that the Catholic Church in Germany was “loyal to the government,” their stance was considered so courageous it won unsolicited praise from Jewish observers. Rabbi Louis Newman of New York, for instance, commended the bishops who “dared to speak out against the excesses of the regime against their religion and their schools.”142
It was at this time that other heroic resisters came forth –Lichtenberg, von Galen, White Rose, Franz Reinish, Rupert Mayer, et al. Most stand as solitary witnesses. They offer eloquent testimony to the fruits of “speaking out.”
Fr. Franz Reinisch, who sought to “extend the Marian kingdom of Christ throughout the world,” was one such solitary witness. He refused the military oath. “For me,” he said bluntly, “there can be no oath of allegiance to such a government.” He was condemned to death July 7, 1942, declaring the government “not an authority willed by God” but one attaining power “through force, lies, and deceit.”143
Bl. Msgr. Bernard Lichtenberg was another witness. He publicly prayed daily for the Jews. And then he wrote directly to the Reich’s physician leader, demanding he account for the “crimes. . . which invite that the Lord who rules over life and death will impose retribution on the German people.”144 He was arrested, sentenced to two years in camp, and died, near the end of his sentence, on the way to Dachau.
Probably the most graphic example of “speaking out”, however, is the group The White Rose, a brother and sister, a professor, and a few others at the University of Munich. They surfaced as Nazi opponents in mid-1942, when news was received that 300,000 Jews were cut down in cold blood in the eastern offensive. All hint of prudence succumbed to the brashness of youth. Citing Cardinal von Galen as their hero, they immediately and unabashedly “spoke out.” They pasted leaflets all over the university buildings, describing the Führer as a “corporal from World War I” and “an amateur” and the government as “the most loathsome tyranny ever visited upon our people.”
In a span of a mere five days, the group was plucked up by the SS, tried, and executed. Their heroic witness sealed, the genocidal slaughter went on.
“The Church, custodian of Christian love and charity,” says Lewy, “stood by silently.”145 Not exactly. The German bishops finally added their witness. They “spoke out.” On August 8, 1943 they condemned genocide.
The Nazi’s ignored it.146
IX. THE CROATIAN INTERLUDE
The tale of Croatia is among the saddest in Catholic history.
Here we find a nation steeped in the deepest Catholicism for 1,000 years; committed to the highest of ideals. Almost from its birth, it pledged, in solemn vow to the pope, never to wage war. It was consecrated to Mary. For 400 years it resisted the Mohammedan assault. Then, almost going Protestant in the 16th century, it reconverted in the early 17th, and became exclusively and vibrantly Catholic.
Yet national independence eluded it from its inception. Its first king disappeared. Its next king died without heirs. The country could never swing out of the orbit of powerful states. It passed through century after century of oppression. Any taste of freedom, was followed by bitter hardship. Yet all the while, it kept the national dream alive. And it was a nationalism different than the others which boiled on the Continent. Hers was not a self-centered but a transcendent nationalism, by which it meant to serve the entire West.
Finally, its hour comes. The national dream arrives. The yoke is suddenly smashed. The oppressor is broken. Independence. Freedom. Nationhood. Untold centuries of prayers answered, at last. The jubilation of spirit is indescribable.
It would last only four years. Tragic, ugly years. And in those mere four years, it and its religious devotion became, overnight, something so hideous and despised that “. . . the very word ‘Croatian’ came to become associated with Nazis, evil, and terrorism.”147
The episode of the Ustashe State is still too much for many Croatians to bear. A campaign of denial is active to this day. Croatia is the victim-nation of history, “paradoxically labeled as a villain”148 “Croatia did practically nothing to be ashamed of in World War II,” and only allied with Nazis “for self-preservation.”149
All lies; all smears; all fabrications of Communists and Titoists. As the commander of Jasenovac said when he was finally indicted for war crimes in 1998, “nothing happened there.”150 If that were not enough, there are even active networks Ustashe Web Sites honoring and carrying on the work of the order and “Dr. Pavelic.”
Yet even those Croatian supporters who do acknowledge the mass killing and extermination by the Ustashe, minimize them, dismissing Pavelic as a “puppet”, an areligious aberration, whose Ustashe comprised “less than one per cent of the Croatian population,”151 a tiny element from which the people quickly withdrew their support, joining the Partisans en masse and becoming “the center of the anti-Fascist struggle.”152
To underscore Croatian innocence, attention is directed to the Bleiburg massacre –which came to light only with Communism’s fall– when mass graves of Ustashe-affiliated Croatians who had been fleeing to Austria at the war’s end were found, the remains of mass murder by Tito’s Partisans. (Exact numerical counts were not possible. From those mass graves thus far explored, estimates range from 5,000 victims in one cave to as many as 40,000 in another. Croatians largely claim the entire mass of 500,000 soldier-civilian refugees was slaughtered.)
While that long-concealed event, combined with the exaggerations which inflate the number of Ustashe victims to ridiculous proportions –media giant Peter Jennings takes the most extreme of them at face value and passes them off as fact– do indicate slanted treatment of Croatia, her innocence is greatly exaggerated.
The regime of Ante Pavelic, to begin with, was not at all a “puppet” regime. It was, to be sure, enabled by Hitler’s destruction of Yugoslavia. But it had established itself in power before the Germans arrived.
Nor was Pavelic an aberration. He wasn’t treated as such then, certainly not on his arrival, nor when tens of thousands were being murdered a month. Heady with independence, Croatians thought their centuries of prayers and devotion had been answered. They were sure of it.
Cardinal Stepinic himself had said, on the regime’s arrival, “It is easy to discern the hand of God.”
And so it appeared. For unlike the other European dictators, Pavelic really was “a devout and practising Catholic” who undertook “sincere and regular devotions.”153 He surrounded himself with Catholic priests as counselors. He had a personal confessor. He even had a private chapel. Indeed, on taking the healm, he wrote to Pius XII “that our country, penetrated with the words of the Holy Gospel, should become the realm of God.”
To reach this laudable goal, within weeks the Paglovnic announced that his regime would deal with the non-Croat population, and that in three ways: deportation, conversion, and extermination.
If the “hand of God” were so “easy to discern” when present, one would have expected it would have been just as easy to discern its absence, especially when the atrocities pertinent to the Paglovnic’s policy began to pile up so incredibly. If that discernment occurred, it failed to propel a denouncement or reprimand of the regime.
Instead, in very short order it became a slaughterhouse, and there were Catholic priests and hierarchy involved every step of the way, actively in league with a degree of brutality so great it puportedly shocked the Nazis.
There is a wild dispute over the number of victims.
“The exact number of war victims in Yugoslavia during World War II,” says the sympathetic McAdams (who accepts a total 125,000 Serbs died in “war-related causes”), “may never be known due to fifty years of intentional disinformation by the Yugoslavian and Serbian governments, Serbian exile groups, and others.”154
Both sides have obfuscated the totals, producing absurd extremes, ranging wildly from 20,000 to two million. (While the unattributed total of 700,000 is commonly cited, Jennings cites the wholly absurd total of “2 million.”) There is no point in trying to clear it up here. Tens of thousands were executed; multiple undetermined.
Whatever the figures, the question that concerns us here is what did the Church, in particular the Holy See, know and do in response to these events?
Sadly, from the available resource material, it appears to be Croatia, rather than Nazi Germany, that mars the papacy of Pius XII.
The incriminating aspect regarding the Holy See stems from the fact that Croatia was so thrivingly Catholic a country. It was not Nazi Germany. The Ustashe regime posed no threat to the Vatican or the Church. Quite the opposite. It claimed, in all it professed, said, and did, to be quintessentially Catholic. The Ustashe state was not “fascist” and not based on Nazi racism. It sought not racial, but religious, purification. It was based on religion –even its parliament opened with the Veni Creator. Its statute was a paragon of the devout, a pledge of high ideals which culminated in the promise of “. . . never sinning against the Innocent lives of others or their goods . . .” Nor was it occupied by fierce Nazis. There were never many German divisions in all of Yugoslavia to begin with, and after the Italian occupation only a few units remained. “None could be considered elite.”155
Ustashe supporters, their doctrines steeped in a nationalistic Catholicism, had flourished at the universities. The notorious Fr. Draganovic was a theology professor. Ivo Guberina, at the University of Zagreb, taught that “to put difficulties in the Ustashe’s way would imply ignorance of what the Catholic mission is . . . it would be a sin against the Creator . . . a betrayal of God’s cause. It is the Catholic’s duty to be a complete instrument of the expression of what is essential and positive in the Ustashe movement . . . which . . . is developing a social and political State in which the Church can achieve her supernatural mission without hindrance.”156
Now in unravelling this skein, it must be understood that the Croatian Church as a whole has been both mischaracterized as an ecclesial arm of the Ustashe, and as totally at odds with it. The fact is that the majority of Croatian priests and bishops were not Ustashe. The fact is that Croatian bishops explicitly opposed key Ustashe policies, such as forced conversion, from the very start (for which policy, along with attempts to “obtain humane treatment for the Jews” they were supported and commended by the Holy See).157 But the fact also is that several bishops were full-fledged Ustashe, such as the famous Bishop Saric of Sarajevo, the “hangman of the Serbs,” whose poems extolling Pavelic compared him to Christ. And the fact is also that many priests and religious –most of whom were from Bosnia– took active part in the extermination campaigns.
Nor must it be thought that there was something inherently vicious in Croatia or its religion that was the root of these horrors. The root was much closer to the historical surface. Falconi himself admits that if Serb oppression during the Yugolav Republic is not taken into account (an oppression culminating in the 1929 assassination of the pacifist Croatian Peasant Party leader and four associates right in the halls of the Croatian congress), “the excesses that occurred under the NDH would be incomprehensible.”158
Ustashe or not, with so Catholic a state, the Holy See had more potential leverage than any other country in the world. It could have discretely and effectively indicated disapproval of the regime. Small gestures would have had huge effects. It did extend itself to influence the Italian occupation army’s treatment of the Jews: “It seems certain that the Italian attitude in favour of the Jews was determined not only by their natural aversion to every kind of racial violence and their ingrained antagonism to the Germans, but also by precise pressure from the Holy See. . . . Abbot Marcone ‘as early as 1941 .. . had received express orders to come to the help of the Jews.’”159 But when it came to the Ustashe crimes, however, a wall of denial united both sides.
The Catholic Church is the only institution on earth empowered to absolve sins. It alone is practised in hearing confession. But it appears that in the case of Croatia, the Holy See eagerly sought to hear sins denied. The stories were everywhere. They circulated widely in the Vatican. About open massacres of whole congregations. About victims buried alive after digging their own graves. About Orthodox priests forced to watch their own sons hacked to bits before they themselves were skinned alive and their eyes plucked out. About the aged Orthodox bishops driven mad with torture, or shod with horseshoes; bodies hung up as “human meat” in butcher shops; children impaled; torture-centered nocturnal orgies.
Who could believe them? And who could not believe –indeed, prefer to– that all this was the work of the infernal enemy, blackening the repute of so devout a Catholic nation? The denials were so palatable, they merely had to be served up to be swallowed whole.
So de facto ambassador Dr. Nikolá Rusinovic could tell the Papal Secretary of State –in all sincerity– that the Poglovnic was “a sincere practicing Catholic who could never have permitted the crimes his enemies attribute to him.” And the Secretary of State responded with gratitude and begged to hear more such “good news.”160
“What is going on in Croatia?” Msgr. Giovanni Montini inquired insistently. “Is it possible so many crimes have been committed?”
Oh no, quiet Croatia is victim of a hostile, unfriendly –anti-Catholic– world. How could such “reports” be true? Look who is saying them. The enemy!
“I settled everything,” said Rusinovic, “revealing the enemy propaganda in its true light.”
And so it continued. The Holy See continued to do everything it could to show its approval and nothing to show its offence but issue the mildest, most tangential of corrections. It solicited denial, as with a brother so gifted and beloved, gone horribly bad. Excuses became part of the mental framework. “Croatia is a young country and the young often make mistakes,” said Cardinal Tardini, then under-Secretary of State. “. . . Croatia is rich in fine traditions and these are a guarantee for a brilliant future . . . .”161 The counsel was never ever to condemn, but to “recommend gentleness” to a regime massacring by the tens of thousands. It went even beyond that. In the Holy See, every effort was made to embrace and maintain relations with the regime, unswerving in the belief that this was a good Catholic country, flowering now by divine providence. So when the Ustashe complained that Cardinal Stepinac was “not always felicitous,” the Vatican went so far as to pressure him to “adopt a more suitable attitude.”162
Fr. Robert Graham, foremost researcher and defender of Pius XII, himself admitted the Holy See’s stand-offish attitude and sympathy for the Croatian nationalists, even though it knew of the Ustashe atrocities. And this continued when the war was over. The Vatican, he explained, didn’t want to “offend religious sensibilities” by plucking out Croation war criminals.163 Such a response is benumbing. If “religious sensibilities” are not offended by war crimes, what “religious sensibility” is there to offend?
Yet if here the Pacelli papacy at it weakest, Cornwell’s treatment is even weaker.
First, he serves up a typical Cornwell smear, linking Pacelli to the Ustashe cause when Croatians made a 1939 national pilgrimage to Rome. It is a smear because the Ustashe not only weren’t in any way involved in this pilgrimage, they weren’t even near it. Furthermore, the Ustashe “perception of history” had absolutely nothing to do with the pilgrimage. And lastly, Pius XII’s remarks to the pilgrims were both just and commendable.
Second, Cornwell’s case against Pacelli rests on Falconi’s own limited examples, viz., a “typical” BBC broadcast. But this source is precisely a source which the Holy See –rightly– would have dismissed. Coming from the Serbo-Yugoslav side, the source was self-destructively partisan –obviously so, in absurdly accusing Stepinac of marching in Nazi parades. No such source would ever, nor should ever, have been taken seriously as a credible source of accusations so outrageous in time of war.
Cardinal Stepinac, too, is made victim of an unrelenting smear. It is widespread, and part of the stock of journalese. Typical of totally irresponsible reporting is this description from the Chicago Tribune: “Stepinac, a man closely identified, with the pro-Nazi puppet regime.”164 It is carried on, more subtley, by the most responsible of journals. Here, for instance, is U.S. News & World Report: “On recommendation of Zagreb Archbishop Stepinac –who had blessed Pavelic at the opening of the Croatian parliament– the pope established informal diplomatic relations with the state of Croatia.”165
The statement of these “simple facts” leave the impression that Stepinac “blessed” the whole Ustashe enterprise, beginning to end.
Common, too, is the wholesale acceptance of the Communist-designed smear, originating from Tito’s Yugoslavia, specially unique in that it has survived both Tito and Communism. “Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac (d.1960) was imprisoned by the Communists and sentenced to 16 years of hard labor for his support of the Ustasha fascists. He was declared a martyr in 1998 by Pope John Paul II.”166
Here, in the subtlety of journalese, the double smear is committed –against Stepinac, of whom the Communist charge is assumed correct, and against the pope, who, despite this, stubbornly beatified a Fascist.
All of them pale, of course, under Cornwell’s glare, who says Stepinac and the Croatian bishops, hoping to build a “power base,” “endorsed a contempt for religious freedom tantamount to complicity with the violence.”167
We cannot elaborate at length on Cardinal Stepinac and Croatia here, but suffice it to say that his statements at the beginning of the regime were responsibly circumspect. To have opposed the nascent NDH would be to have opposed Statehood. It was Statehood, not NDH or Ante Pavelic, he was “blessing.” To have not done so would not only have been the equivalent of treason, it would have been unthinkable in the soul of a Croatian. This stance, as it applied specifically to the Ustashe, however, was not without reservations, nor did it last long. Indeed, Stepinac’s open support in the face of NDH policy of what is now called “human rights” is on record. He wrote open letters against the excesses, among them the famous 1941 Glina massacre. He even instructed priests to permit “pro-tem” conversions by persons seeking thereby to avoid Ustashe persecution, with the full expectation that they would return to their former religion when the persecution passed. The Ustashe tried to pressure the Vatican to have him replaced.
For a more judicious appraisal of the Croation Cardinal, any of these critics could have turned to the source whom they otherwise rely on unreservedly –Carlo Falconi.
“Stepinac,” he says bluntly, “was never Ustashe in either spirit or ideals.”168
And he goes further.
“From the second half of 1943,” he continues, “his pessimism regarding the Ustashe State was always on the increase, making him uncompromising in his attitude towards its excesses.”169
The sins of Croatia were grave. Those sins would be paid for in a few short years with forced internment in the Communist system, compliments of a British delusion with the intention of Joseph Broz Tito. Stepinac, too, paid for them; their sins were placed on his shoulders; he spent 15 years in prison, finally poisoned to death.
As for the Vatican, its apparent equivocating this evil, along with the fact that so many Ustashe fled Croatia via the Roman “ratlines” in her very midst, has all but indelibly stained her reputation as being friendly to fascists –and provided a robust diet for those with an insatiable appetite for portraying her as indisputably an institution badly in need of radical reform.
X. WAS PIUS SILENT?
Can one even seriously pose the question? No one disputes it. It is one of the givens of history. Pope Pius XII, when it came to the greatest crime in human history, chose to remain absolutely silent. He said nothing. No denunciations; no alarms.
There is, it appears indisputably clear, no question to pose. Even oft-cited defenders of Pius XII, such as Joseph Lichten, admit this. The most vocal defenders are forced to admit it as well, insisting that he couldn’t speak out, fearing reprisals.
But the issue is not merely “silence.” It has metastasized tremendously. Falconi initiated this early on by analyzing Pius XII’s “dramatic guilt complex” from his “enormous sin of omission.” From such a start, it is not surprising that we have arrived at the point, as Kenneth Woodward described it, of “monstrous calumnies that now seem to pass for accepted wisdom.”170
We have already seen that for Cornwell Pius XII is not the final issue. He serves as a metaphor of the entire “pre-conciliar” Church. Indeed, one gets the sense that this may have been the underlying motive behind the entire book. When Cornwell speaks of the pope’s “rotting corpse” to “exemplify the corrupt finale of the most absolutist papacy in history,” for instance, it is apparent that he is describing not only his summary of that pope but his summary of that Church.
This is more conclusively evidenced by his treatment of “Pius XII Redivivus”, his cognomen for Pope John Paul II, “a traditionalist autocrat as despotic . . . as Pacelli ever was.”171 And this demeaning assignation directly follows from his characterization of the Second Vatican Council as having changed the model of the Church from a “pyramid ruled from the apex” to a “pilgrim Church, a people on the move.”172 [Typical of so much of the Cornwell treatment of history in the entire book, and with the same degree of accuracy –simply and factually false– his description of a new, “post-conciliar” Church forms the mist of gossamer daydreams which substitute as a “faith vision” to keep aloft souls who have lost faith, (certainly the “vertical” dimension of it), and turn instead to the allure of temporal utopias as the genuine spiritual quest of the world.]
That aside, we now come to the point of considering this “silence of Pius XII”, i.e., the obviously deliberate restraint from any specific mention, or performing any impassioned outcry, against the Nazi genocidal assault. In addressing it, there are three points to be evaluated: 1) the nature and scope of this “silence”; 2) the issue of “neutrality”; 3) the often-cited consequences of openly “speaking out.”
As noted above, while the issue begins narrowly regarding direct pronouncements, both the nature and scope of Pius’ “silence”, is generally taken for more than “not speaking out.” Its scope has been expanded to entail a full range of implied papal inaction stemming from a “silence” whose nature was owing to “indifference and apathy.” In short, “saying nothing” is equated with “doing nothing.”
Critics have so crowded the stage that the issue is obscured from the start.
To begin with, it has long passed from notice that the very accusation of “silence” is itself a manufactured one, only beginning with Hochhuth’s fictional stageplay, The Deputy, which jet-propelled the issue. Pius himself was actually frank about his “silence” in 1943 (not only until after the War, as Falconi reports), long before it became a writ of accusation. He told the College of Cardinals what he had already said publicly, i.e., that it had “never been his intention in his messages to the world to formulate indictments.” “Our voice,” he said, “was that of a watchful sentinal.”173
Furthermore, the scope of “silence” is greatly nuanced by the fact that the pope is not limited to direct pronouncements. He can effectively make his voice heard in other ways. He has both the Vatican radio and press as effective extensions. There are numerous examples of Pius XII using these means. Already in August 1940 Hitler’s war was called “unjust” on Vatican Radio. By Pius XII’s order Vatican Radio was given to Cardinal Hlond to describe in detail Germany’s policy in Poland –a policy termed as far worse than the Soviets’. Hitler issued an immediate protest. Pius XII also took the unprecedented step of telegramming the Low Countries and allowing its full text to appear in l’Osservatore Romano. Critics often treat this as if it were a minimalist courtesy. But as a trained diplomat such an action, in diplomatic parlance, was a “j’accuse.” It was these articles which triggered the intense Italian Fascist intimidation campaign (ultimately successful) to shut down the newspaper. And among the foremost charges against the Vatican newspaper made by the leading Fascist spokesman: it was "the evident mouthpiece of the Jews."
Hence the scope of papal “silence”, to be rightly considered, must undergo correction to account for these means.
Aside from the use of these factors, however, the debate rages between both sides about what exactly Pius XII did say, in his own words and his own voice. Though the record is plain, the debate is fixed between extremities, with the one saying he said nothing, the other saying he spoke out loudly. It deserves an attempt rectification here.
First, the defenders. They point out in unceasing chorus, and not without some justification, that the one who is now accused of not speaking out was viewed then as the only one who was speaking out. They cite as prima facie evidence the New York Times editorials describing Pius as the “lone voice on the Continent” after delivering his Christmas addresses in 1941 and 1942. And, citing the editorial describing his 1941 Christmas message as putting him “squarely against Hitlerism,” they rest their case: Pius XII had indeed “spoken out,” loud and clear.
Used in this way, this evidence, unfortunately, amounts to only a half-truth in Pius XII’s defense.
The Times editorial did, indeed, describe him as the “only ruler left on the Continent of Europe who dares raise his voice at all”, as well as being “squarely against Hitlerism.” In fact, the Times said Pius XII “left no doubt that the Nazi aims are irreconcilable with his own conception of Christian peace.”174
But these quotes out of their context are misleading. These were the Times’ words, not the pope’s. The pope had not lashed out at the specific totalitarian governments per se. The editorial broadly, though perhaps accurately, extrapolated from what he said. The primary purpose of the Times’ praise, however, was to read into the pope’s expressly non-partisan speech support of the Allied cause.
“Standing squarely against” Hitler, or anyone, however, was not the purpose of the pope’s speech. He saw himself as charged with a greater goal, critical to understanding this pontificate: the establishment of peace. Thus the address was, in the midst of the hopeless slaughter of all-out war, an attempt to address all peoples, to see beyond the conflict, to a future peace.
To this end, he spoke in general of the components needed for a future reconstruction, a “new order among peoples,” among which were moral order and arms limits. Rather than “formulate indictments” of this or that regime or nation now the antagonist, he pointed to something much broader and deeper. Using the same analysis he had presented in his first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, he described the current “moral abyss” as “the unhappy consequence and fruit” of centuries-long effort of men to “direct every thought, word and deed to their sworn objective of tearing from the hearts of our young and old alike their faith in God.”
Such was the “voice of the watchful sentinal.”
The following Christmas, following another papal address, the New York Times editorial once again cited the pope as the “lonely voice crying out.”
Cornwell scorns this speech as “lengthy and dry sermonizing on Catholic social doctrine” since it was a plea “to men of good will to bring society back to its immovable center of gravity in divine law.” He finds it “not merely paltry” but a “chasm” of “evasive words,” describing the liquidation of the Jews (extermination camps had begun only that year) in a way which is “shocking” and “overshadowed by the denial and trivialization” of “scaling down the doomed millions to ‘hundreds of thousands.’” Others likewise fault the pope because “the statement conspicuously fails to mention the word ‘Nazi’ or ‘Jew’.”175
And, once again, defenders quote the editorial liberally to prove Pius XII had again “spoke out” as the “lonely voice.”
Indeed, the Times found much to praise, saying that, precisely because it came from an impartial voice, it was “like a verdict in a high court of justice.” Yet again, the Times’ view was tinted by its own culturo-political lens, seeing the builders of this new world as ones who “must fight for free choice of government and religious order.”
Interestingly, the front page of the newspaper summarized the address quite differently than the editorialist when it headlined it as a denunciation of Marxist socialism. ("The Church has condemned the various forms of Marxist Socialism,” said the pope, “and she condemns them today.”)
But in this address once more we see clearly how Pius XII saw his role not to “formulate indictments” but –in the most principled of terms– to pave the path to peace. That, again, was the salient goal of his pontificate. He had taken it as his papal motto.
Speaking of “her children’s anguished cries that reach her from every class,” Pius XII reiterated that the Church “does not intend to take sides” –he referred, without specification, only to “a social order which has given such tragic proof of its ineptitude as a factor for the good of the people.” Again, he looked toward the future. A new society must be based on “the unchanging basic laws,” on “a Juridical order resting on the supreme dominion of God,” returned to its “center of gravity, which is the law of God.” He spoke of “the urgent need of a return to a conception of law which is spiritual and ethical . . . illumined by the splendor of the Christian faith” which is itself “an outward refraction of the social order willed by God” and a state “founded on reasonable discipline, exalted kindliness and a responsible Christian spirit.” To achieve these ends, he called for a “noble and holy crusade for the cleansing and renewal of society to traverse the sea of errors of our day and to march on to free the Holy Land of the spirit.”
In the “fight for the human race that is gravely ill and must be healed in the name of conscience ennobled by Christianity,” he urged “all those who are magnanimous and upright” to a “solemn vow not to rest until in all peoples and all nations of the earth a vast legion shall be formed of those handfuls of men who . . . aspire to the service of the human person and of his common life ennobled in God.” This vow, he said, was owed to the untold numbers who had died. He cited these in groups, from “the countless dead,” the “thousands of noncombatants,” and the “numberless exiles,” and, finally, to “the hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault of their part, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline.”
“Dry sermonizing”? Given what we know now, given the seering perspective we view the events from a 60-year vantage point, given the pictures in our minds, that charge might actually seem far too mild. Yet is it? Just what, and who, was “speaking out” at the time? And what were they saying? How does this papal address compare? A more reasoned and objective light might be put on this indignant charge by a brief review of what was being said the very same day by other religious leaders, including those most directly affected.
Harry Emerson Fosdick, for instance, one who would seem to fit Cornwell’s ideal of a liberal, decentralized, demythologized theologian, did not mention world events at all. He gave an enthusiastic Christmas sermon on angels.
Yet there was a more pertinent voice “speaking out.” That same day the American Institute of Judaism,176 surveying the present strife, issued its own lengthy statement on attaining a just and enduring peace.
The first striking aspect about this statement is how closely it paralleled what Cornwell scorns –Pius XII’s own call for a “juridic order, as willed by God.” There is no outrage, no condemnation. In fact, its voice is so similar to a papal encyclical, that if written by the pope it would be yet more evidence of that “boxed whisper” of “silence” he is accused of.
The Judaic Institute laid the problem at the “failure of men to recognize the implications of the sovereignty of God and the sanctity of human life” and “false philosophies.” The only remedy, it said, was that the “spiritual teachings of religion must become the foundation of the new world order.” (It prescribed a kind of world socialism to do this.) It talked of the “rights of the Negro to earn a living” and the right of the Jews to a homeland.
What is nothing short of remarkable is that, not only did it not “formulate indictments,” but not once anywhere in the statement, did it denounce Nazism. Not once was the word “Nazi” even mentioned. And when it referenced the Holocaust, it did not even put it in terms of numbers. It did not cite “millions.” It did not cite “hundreds of thousands.” It alluded only to the fact that “large masses of Jews have been and are being massacred.”
Thus, by this illuminating comparison, the issue of Pius XII’s “silence” is considerably reduced in size. And yet another of Cornwell’s shrill indictments falls flat. The pope, in his “scaling down”, in his “dry sermonizing”, had said far more on the issue than the Judaic Institute.
As for his “abstract principles and generalizations,” it was precisely these which received the posthumous praise of Golda Meir, when she said on Pius' death, “The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict.”
Against that generous encomium by a leader of the victim people, stands Cornwell’s raw indictment: that “failure to utter a candid word about the Final Solution in progress proclaimed to the world that the Vicar of Christ was not moved to pity and anger. From this point of view he was the ideal Pope for Hitler’s unspeakable plan. He was Hitler’s pawn. He was Hitler’s Pope.”
The second factor governing the papal voice, the issue of “neutrality,” is often dismissed as a dodge, a poor excuse for “silence.” There is, in current criticism of Pius XII, an implied supposition that he should have been outspokenly on the “good guys'” side, and any neutrality at all renders his motives suspect and all his deeds, of commissions and omissions, damnable. These opinions express, among other things, an ignorance of history which Pius XII himself was acutely aware of, viz., the pontificates of the Great War, who had “spoken out” and, not only were derisively blamed for taking one side over the other, but were early on cut out of the post-war settlement picture by secret diplomatic consent.
Cornwell himself will have absolutely none of it. Evidencing a personal bias so great that he cannot but see “self-seeking” into the man’s every act, he says in maintaining strict neutrality, Pius’ “motive . . . was to secure a role as mediator” after the war. “In other words,” Cornwell scorns, “there was an element of self-seeking hubris in Pacelli’s neutrality.”177
Once again, we must return to the contemporary context. At the time, all parties expected, depended on, and appealed to the pope to remain neutral. The New York Times itself endorsed the pope then for doing precisely what it excoriates him for now.
“No one,” the Times declared in that December 1942 editorial, “would expect the Pope to speak as a political leader, or a war leader or in any other role than that of a preacher inclined to stand above the battle.”
To have maintained neutrality (we use it here but Pius himself eschewed the word “neutrality” for “impartiality”) in the war may have seemed to be an act of aloof indifference to the Allies but it certainly wasn’t so regarded by the German bishops. In their view, it was unfathomable. How could the Pope, the world’s most vocal opponent of Bolshevism, not support Germany’s “crusade against Bolshevism”? Neutrality, from that view, was an offense. For Pius XII to have stayed anywhere near neutrality in this war, with that cause, was an extraordinarily loud indictment of Nazism. In this regard, his “silence” spoke louder than words.
Yet if unwilling to breech the position of “neutrality” in a public way, Pius XII took a private step so undeniably courageous and daring that even Cornwell has trouble dealing with it. It disrupts his whole caricature of Pacelli. It doesn’t fit. It contradicts all he tries to establish. He has to force himself to work around it.
The step Pius XII took, in late 1939, was agreeing to act as the essential intermediary between German generals plotting an anti-Hitler coup and British authorities. The coordination of the two sides was crucial to the success of the plan. Secrecy was so absolute that Pius did not even inform his Secetary of State of his role. The risks involved were incalculably high. “Had Hitler learned of it,” Cornwell admits, “it is likely he would have wreaked harsh revenge on the Catholic Church in Germany . . . justifying radical, even violent measures against the Vatican.”178 The coup, however, planned and re-planned over several months, finally exhausted itself. It came to naught. Events overtook it. The personal cost for Pius XII was great nonetheless. He lost both Kass and Leiber in their opposition to it.
It is impossible not to derive a simple, clear conclusion from Pius’ willingness to play such an unprecedented, extraordinary role in this conspiracy, and that is, that he had determined an end requisite for the peace of the world: Adolf Hitler must be removed. There were no public statements involved. No gestures. Just “silence.” History may never even have known of his role. Yet the fact is, Pius XII’s enormous risk, had it worked, could have saved the world from the entire horrors of War and Holocaust.
This bridges us to the third point –consequences of “speaking out.”
This, too, is dismissed lightly, as if it were a “last recourse” defense of Pius XII, even an attempt to turn “indifference and apathy” into genuine concern, a defensive screen of speculation with which to protect the pope and his record.
Yet here the record is so clear, so unambiguous, that it provides us numerous consequences of “speaking out.” So much so, in fact, that when carefully considering the known facts, weighing known history, a far better case can be made against “speaking out,” certainly if saving lives is given more priority than verbal denunciations.
Adolf Hitler would not be crossed by anyone, at any time, in any way. His was a personality easily enraged to whote-hot heat, and swift to wreak vengeance, widespread and murderous. We have seen this Hitlerian rage explode every time a line was crossed. No one close to Hitler fails to mention these. Some instances, indeed, were quite public (such as his sudden, personal outburst right in the Reichstag against the Social Democrats as the Enabling Act vote aproached). Cardinal Faulhaber reported Hitler’s uncontrollable outburst when in his private audience with the Führer he brought up the matter of euthanasia; Msgr. Orsenigo experienced an even more violent one when he brought up the matter of the Jews. These reports Pius XII must have known about. Moreover, Hitler’s political reprisals to vocal opposition, we have seen, were in evidence from Day One of the Nazi regime, with the Jewish Boycott. A year later came “the Night of the Long Knives,” when Hitler and his henchmen personally took part in the summary murder of his former SA allies along with numerous other innocent victims conveniently set-up on the occasion and for which action he publicly took full responsibility for. In the Saar plebiscite, the Nazis openly threatened anyone voting against reunification. Then came Kristalnacht, the mass violence “which stunned the world”179 –an event which was precipitated by a single assassination of someone who himself was under investigation by the Gestapo. The consequences of the Dutch bishops’ defiant protest are too well known to recount here. The Nazis had already made it clear how far “protests” would get after Mit Brennender Sorge: “The Reich will not tolerate any interference in its internal life.”180
When attacked, the Nazis’ revenge was quick and fierce. They took immediate and unrelenting reprisals, usually in a ratio of 10 random victims for every German. The cases of Lidice and Fosse Ardeatine where this rule was applied are well known. But this ratio wasn’t absolute. In 1942, after a bomb attack on a Goebbels-sponsored anti-Bolshevik exhibit and five Jews were implicated, the order went out immediately to execute 100 for each of the accused. That same day, 250 Jews were shot; the other 250 deported.181
Those outside the Nazi net might clamor for open protests, but any open protests from Pius XII sent tremors to those inside it. They knew well the consequences. They were meted out on them. For those already incarcerated, in fact, he was already saying too much. This, too, is a matter of record. Joseph Lichten, for example, quotes the Wolfssons, Holocaust survivors.
“None of us wanted the Pope to take an open stand,” the Wolfssons said. “ . . . We all shared the opinion at the time, and this is still our conviction today.”182
This is further supported by other reports from inside the lager. Whenever Pius did speak, Protestant pastors in camp would denounce him as a fool, unaware of how he was aggravating their suffering.183 Falconi himself recounts how Poland's Cardinal Sapieha told one of the Vatican’s secret couriers, “We have no need of any outward show of the Pope’s loving concern for our misfortunes, when it only serves to augment them . . . if I give publicity to these things . . . the head of every Pole wouldn’t be enough for the reprisals . . . .”184
In this stance, moreover, Pius XII was hardly alone. It was for these very reasons that international organizations such as the World Council of Churches and the International Red Cross embraced the same policy of “silence.” And, it must be emphasized, this was understood and accepted by those most solicitous to the Jewish cause at the time.
“The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such delicate moments,” according to Fr. Robert Graham, S.J., “was fully recognized in Jewish circles. It was in fact the basic rule of all those agencies in wartime Europe who felt keenly the duty to do all that was possible for the victims of Nazi atrocities.”185
The Red Cross, says Fr. Graham, by international agreement charged with overseeing POW Conventions, was “increasingly alarmed” at both “the harshness of German procedures, and even more so the sinister disappearance of so many thousands into the maw of deportation.”186
“With profound regret, the Geneva Red Cross decided that a public protest, a) would have no effect, b) would compromise what real good the Committee was already doing for the internees, without benefit of public declarations.” Gerhart Riegner, the Geneva representative of the World Jewish Congress who played such a critical role in first disclosing the extermination of the Jews, “accepted its validity.”187
A fresh perspective therefore emerges from these facts.
It is not idle speculation to foresee, not only the inefficacy, but the grave consequences of “speaking out” in the manner critics now call for would likely have had –consequences which he now would be held accountable for. Certainly, if he had not kept “silence,” those 700,000 Jews who were saved as a result papal policies, actions, and directives would have been doomed. The post-war case against Pius XII would then have found a different platform. And his “rash” speaking out –something which the Cornwells of the world would have quickly translated into “self-seeking hubris” and self-interested effort to preserve the institution– now would be fiercely debated in terms of how many lives it cost. It is not difficult to draft an imagined commentary:
“With an eye toward enhancing the prestige of the papacy at the expense of the lives of perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent Jews and others, Pius XII embarked on the risky policy of openly excoriating Adolf Hitler and Nazi policy. Moreover, the pontiff undertook the policy unilaterally, dismissing warnings from Jews and other international groups that such action could bring further torture and death to untold numbers. Experts contend that Hitler intensified his persecutions and, by some estimates, rounded up hundreds of thousands more Jews for deportation and, eventually, death in the gas chambers, in direct response to the pope’s condemnations. Critics claim the papal policy based itself on an opportunity Pius saw for enhancing the prestige of the papacy, which had suffered greatly during the prior war. In addition, critics say, the outspoken pope indirectly aided the Church’s greatest enemy, the Soviet Union, whose moral prestige grew as Hitler’s shrank.
“’If the Pope had said nothing,’” says N., author of ‘While Pius Spoke’, “'tens –probably hundreds-- of thousands would have been spared.’”
Likewise the Cardinal Tisserant letter –used by critics of Pius for not having by showing that his own curia was calling for him to “speak out” (obscuring the fact that the letter was written in 1940, before the Holocaust, and that Tisserant himself disavowed the interpretation)– could instead easily be used as prima facie against him for having spoken out, irrefutable proof that he was concerned with the “moral prestige” of the office. Had there been such outspoken actions by Pius XII, one can readily see the grist for a powerful draft of a controversial stage play on culpability for consequences. And, then, eventually, an author coming along, who, viewing papal actions meant to hinder Hitler as actually aiding and abetting him, writes a damning book entitled, say, Hitler’s Pope.
The Disingenuous Digest
The issue suffers from a strong, dominant current of disingenuousness in the sustained criticism of the wartime pope. It is a disingenuousness which ranges from mild to virulent. Sadly, it often finds many critics employing the very same techniques the Nazis used against the Jews –distortions, half-truths, smears, broadbrush generalizations.
We have seen the virulent form in passages from Goldhagen. In its mild form, critics use the simple technique of finding an incident, characterizing the papal response, and then using it to exemplify his silence and, if not to preclude any need to reference all efforts he did make, to minimize or displace them.
One common example is the alleged “support” the Holy See gave to Vichy France's anti-Jewish laws. In fact, it didn’t “support” them at all. The alleged "support" was nothing more than the French Ambassador's claim that "someone in authority at the Vatican" told him that there would be "no quarrel" over the anti-Jewish statutes. This concocted response, however, is cast in such a way so as to leave the deliberate impression that it conveyed Pius XII's official policy, which was compliant to the collaborationists and indifferent to the Jews, despite the fact that the papal Secretary of State firmly and immediately corrected the ambassador's maneuvre --in writing.
Cornwell is, unsurprisingly, even broader. He says Pius XII said nothing on France. The record is quite the opposite. The Papal Nuncio’s protests to Petain against arrests and deportation of Jews were followed a few weeks later by urgent pleas directly from the Pius XII to Laval for “moderation.”188 A year later, the French Nazi press directly blamed Pius for the hostile attitudes of French clergy toward German authorities –citing the “silent” pope’s last speech for having a “disquieting effect.”189
Similarly, to buttress the case against Pius XII, critics will reference this or that incident, often oblique, where he did not act on an appeal, or did so unsatisfactorily, to create the impression of a general policy of inaction, broken only “on occasion.” For example:
“In the spring of 1940, the Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Isaac Herzog, asked the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione to intercede to keep Jews in Spain from being deported to Germany. He later made a similar request for Jews in Lithuania. The papacy did nothing.”190
This writer preferred to ignore the fact that Rabbi Herzog, directly involved in the incident, formed quite a different opinion of Pius XII than she. Expressing his “deep appreciation ... of the invaluable help given by the Catholic Church to the Jewish people in its affliction,” he wrote, “I well know that His Holiness the Pope is opposed from the depths of his noble soul to all persecution and especially to the persecution [of the Jews] ... which the Nazis inflict unremittingly on the Jewish people.” It is, in this controversy, however, preferable to pen the damning words: “The papacy did nothing.”
An example of the forced twisting and distorting of history is provided by this same source: “He knew what the Nazi party stood for, and was elected Pope in 1939 having never condemned any aspect of Adolf Hitler’s ideology.”191
This groundless distortion (Pacelli had "condemned" several "aspects" of Nazi ideology years before they came to power) obviously imparts, among other things, the impression that Pacelli’s election was welcomed in Nazi Germany and greeted with foreboding by all others, especially the Jews. It is a depiction solely designed to malign the subject. It stands completely at odds with the facts.
"The choice of Cardinal Pacelli for the Papacy was welcomed in every country in Europe and in the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Germany. . . . . France, England, and the United States voiced their undisguised satisfaction . . . ."192
The German ambassador to the Holy See had already addressed the Sacred College of Cardinals a week after the Pius XI’s death and made it clear that Germany would view the election of Pacelli very unfavorably. On Pius XII’s coronation, Germany alone refused to send a representative. The Nazi press thoroughly expressed its disapproval. The Berlin Morgenpost openly stated “the election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor.” Das Schwarze Korps said, “As nuncio and secretary of state, Eugenio Pacelli had little understanding of us; little hope is placed in him.”193
But reaction to Pacelli’s election was quite the opposite in Jewish circles. The Canadian Jewish Chronicle said that “The frantic attempt . . . which has been made by Nazis and Fascists to influence the election . . . in favor of a cardinal friendlier to Hitler and Mussolini ... was ultimately foiled.” The Palestine Post said “the cordial reception accorded the election, particularly in France, England and America –and the lukewarm reception in Germany –are not surprising when we remember the large part he [Pacelli] played in the recent papal opposition to pernicious race theories.”194
Disingenuousness is most evident in Cornwell.
For instance, while acknowledging Pius XII brought “comfort and safety to hundreds of thousands” (he cannot get himself to say, “saved 700,000 Jewish lives”) Cornwell, instead, prefers to quote the lone survivor of the Rome roundup: “Pius XII could have warned us. . . . But he was an anti-Semitic Pope, a pro-German pope. . . . He did nothing to save a single child. Nothing.”195
Or, again, regarding the Jews of Rome. Cornwell’s own chronology presents the facts of the Jews in Rome as follows. With no indication of prior warning, (the British had decoded messages of the pending round-up days before but declined to pass them on) the SS rounded up Jews on October 16, 5:30 A.M. A local princess got word of it, rushed to the Vatican, and found Pius XII in prayer. He immediately called Maglione. Cornwell takes the occasion to depict Pius as utterly silent, while Jews in trucks called out for Pius to speak –even astonishing the German counsels by his “silence.”
What he did was take action. Even Nazi-sympathizing Bishop Aloysius Hudal was recruited into the effort. The pope’s diplomatic actions –along with commanding the opening of religious houses as places of refuge– without a doubt, saved the remainder of the Jews in Rome and throughout Italy. Efforts also continued to try to save those already seized, to no avail. To entertain the notion that “speaking out” would have saved them –and not jeopardized others– is sheer nonsense.
Cornwell, always seeking an opportunity to grind his querulous ax, turns the man’s every virtuous act into a hidden fault. A perfect example is the occasion of Austrian Cardinal Innitzer’s enthusiastic and public support for the Anschluss and the Third Reich. Pacelli, “outraged,” summoned him to Rome for a dressing down. But Cornwell, while begrudgingly admitting Pacelli was for once “on the side of the angels”, finds more to fault. He denigrates the act as a “remarkable exercise in centrist power.”196
Such has now become typical of the attitude of denying Pius XII any gratitude for anything. If he was “silent,” then he did nothing. And if he did do something, it wasn’t enough. For if he was able to do something, he was able to do more.
“. . . these successes only highlight the amount of influence he might have had, if he not chosen to remain silent on so many other occasions. . . . . it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Pope . . . Could have done more to save the Jews.”197
Cornwell, too, is exemplary of an entire field of critics who indict him for not “speaking out” yet niggle over papal centrist power. They want to give him voice and take away his power. They accuse him of criminally failing to exercise the very authority which they desire to deprive him of.
Nor is there is no accompanying indignation, for his having been “silent” about America and her racial policies under which Blacks weren’t deemed fit for the Army, Japanese-Americans were interned in prison camps, and anti-Semitism ingrained so deeply at her leading institutions, such as Yale, that presidents matter-of-factly expressed Nazi-like sentiments regarding the Jews. Neither over the Katyn massacre, over which the Allies must have appreciated a papal silence, having succumbed to the Soviet lie –insistently maintained for 50 years– that the Nazis did it, thereby undermining the London Government and sealing the whole post-war fate of Poland. And if Pius XII had “spoken out” when Poland was invaded, should he have included in that speech a denunciation of the perfidious “silence” of Britain and France regarding the solemn commitments they had made to that country only a brief time before?
Critics, too, speak as if there were an unambiguous value to “speaking out.” But it is the very ambiguous value of “speaking out” which is most manifest by the self-contradiction of the leading scholars. Falconi, for example, stated clearly in Silence that open denunciation was not called for and would have done no good. Yet in Popes of the 20th Century, he reversed himself, saying a “resounding protest would have probably lead eventually to an end of the atrocities.”198 (One is left on his own to wonder how, and why.) Before converting to the “resounding protest” camp, Falconi was convinced that a joint denunciation by religious leaders –”strong yet loving”– would be satisfactorily effective. In 1939 Anglican Archbishop Lang had proposed such a joint action, being convinced that “even Herr Hitler would be induced to call in and put a leash upon his inordinate ambitions.”199
One can only wonder how thick one’s rose-colored glasses need be to consider such proposals having any reasonable hope of success. Hitler had already proven he could co-opt every force in the world. Yet we are served the notion that a group of religious leaders, the Pope at their head, ganging up, issuing a collective denunciation –”strong yet loving”– is all that was needed to “leash his inordinate ambitions.”
Other proposals of how the Church could have crushed Nazism are similarly strained. It certainly taxes credibility that a leading historian of the era would have seriously proposed, for instance, that, in the midst of a raging world war, which the German Catholics believe is a “crusade against Bolshevism,” the Pope should have slapped an interdict on them –a measure which hadn’t been used for centuries– and they would have all risen up as one to throw off Hitler. Yet this was scholar Guenter Lewy’s “solution.” As to what government, in the subsequent acrimony and utter chaos –and likely bloody civil war– would take over and have the support and respect of the people, he did not say. We are left to presume that Germany would have gladly welcomed the restoration of Weimar Gridlock.
Cornwell tops them all, however, in treating the report from SS Kommandant Wolf to Hitler regarding the Fürher’s papal kidnap plan, in which Wolf says the Catholic Church “remains firmly unassailed” mostly by “deeply devoted” Italian women.200 Cornwell, stooping to the absurd, has his readers swallowing that fear of devout Italian women kept Hitler at bay! (Elsewhere, Cornwell has us believing that Hitler could have been held back by platoons of women armed with frying pans and rolling pins.)
Nevertheless, there seems to reign the settled conviction that all Pius XII had to do was “speak out” and the tide of evil would have receded. It is, therefore, helpful to temper this notion against the record of results of direct action in situations where deploying the firm “voice of diplomatic pressure” did not always produce positive results.
Falconi’s own account of the tens of thousands of Jews were to be deported from Bratislava in March 1942 provides an example.
“The Minister of Slovakia,” Falconi states, “was summoned on direct orders from Pius XII and asked to influence his government against carrying out these proposals.”201
Then, another 20,000 were designated for deportation. Again, appeal on appeal.
“Despite the Holy See’s intervention,” writes Falconi, “some seventy thousand Jews were evacuated” through 1943.
Similarly, in March 1940, when Pius personally took Ribbentrop to task, face to face, on the issue, “in burning words,” reported The New York Times. Endlosong went undeterred.
Another issue of disingenuousness regards the Allied diplomatic corps. Cornwell depicts them, beginning with British Ambassador Osborne, as putting a full court press on Pius in 1942 to “speak out.” The exchange of letters between U.S. envoy Myron Taylor and his assistant Harold Tittmann, in which Pius XII is accused of “continued silence” and “adopting an ostrich-like policy,” is often quoted.202
But all these, to begin with, convey the false notion that there not only was a consensus regarding the validity of the reports. Cornwell, quite misleadingly in order to magnify Pius’ “silence”, says it was a “matter of world knowledge”203 by June. This is far from true. At that date, the Daily Telegraph was the only one to publish the story. The New York Times was very wary of it. It buried a small report on the back pages weeks later.
Historian Owen Chadwick says that Ambassador Osborne himself had doubts about the reports [though documents which have recently come to light show he was providing Pius with daily reports on atrocities as reported by the BBC]. Sumner Welles was still seeking confirmation of them204 and FDR was only referring to mass deportations for purposes of slave labor. The British Foreign Office flatly refused to publish news of the Holocaust.205 Hebrew newspapers in Palestine were themselves calling the reports “unproven and exaggerated rumours.”206 Even those directly affected, German Jews such as Victor Klemperer, were writing in September of 1942 that there was “no reliable news” and “what had been reported was no more than a suspicion.”207
As to Taylor’s mission, (which Cornwell dramatizes by calling it “hazardous” and requiring an armored car, measures which Rhodes says caused the Germans to “laugh at him”) motives to save the Jews were secondary. Taylor’s express purpose was not to save the Jews.208 It was to enlist open papal support for the Allied cause. The plight of the Jews was a means to that end. Tittmann had cabled Washington in June that “every effort” be made to “disabuse” the Pope that the Allies would accept nothing but “complete defeat” of Hitler.209 To this end, FDR boasted of unleashing “an avalanche of war weapons.”210
Cornwell waves this episode around as an indictment. Again, he stumbles. For the only thing the Taylor meeting proves –in one of his rare uses of ADSS material– is that Pius considered he had “spoken clearly and with great moral force.”211
At any rate, if the Allies had sought a way to prevent Pius XII from ever “speaking out”, they couldn’t have devised a better plan. Any papal statement now would play right into the Allies’ hands, now leagued with their “democratic” “ally”, the Russian Bolsheviks. He could not do this and they knew it.
The disingenuousness of this charge from the Allies is rather appalling, particularly in the light of recently disclosed evidence that “U.S. Intelligence clearly tracked the Holocaust,” and, with British Ultra’s decrypted messages, had clear evidence in October 1943 of liquidation plans, but ignored it and covered it up for 60 years.212 Why didn’t they disclose the evidence? That would have been more effective than anyone, even the pope, “speaking out.”
The British had appeased at Munich, reneged on solemn pledges to Poland, withdrew from a coup against Hitler, abandoned Poland to Stalin, abandoned Yugoslavia to Tito, refused to publish anything regarding the Holocaust, and engaged in a 60-year cover-up, yet they join the chorus blaming the pope for “indifference and apathy” and a “renunciation of moral leadership” for not “speaking out” at once.
Lastly, in a full account of this tragic episode, reference must be made to the role of the Jewish Councils.
The role of these “Judenrat” –leading Jews formed into advisory councils by the Nazi occupiers– has been long known and thoroughly documented. It is simply among those facts not often talked about. A kind of “silence” surrounds them. The majority of voices so actively discussing the issue, so receptive to charges of Pius XII’s “silence”, so willing to escalate the indictment against him to preposterous levels, seem unaware of these organizations and the central role they played in enabling the Holocaust.
It is indeed “painful and controversial,” for the conclusion is inescapable even by those who seek to soften the issue: “the Jewish leadership was progressively induced to tie the nooses around the necks of their own people.”213
It is certainly a matter quite relevant to the issue of Pius XII’s “silence.” For nothing Pius XII did or didn’t do can compare with the role of the Judenrat. His sustained policy of “silence” and “diplomacy” resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives being saved. The Judenrat saved virtually none. It was they who were “responsible for the Jewish police, who physically rounded up deportees, who pushed them onto trains and thus participated in the actual Jewish self-destruction process,”214 handing their brethren to slaughter by the millions.
Formation of the Jewish Councils was essential to the Nazi extermination policy.
The procedure for carrying it out was routine. It was repeated in every city. On the very evening of their arrival, Eichmann and his men invited the Jewish leaders to a conference to persuade them to form a “Jewish Council.”
“Wherever Jews lived, there were recognized Jewish leaders, and this leadership, almost without exception, cooperated in one way or another, for one reason or another, with the Nazis.”215
In many cases, these were people Eichmann already knew. They were often rabbis, or old Jewish associates of Eichmann in the emigration business, as in Theresienstadt. Nor was it a matter of being roughed up, being told to “serve or else.” In Hungary, Hofrat Samuel Stern, himself a member of Horthy’s Privy Council, was treated with “exquisite courtesy” and agreed to head the Jewish Council. Nor was it a matter of ignorance. “We knew very well about the work of the Einsatzgruppen,” Dr. Kastner of Hungary was to testify at Nuremberg. “We knew more than was necessary about Auschwitz.”216
Their cooperation was essential to the unfolding of the Holocaust.
“The Nazis,” says Hannah Arendt, “had regarded this cooperation as the very cornerstone of their Jewish policy.”217 It is not hard to see why.
“Jewish officials could be trusted to compile the lists of persons and of their property, to keep track of vacated apartments, to supply police forces (in Berlin itself, entirely a Jewish police force) to help seize Jews and get them on trains, until, as a last gesture, they handed over the assets of the Jewish community in good order for final confiscation. They distributed the Yellow Star badges, and sometimes . . . made a ‘regular business’ of the sale of armbands. . . . In the Nazi-inspired, but not Nazi-dictated, manifestoes they issued, we can sense how they enjoyed their new power [and] . . . how the Jewish officials felt when they became instruments of murder.”218 They did their job so well, so effectively, that “people volunteered for deportation from Theresienstadt to Auschwitz and denounced those who tried to tell them the truth as being ‘not sane’.”219
If all this were not enough, they even collected money from the deportees to pay for their deportation to death.
Cooperation in the Holocaust didn’t end there. It extended into the death camps themselves. There, “the actual work of killing in the extermination centers was usually in the hands of Jewish commandos.” In Auschwitz and elsewhere they had worked in the gas chambers and the crematories, pulled the gold teeth and cut the hair of the corpses, dug the graves and, later, dug them up again to extinguish the traces of mass murder. In Theresienstadt, not only did they build the gas chambers, but “Jewish autonomy” had been carried so far that “even the hangman was a Jew.”220
While Pius XII is accused of silence “to protect Catholic interests” it is yet to be determined whose interests the Judenrat were protecting when they accepted from the Nazis absolute jurisdiction over their Jewish communities. A rationale was put forward to justify this cooperation –that it saved “some” lives. It is pathetically feeble. Dr. Kastner in Hungary saved exactly 1,684 people. That tallies against approximately 476,000 victims. Yet at Nuremburg the Israeli Attorney General defended his action, saying the remuneration he received he was entitled to.221
We might pause here to recall that Pius XII’s intervention saved hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Critics endeavor to diminish this influence by saying it was effected only by the subsequent concerted action of Western nations. However, those who were close to the events themselves felt quite differently. The action of Pius XII there and elsewhere was strong enough to earn him the thanks from numerous Jewish groups and leaders after the war. It influenced the conversion of Rome’s chief rabbi –an act Cornwell can only decry as “one of Rome’s greatest scandals.”222
But most tragic was the toll of this cooperation. It was, of course, enormous. Arendt says, based on calculations of those on the inside of it, “about half” of the Holocaust victims “could have saved themselves if they had not followed the instructions of the Jewish Councils.” In other words, the Jewish Councils were responsible for, minimally, some 2 million Jewish lives.
VII. TOWARD A CONCLUSION
As we approach a conclusion, there remains the further implication against the Holy See, this regarding involvement in operating “ratlines” for both Ustashe and many notorious Nazi officials.
There are, to begin with, indisputable facts, the main one being that, across the Tiber, one mile from the Vatican, Fr. Dragonovic’s “Croatian Confraternity of St. Jerome”, operated freely. Obviously, it was a central “ratline.” Through it, it should come as no surprise, Pavelic –and the whole Ustashe leadership– got away, scot free. Americans had tracked him down in Rome in the 1940’s, but wouldn’t arrest him, U.S. Intelligent documents alleged, because of his “high contacts with the Vatican” and his arrest would deal a “staggering blow” to the Church.
Nor is it surprising that other Allied intelligence documents provide a “consistent picture” of illegal emigration through Vatican channels. A 1947 State Department document discovered 22 routes –primarily benefiting SS officers like Treblinka commandant Franz Stangl. And through this “ratline” floated Klaus Barbie and Walter Rauf, inventor of the mobile gas-vans which killed 1.4 million Jews, Mengele, Eichmann. In the 1980’s, it was revealed that Vatican religious institutions collaborated in rescuing Nazis and others by channeling them to safety.
Fr. Graham characterized the reports as simply the “situation as the U.S. saw it at the time”, lacking any foundation.223 Yet there were more reports to come. They add up to a damning picture. During the war, the Church in Germany willingly cooperated to the extent of helping sort out Jews from its ranks, justified its actions, and very few offered any refuge at all. Then, after the war, a 1992 report by Church-appointed historians stated, Nazis, such as Paul Touvier, often were hidden in the holiest of places. “Priests, monks, leaders of monastic communities, prelates, even bishops” collaborated in hiding them. Cardinal Albert Decourtray said the report filled him with “sad confusion.”224 That perhaps says it all. “Sad confusion.”
Fr. Graham, the most informed Catholic source regarding this period, could only say that harboring war criminals by religious houses was justified on the basis of their tradition of offering asylum with no questions asked. Is there not a point, one can only ask, however, somewhere in a time period of 40 to 50 years, where “asylum” ceases and “protection” begins?
“There remains,” Vatican journalist Robert Moynihan says, seemingly baffled, “the mystery of the priests and bishops who sympathized with the Nazis.”225 It is not so much sympathy and not so much mystery. It was open assistance. Hudal –rector of a seminary in Rome– hid Stangl. Innitzer –Cardinal Patriarch of the center of the European Catholic world, Vienna– and the Austrian bishops wrote a pastoral in support of Anschluss and Nazism (an action overlooked when, 30 years later, the liberals at Vatican II were clamoring for “collegiality” and power-sharing for episcopal conferences).
The immediate question, however, is: Is this an indictment against Pius XII? No. He issued no directives to “help the Nazis.” But he had issued directives, many of them, to help the Jews.
And if the “ratlines” must be acknowledged, so, too, do the same documents show that Rome was an open sieve for refugees. Italy swarmed with a million refugees. Hundreds per week were crossing the northern passes unimpeded. A whole spectrum of groups, large and small, knowingly and unknowingly, were aiding unsavory refugees (a sizable number who were communist agents), ranging from the International Red Cross, described as “very probably a haven for the passage of agents”; to the Jewish SS group, the Schlosslabers. Nevertheless, the proximity of the Ustashe connection to the Vatican is enough to constantly fuel the tinder of suspicion against a pontificate under which this group was exceedingly indulged for a long time to come.
As to the second question, why did they do it, one does not have to reach too far to see that one simple idea was fused in many minds: Hitler stood up to –he was tough enough to take on– the godless Bolsheviks. It was repeated over and over in ecclesial (and other) circles. For many, very many, that was enough to excuse him of anything. Especially representative of this attitude early on was Bishop Steinmann of Berlin, who, in redressing a German-American newspaper for having criticized his raised arm salute before a parade of Catholic youth, predicted that the future would ingratiate itself to Nazi Germany for having “erected a bulwark against Bolshevism and thereby saved the occident from the Red tide.”226
In general, however, what linked the bishops to the Nazis –more accurately, to the Third Reich– was not “common Christian goals” but the “common ground” of a common national soul, drawing its rationale from Catholic teaching on nations and peoples having their distinct character by divine will. It was not that they endorsed a “master race.” The bishops always clearly opposed that, as Lewy himself points out.227
It was a deep love of nation, a love of one’s people, a love into which the even deeper love of faith and religion had been woven, all but inextricably. The faith had for so long been subsumed into the folds of their culture and nation, one blurring into the other, so that, in professing faith, they were simultaneously believing in their nation. “Race, blood, soil and people are precious natural values which God the Lord has created.” The leaven of evil can disappear in those benign folds.
Yet so fundamental a force is this collective ethnic identity, so instinctive, that very few in its midst were able to see through it. It even swept into its ranks anti-Nazi heroes. Internally, that was the contest they perceived themselves in –not one that stretched beyond these borders to an ultimate battle between good and evil itself, between Christ and an antichrist, but the struggle for the soul of the nation. Thus did Bishop Hudal write a book (in 1937!) for “paving the way to understanding National Socialism from the Christian standpoint.”228 Bishop Berning’s book has already been mentioned.
At any rate, they could only see the total triumph of Nazism if they didn't engage on the nationalist level. (Even the one of the most outspoken Catholic critics of the Nazis, Friedrich Muckermann S.J., held out this hope in the beginning.) Moreover, it was a great advance, they believed, that individualism and liberalism were giving way to authority and bonds of blood, forming a united, ordered community. Thus they sought out –and thought they found– the “healthy core” in National Socialism. The poison could be extracted; the vessel purified. Because they so endeavored to emphasize the “positive” aspects of “race, soil, and blood”, they were incapable, or unwilling, to see how Nazism inherently corrupted these. The bishops could not see that the Third Reich was not –and could never be– the fulfillment of healthy nationalism, but rather an abomination of it. But, as already shown, they were hardly alone.
Of course, the Nazis hardly returned these episcopal extensions in kind. They certainly didn't see them as friends or associates. The Nazi totalitarianism was indeed entirely different from the Bolshevist –it solicited and pressured cooperation with it, and used persecution as both carrot and stick. And in case after case, the Nazis simply played them for fools, never wavering in their intent to destroy the Church. For example, when the bishops supported the Rhineland occupation vote, the Nazis rewarded them by attenuating persecution –for a single month. After that complimentary respite, the mock trials were resumed with greater frequency and intensity. Perhaps, too, the bishops thought that by undergoing the crucible, they would emerge as the purifying force. Adhering to inherent good (that “healthy core”), they were no doubt convinced it would ultimately win over evil. Good always does. (Is that not the foundation stone of faith?)
The manner in which Christians had subordinated to nationalism is borne out by continued witness, throughout the period. We saw in the example of Karl Adam, above. Reinish, to further illustrate, was actually denied Holy Communion by the prison chaplain, “on the grounds he violated his Christian duty by refusing the oath.”229 This certainly is what happened in Croatia as well. And there were real grievances there, recent, yet-unhealed wounds. They had suffered enough. The combination of their nationalism and religion and the zeal to drive the oppressors and 5th columnists from their midst, to cleanse centuries of grievances, drove many –many who were “sons of St. Francis”– into a murderous frenzy.
So widespread was this nationalisitc reflex, so deeply shaping their vision, that even in those who came to oppose Hitler and Nazism, it could be pierced only by the most trying of circumstances.
Carl Friedrich Goerdeler, for example, “co-conspiritor” in the anti-Hitler July Plot, stands out as one of the foremost of these. He came to realize the root of the Nazi distortion slowly and painfully, only in his death cell.
“I stumbled on the fact,” he wrote while awaiting execution, “that in none of his commandments does God make mention of the idea of nation. He binds man to God himself . . . . have we not erred in calling upon the aid of God for national purposes, even those of us who believe firmly and deeply in him? . . . . Is it not possible that with our arbitrary nationalism we have affronted God and practiced idolatry?”230
It is a crucially illuminating point. It finds application beyond the borders of the particular case of nationalism in Nazi Germany, for it serves to demonstrate how severely and fundamentally distorted self-understanding can be. For Goerdeler, it took confinement in a death cell to effect it. And then, he only “stumbled” on it. It may require something equivalent to restore equity in light of the abuse heaped on Pius XII, who now has become, thanks especially to Cornwell, an anti-legend. So thorough has this become that, had the mood prevailed after World War II as prevails now, he, too, would have been tried at Nuremburg –and found guilty. Such a mood did not prevail at the time, however, and anyone making such a suggestion would have been quickly dispatched to the insane asylum. Pius XII was then viewed as an heroic figure, both by those inside and outside the Church.
Yet in many of the voices now making their case against the late Pontiff, one cannot help but detect the stirrings of various underlying motivations, conscious or unconscious, at work. Cornwell's own antipathy toward the Church certainly appears rather flagrant. Hochhuth himself may have been trying to displace his own guilt complex over having served in Hitler Youth by transferring a greater guilt onto to Pius XII.
That the magnitude of horror as occurred in the Holocaust can have occurred on our civilized planet, still has not settled in. For those with no clear grasp on the origin of evil and the legacy of spiritually wounded man., it presents an unsolvable problem. It is inextricable, appearing especially in the guise of good, and stirring the deepest identity and motives of a people. It persistently engulfs us, creeping up on us, in the guise of serving our deepest human needs, even at a magnitude of unprecedented proportions, perceived for what it is by only a few. Diplomacy, pragmatism, and the ways of the world are the reflexive response to it. Quite readily we set aside the moral dimensions, denigrating them as anachronistic dogmas, to accomplish what appear to be inarguable practical goods.
The increasingly shrill denunciations and distortions of Pius XII, though, are troubling at even a deeper level. The desire to find the villain in some holy thing, some holy person, has come into play. This is the level we have reached. It is so troubling because, at this level, one can only wonder if this vicar has become the vicarious.
Who is it, at this level, that is truly being accused of silence? Is it Pius? Or is it God?
1Robert C. Binkley, Rediscovering Nationalism, Harper & Bros., New York, 1935, p. 56.
2John Cornwell, Hitler's Pope, Viking, New York, 1999, p. 294.
3ibid. p 19.
4ibid. p. 295.
5ibid., p. 2.
6ibid., p. 384.
7Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1889-1936, W.W. Norton Company, New York, 1998, p. 461.
8Mother Mary Gallin, German Resistance to Hitler, Catholic University, Washington D.C., 1961, p. 169.
9Guentar Lewy, The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany, McGraw Hill, New York, 1964, p. 8.
10Cornwell, op. cit., p154.
11ibid., p. 159.
12ibid., p. 240.
13Cornwell, op. cit., p. 189.
14William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1960, p. 121.
15Frank Coppa, St. John's University, Journal of Church and State, Autumn 1998, Vol. 40, No. 4, p. 775.
16Carlo Falconi, Popes of the 20th Century, Little Brown and Co., Boston, 1967, p. 254.
17The Catholic Transcript, Hartford, Connecticut, March 23, 1933.
18Lewy, op. cit., p. 20.
19ibid., p. 31.
20Associated Press, November 26, 1989.
21David Schoenbaum, Hitler's Social Revolution, Doubleday Avalon, New York, 1966, p. 42.
22Kershaw, op. cit.,p. 317.
23ibid. p. 408.
24Richard Pipes, Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime, Alfred. A. Knopf, New York, 1993, p. 261.
25Raoul de Roussy de Sales, My New Order, Reynal & Hitchock, New York, 1941.
28Dietrich von Hildebrand, Trojan Horse in the City of God, Franciscan Herald Press, Chicago, 1967, pp. 62-63.
29Theodore B. Hamerow, On The Road to Wolf's Lair, Belknap Press, Harvard University, 1997, pp. 53-55.
30Crane Brinton et al., A History Of Civilization, Prentice Hall, 1967, Vol. II, p. 461.
31Lewy, op. cit., p. 108.
32ibid., p. 166.
33ibid., p. 170.
34The Catholic Transcript, op. cit.
38ibid., July 20, 1933.
39ibid., March 23, 1933.
40Hamerow, op. cit., p.54.
41ibid., p. 152.
42Hamerow, op. cit. , p. 152.
43Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler's Willing Executioners, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1996, p. 115.
44Kershaw, op. cit., p. 432.
45Goldhagen, op. cit., p. 113.
46Saul Friedländer, Nazi Germany and the Jews, Harper Collins, New York, 1997, p. 42.
47Kershaw, op. cit., p. 112.
48ibid., p. 425.
49Jeremy Noakes & Geoffrey Pridham, Documents on Nazism, Viking Press, New York, 1974, p. 178.
50The Catholic Transcript, op. cit., April 13, 1933.
51ibid., July 20, 1933.
52Hamerow, op. cit., p. 135.
53The Catholic Transcript, op. cit., August 10, 1933.
54Cornwell, op. cit., p. 139.
55Lewy, op. cit., p. 107.
56Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews, Hawthorne Books, New York, 1967, p. 99.
57Pipes, op. cit., p. 260.
58Shoenbaum, op. cit., p. 22.
59Wagener, op. cit., p.149.
60Pipes, op. cit., p. 259.
61ibid., n., p. 259.
62Cornwell, op. cit., p. 144.
63Abram L. Sachar, The Course of Our Times, Knopf, New York, 1972, p. 154.
64The New York Herald Tribune, September 22, 1936.
65The New York Times, November 27, 1939.
66Dorothy Thompson, Let The Record Speak, Houghten Mifflin, New York, 1939, pp. 287-289.
67S. Friedländer, op. cit., p. 41.
68ibid., p. 21.
70Eileen Foley, The Toledo Blade, January 2, 2000.
71Lewy, op. cit., p. 65.
72See Rudolf Morsey, The Path to Dictatorship, Doubleday Avalon, New York, 1966.
73Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, Yale/Knopf, New York, 1969, p. 735.
74Kershaw, op. cit., p. 478.
75Noakes & Pridham, op. cit., p. 178.
76Cornwell, op. cit., p. l49.
77Mit Brennender Sorge, 4.
78Thomas Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church, Image Books, Garden City, NY, 1979, p. 402.
79Gordon Zahn, German Catholics and Hitler's Wars, Sheed & Ward, New York, 1962, p. 214.
80Cornwell, op. cit., p. 143.
81ibid., p. 153.
82Lewy, op. cit., p. 87.
83ibid., p. 146.
84ibid., p. 149.
85ibid., p. 153.
86ibid., p. 157.
87Lewy, op. cit., p. 90.
88ibid., p. 91.
89Holborn, op. cit., p. 743.
90Cornwell, op. cit., p. 296.
91See Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death's Head, Coward-McCann, Inc., New York, 1970.
92S. Friedländer, op. cit., p. 39.
93HLI Reports, Human Life International, Front Royal, VA, January, 2001, p. 4.
94Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide, University of North Carolina, 1995, pp. 1ff.
95Hoehne, op. cit., p. 326.
96Otto Wagener, Hitler: Memoirs of a Confidant, Ed, Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., Yale University Press, New Haven, 1978, p. 145.
97See Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of the Dictators, Holt Rhinehart & Winston, New York, 1973, pp. 338-39.
98Lewy, op. cit., p. 166.
99Thomas J. Craughwell, Pius Defenders, Latin Mass Magazine, Winter, 1998, <http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/>
100Goldhagen, op. cit.
101Hermann Rauschnigg, The Voice of Destruction, GP Putnam, New York, 1940, p. 51.
102ibid., p. 41.
103Klaus Fischer, Nazi Germany: A History, Continuum, New York, 1995, p. 359.
104Letter to Herr Gemlich, September 16, 1919.
105Hamerow, op. cit., p. 57.
106Catholic Truth Society, The Persecution of the Catholic Church, Longmans Green, London, 1940, p. 426.
107ibid., p. 431.
108Nathaniel Mecklem, National Socialism and the Roman Catholic Church, Oxford University Press, London, 1939, p.236.
109Shirer, op. cit., p. 354.
110ibid, p. 142.
111Rauschnigg, op. cit., pp. 50-53.
112Catholic Truth Society, op. cit., p. 437.
114Peter Hoffman, The History of the German Resistance, 1933-1945, MIT Press,Cambridge, MA, 1979, p. 14.
115Hamerow, op. cit., p. 54.
116Lapide, op. cit.
117Hamerow, op. cit., p. 136.
118Ernst Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 1979, p. 279.
120Cornwell, op. cit., p. 140.
121ibid., p. 180.
122The New York Times, March 23, 1937.
123ibid., January 2, 1938.
124Dorothy Thompson, op. cit.
125Hamerow, op. cit., p. 302.
126Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Avon, New York, 1971, p. 144.
127Lewy, op. cit., p. 219.
128ibid., p. 257.
129Rhodes, op. cit., p.179.
130The New York Times, op. cit.
131Lewy, op. cit., p. 53.
132ibid., p. 245.
133Hamerow, op. cit., p. 302.
134ibid., p. 392.
135Hoffman, op. cit.
136ibid., p. 134.
137Zahn, op. cit., p. 178.
138Lewy, op. cit., p. 390.
139ibid., p. 117.
140The New York Times, August 28, 1940.
141ibid., July 7, 1941.
142ibid., July 17, 1941.
143Dying We Live, Hellmut Gollwitzer et. al., eds., Pantheon, New York, 1956, p. 41.
144H. Friedlander, op. cit., p. 115.
145Lewy, op. cit., p. 290.
146Hamerow, op. cit., p. 302.
147C. Michael McAdams, Croatia: Myth And Reality: "The Fascist Finders", Edición electrónica de Studia Croatica, 1998, <http://www.studiacroatica.com/libros/mythe/indice.htm>
148Vinko Grubisic, Forward to Yu-Genocide, by Ante Beljo, Northern Tribune Publishing, Toronto-Zagreb, <http://www.hic.hr/books/yu-genocide/foreword.htm>
149Suzanne Brooks-Pincevic, Britain and the Bleiburg Tragedy, Leon Publicatrions, Ltd., Auckland, Australia, <http://www.cronet.com/pincevic.htm>
150Associated Press, December 16, 1998.
151McAdams, op. cit., "All Croatians Were Fascists . . ."
152Dr. D. Pavlicevic, A review of the historical development of the Republic of Croatia, <http://bog.i.hrvati.net/crhistory.htm>
153Rhodes, op. cit., p.324.
154McAdams, op. cit., "Two Million Serbs Died."
155ibid., "All Croatians were Fascists."
156Carlo Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII, Little Brown, Boston, 1965, p. 300.
157ibid., pp. 306-07.
158ibid., p. 267.
159ibid., p. 318.
160ibid., p. 341.
161ibid., p. 337.
162ibid., p. 341.
163William Bole, Religious News Service, March 23, 1986.
164The Chicago Tribune, October 3, 1998.
165U.S. News & World Report, March 30, 1998, p. 37.
166The San Francisco Chronicle, July 4, 1998, p. A8.
167Cornwell, op. cit., p. 255.
168Falconi,op. cit., p. 311.
169ibid., p. 316.
170Newsweek, March 30, 1998.
171ibid., p. 364.
172ibid., p. 365.
173The New York Times, June 3, 1943.
174ibid., December 25, 1941.
175Mitchell Bard, Pius XII: Saint or Sinner? A review of Hitler's Pope, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2000, <http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/reviews/Cornwell.htm.>
176The New York Times, December 25, 1942.
177Cornwell, op. cit., p. 229.
178ibid., p. 236.
179Arthur D. Morse, While 6 Million Died, Ace Publishing, New York, 1968, p. 182.
180The New York Times, April 14, 1937.
181Robert Graham, S.J., What Pius XII Did Or Did Not Do, Inside the Vatican, October 1999.
182Joseph Lichten, A Question of Judgement, Pius XII and the Holocaust, http:<//www.catholicleague.org/pius/
183Rev. Stephen Boyle, Pius XII and the Jews: Greatness dishonored, Homiletic & Pastoral Review, April, 1999.
184Falconi, op. cit., p. 149.
185Robert A. Graham, S.J., op. cit., How to Manufacture a Legend.
188The New York Times, August 6 & 27, 1942.
189ibid., October 2, 1943.
190Shira Schoenberg, Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust, The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 1999, <http://www.us-israel.org/jsource/anti-semitism/pius.html>
192Camille M. Cianfarra, The Vatican and the War, E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc., New York, 1944, p.47.
193Ron Rychlak, The Holy See vs. the 3rd Reich, <http://soli.inav.net/~jfischer/oct98/ronaldrychlak.htm>
195Cornwell, op. cit., p. 318.
196ibid., p. 201.
197Schoenberg, op. cit.
198Carlo Falconi, Popes of the 20th Century, Little Brown, Boston, 1967, p. 261.
199Falconi, Silence, op. cit., p. 102.
200Cornwell, op. cit., p. 314.
201Falconi, op. cit., pp. 59-60.
202Morse, op. cit., p. 18.
203Cornwell, op. cit., p. 281.
204Morse, op. cit., p. 17.
205Mary Fulbrook, The Divided Nation, Oxford University, 1991, p. 117.
206Walter Lacquer, The Terrible Secret, Little Brown, Boston, 1980, p. 75.
207Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness, Random House, New York, 1999, p. viii.
208Rhodes, op. cit.
209U.S. News & World Report, November 15, 1999, p. 44.
211Cornwell., op. cit., p. 287.
212See U.S. News & World Report, July 10, 2000.
213Ronnie S. Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, Ivan P. Dee, Chicago, 1994, p. 156.
216ibid., p. 196.
217ibid., p. 124.
218ibid., p. 118.
219ibid., p. 119.
220ibid., p. 123.
221Karol Gajewski, Inside the Vatican, June/July 2000.
222Cornwell, op. cit., p. 322.
223Bole, op. cit.
224Patrick McDowell, Associated Press, January 7, 1992.
225Robert Moynihan, The Catholic World Report, April, 1992.
226Lewy, op. cit., p. 105.
227ibid., p. 166.
228ibid., p. 165.
230Dying We Live, op. cit., pp. 90-91.