Sunday 3 January 2010

Catholics and Jews in World War II again...

Another ill-instructed fellow (hi, Keir!) purports to besmirch the name of good Catholics who risked their lives to save Jews in World War II.

He didn't bother to read the condemnation of Nazi beliefs that the Pope wrote in 1937 in his encyclical letter Mit Brennender Sorge addressed to the Church in Germany.

He didn't read the fruitless condemnation of Nazism that the Dutch Catholic bishops wrote that resulted in the deaths of many more Jews, including all Catholic convert Jews, as a direct result.

He hasn’t read of the decision of Pope Pius XII not to issue condemnations that would only lead to tens of thousands of more deaths but, instead, to organise Europe-wide clandestine operations to save Jewish lives which rescued 860,000 Jews.

He is so quick to condemn those who saved Jews rather than the British and US governments who did so very little to save Jewish lives.

He has not read what Jewish Diplomat, Pinchas a Lapide, wrote about the heroic work of Pope Pius XII in saving Jewish lives.

Pinchas a Lapide, Israeli diplomatic consul in Milan, Orthodox rabbi, and a lecturer at Bar Ilan University, testified in his book The Last Three Popes and the Jews that Pope Pius XII was responsible for saving 860,000 Jews in World War II, more than all other agencies put together.

He did not read about the sacrifices made by Pope Pius XII to obtain 35 kilos of gold to save innocent Roman Jews from execution by Colonel Herbert Kappeler and the SS.

He did not read how this caused the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, to convert to Roman Catholicism, taking the Pope's own name, Eugenio, as his baptismal name.

He condemns a pope who was a prisoner in the Vatican and at the mercy of the Nazi occupiers of Rome and he does so from a position of total comfort and safety, free from danger, long after the war is over and without any experience of life under a totalitarian regime.

He - who doubtless never had to face such challenges – is so ungallant as to condemn those popes who did so much to save Jews at risk to their own lives.

The Venerable Pope Pius XII who, during World War II, was responsible for saving 860,000 Jewish lives

He is so ignorant of the very subject he claims to pontificate about that he is unaware that the Pope who condemned the war-time carpet bombing of civilians was not the Pope at the time but was an Apostolic diplomat saving Jewish lives.

He seems unaware that Angelo Roncalli – who would become Pope John XXIII – played a pivotal role in saving the lives of thousands of Jews while serving as the papal representative to Turkey during World War II.

He seems unaware that Roncalli, on the orders of Pope Pius XII, used diplomatic couriers, papal representatives and the Sisters of Our Lady of Zion to transport and issue baptismal certificates, immigration certificates and visas – many of them forged – to Hungarian Jews to save their lives.

He seems unaware that "Operation Baptism" proved so effective that when the Soviets captured Budapest in February 1945, as biographer Lawrence Elliott wrote, "some 100,000 Jews (200,000 in the whole of Hungary) had been spared".

Blessed Pope John XXIII who, when Apostolic Delegate in Turkey, rescued thousands of Jews in Hungary by issuing false baptismal certificates and passports

He overlooks the fact that Chaim Barlas, who worked closely with Roncalli as head of the Palestine Jewish Agency's Rescue Committee, wrote "Much blood and ink have been spilled in the Jewish tragedy of those years, but to the few heroic deeds which were performed to rescue Jews belong the activities of the apostolic delegate, Monsignor Roncalli, who worked indefatigably on their behalf".

He clearly does not know that the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation asked the Holocaust Museum of Israel to designate Roncalli as "Righteous Among the Nations", an honour reserved for non-Jews who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish Diplomat who co-operated with the Papal Nuncio in Hungary to save thousands of Jews from death

He also seems unaware that Rabbi Simon Moguilevsky, Chief Rabbi of Buenos Aires, called Roncalli "a man truly created in the image of God".

He further seems unaware that successive Israeli governments praised and thanked Pope Pius XII for saving so many Jewish lives.

He even goes so far as to call the saving of 860,000 Jewish lives "inactions during the war", even though Pope Pius XII saved more Jewish lives during the Holocaust than all other agencies put together.

He thinks that "all the rules had been thrown out" in the war so that the Allies were allowed to commit war crimes but, in the same contradictory breath, he condemns those, like the popes, who, unlike the Allied bombing planners, were scrupulous in following "the rules" and in saving the innocent, especially the Jews.

He seems to think that the Blitz gave the Allies carte blanche to commit war crimes in response.

Yet he speaks of the "security of one's home in 2009" and "the context of the time rather than that of generations later" when it is he who, from the safety and comfort of his armchair, claims to sit in judgement upon those who lived under totalitarianism and, whilst preposterously speaking of throwing out "the rules", claims to condemn those saviours of Jews for not risking their own lives even more than they already were.

He claims to find the condemnation of area bombing by popes and Catholics as “rather appalling”.

What shall we say of those who claim to find “rather appalling” the righteous rage of the just against the bombing of innocent civilians, the very same just souls who did more to save Jewish lives than all other agencies put together, particularly when the person finding this “rather appalling” cannot even be bothered, from the complacent comfort of his armchair, to find out the truth despite having every opportunity since he, unlike they, lives in peace, tranquillity and security rather than under a terrorist police state and the constant threat of a horrible death?

When one also takes into account the fact that the UK took very few Jewish refugees and the US took less than 20,000 throughout the whole period of the persecution of European Jewry in sharp contradistinction to the 860,000 Jews saved by the orders and plans of Pope Pius XII, our view of this person claiming to find the Pope and his Church “rather appalling”, whilst ignoring the truly appalling complacency of the Allied governments, is likely to be very dim indeed.

Rabbi Israel Zolli converted to Catholicism as a result of seeing what Pope Pius XII did for the Jews. He took the Pope's name of Eugenio as his baptismal name.

Nevertheless, this is yet further compounded by a deep ignorance which is apparently unaware that the government parties NSDAP and DNVP jointly won 52% of the vote in March 1933 compared to only 11% for the Centre Party so that it was not the Church that abandoned the Centre Party but rather the German people, contrary to the yet further muddled (or worse) view of those who try to blame the Church. After the 1933 election the Centre Party was powerless to stop the Nazis and was inevitably finished whatever the Church might have done. But it is not at all uncommon for the uninstructed to blame the powerless for the faults of the powerful.

In sharp contrast to the German Protestant Church which sold out to Nazism in the form of the Deutsche Christen which produced Hitler's Protestants and the Reich Bishop, Ludwig Muller, the Catholic Church continuously and consistently opposed the Nazi regime, saved more Jewish lives than all other agencies together and suffered direct persecution and the execution of Catholic laymen and priests whose memory some have little or no compunction but disgracefully to defame and besmirch.

Protestant Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller willingly and openly acted as Hitler's Bishop for the Third Reich in marked distinction to the Catholic Church which always opposed the Nazi regime

One hopes that this fellow will now be prepared to revise his view and will avoid making the same mistake twice.

He might even apologise for making such appallingly false accusations against the innocent and the heroic.



Anita Moore said...

Re Rabbi Zolli (who was Chief Rabbi of Rome until his conversion): in his spiritual autobiography, Before the Dawn, Rabbi Zolli expressed admiration for the charity of Pius XII and did in fact adopt the name "Eugenio" in his honor, but denied that he converted because of the Pope; he said that he had in fact been on the road to Catholicism since his youth.

In view of the usual raking up of alleged Catholic war crimes in the wake of the veneration of Pius XII, I plan to repost this:

and add to the list the oft-forgotten Engelbert Dollfuss, the Catholic Chancellor of Austria who squarely and outspokenly opposed Hitler, who responded by having him assassinated. I'll also add Dietrich von Hildebrand, who was from the start an outspoken anti-Nazi and anti-Communist, and founded an anti-Nazi magazine in Austria (financed by the Austrian government under Dollfuss).

umblepie said...

Another superb post, thank you.

Tribunus said...

Thank you both.

Thank you, Anita, for that very useful information. Englebert Dollfuss was indeed a very fine man, as, indeed, was the late, great Dietrich von Hildebrand.

Patricius said...

Thank you for this excellent and fascinating post!