Rabbi David Rosen Speaks on Pius XII and the Holocaust
After hearing this video on Catholic-Jewish relations I looked up Pius XII. I never bought the meme that Pope Pius XII was silent and didn’t do much to save the Jews during the Holocaust. That is revisionist history. Could he have done more? Maybe. Could each of us do more in certain areas of our lives? Yes. Fr. William Saunders answers Did Pope Pius XII Remain Silent? in this article:
To begin to understand Pius XII’s actions during the World War II, we must remember the world in which he lived. Hitler had assumed control of Germany in 1933. In July of that same year, he began not only persecuting Jews but also Christians. He infiltrated the German Evangelical Federation (the Lutheran Church), removing leaders who were opposed to his agenda. Many of these ministers died in concentration camps or prisons, like the famous Deitrich Bonhoffer.
The persecution was even more intense for the Catholic Church. Gestapo agents attended Mass and listened to every homily preached, prepared to arrest any priest attacking or criticizing the regime. Chanceries were searched for any “incriminating” documents. Communication with Rome was limited. Nazi propaganda represented the Church as unpatriotic and hoarding wealth with clerics portrayed as idle and avaricious. By 1940, all Catholic schools had been closed, and religious instruction confined to the Church itself or at home. Meanwhile, anti-Christian teaching was imparted in the public schools.
Please note that the first concentration camp was established in 1933 at Dachau, outside of Munich; this camp was not .so much an “extermination camp” as one for the political prisoners, including priests. At Dachau alone, 2,700 priests were imprisoned (of which 1,000 died), and were subject to the most awful tortures, including the medical experiments of Dr. Rascher.
Such persecution was not confined to Germany. The Church in Poland also suffered severely. During the first four months of occupation following the September 1939 invasion, 700 priests were shot and 3,000 were sent to concentration camps (of which 2,600 died). By the end of the war, 3 million Polish Catholics had been killed in concentration camps. How many other Catholics–priests, religious, and laity—in other countries died for the faith during the Nazi era? CONTINUED
I was really surprised how well Fr. Saunders outlined what Pope Pius XII did to save the Jews. I am really impressed with how much Pope Pius XII did to save the Jewish people during the Holocaust.