'Hitler's Pope' Secretly Aided the Jews: New Book

Pope Pius XII 'oversaw a clandestine operation'

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 9, 2013 3:18 PM CST

(Newser) – A new book is aiming to give "Hitler's Pope" a better place in history, the Guardian reports. Due out next month, The Pope's Jews paints Pius XII as a man who quietly aided Jews during World War II with safe houses and fake documents. According to the book, he oversaw a secret operation that aided thousands of Jews with false baptism certificates and Vatican papers identifying them as Catholics. He also approved a fund for medicine, clothing, and food, while monasteries and convents across Italy sheltered more than 4,000 Jews.

Critics have long condemned Pius XII for his failure to publicly condemn the Holocaust, but he was considered a Jewish savior at the end of the war. Jerusalem's chief rabbi even said in 1944 that Israel will remember what he was "doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters at the most tragic hour." But Soviet criticism, a German play, and a popular book called Hitler's Pope tarnished his image. Now, relying on fresh sources and previously unseen Vatican documents, author Gordon Thomas will throw his book into the ring. Naturally the Vatican is pleased, and is supporting a BBC documentary on the subject.

In this file photo dated Sept. 1945, Pope Pius XII, wearing the ring of St. Peter, raises his right hand in a papal blessing at the Vatican. .
In this file photo dated Sept. 1945, Pope Pius XII, wearing the ring of St. Peter, raises his right hand in a papal blessing at the Vatican. .   (AP Photo, File)
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