Commentary Magazine


Pius XII, the Jews, and the German Catholic Church

This month, the New York production of Rolf Hochhuth’s play Der Stellvertreter is scheduled to open under the title The Deputy. Because it sharply criticizes Pope Pius XII for never having issued a public protest against the Nazi assault on the Jews, the play has already touched off a heated discussion in Europe, and it is bound to provoke a similar discussion in this country. In the article that follows, Guenter Lewy deals not with The Deputy itself (a review of the New York production will appear in a forthcoming issue of COMMENTARY), but rather with the questions Hochhuth has raised, and particularly with the historical record which must form the basis of any intelligent consideration of these questions.

Mr. Lewy—a new contributor to our pages—was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1923 and came to the United States in 1947. He holds a Ph.D. in political theory from Columbia and has taught both at Columbia and Smith Colleges. His articles have appeared in scholarly periodicals such as the American Political Science Review, Church History, and Social Research, and his book, The Roman Catholic Church and the Third Reich (from which the present piece has been adapted) is scheduled for publication later this year by McGraw-Hill.

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Rolf Hochhuth’s controversial “Christian tragedy,” dealing with the failure of Pope Pius XII to protest publicly against the incredible horrors that Nazi Germany was inflicting upon the Jews of Europe, has dramatized a problem that is as old as Christianity itself. Hochhuth, to be sure, relates this failure to the personality of Pius XII himself, who is portrayed in The Deputy as a cold, unfeeling politician worried only about the interests of the Church. But the truth is that the Pope’s stand cannot adequately be understood in terms of personalities. For one thing, we must remember that the Nazi assault upon the Jews of Europe took place in a climate of opinion conditioned by centuries of Christian hostility to Jews and Judaism. And for another, we must realize that in acting—or failing to act—as he did, Pius XII was to a considerable extent influenced by the behavior of his “constituency” within Germany itself. Consequently, it is with German Catholicism that any effort to explain the Pope’s silence must begin.

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1. The Weimar Period

From the time the National Socialist movement appeared in the 20’s, organized German Catholicism came into repeated conflict with it, but anti-Semitism was not one of the primary bones of contention. On the contrary, many Catholic publicists—like the Franciscan Father, Erhard Schlund—agreed with the Nazis on the importance of fighting “the destructive influence of the Jews in religion, morality, literature and art, and political and social life,” and objected only to the extremist tone of the movement.1* Thus, for example, the Jesuit Gustav Gundlach, writing in a reference work edited by Bishop Buchberger of Regensburg, argued that a political anti-Semitism, directed against the “exaggerated and harmful influence” of the Jews, was permitted so long as it utilized morally admissible means.2 And Bishop Buchberger himself, while deploring racialism, concluded that it was “justified self-defense” to ward off the rule of “an overly powerful Jewish capital.”3

Concentrating her fire upon liberals and free thinkers, many of whom were of Jewish descent, the Church did practically nothing to stem the inroads anti-Semitism was making on German life throughout the period of the Weimar Republic. Though the German bishops during these years spoke up against Hitler’s glorification of race and blood, they rarely found anything specific to say about the virulent anti-Semitic propaganda the Nazis were spreading or about the acts of violence against Jews that were becoming more and more common. So far as individual Catholic clerics in the pre-Hitler years were concerned, the Verein für die Abwehr des Antisemitismus, an organization of Christians and Jews struggling against the rising anti-Semitic agitation, counted two Catholic priests as members of its board of sponsors, while only a few Catholic laymen—like the journalist Franz Steffen and the editor Felix Langer—ever raised their voices against the anti-Semitic tirades of the Nazis and their allies.4

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2. The Pre-War Hitler Years

On April 26, 1933, shortly after coming to power, Hitler had a talk with two dignitaries of the German church, Bishop Berning and Prelate Steinmann. In the course of this talk he reminded his visitors that the Church for 1500 years had regarded the Jews as parasites, had banished them into ghettos, and had forbidden Christians to work for them; he, Hitler said, merely intended to do more effectively what the Church had attempted to accomplish for so long.5

The reaction of the two Church dignitaries to Hitler’s attempt to identify his brand of anti-Semitism with the age-old anti-Judaism of the Church is not known. What we do know, however, is that from the time Hitler came to power all the German bishops began declaring their appreciation of the important natural values of race and racial purity, and they limited their dissent to insisting that this goal be achieved without re-sort to immoral means. The article on “Race” in an authoritative handbook on topical religious problems, edited by Archbishop Gröber, expressed this position in the following words:

Every people bears itself the responsibility for its successful existence, and the intake of entirely foreign blood will always represent a risk for a nationality that has proven its historical worth. Hence, no people may be denied the right to maintain undisturbed their previous racial stock and to enact safeguards for this purpose. The Christian religion merely demands that the means used do not offend against the moral law and natural justice.6

Similarly, in his celebrated Advent sermons of 1933, Cardinal Faulhaber observed that the Church did not have “any objection to the endeavor to keep the national characteristics of a people as far as possible pure and unadulterated, and to foster their national spirit by emphasis upon the common ties of blood which unite them.” To what, then, did the Church object? To hatred of other nations, said Faulhaber, and to setting loyalty to race above the obligations one owed to the Church.7

Faulhaber was severely criticized by the Nazis for these qualifications, and his palace was fired on—a fact which has been taken as proof that German Catholicism actually did condemn the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Yet in the same series of sermons, in his eloquent vindication of the sacred character of the Old Testament (which Rosenberg had attacked as the “Jewish Bible”), Faulhaber went out of his way to make clear that he was not concerned with defending the Jews of his time. We must distinguish, he told the faithful, between the people of Israel before the death of Christ, who were vehicles of divine revelation, and the Jews after the death of Christ, who have become restless wanderers over the earth. But even the Jewish people of ancient times could not justly claim credit for the wisdom of the Old Testament: “People of Israel, this did not grow in your own garden of your own planting. This condemnation of usurious land-grabbing, this war against the oppression of the farmer by debt, this prohibition of usury, is not the product of your spirit.”8

Whatever ambiguity may still have attached to his position after these pronouncements, Faulhaber soon acted to dispel. In the summer of 1934 a Social Democratic paper in Prague published a sermon against race hatred which Faulhaber had allegedly preached. The Basel National-Zeitung in Switzerland reprinted excerpts from this sermon, and the World Jewish Congress at a meeting in Geneva praised the Cardinal’s courageous stand. But the sermon turned out to be a fabrication, and Faulhaber had his secretary write a widely publicized letter to the Jewish organization protesting against “the use of his name by a conference that demands the commercial boycott of Germany, that is, economic war.” The Cardinal, the letter continued, “in his Advent sermons of the previous year has defended the Old Testament of the Children of Israel but not taken a position with regard to the Jewish question of today.” 9

Lesser Church dignitaries quite naturally took the cue from their Archbishop. An article written by a canon of the cathedral chapter of Regens-burg, and published in Klerusblatt, the organ of the Bavarian priests’ association, advised Catholic teachers to point out to pupils that the sacred books of the Old Testament were not only beyond the Jewish mentality but in direct conflict with it. “The greatest miracle of the Bible is that the true religion could hold its own and maintain itself against the voice of the Semitic blood.” 10

The embarrassing fact that Jesus had been a Jew was handled in a similar manner. In a pastoral letter of 1939 Archbishop Gröber conceded that Jesus Christ could not be made into an Aryan, but the Son of God had been fundamentally different from the Jews of his time—so much so that they had hated him and demanded his crucifixion; and “their murderous hatred has continued in later centuries.” 11 Jesus had been a Jew, admitted Bishop Hilfrich of Limburg in his pastoral letter for Lent 1939, but “the Christian religion has not grown out of the nature of this people, that is, is not influenced by their racial characteristics. Rather it has had to make its way against this people.” The Jewish people, the Bishop added, were guilty of the murder of God and had been under a curse since the day of the crucifixion.12

The attempt to swim with the anti-Semitic tide was even more pronounced in the previously cited Handbook of Archbishop Gröber. Marxism here was defined as “the materialistic socialism founded primarily by the Jew Karl Marx,” 13 and Bolshevism was characterized as “an Asiatic state despotism, in point of fact in the service of a group of terrorists led by Jews.” 14 The Führer had correctly described the struggle against this evil force as a defense of European civilization against Asiatic barbarism. “No people can avoid this clash between its natural tradition and Marxism which is opposed to national ties and led mostly by Jewish agitators and revolutionaries.” 15And in yet another article, the Handbook asserted that most of the unhealthy and un-German developments in art since the 19th century had been the work of “the uprooted and atheistically perverted Jew,” or those under Jewish influence.16

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If such language could be endorsed by an archbishop, it is no wonder that lower ranking figures in the Church felt free to express their anti-Semitic sentiments still more openly. Thus the theologian Karl Adam spoke of the need to purge the press, literature, science, and art of the “Jewish mentality,” adding the usual caveat that “the Christian conscience must insist that these legal, ordinances be implemented in a spirit of justice and love.” 17 Thus also an article on the revolution of 1918 in the paper of the Bavarian priests accused the Jew [sic] Karl Liebknecht of treason, and told how “the Jew Emil Barth equipped his Untermenschen [inferior humans] with hand grenades and automatic pistols in order to attack the national defense from the rear.”18

And so it went. The Jews had had a “demoralizing influence on religiosity and national character.” 19 The Jews, as a spiritual community, had brought the German people “more damage than benefit.”20 The Jews had been “the first and most cruel persecutors of the young Church.”21 The Jews had killed Jesus and in their boundless hatred of Christianity were still in the forefront of those seeking to destroy the Church.22

If we take into account this climate of opinion within the Church—all the sentiments just cited were published between 1933 and 1939 in journals edited by priests or in books bearing the Imprimatur—we will find it easier to understand how it happened that the Church retreated in the face of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic legislation, even where these ordinances touched upon vital domains of ecclesiastical jurisdiction such as matrimony.

According to canon law, the Church had exclusive jurisdiction over the marriage of Catholics. In practice, however, the Church in many countries had recognized the right of the state to impose certain conditions on marriage, so long as these did not conflict with natural law. Thus in Germany, the Church had long agreed to the provision that a civil marriage ceremony normally had to precede the ceremony conducted by the priest,23 and this agreement was ratified by the Concordat of 1933 between the Nazi government and the Vatican.

As early as 1934 the Church had made clear to the Nazi government that the enactment of a law forbidding racially mixed marriages would create a very difficult situation. In the eyes of the Church, the German bishops pointed out in a memorandum, every Catholic, whether born to a pure German or to a racially mixed marriage, whether baptized as a child or as an adult, was equally entitled to the sacraments. Hence if two baptized persons of racially mixed stock insisted on being married by a priest, the latter would have to comply, even if the state were to have prohibited such a union.24

This, however, is precisely what the state soon did, for one of the practical results o£ the so-called Nuremberg laws of September 15, 1935, was to make it illegal for two Catholics to marry when one was considered racially “non-Aryan” under the standards set up by the law. (Since the persecution of the Jews had led to many new conversions to the Catholic religion, the number of such marriages was undoubtedly rising at the time.) The central office of information of the German episcopate in Berlin reported in September 1935 that earlier Catholic couples of racially mixed descent had been traveling to England to get married there, but now even those marriages had become illegal, and the Church had a very serious problem on its hands.25 What did she do? In some instances priests circumvented the law by using a provision of the Concordat of 1933 which, in cases of “great moral emergency,” permitted a church marriage without a preceding civil ceremony,26 but by and large the Church conformed to the law, bowing to what earlier she had termed an inadmissible infringement of her spiritual jurisdiction.

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For some elements in the Church, to be sure, bowing was unnecessary, for they actually welcomed the Nuremberg laws. While a distinguished German Catholic in exile, Waldemar Gurian, was denouncing the Nuremberg ordinances as violations of natural law and of the moral teachings of the Church, and declaring that they were “only a stage on the way toward the complete physical destruction of the Jews,”27 an article in the Klerusblatt of January 1936 was justifying the new anti-Jewish statutes as indispensable safeguards for the qualitative makeup of the German people.28 So, too, Bishop Hudal, the head of the German Church in Rome, said that the Nuremberg laws were a necessary measure of self-defense against the influx of foreign elements. The Church in her own legislation, the Bishop contended, had held a radical position on the Jewish question “until the walls of the Ghetto had been torn down in the 19th century by the liberal state first and not by the Church.” Consequently, from the point of view of the Church, there could be no objection to laws containing discriminatory provisions for Jews. “The principles of the modern state [based on the rule of equal treatment before the law] have been created by the French Revolution and are not the best from the standpoint of Christianity and nationality.”29

The Church surrendered in a similar fashion when the so-called Aryan clause was applied to clerical teachers of religion. This ordinance, enacted in 1938, meant that priests teaching religion in the public schools had to submit proof of their Aryan descent before they could continue in their posts. However, the policy in question affected very few clerics and had no further ramifications. Such was not the case when the Church agreed to supply data from her own records on the religious origin of those under her care. A decree of April 7, 1933 which resulted in the discharge of numerous Catholic civil servants, had also provided for the dismissal of all Jews, except veterans of the first World War, from the civil service. Henceforth, anyone applying for government employment—and soon for various other positions as well—had to submit proof that he was not a Jew. Since prior to 1874-76 births had been registered only by the churches, the latter were asked to help in determining who was or was not fully Aryan, for under Nazi law this depended on the racial (i.e., religious) status of parents and grandparents. The Church cooperated as a matter of course, complaining only that priests already overburdened with work were not receiving compensation for this special service to the state.30The very question of whether the Church should lend its help to the Nazi state in sorting out people of Jewish descent was never debated. On the contrary. “We have always unselfishly worked for the people without regard to gratitude or ingratitude,” a priest wrote in the Klerusblatt in September of 1934. “We shall also do our best to help in this service to the people.”31 And the cooperation of the Church in this matter continued right through the war years when the price of being Jewish was no longer dismissal from a government job and loss of livelihood, but deportation and outright physical destruction.32

The bishops sometimes showed concern for these non-Aryan Catholics, for whom the Church felt a special responsibility. Already in September 1933, Archbishop Bertram inquired from the Papal Secretary of State whether the Holy See could not put in a good word with the German government for the Jewish converts to the Catholic religion who were being made destitute on account of their non-Aryan descent.33 Soon the St. Raphaelsverein, a Catholic organization founded in 1871 for the protection of German émigrés, and presided over by Bishop Berning, began to take care of these Catholics. In the years 1936-37 the St. Raphaelsverein helped 516 Catholic non-Aryans to emigrate; in 1938 it facilitated the emigration of 1,850 such persons.34

But what of non-Aryans who were not members of the Catholic faith? During these years prior to the adoption of the Final Solution, a few instances are on record where individual churchmen did speak up in defense of the Jews. In March, 1933, a priest in the Rhineland in a sermon characterized the vilification of the Jews as unjust and was fined 500 marks for abuse of the pulpit.35 In 1934 another priest, who for reasons of safety chose to remain anonymous, took his Church to task for not helping the Jews.36 And yet another priest, in Bavaria in 1936, declared that the stories being told in Germany about the Jews were a pack of lies.37 In Berlin on the morning after the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938, Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg prayed for the persecuted non-Aryan Christians and Jews and added: “What took place yesterday, we know; what will be tomorrow, we do not know; but what happens today, that we have witnessed; outside [this church] the synagogue is burning, and that also is a house of God.”38

There probably were other such statements, and here and there acts of Samaritanism may have taken place that have remained unrecorded. But the Church as such, speaking through the voice of her bishops, extended neither aid nor sympathy to other than Catholic non-Aryans, and remained silent in the face of anti-Jewish legislation, burning temples, and the first round-ups of Jews.

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3. The Final Solution

In a speech delivered on January 3, 1939, the Führer served public notice of his intentions: “If international Jewry should succeed, in Europe or elsewhere, in precipitating nations into a world war, the result will not be the bolshevization of Europe and a victory for Judaism, but the extermination of the Jewish race.”39 A few months later Hitler attacked Poland and World War II began. On July 31, 1941 Heydrich was charged “with making all necessary preparations . . . for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.”40 The machinery of destruction went into action.

It began with a decree dated September 1, 1941 which provided that no Jew was to leave his place of domicile without special permission, and could appear in public only when marked with a yellow star. The idea of marking the Jews had first been applied in Poland, and now the system of identification was extended to the entire Reich. The decree covered so-called Mosaic Jews as well as baptized Jews; only those who had converted before September 15, 1935 (the date of the Nuremberg laws) and non-Aryans married to Aryan partners were exempt.

The wearing of the yellow star had a paralyzing effect upon those who were forced to do so. Many were afraid to leave their houses, and this fear created a special problem for the Catholics affected. In a number of towns these non-Aryan Catholics applied to the police for permission to remove the yellow star while going to and attending church services, and they asked their bishops to support the request.41 Accordingly, Bishops Wienken and Berning in Berlin tried to obtain permission from the Gestapo for the “Jewish” Catholics not to wear the Star of David while in church. But their efforts failed—the Gestapo was adamant.

Meanwhile, on September 17, Cardinal Bertram addressed a letter to the episcopate in which he counseled the avoidance of such “rash measures that could hurt the feelings of the Jewish Catholics as the introduction of special Jewish benches, separation when administering the sacraments, introduction of special services in specific churches or private houses.” The segregation of the Catholic non-Aryans would violate Christian principles and therefore should be avoided as long as possible. (Priests might, however, advise Jewish Catholics to attend early mass whenever possible.) Admonitions to the faithful to exercise brotherly love toward the non-Aryans similarly should be postponed until disturbances resulted; and “Only when substantial difficulties result from attendance at church by the non-Aryan Catholics (like staying away of officials, party members and others . . .), should the Catholic non-Aryans be consulted about the holding of special services.”42

Mass deportations of German Jews to the East began on October 15, 1941. Bishop Berning, in a letter of October 27, informed Cardinal Bertram that while discussing the question of the Jewish star with the Gestapo he had also pointed to the harshness accompanying “the evacuation of the non-Aryans” and had requested some amelioration. He had been told that Christian non-Aryans would be evacuated only in exceptional cases (such as where earlier conflicts with the Gestapo had occurred). For the time being non-Aryans in mixed marriages, would not be affected by these measures.43

The promises made by the Gestapo to Bishop Berning were of course not honored. On October 27, Bishop Hilfrich of Limburg informed Bishop Wienken, the episcopate’s troubleshooter in Berlin, that the transport of Jews from Frankfurt earlier in the month had included Catholic non-Aryans to whom no preferred treatment had been granted. Their fate was especially sad since they were being regarded by their “Rassengenossen” (fellow Jews) as apostates. Hilfrich inquired whether for this reason it might not be possible to secure their exemption; if that could not be done, they should at least be put into special settlements where they could be given religious care more easily.44 Wienken replied a few days later that negotiations in the matter of the deportation of Catholic non-Aryans had been started at the highest level.45 The bishops of the Cologne and Paderborn church provinces, meeting in November 1941, also suggested that the government be petitioned in the matter of the deportations. They furthermore recommended that non-Aryan or half-Aryan priests and nuns volunteer to accompany the deportees in order to hold services for them and provide religious instruction for the children.46

Meanwhile, rumors were spreading about the fate of the Jews in the East. These rumors had been making the rounds ever since the attack upon Russia on June 22, 1941, which had brought in its wake the employment of special detachments (Einsatzgruppen) assigned to the job of machine-gunning Jews. By the end of 1941 the first news had also trickled back about the fate of the deported German Jews who had been shot by mobile killing detachments near Riga and Minsk.47 And in the spring of 1942 the “White Rose,” an organization made up of a group of students and a professor of philosophy at the University of Munich, distributed leaflets telling of the murder of 300,000 Jews in Poland and asking why the German people were being so apathetic in the face of these revolting crimes.48

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In December, 1941, the first death camp began operations near Lodz. Sobibor, Treblinka, and Auschwitz went into operation in the course of the year 1942. By the end of 1942 more than 100,000 German Jews had been sent to their death in the East, and the vague rumors about their fate had been replaced now by hard and persistent reports that included details of the mass gassings. In August, 1942, Colonel Kurt Gerstein, who had joined the S.S. to investigate the stories of extermination for himself, tried to tell the Papal Nuncio in Berlin about a gassing he had witnessed near Lublin. When Monsignor Orsenigo refused to receive him, he told his story to Dr. Winter, the legal advisor of Bishop Preysing of Berlin, and to numbers of other persons. He also requested that the report be forwarded to the Holy See.49 During the same period, other reports about the extermination of the Jews reached the bishops through Catholic officers serving in Poland and Russia.50 For a long time Dr. Joseph Müller, an officer in Canaris’s Military Intelligence Service and also a confidant of Cardinal Faulhaber, had kept the episcopate well informed about the systematic atrocities committed in Poland.51 Another source of information was Dr. Hans Globke, a Catholic and a high official in the Ministry of the Interior entrusted with handling racial matters. It is, then, clear that by the end of the year 1942 at the latest, the German episcopate was possessed of quite accurate knowledge of the horrible events unfolding in the East.

Until 1942 half-Jews and quarter-Jews, the so-called Mischlinge, as well as non-Aryans married to Aryans, had been exempt both from wearing the yellow star and from deportation. (The number of such persons in the Reich-Protektorat area was estimated at above 150,000.52) Though the Nuremberg laws had forbidden marriages between Jews and Aryans, they had not annulled existing mixed marriages. With the progress of the Final Solution, however, this loophole was now to be closed. A conference of experts in March, 1942 decided upon the compulsory dissolution of racially mixed marriages, to be followed by the deportation of the Jewish partner. If the Aryan partner failed to apply for a divorce within a certain period of time, the public prosecutor was to file a petition for divorce which the courts would have to grant.

The bishops heard of the contemplated measure through Dr. Globke in the Ministry of the Interior, and they reacted promptly. On November 11, 1942, Archbishop Bertram in the name of the episcopate addressed a letter of protest against the planned compulsory divorce legislation to the Ministers of Justice, Interior, and Ecclesiastical Affairs. The intervention of the bishops, he insisted, was not due “to lack of love for the German nationality, lack of a feeling of national dignity, and also not to underestimation of the harmful Jewish influences upon German culture and national interests.” The bishops merely felt called upon to emphasize that the duty of humane treatment also existed toward the members of other races. Among the persons affected by the contemplated measure, Bertram went on, were many thousands of Catholics whose marriages, according to Catholic doctrine, were indissoluble. Respect for the religious rights of the Catholic Christians was an indispensable condition for the peaceful cooperation of Church and State, which had never been as necessary as in the present situation. The bishops therefore hoped, the letter ended, that the government would withdraw the planned divorce ordinance.53

Despite the fact that the ordinance was still tied up in bureaucratic difficulties, the Gestapo in February 1943, in the course of deporting the last German Jews, seized several thousand Christian non-Aryans, partners of mixed marriages. In Berlin alone about 6,000 such men were arrested on February 27. But then something unexpected and unparalleled happened: their Aryan wives followed them to the place of temporary detention and there they stood for several hours screaming and howling for their men. With the secrecy of the whole machinery of destruction threatened, the Gestapo yielded, and the non-Aryan husbands were released.54

A few days after this unique event Bertram composed another letter. This time he also sent copies to the chief of the Reich Chancellery and to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), Himmler’s headquarters. About 8,000 non-Aryan Catholics, Bertram complained, had been seized and deported. The episcopate could not silently accept these measures. He then repeated what he had said in November 1942 about the illegitimacy of compulsory divorce.55 On April 16 Bishop Prey-sing informed his fellow bishops that the contemplated divorce decree was soon to be made public. He urged that for the time being the matter be treated as strictly confidential; but in the event that the order should be issued, a statement drawn up by Bertram was to be read from the pulpits. The statement reaffirmed the indissolubility of Christian marriage and the validity of this principle even in the case of racially mixed marriages, and it asked for prayer for the unfortunates affected by the decree.56

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About two months later Preysing sent word to his colleagues through a messenger that the threatened decree had been postponed. The bishops were asked to write letters to all the ministries; they should inquire in strong language as to the whereabouts of the deportees, demanding pastoral care for the Christians and threatening a public protest. The point of departure should be concern for the Christian Jews, “but beyond this one should speak clearly about the outrages inflicted upon the Jews generally.”57 We do not know how many bishops acted upon Preysing’s request.

In November 1943, Bertram sent out another appeal in the name of the entire episcopate to the Minister of the Interior and the RSHA. The episcopate, he wrote, had received information according to which the non-Aryans evacuated from Germany were living in camps under conditions that would have to be called inhuman. A large number of the sufferers had already succumbed. “In view of the reputation of the German name at home and abroad,” and in view of the commands of the Christian moral law concerning the duties owed fellow men even of foreign races, the bishops considered it necessary to plead for an amelioration of conditions in these camps. In particular, Bertram continued, the bishops wished to demand the benefit of pastoral care for the imprisoned Catholics. The episcopate would gladly designate priests for divine services and the administration of the sacraments in the camps.58

Bertram’s letter neither employed strong language nor said anything very definite about the outrages against the Jews, as Bishop Preysing had suggested. Such vagueness was typical of the few public pronouncements the bishops made on this matter in the years following the adoption of the Final Solution. They spoke of the right to life and liberty, not to be denied even those “who are not of our blood,” 59 to “men of foreign races and descent,” and to “the resettled,”60 but the word “Jew” never once appeared in any of these documents.

In his next and last letter to the government, dispatched in January 1944, Bertram wrote that reports had been received to the effect that measures which had previously been applied only to Jews were now to be applied also to the Mischlinge. These Christians had already been barred from military service and institutions of higher learning, but now, it seemed, they were to be conscripted into special formations for labor service. “All these measures,” Bertram continued, “aim clearly at segregation, at the end of which extermination threatens.” In the name of the episcopate he felt obligated to point out that any change in the meaning of the term “Jew”—when the Nuremberg statutes had been accepted as the final word on this question for almost ten years—would seriously undermine confidence in the law. The Mischlinge were Germans and Christians and had always been rejected by the Jews. “The German Catholics, indeed numerous Christians in Germany,” Bertram warned, “would be deeply hurt if these fellow Christians now had to meet a fate similar to that of the Jews.” The bishops would not be able to reconcile it with their conscience to remain silent in the face of such measures.61

As against the case of the euthanasia program of the early war years, then—when the episcopate did not mince words and succeeded in putting a stop to the killings—the bishops continually played it safe where the Jews were concerned. Such public protests as they did register could, indeed, have been seen as referring to the Jews, but any Catholic who chose to interpret them otherwise (as referring, say, only to Slavs) was left free to do so. Close to half the population of the Greater German Reich (43.1 per cent in 1939) was Catholic, and even among the S.S., despite all pressures to leave the Church, almost a fourth (22.7 per cent on December 31, 1938)62 belonged to the Catholic faith. Yet while the episcopate had in the past issued orders to deny the sacraments to Catholics who engaged in dueling or agreed to have their bodies cremated, the word that would have forbidden the faithful, on pain of excommunication, to go on participating in the massacre of the Jews was never spoken. And so Catholics went on participating conscientiously, along with other Germans.

There was, however, at least one Catholic churchman in Germany for whom the Christian duty to love one’s neighbor amounted to more than a pious formula—the sixty-six-year-old Provost Lichtenberg of Berlin, who, right through the stepped-up anti-Semitic agitation, continued to say a daily prayer for the Jews. He was finally arrested on October 23, 1941, a week after the first of the mass deportation of Jews had begun. During questioning by Himmler’s henchmen, the Provost asserted that the deportation of the Jews was irreconcilable with the Christian moral law, and asked to be allowed to accompany the deportees as their spiritual adviser. Sentenced to two years imprisonment for abuse of the pulpit, Lichtenberg was seized by the Gestapo upon his release in October, 1943, and shipped off to the concentration camp at Dachau. He died during the transport on November 5, 1943.63

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The passivity of the German episcopate in the face of the Jewish tragedy stands in marked contrast to the conduct of the French, Belgian, and Dutch bishops. In Holland, where the Church as early as 1934 had prohibited the participation of Catholics in the Dutch Nazi movement, the bishops in 1942 immediately and publicly protested the first deportations of Dutch Jews,64 and in May 1943, they forbade the collaboration of Catholic policemen in the hunting down of Jews even at the cost of losing their jobs.65 In Belgium members of the episcopate actively supported the rescue efforts of their clergy, who hid many hundreds of Jewish children.66 And in France, the highest dignitaries of the Church repeatedly used their pulpits to denounce the deportations and to condemn the barbarous treatment of the Jews.67

Throughout Western Europe untold numbers of priests and members of the monastic clergy organized the rescue of Jews, hid them in monasteries, parish houses, and private homes. Many lay Catholics in France, Holland, and Belgium acted in a similar fashion, thus saving thousands of Jewish lives. The concern of the Gentile populations of these countries for their Jewish fellow-citizens was undoubtedly one of the key factors behind the bold public protests of the French, Dutch, and Belgian bishops—just as the absence of such solicitude in Germany goes a long way toward explaining the apathy of their German counterparts. In France, Belgium, and Holland, declarations of solidarity and help for the Jews were almost universally regarded as signs of patriotism; in Germany, on the other hand, the bishops in so acting would have incurred new charges of being un-German and of being in league with Germany’s mortal enemies. Their own parishioners, moreover, would probably have failed to understand or support any signs of sympathy for the Jews—whom the Church, after all, had herself long been branding as a harmful factor in German life. Consequently, at the very moment when the bishops might perhaps have wanted to protest the inhuman treatment of the Jews, they found themselves the prisoners of their own anti-Semitic teachings.

Indeed, in Germany only a handful of Jews were hidden by the clergy or otherwise helped by them in their hour of distress.68 In Freiburg there was Dr. Gertrud Luckner, an official of the Caritas (the large Catholic philanthropic organization) who helped Jews get across the Swiss border, sent packages to deportees, and distributed money from a special fund established by the episcopate for non-Aryans. She was arrested in November 1943, while trying to bring a sum of money to the few remaining Jews in Berlin and spent the rest of the war in a concentration camp.69 A few cases are also recorded of individual Catholics hiding and saving Jews,70 but only in Berlin did a significant number of Jews find refuge with friends and neighbors; according to Provost Grüber, most of these courageous people were workers, many of them were unconnected with any church.71

There were, then, exceptions, but the overall picture was one of indifference and apathy. “Among the Christians,” a group of German Protestant and Catholic theologians concluded in 1950, “a few courageously helped the persecuted, but the large majority failed disgracefully in the face of this unheard-of provocation of the merciful God.”72

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4. The Role of the Papacy

In April 1933 a communication reached Pope Pius XI from Germany expressing grave concern over the Nazis’ anti-Semitic aims and requesting the Supreme Pontiff to issue an encyclical on the Jewish question. The letter was written by the philosopher Dr. Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism and later known as Sister Teresia Benedicta a Cruce of the Order of the Carmelites.73 Edith Stein’s request was not granted and nine years later, in August 1942, she was seized by the Gestapo from a Dutch monastery in which she had sought refuge, and sent to Auschwitz to be gassed. The debate over whether the Papacy could have prevented or should at least have vigorously protested the massacre of the Jews of Europe, of which Edith Stein was one of the victims, has been going on ever since and has acquired new vigor as a result of the Hochhuth play.

In response to Hitler’s anti-Semitic drive, Pius XII’s predecessor, Pius XI, like the German episcopate, seems to have limited his concern to Catholic non-Aryans. At the request of Cardinal Bertram, the Papal Secretary of State in September 1933 put in “a word on behalf of those German Catholics” who were of Jewish descent and for this reason suffering “social and economic difficulties.” 74 In the years that followed the Holy See often took issue with the Nazis’ glorification of race, but the Jewish question specifically was never discussed. In 1934 the influential Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica, published in Rome and traditionally close to Vatican thinking, noted with regret that the anti-Semitism of the Nazis “did not stem from the religious convictions nor the Christian conscience . . ., but from . . . their desire to upset the order of religion and society.” The Civiltà Cattolica added that “we could understand them, or even praise them, if their policy were restricted within acceptable bounds of defense against the Jewish organizations and institutions . . . “75 In 1936 the same journal published another article on the subject, emphasizing that opposition to Nazi racialism should not be interpreted as a rejection of anti-Semitism, and arguing—as the magazine had done since 1890—that the Christian world (though without unchristian hatred) must defend itself against the Jewish threat by suspending the civic rights of Jews and returning them to the ghettos.76

Pius XI’s encyclical “Mit brennender Sorge” of March 1937 rejected the myths of race and blood as contrary to revealed Christian truth, but it neither mentioned nor criticized anti-Semitism per se. Nor was anti-Semitism mentioned in the statement of the Roman Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, issued on April 13, 1938 and attacking as erroneous eight theses taken from the arsenal of Nazi doctrine.77 On September 7, 1938, during a reception for Catholic pilgrims from Belgium, Pius XI is said to have condemned the participation of Catholics in anti-Semitic movements and to have added that Christians, the spiritual descendants of the patriarch Abraham, were “spiritually Semites.” But this statement was omitted by all the Italian papers, including L’Osservatore Romano, from their account of the Pope’s address.78

The elevation of Cardinal Pacelli to the Papacy in the spring of 1939 brought to the chair of St. Peter a man who, in contrast to his predecessor, was unemotional and dispassionate, as well as a master of the language of diplomatic ambiguity. “Pius XII,” recalls Cardinal Tardini, “was by nature meek and almost timid. He was not born with the temperament of a fighter. In this he was different from his great predecessor.”79 But whether, as Hochhuth has speculated, Pius XI would have reacted to the massacre of the Jews during World War II differently from Pacelli, is a question to which no definite answer is possible.

That the Holy See had no intrinsic objection to a policy of subjecting the Jews to discriminatory legislation again became clear when in June 1941 Marshal Pétain’s Vichy government introduced a series of “Jewish statutes.” The Cardinals and Archbishops of France made known their strong disapproval of these measures, but Léon Bérard, the Vichy ambassador at the Holy See, was able to report to Pétain after lengthy consultations with high Church officials that the Vatican did not consider such laws in conflict with Catholic teaching. The Holy See merely counseled that no provisions on marriage be added to the statutes and “that the precepts of justice and charity be considered in the application of the law.”80 In August 1941 the consequences of this discriminatory policy could not yet be clearly seen, but when mass deportations from France got under way in 1942, the Papal Nuncio, without invoking the authority of the Holy See, requested Laval to mitigate the severity of the measures taken against the Jews of Vichy France.81By that time, however, such pleas could no longer halt the machinery of destruction.

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Meanwhile, there was growing criticism of the Pope’s failure to protest publicly against Nazi atrocities, and especially against the murder of the Jews in the Polish death factories. In July 1942, Harold H. Tittmann, the assistant to Roosevelt’s personal representative at the Holy See, Myron C. Taylor, pointed out to the Vatican that its silence was “endangering its moral prestige and is undermining faith both in the Church and in the Holy Father himself.” 82 In September 1942, after authorization by Secretary of State Hull, Tittmann and several other diplomatic representatives at the Vatican formally requested that the Pope condemn the “incredible horrors” perpetrated by the Nazis. A few days later Taylor forwarded to the Papal Secretary of State, Luigi Maglione, a memorandum from the Jewish Agency for Palestine reporting mass executions of Jews in Poland and occupied Russia, and telling of deportations to death camps from Germany, Belgium, Holland, France, Slovakia, etc. Taylor inquired whether the Vatican could confirm these reports, and if so, “whether the Holy Father has any suggestions as to any practical manner in which the forces of civilized opinion could be utilized in order to prevent a continuation of these barbarities.” 84 On October 10 the Holy See, in reply to Taylor’s note, said that up to the present time it had not been possible to verify the accuracy of reports concerning the severe measures that were being taken against the Jews. “It is well known,” the statement added, “that the Holy See is taking advantage of every opportunity offered in order to mitigate the suffering of non-Aryans.” 84

After the Western Allies in December 1942 had vigorously denounced the cold-blooded extermination of the Jews, Tittmann again asked the Papal Secretary of State whether the Holy See could not issue a similar pronouncement. Maglione answered that the Holy See, in line with its policy of neutrality, could not protest particular atrocities and had to limit itself to condemning immoral actions in general. He assured Tittmann that everything possible was being done behind the scenes to help the Jews.85

Two days later, in the course of a lengthy Christmas message broadcast by the Vatican radio, Pope Pius made another of his many calls for a more humane conduct of hostilities. Humanity, the Pope declared, owed the resolution to build a better world to “the hundreds of thousands who without personal guilt, sometimes for no other reason but on account of their nationality or descent, were doomed to death or exposed to a progressive deterioration of their condition.”86Again, addressing the Sacred College of Cardinals in June 1943, the Pontiff spoke of his twofold duty to be impartial and to point up moral errors. He had given special attention, he recalled, to the plight of those who were still being harassed because of their nationality or descent and who without personal guilt were subjected to measures that spelled destruction. Much had been done for the unfortunates that could not be described yet. Every public statement had had to be carefully weighed “in the interest of those suffering so that their situation would not inadvertently be made still more difficult and unbearable.” Unfortunately, Pius XII added, the Church’s pleas for compassion and for the observance of the elementary norms of humanity had encountered doors “which no key was able to open.” 87

The precise nature of these interventions has not been revealed to this day. We do know, however, that Nuncio Orsenigo in Berlin made inquiries several times about mass shootings and the fate of deported Jews. (Ernst Woermann, the director of the Political Department of the German Foreign Ministry, recorded on October 15, 1942 that the Nuncio had made his representation with “some embarrassment and without emphasis.” 88) State Secretary Weizsäcker told Monsignor Orsenigo on another such occasion that the Vatican had so far conducted itself “very cleverly” in these matters, and that he would hope for a continuation of this policy. The Nuncio took the hint and “pointed out that he had not really touched this topic and that he had no desire to touch it.”89

The Pope’s policy of neutrality encountered its most crucial test when the Nazis began rounding up the 8,000 Jews of Rome in the fall of 1943. Prior to the start of the arrests, the Jewish community was told by the Nazis that unless it raised 50 kilograms of gold (the equivalent of $56,000) within 36 hours, 300 hostages would be taken. When it turned out that the Jews themselves could only raise 35 kgs., the Chief Rabbi, Israel Zolli, asked for and received a loan from the Vatican treasury to cover the balance. The Pope approved of this transaction.90But the big question in everyone’s mind was how the Supreme Pontiff would react when the deportation of the Jews from the Eternal City began.

The test came on the night of October 15/16. While the round-up was still going on, a letter was delivered to General Stahel, the German military commander of Rome. Bearing the signature of Bishop Hudal, the head of the German Church in Rome, it said:

I have just been informed by a high Vatican office in the immediate circle of the Holy Father that the arrests of Jews of Italian nationality have begun this morning. In the interest of the good relations which have existed until now between the Vatican and the high German military command . . . I would be very grateful if you would give an order to stop these arrests in Rome and its vicinity right away; I fear that otherwise the Pope will have to make an open stand which will serve the anti-German propaganda as a weapon against us.91

A day later, Ernst von Weizsäcker, the new German Ambassador at the Holy See, reported to Berlin that the Vatican was upset, especially since the deportations had taken place, as it were, right under the Pope’s window:

The people hostile to us in Rome are taking advantage of this affair to force the Vatican from its reserve. People say that the bishops of French cities, where similar incidents occurred, have taken a firm stand. The Pope, as supreme head of the Church and Bishop of Rome, cannot be more reticent than they. They are also drawing a parallel between the stronger character of Pius XI and that of the present Pope.92

Contrary to Hudal’s and Weizsäcker’s apprehensions, however, the man in the Vatican palace remained silent. On October 18, over one thousand Roman Jews—more than two-thirds of them women and children—were shipped off to the killing center of Auschwitz. Fourteen men and one woman returned alive. About 7,000 Roman Jews—that is, seven out of eight—were able to elude their hunters by going into hiding. More than 4,000, with the knowledge and approval of the Pope, found refuge in the numerous monasteries and houses of religious orders in Rome,93 and a few dozen were sheltered in the Vatican itself. The rest were hidden by their Italian neighbors, among whom the anti-Jewish policy of the Fascists had never been popular. But for the Germans, overwhelmingly relieved at having averted a public protest by the Pope, the fact that a few thousand Jews had escaped the net was of minor significance. On October 28 Ambassador Weizsäcker was able to report:

Although under pressure from all sides, the Pope has not let himself be drawn into any demonstrative censure of the deportation of Jews from Rome. Although he must expect that his attitude will be criticized by our enemies and exploited by the Protestant and Anglo-Saxon countries in their propaganda against Catholicism, he has done everything he could in this delicate matter not to strain relations with the German government, and German circles in Rome. As there is probably no reason to expect other German actions against the Jews of Rome, we can consider that a question so disturbing to German-Vatican relations has been liquidated.

In any case, an indication for this state of affairs can be seen in the Vatican’s attitude. L’Osservatore Romano has in fact prominently published in its issue of October 25-26, an official communiqué on the Pope’s charitable activities. The communiqué, in the Vatican’s distinctive style, that is, very vague and complicated, declares that all men, without distinction of nationality, race, or religion, benefit from the Pope’s paternal solicitude. The continual and varied activities of Pius XII have probably increased lately because of the greater sufferings of so many unfortunates.

There is less reason to object to the terms of this message . . . as only a very small number of people will recognize in it a special allusion to the Jewish question.94

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Since the end of World War II, Pius XII has often been criticized for his silence. It has been argued—and most recently by Hochhuth—that the Pope could have saved numerous lives, if indeed he could not have halted the machinery of destruction altogether, had he chosen to take a public stand, and had he confronted the Germans with the threat of an interdict or with the excommunication of Hitler, Goebbels, and other leading Nazis belonging to the Catholic faith. As examples of the effectiveness of public protests, it is possible to cite the resolute reaction of the German episcopate to the euthanasia program. Also, in Slovakia, Hungary, and Rumania, the forceful intervention of Papal nuncios, who threatened the Quisling governments with public condemnation by the Pope, was able, albeit temporarily, to stop the deportations.95 At the very least, it has been suggested, a public denunciation of the mass murders by Pius XII, broadcast widely over the Vatican radio, would have revealed to Jews and Christians alike what deportation to the East actually meant. The Pope would have been believed, whereas the broadcasts of the Allies were often shrugged off as war propaganda. Many of the deportees who accepted the assurances of the Germans that they were merely being resettled, might thus have been warned and given an impetus to escape; many more Christians might have helped and sheltered Jews, and many more lives might have been saved.

There exists, of course, no way of definitively proving or disproving these arguments. Whether a papal decree of excommunication against Hitler would have dissuaded the Fuhrer from carrying out his plan to destroy the Jews is very doubtful, and revocation of the Concordat by the Holy See would have bothered Hitler still less. However, a flaming protest against the massacre of the Jews coupled with an imposition of the interdict upon all of Germany or the excommunication of all Catholics in any way involved with the apparatus of the “Final Solution” would have been a more formidable and effective weapon. Yet this was precisely the kind of action which the Pope could not take without risking the allegiance of the German Catholics. Given the indifference of the German population toward the fate of the Jews and the highly ambivalent attitude of the German hierarchy toward Nazi anti-Semitism, a forceful stand by the Supreme Pontiff on the Jewish question might well have led to a large-scale desertion from the Church. When Dr. Edoardo Senatro, the correspondent of L’Osservatore Romano in Berlin, asked Pius XII whether he would not protest the extermination of the Jews, the Pope is reported to have answered, “Dear friend, do not forget that millions of Catholics serve in the German armies. Shall I bring them into conflicts of conscience?” 96 The Pope knew that the German Catholics were not prepared to suffer martyrdom for their Church; still less were they willing to incur the wrath of their Nazi rulers for the sake of the Jews, whom their own bishops for years had castigated as a harmful influence in German life. In the final analysis, then, “the Vatican’s silence only reflected the deep feeling of the Catholic masses of Europe.” 97

Some Catholic writers have suggested that a public protest by the Pope would not only have been unsuccessful in helping the Jews but might have caused additional damage—to the Jews, to the Mischlinge, to the Church, to the territorial integrity of the Vatican, and to Catholics in all of Nazi-occupied Europe. So far as the Jews are concerned, it is tempting to dismiss this argument by asking what worse fate could possibly have befallen them than the one that actually did. But in any case, the Catholic bishops of Holland tried the gamble and failed. In July 1942, together with the Protestant Churches, they sent a telegram of protest against the deportation of the Dutch Jews to the German Reichskommissar (commissioner) and threatened to make their protest public unless the deportations were halted. The Germans responded by offering to exempt from deportation non-Aryans converted to Christianity before 1941 if the churches agreed to remain silent. The Dutch Reformed Church accepted the bargain, but the Catholic Archbishop of Utrecht refused and issued a pastoral letter in which he denounced the wrong done to the Jews. The Germans retaliated by seizing and deporting all the Catholic non-Aryans they could find, among them Edith Stein.98 There was thus some basis for the fear that a public protest, along with any good that could come of it, might make some things worse, if not for the Jews, at least for the Mischlinge and the Catholics themselves.

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The pope had other, perhaps still weightier, reasons for remaining silent. As Mr. Tittmann was told by highly placed officials of the Curia, the Holy See did not want to jeopardize its neutrality by condemning German atrocities, and the Pope was unwilling to risk later charges of having been partial and contributing to a German defeat.99 Moreover, the Vatican did not wish to undermine and weaken Germany’s struggle against Russia. In the late summer of 1943, the Papal Secretary of State declared that the fate of Europe depended upon a German victory on the Eastern front; 100 and Father Robert Leiber, one of Pius XII’s secretaries, recalls that the late Pope had always looked upon Russian Bolshevism as more dangerous than German National Socialism.101

Finally, one is inclined to conclude that the Pope and his advisors—influenced by the long tradition of moderate anti-Semitism so widely accepted in Vatican circles—did not view the plight of the Jews with a real sense of urgency and moral outrage. For this assertion no documentation is possible, but it is a conclusion difficult to avoid. Pius XII broke his policy of strict neutrality during World War II to express concern over the German violation of the neutrality of Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg in May 1940. When some German Catholics criticized him for this action, the Pope wrote the German bishops that neutrality was not synonymous “with indifference and apathy where moral and humane considerations demanded a candid word.”102 All things told, did not the murder of several million Jews demand a similarly “candid word”?

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Footnotes

1 Erhard Schlund, O.F.M., Katholizismus und Vaterland (Munich, 1923), pp. 32-33.

2 Gustav Gundlach, S.J., “Antisemitismus,” Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, 2nd rev. ed. (Freiburg, Br., 1930), I, 504. The new edition of this work, published after the downfall of Nazism, has replaced this article by one that condemns all types of anti-Semitism.

3 Michael Buchberger, Gibt es noch eine Rettung? (Reg-ensburg, n.d. [1931]), pp. 97-98.

4 Franz Steffen, Antisemitische und deutschvölkische Bewegung im Lichte des Katholizismus (Berlin, 1925); Felix Langer, Der “Judenspiegel” des Dr. Justus kritisch beleuchtet (Leipzig, 1921).

5 Memorandum of unknown authorship, Documents on German Foreign Policy, Series C, Vol. I, doc. 188, p. 347.

6 Article “Rasse” in Konrad Gröber, ed., Handbuch der religiösen Gegenwartsfragen, (Freiburg, Br., 1937), p. 536.

7 Sermon of December 31, 1933, in Michael Faulhaber, Judaism, Christianity and Germany, trans. George D. Smith (London, 1934), p. 107.

8 Sermon of December 17, 1933, ibid., pp. 68-69.

9 Amtsblatt für die Erzdiozese München und Freising, November 15, 1934, supplement.

10 J. Scherm, “Der alttestamentliche Bibelunterricht: Planungen und Wegweisungen,” Klerusblatt, XX (1939), p. 225.

11 Pastoral letter of January 30, 19S9, Amtsblatt für die Erzdiözese Freiburg, no. S, February 8, 1939, p. 15.

12 Pastoral letter for Lent 1939, Amtsblatt des Bistums Limburg, no. 1, February 6, 1939, pp. 1-8.

13 Article “Marxismus,” Gröber, Handbuch der religiösen Gegenwartsfragen, p. 404.

14 Article “Bolschewismus,” ibid., p. 86.

15 Ibid., p. 87.

16 Article “Kunst,” ibid., p. 372.

17 Karl Adam, “Deutsches Volkstum und Katholisches Christentum,” Theologische Quartalschrift, CXIV (1933), pp. 60-62.

18Vor 17 Jahren: Marxismus uber Deutschland,” Klerusblatt, XVI (1935), pp. 785-788.

19 F. Schühlein, “Geschichte der Juden,” Lexikon fur Theologie und Kirche, 2nd ed. (Freiburg, Br., 1933), V, p. 687.

20 Gustav Lehmacher, S.J., “Rassenwerte,” Stimmen der Zeit, CXXVI (1933), p. 81.

21Verdient die katholische Kirche den Namen “Judenkirche't”, Klerusblatt, XVIII (1937), p. 542.

22 Theodor Bogler, O.S.B., Der Glaube von gestern und heute (Cologne, 1939), p. 150.

23 Erwin Roderich Kienitz, Christliche Ehe: Eine Darstellung des Eherechts und der Ehemoral der katholischen Kirche für Seelsorger und Laien (Munich, 1938), pp. 47-54.

24 Denhschrift über die Reform des Deutschen Strafrechtes, mimeographed, 39 pp., copy in Diocesan Archives Passau.

25 Circular letter of the “Kirchliche Informationsstelle der Bischöflichen Behörden Deutschlands,” no. 341, September 16, 1935, Diocesan Archives Eichstätt.

26 This was the complaint of Alfred Richter, “Parteiprogramin der NSDAP und Reichskonkordat: Zum dritten Jahrestag der Unterzeichnung des Reichskonkordats (20. Juli 1933) ,” Deutschlands Erneuerung XX (1936), p. 468. The occurrence of such marriages was confirmed to me by the former Vicar General of Hildesheim, Dr. Wilhelm Offenstein, in an interview on February 5, 1962. The German Federal Republic subsequently legalized these illegal marriages.

27 Deutsche Briefe, no. 52, September 27, 1935, pp. 6-7.

28 Regierungsrat Münsterer, “Die Regelung des Rassen-problems durch die Nürnberger Gesetze,” Klerusblatt, XVII (1936), p. 47.

29 Alois Hudal, Die Grundlagen des Nationalsozialismus (Leipzig, 1937) pp. 75 and 88.

30 The Conference of the Bavarian Bishops in March 1934 decided to request permission from the Ministry of the Interior to charge a small sum so that priests would be able to hire additional research help. Niederschrift der Konferenz der bayerischen Bischofe in Miinchen am 21. März 1934, p. 3.

31 J. Demleitner, “Volksgenealogie,” Klerusblatt, XV (1934), p. 503.

32 All of the diocesan archives preserved contain voluminous files of correspondence in connection with the certification of Aryan descent.

33 Bertram to Pacelli, September 2, 1933, copy in Diocesan Archives Passau.

34 Protokoll der Verwaltungsratssitzung und der Hauptversammlung des St. Raphaelsvereins in Dortmund am Freitag, den 27. August 1937, mimeo, 12 pp., Diocesan Archives, Mainz, file “St. Raphaelsverein”; minutes of the Fulda Bishops' Conference of August 1939, Bundesarchiv (Koblenz), R4311/177a. The recent claim of a German Catholic paper, Petrusblatt (Berlin, April 16, 1961) that the St. Raphaelsverein helped 1,950 Jews to emigrate and supported 25,000 Jews has no foundation in fact—unless one still wants to use the concept “Jew” as a term of racial classification.

35 Bundesarchiv (Koblenz), R4311/174.

36 Von einem deutschen, römisch-katholischen Priester, “Die katholische Kirche und die Judenfrage,” Eine heilige Kirche, XVI (1934), 177.

37 Report of the Gestapo Munich, January 1, 1937, Bayer-isches Geheimes Staatsarchiv (Munich), MA1946/019.

38 Quoted in Alfons Erb, Bernhard Lichtenberg (Berlin, 1949), p. 43.

39 Quoted in Léon Poliakov, Harvest of Hate (London, 1956), p. 30.

40 Quoted in Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (Chicago, 1961), p. 262.

41 Several such letters can be found in Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

42 Bertram to the German bishops, September 17, 1941, Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

43 Berning to Bertram, October 27, 1941, copy in Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

44 Hilfrich to Wienken, October 27, 1941, Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

45 Wienken to Hilfrich, October 30, 1941, Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

46 Niederschrift über die Konferenz der Bischöfe der Kölner- und Paderborner Kirchenprovinz am 24. und 25. November 1941 in Paderborn, mimeo, p. 5.

47 Stewart W. Herman, Jr., It's Your Souls We Want (New York, 1943), p. 234; Bernhard Lösener, “Das Reichsministerium des Inneren und die Judengesetzgebung: Aufzeich-nungen,” Vierteljahrshefte fiir Zeitgeschichte IX (1961), p. 310.

48 Inge Scholl, Die weisse Rose (Frankfurt a.M., 1961), pp. 126-128.

49Augenzeugenbericht zu den Massenvergasungen,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, I (1953), p. 193. The opening scene of Hochhuth's play Der Stellvertreter is based on Gerstein's account, which is considered fully reliable by all students of the subject.

50 Interview with Dr. Gertrud Luckner, March 9, 1962. One such officer, Dr. Alfons Hildenbrand, took special leave from his unit stationed near Minsk in order to report about the massacres he had witnessed to Cardinal Faulhaber. Cf. Thomas Dehler, “Sie zuckten mit der Achsel,” Fritz J. Raddatz, ed., Summa inuria oder Durfte der Papst schweigen? (Reinbek bei Hamburg, 1963), p. 231.

51 Interview with Dr. Joseph Müller, March 26, 1962.

52 Hilberg, op. cit., p. 267.

53 Bertram to Thierack, November 11, 1942, Archives of the Ministry of Justice (Bonn), R 22 Gr. 5/XXII-2; copy in Diocesan Archives Aachen.

54 Ruth Andreas-Friedrich, Berlin Underground 1938-1945, trans. Barrows Mussey (New York, 1947), p. 92.

55 Bertram to Thierack, March 2, 1943, Archives of the Ministry of Justice (Bonn), R 22 Gr. 5/XXII-2; copy in Diocesan Archives Mainz, 1/1.

56 Preysing to the German bishops, April 16, 1943, Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

57 Memo on oral information from Preysing relayed to the Bishop of Limburg etc. on June 26, 1943 by Father Odilo Braun, O.P., Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

58 Bertram to the Minister of the Interior and the RSHA, November 17, 1943, copy in Diocesan Archives Limburg, file “Nichtarier.”

59 Archbishop Joseph Frings, Pastoral letter of December 12, 1942, Wilhelm Corsten, ed. Kölner Aktenstücke zur Lage der Katholischen Kirche in Deutschland 1933-1945 (Cologne 1949) doc. 218, p. 269.

60 Joint pastoral letter of August 19, 1943, ibid., doc. 227, pp. 301-303.

61 Bertram to Thierack, January 29, 1944, Bundesarchiv (Koblenz), R 22 Or. 5/XXI, la.

62 From an internal report, National Archives, (Washington, D.C.), T-580, roll 42, file 245.

63 “Erb, op. cit., pp. 46-65.

64 For the text of the protests see W. W. Visser't Hooft. ed., Holländische Kirchendokumente (Zollikon-Zürich, 1944), pp. 58-60.

65 Werner Warmbrunn, The Dutch under German Occupation 1940-1945 (Stanford, Cal., 1963), p. 161.

66 Philip Friedman, Their Brothers' Keepers (New York, 1957), pp. 70-71; C. Leclef, ed., Le Cardinal van Roey et l'Occupation Allemande en Belgique: Actes et Documents (Brussels, 1945), ch. 8.

67 Emile Maurice Guerry, L'Eglise Catholique en France sous l'Occupation (Paris, 1947), pp. 33-65; Jules Geraud Saliège, Fürchtet euch nicht: Hirtenbriefe und Ansprachen (Offenburg, 1949), pp. 150-151; Friedman, op. cit., pp. 49-51.

68 The case of a Jewish mother and her son, who were hidden in a monastery near Berlin, is described by Kurt R. Grossmann, Die unbesungenen Helden (Berlin, 1957), p. 153.

69 Grossmann, op. cit., p. 113; Ernst Schnydrig, “Hilfe für die verfotgten Juden,” Zentralvorstand des Deutschen Caritasverbandes, An der Aufgabe gexvachsen [60th anniversary Festschrift] (Freiburg, Br., 1957), pp. 74-77; interview with Dr. Gertrud Luckner, March 9, 1962.

70 Cf. Gertrud Ehrle, ed., Licht über dem Abgrund (Freiburg, Br., 1951), pp. 118-124.

71 Heinrich Grüber, “Zu Rolf Hochhuth's ‘Stellvertreter,’” Raddatz, op. cit., p. 202.

72Thesen christlicher Lehrverkündigung im Hinblick auf umlaufende Irrtümer über das Gottesvolk des Alten Bundes” (Schwalbacher Thesen), Freiburger Rundbrief, II (1949-50), no. 8/9, p. 9.

73 Cf. Hilda Graef, Leben unter dem Kreuz: Fine Studie über Edith Stein (Frankfurt a.M., 1954), p. 130.

74 Note of the Papal Secretariat of State to the German government, September 9, 1933, Documents on German Foreign Policy, C, I, doc. 425, p. 794.

75 Civiltà Cattolica, no. 2024, quoted in Daniel Carpi, “The Catholic Church and Italian Jewry under the Fascists (to the Death of Pius XI),” Yad Washem Studies, IV (1960), p. 51.

76 Ibid., pp. 51-52.

77 Cf. Yves M.—J. Congar, Die Katholische Kirche und die Rassenfrage, trans. W. Armbruster (Recklinghausen, 1961), p. 69.

78 The statement was first reported by La Croix, no. 17060, September 17, 1938. It is accepted as accurate by Luigi Sturzo, Nationalism and Internationalism (New York, 1946), p. 47.

79 Domenico Tardini, Pius XII, trans. Franz Johna (Freiburg, Br., 1961), p. 59.

80 Quoted in Poliakov, op. cit., p. 300.

81 Abetz to Foreign Ministry, August 28, 1942, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Bonn), Staatssekretär, Vatikan, Bd. 4.

82 Tittmann to the Secretary of State, July 30, 1942, U.S. Diplomatic Papers 1942, III, p. 772.

83 Taylor to Maglione, September 26, 1942, ibid., p. 776.

84 Tittmann's summary of Holy See statement of October 10. 1942, ibid., p. 777.

85 Tittmann to the Department of State, December 22, 1942, Department of State Papers, 740.0016 European War 1939/689.

86 Corsten, Kölner Aktenstücke, doc. 220, p. 280. The message was mimeographed and distributed in Germany by the diocesan chanceries. I have seen a copy in Diocesan Archives Eichstätt.

87 Pius XII to the Cardinals, June 2, 1943, excerpts in Amtsblatt fiir die Erzdiözese München und Freising, August 12, 1943.

88 Memo of Woermann, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Bonn), Staatssekretär, Bd. 4.

89 Weizsäcker to Woermann etc., December 5, 1941, quoted in Hilberg, op. cit., p. 441.

90 0Hilberg, op. cit., p. 427.

91 Gumbert (of the German Embassy at the Quirinal) to the Foreign Ministry, October 16, 1943, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Bonn), Inland II g, 192. Bishop Hudal had signed this letter at the urging of several anti-Nazi officials in the German legations at the Quirinal and Holy See, who had composed it. I have used the English translation of Hilberg, op. cit., p. 429.

92 Weizsäcker to the Foreign Ministry, October 17, 1943, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Bonn). Inland II g, 192. The translation is that of Poliakov, op. cit., p. 297, n. 16.

93 Cf. Robert Leiber, S.J., “Pius XII und die Juden in Rom 1943-1944,” Stimmen der Zeit, CLXVII (1960-61), pp. 429-430.

94 Weizsäcker to the Foreign Ministry, October 28, 1943, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes (Bonn), Inland II g, 192. The English translation is that of Poliakov, op. cit., pp. 297-298, n. 16.

95 Cf. Hilberg, op. cit., p. 539; Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (New York, 1953), pp. 431-432. The successful intervention of the Papal Nuncio in Rumania was attested to by the former Chief Rabbi of Rumania at the Eichmann trial (cf. New York Times, May 24, 1961, p. 12).

96 Statement of Dr. Senatro on March 11, 1963 at a public discussion in Berlin (Raddatz, op. cit., p. 223) .

97 Poliakov, op. cit., p. 302.

98 Louis de Jong, “Jews and non-Jews in Nazi-Occupied Holland,” Max Beloff, ed., On the Track of Tyranny (London, 1960), pp. 148-149.

99 Tittmann to the Department of State, October 6, 1942, U.S. Diplomatic Papers 1942, III, 777; Tittmann dispatch of September 8, 1942, Department of State Papers, 740.00116 European War 1939/573, 1|2.

100 Reported by Weizsäcker, September 23, 1943, Politisches Archiv des Auswärtiges Amtes (Bonn), Staatssekretär, Vatikan, Bd. 4.

101 Robert Leiber, S.J. “Der Papst und die Verfolgung der Juden,” Raddatz, op. cit., p. 104.

102 Pius XII to the German bishops, August 6, 1940, copy in Diocesan Archives Regensburg.

About the Author

Guenter Lewy is the author of, among other works, The Catholic Church & Nazi Germany, Religion & Revolution, America in Vietnam, and The Cause that Failed: Communism in American Political Life. His new book, The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide, is forthcoming from the University of Utah Press.




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