During World War II, the Vatican failed to condemn the actions by the Nazis, specifically regarding their efforts to exterminate the Jewish race from the European continent. Their reason has been that the Vatican couldn’t condemn an action they could never confirm until after the war. Now, evidence has emerged of correspondence between then-Pope Pius XII and a German Jesuit that seems to show he should have known with “confirmable” detail about the atrocities taking place under the brutal dictatorship of Adolph Hitler.
Newly discovered correspondence suggests that World War II-era Pope Pius XII had detailed information from a trusted German Jesuit that up to 6,000 Jews and Poles were being gassed each day in German-occupied Poland. The documentation undercuts the Holy See’s argument that it couldn’t verify diplomatic reports of Nazi atrocities to denounce them.
The documentation from the Vatican archives, published this weekend in Italian daily Corriere della Sera, is likely to further fuel the debate about Pius’ legacy and his now-stalled beatification campaign. Historians have long been divided about Pius’ record, with supporters insisting he used quiet diplomacy to save Jewish lives while critics say he remained silent as the Holocaust raged.
Corriere is reproducing a letter dated Dec. 14, 1942 from the German Jesuit priest to Pius’ secretary which is contained in an upcoming book about the newly opened files of Pius’ pontificate by Giovanni Coco, a researcher and archivist in the Vatican’s Apostolic Archives.