PIUS XII AND THE HOLOCAUST, Myth and Reality
By Jesus J. Chao
7 of 11
Ø The persecution of Catholics.
Without belittling the unspeakable horrors suffered by Jews, we should not ignore the fact that millions of Catholics were also victims of the Holocaust, as were gypsies, homosexuals, and in much less scale, Orthodox and Protestants. Poland had the biggest Jewish population in Europe and was the only country where there was a mandatory death penalty for those hiding Jews. Many, who were caught sheltering Jews, were killed in a gruesome manner, such as being publicly burned as a warning to others. Although not every Catholic was a victim of the Nazis, it is certain that all the Jews were victims of Hitler’s hatred.
We should keep in mind the prevailing situation of complete despair throughout Europe at the beginning of the forties. The Germans already occupied Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Norway; and the invasion of the Soviet Union was going on while England was being bombed daily in preparation for the eventual invasion. The United States stayed out of the war until December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the American naval base in Pearl Harbor. The neutral nations, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and the Vatican, were the only temporarily remaining free territories. Without any military force, all the Pope had was his powerful moral pulpit to encounter the all powerful and victorious German troops. Although the Vatican was neutral, The Church and its flock were being brutally attacked and decimated in the Nazi’s occupied countries.
According to historian William J. O’Malley,S.J., "to the genocide of six millions Jews we have to add nine to ten millions Slavic victims (Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Yugoslavs) who were eliminated-not in war, not as saboteurs, not as guerrillas, but sorely because they were Slavic." The Nazi’s genocide, based on race, should also include half a million gypsies who, just as the Slavs, were executed because they were not member of the superior race, the Aryans. The Nazis in Poland alone murdered more than 3 million Catholics together with over 3 million Jews. (13)
About 2,800 clergymen were interned between 1940 and 1945, at Dachau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp. Among them, 2,579 were Catholic clergymen, 109 Protestants, 30 orthodox and two Moslem clergymen. The Catholics came from 38 nations; 1,780 were Polish, 447 German and Austrian, 109 Czech and Slovaks, 50 Yugoslavs, 156 French, 63 Dutch. The auxiliary Polish Bishop of Wladislava died of typhus while imprisoned at Dachau. At least 1034 died in the camp, some victims of medical experimentation by the infamous Dr. Rascher. In 1940, 800 priests died in Buchenwald, 1,200 in 1942 and 3,000 in 1943. And that was just in Buchenwald.
As O’Malley, pointed out, "That figure, surprising as it might be, does not include the clergy or nuns who were shot, beheaded or tortured to death in squares and alleys and jails all over Europe…In France, in February 1944, the Gestapo had arrested 162 priests, of whom 123 were shot or decapitated before ever reaching any camp. According to the International Tribunal at Nuremburg, 780 priests died of exhaustion at Mauthausen and 300 at Sachsenhausen, and there were hundreds of other camps in the network. Nor does the total figure of 2,771 take into consideration that one-quarter to one-third of those shipped to any camps often arrived dead." (14)
Polish Cardinal Stephan Wyszynski, in his prison memoirs, notes that he was the only member of his ordination class who escaped the concentration camps; seven died in Dachau; of the six who survived the concentrations camps, several soon died as the result of torture and medical experimentation. It is estimated that the Nazis imprisoned half of the Polish clergy.
The Pope not only had to answer to the pleas from the Jews, but also to those from his own flock. Quite an extraordinary burden to bear. On March 1942 a shattering letter from the Polish Archbishop Sapieha arrived to the Vatican: "Our condition is in truth most tragic, he wrote to the Pope, deprived of almost all human rights, delivered to the cruelty of men lacking for the most part any human sentiment, we live continuously under horrible terror in constant danger of losing everything, either by trying to escape or by deportation, or incarceration in the so-called concentration camps, from which few come out alive. In these camps thousands and thousands of our brothers are held, without any judicial trial, people wholly innocent. Among them there are many priests, secular and religious…to these things the typhus is now added spreading more and more daily." (15)
Ø Catholic martyrdom was rich in examples of courage.
Catholic martyrdom was rich in examples of courage. When Msgr. Andrew Szeptyckyi was consecrated as Archbishop of Lwow of the Ruthenians, he asked the Pope during the ceremony, an explicit vocation for martyrdom. With that idea he approached Himmler personally on behalf of the Jews; their fate rent his noble spirit. There were many Catholics such as Oskar Schindler and St. Maximilian Kolbe who in brotherly love risked and even offered their own lives in behalf of the Jews.
Ø Hitler, a self-proclaimed pagan, considered the Catholic Church on par with the Jews, as his mortal enemies.
Hitler, a self-proclaimed pagan, considered the Catholic Church on par with the Jews, as his mortal enemies. It is documented that Hitler planned for its total obliteration. For Hitler Jews and Christians were the sources of every evil. "The heaviest blow to humanity" he once said, "was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of Jews." In his diabolical mind, the extermination of the Jews would be needed for victory. Hitler designed and implemented a plan at Warthegau, in western Poland, to extirpate the Catholic and the Protestant churches from Europe. There is documentation that Count Von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Munster, who was an outspoken critic of the racial and eugenic policies of the Nazis, if it were not for the prominence and prestige of his position, would have been annihilated
In 1942, Pius XII told Fr. Paolo Dezza, rector of the Gregorian University, "They want to destroy the Church and crush it as a toad…there will be no place for the Pope in the new Europe, they say that I am going to America, I have no fear and I shall remain here." (16) Among the many ideological fundaments shared by the Nazis and the Communist was the hatred for religion, specially the Catholic Church. The only form of worship allowed was the cult to the leader of the totalitarian state. Hungarian Cardinal Mindszenty went from a Nazi jail to a Communist jail after the war. There was no respite for Catholics after the War; in fact, the persecution of Catholics increased in the Soviet occupied countries.
Ø In occupied Poland, Arthur Greiser was in charge of the annihilation of the Catholic Church…
Arthur Greiser was in charge of the annihilation of the Catholic Church and the creation of a national German Church loyal to the Führer in Warthegau. The final goal was the complete Germanization of that Polish region, to which end Greiser worked without respite. Bishops were driven out, priests killed or imprisoned. Within a few years one third of the pre-war 2,000 priests were dead and 700 imprisoned; seminaries were closed, the Catholic press and voluntary associations suppressed. The Holy See found itself desperately fighting in two fronts, for the survival of the Jews and for the survival of his own flock. The Church in a beleaguered Poland was being bled to death by the two great scourges of humanity, the Nazis and Communists. In Poland three million Catholics went to their death along with three million Jews at the Nazi’s concentration camps in addition to the millions murdered by the Soviets.
It is documented that, according to Robert M.W. Kempner, former U.S. Deputy Chief of Counsel at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials, among the measures scheduled to follow upon Hitler’s victory were the following: "every Catholic State must select its own Pope"…(and) "the Bishop of Muenster will go before the firing squad one day." Every propaganda move by the Catholic Church against Hitler’s Reich would have been not only "provoking suicide", but would have hastened the execution of still more Jews and Priests. These and similar threats appeared in the diary of Alfred Rosenberg, the nazi theoretician of racial purity, and in Hitler’s Table Talk.
Ø Millions of Catholics were victims first of the Nazis and later of the Communists.
Most Catholics were anti-Nazi and anti-Communist. We should not forget "the fact that hundreds of thousands of anti-Nazis from communist occupied territories as Poland, the Baltic States and Bessarabia, were sent by Moscow to German concentration camps, while hundreds of thousands of anti-Stalinists refugees living in Nazis territories were sent by Berlin to the Soviet concentration camps" as part of the Stalin / Hitler’s diabolical pact. Shamefully, the Western democracies did the same after WWII; thousands of anti-Communists who fled the Soviet Union during the war were forcedly deported to the Soviet concentration camps, the dreadful gulags. Entire families opted for suicide rather than deportation.
1. Pius XII and the Holocaust, Myth and Reality
2. Pius XII & the Holocaust - Historical Frame
3. Pius XII and the Holocaust - 1933
4. Was Pius XII "Hitler's Pope"
5. Were Pius XII and the Church really silent during the Holocaust?
6. The Allies were slow in responding to the Pleas of the Jews
7. Pius XII - The forgotten victims of the Holocaust
8. The Rescue of the Jews: The Holy See made every possible effort to help the Jews
9. Pius XII and the Resistance
10. Pius XII- Allies slow in responding to the pleas of the Jews
11. Pius XII - Conclusion
Copyright © 2000 Jesus J. Chao
Printed on June 13, 2001 by Leap of Faith- www.faithleap.org with Permission from Mr. Jesus J. Chao.
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