The Pope and the Holocaust (Digital)

Pius XII and the Vatican Secret Archives

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For over two decades, Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, has been blasted in the public square as "Hitler's Pope", accused by bestselling authors of cowardice in the face of the Nazi regime. Some have even said that the pope was complicit in Hitler's grab for power, privately fueled by a hatred for the Jewish people. And if they are right, who would not join in condemning a leader like this, especially one who claims to represent all Christians?

But what if this image of Pius XII is completely backward? Archival and archaeological researcher Michael Hesemann has unearthed thousands of documents—including from the Vatican Secret Archives (or the Vatican Apostolic Archive), only recently opened to scholars—to give a startling picture of Eugenio Pacelli as a shrewd diplomat and a champion of the Jewish people during World War II. Saving thousands upon thousands of lives, Pius demonstrated such courage and compassion in these times that Jewish leaders across the globe praised him, and the ecumenical Pave the Way Foundation has since nominated him for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum's Righteous among the Nations award.

The Pope and the Holocaust traces Pacelli's fight for peace in the 1930s and 1940s, including his years as apostolic nuncio in Germany, where he resisted Nazism. Even some of his most controversial moves, such as the 1933 Vatican concordat, were made to protect Jewish and Christian lives. What emerges clearly from Hesemann's evidence is a portrait of a man radically committed to the Jews and the revelation God gave to them. As Pope Pius himself remarked in 1938, "It is not legitimate for Christians to take part in anti-Semitism. Spiritually, we are all Semites."

Editorial Reviews

"This dramatically illuminating book should finally put to rest the calumnies against Pius XII, whose actions saved more Jews during the Holocaust that any other single individual. Hesemann tells this story in an entirely gripping manner and explains why Pius had to do this work quietly and often covertly. While the book reads like a thriller, its documentation is thorough, compelling, and definitive."
— Robert Reilly, Author, America on Trial: A Defense of the Founding 

"The Vatican Secret Archives are open and have confirmed what both Jews and Catholics knew before the 1960s: Pius XII was a hero—not a villain, as propagandists portrayed him. The evidence in this book is his long-awaited vindication, a clear response to a half-century of  calumny."
— Mike Aquilina, Author, A History of the Church in 100 Objects

"The definitive refutation of the claim that Pius XII didn't do enough to prevent the killing of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, this  volume meticulously documents the conclusion that close to a million Jews were, in fact, saved thanks to the efforts of Pope Pius, at no small risk to himself."
— Russell Shaw, Author, Eight Popes and the Crisis of Modernity

"We have known for some time about the heroic efforts taken by Pope Pius XII to subvert Hitler, but the beauty of this volume is that it draws on the Vatican archives to further substantiate the case. Hesemann is thorough and judicious, offering overwhelming proof that Pius XII was a courageous and determined man who did more to help Jews than any other leader in the free world."
— Bill Donohue, Ph.D., President, Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights

"Very wisely and helpfully, Professor Hesemann takes up the task of Father Peter Gumpel, who had scoured thousands of documents related to Pius XII and the Nazi Holocaust, and who also had the privilege of knowing Pius the man. Hesemann has befriended the Vatican Apostolic Archive, finding therein a treasure trove of material to produce this painstaking work of unvarnished truth."
— Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., Editor, The Catholic Response


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