- Pius XII
- (1876–1958)Monsignor Eugenio Pacelli became pope following the death of Pius XI in 1939. As papal nuncio in Germany, he had negotiated the concordat with Nazi Germany in 1933. Skilled in diplomacy, the future Pius XII was a vehement anticommunist who viewed Nazi Germany sympathetically because of its strong stand against Bolshevism. With the outbreak of World War II, Pius XII adopted a policy of strict “impartiality” that resulted in his refusal to condemn Nazi atrocities, lest it compromise the Vatican’s ability to bring about a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Despite being among the first to learn of the Final Solution, Pius XII refrained from condemning Nazi Germany. He justified his silence with the argument that a public denunciation of Germany would have made matters worse for both Jews and German Catholics. Yet, despite his refusal to use the full force of his moral authority to condemn the Nazi extermination campaign against the Jews, Pius XII has been credited with saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Jews and to have permitted Catholic clergy to open their monasteries and convents to hide Jews. In addition, he intervened in both Hungary and Slovakia and pleaded with their leaders to halt the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz. Pius XII’s ambiguous record in regard to the Holocaust continued after the war when in 1948 he requested mercy for all Nazi war criminals but was refused by General Lucius D. Clay.
Historical dictionary of the Holocaust. Jack R. Fischel. 2014.