New Proofs of Pius XII's Efforts to Assist Jews

1933 Letter Targets "Anti-Semitic Excesses" in Germany

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Proofs are emerging of the help given to Jews by the Holy See, particularly Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII.



The evidence is emerging just as the Vatican Archive has opened for research the documents relating to relations between Germany and the Holy See for the period 1922-1939.

ZENIT has had access to a letter, which is now available to researchers, which shows how Pacelli, Pius XI's secretary of state, gave precise instructions to the apostolic nuncio in Berlin to warn the National Socialist government not to persecute the Jews.

The letter is dated April 4, 1933. It is signed by Cardinal Pacelli, secretary of state, and was sent at the instruction of Pius XI to Monsignor Cesare Orsenigo, the nuncio in Germany.

"Important Israeli personalities have appealed to the Holy Father to ask for his intervention against the danger of anti-Semitic excesses in Germany," reads the letter, written in the diplomatic language of the time.

The letter continues: "Given that it is part of the traditions of the Holy See to carry out its mission of universal peace and charity toward all men, regardless of the social or religious condition to which they belong, by offering, if necessary, its charitable offices, the Holy Father asks your Excellency to see if and how it is possible to be involved in the desired way."

The letter is of decisive value in the debate launched by those who say that Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pius XII, never spoke in favor of the Jews, to the point of labeling him "Hitler's Pope."

The reference to "important Israeli personalities" reflects the good relations that the Vatican had with Jewish officials and its desire to respond to their request.