New Revelations on Jews Saved by Pius XII
Includes Testimonies by Founders of Israel
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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 16, 2001 (Zenit.org).- As early as 1939, Pius XII organized special operations to help Jews persecuted by Nazism, according to a new book on the Vatican´s prewar and wartime activity.
In "The Jews Saved by Pius XII" ("Gli ebrei salvati da Pio XII"), which goes on sale in Italy today, journalist Antonio Gaspari gathers numerous testimonies in favor of Pius XII and the Catholic Church expressed by founders of the state of Israel, leaders of Jewish associations, and survivors of concentration camps.
Gaspari is the author of a best seller published in Spain, Italy and Latin America, entitled "The Jews, Pius XII, and the Black Legend (Planeta+Testimonio publishers). This work highlights many activities organized by the Vatican, and requested secretly by Eugenio Pacelli, to defend and hide the Jews.
The new book is published by Logos (firstname.lastname@example.org).
These are stories that now, almost 60 years later, emerge from anonymity. One is that of the 51 Jews hidden in the Dermatological Institute of the Immaculate in 1943. The religious, Sons of the Immaculate Conception, who managed this hospital had an original idea: to hospitalize in their premises all Jews in danger of losing their lives. Since they had to give the Germans reasons for the admission of so many patients, they used all kinds of creams to confound the enemy.
The doctors soon became friends of their pseudo-patients. When one of them arrived at the hospital and someone there asked what was wrong with him, the doctors answered, "Kesselring´s syndrome," the surname of a German officer in Rome.
A unique atmosphere was created, to the point that hymns were sung, saying: "Hail Mary, our hope, give our Jews a roof."
The volume contradicts American Susan Zucotti´s thesis, who in her book "Under His Very Windows -- The Vatican and The Holocaust in Italy" (Yale University Press) contends that, although the Church saved many Jews, this was the isolated action of priests and religious. The Vatican and the Pope, Zucotti claims, never gave any sign of help.
"This is a thesis that is impossible to defend," Gaspari explained. "Few know that as early as 1939, Pius XII had created a special department for the Jews in the German section of the Vatican Information Office. Some 36,877 papers were processed in favor of the Jews. This work is referred to in Jewish publications like the Canadian Jewish Chronicle."
"In the city of Rome alone," he continued, "the Jewish community has attested that the Church saved 4,447 Jews from Nazi persecution. In fact, an inscription in the Museum of the History of the Liberation of Rome, states: ´The Congress of delegates of the Italian Jewish community, held in Rome for the first time since the liberation, feels the urgent duty to render reverent homage to Your Holiness, and expresses the most profound feeling of gratitude that inspires all Jews, for the evidence of human fraternity shown to them by the Church during the years of persecution, when their life was endangered by Nazi barbarism.´"
Gaspari recounted several stories of this nature. For example, he quoted an unimpeachable source: Gideon Hausner, Israeli general prosecutor at Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann´s trial, who said on Oct. 18, 1961: "The Italian clergy helped numerous Jews and hid them in monasteries, and the Pope intervened personally in support of those arrested by the Nazis."
Among the new documents published by Gaspari, is a letter of Pius XII sent to Sister Ferdinanda (Maria Corsetti), awarded by the Israeli government with the title "Righteous Among the Nations," in which Jews are referred to as "beloved children."
Pius XII intervened on several occasions in a personal capacity, through the Vatican state secretariat or its intermediaries, to save the Jews. In the case of 1,000 German Jews who wanted to emigrate to Brazil, the Pontiff paid out of his own pocket the $800 each needed for the trip.