We thank our loyal reader and commentator, who goes under the name Crow here, for this enlightening article on the evil machinations of the communists to blacken the name of this “good and holy man”. The article was first published on Crow’s Facebook page: Venite Prandete – “Come and Eat”.
Pope Pius XII died – 9th OCTOBER 1958
At the close of the war, and up to and after his death in 1958, Pope Pius XII was revered throughout the world as the leader who had faced down the evils of Nazism.
Jewish leaders who had witnessed the suffering of their people at first hand praised Pope Pius XII as the person who, in the face of the ruthless elimination of any opposition by the Nazis, had mobilised the members of the Church and the Catholic faithful to act, at the risk of their lives and the lives of their families and communities, in a massive rescue. The result of the concerted action by the network of the Catholic faithful was estimated by the Israeli diplomat and historian, Pinchas Lapide, who personally interviewed Holocaust survivors, to be the saving of 700,000 to 860,000 Jews “from certain death at Nazi hands”.
Testimony as to the courageous stance taken by Pius XII was given by the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, in his autobiography “Before the Dawn.” Mr Zolli, as the leader of the Jewish community during the Nazi occupation of Rome, was a contemporaneous witness both to the pressures bearing upon his people and to the actions of the Pope and the Catholic faithful under him. After the war, he converted to Catholicism and took the baptismal name of Eugenio, in honour of Pope Pius XII, whose baptismal name was Eugenio Pacelli. His wife also converted and took the baptismal name of Eugenia. Mr Zolli wrote the book recording his personal journey to conversion, in which the figure of Pius XII, his courage as the leader of his faithful and the selflessness of those who generously risked or gave their lives to help their fellow man he described in the following terms;“.
No hero in history has commanded such an army; none is more militant, more fought against, none more heroic than that conducted by Pius XII in the name of Christian charity.”
In 1955, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra gave a private concert for Pope Pius XII in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall. A report from the Jewish News Archive dated 26 May 1955 stated:“
Conductor Paul Kletzky had requested that on the Israeli Orchestra’s first tour of Italy it be allowed to perform for the Pope as a gesture of gratitude for the help which the Roman Catholic Church gave to all persons persecuted by the Nazis and Fascists. … Concertmaster Henry Haftel thanked the Pope for the opportunity of playing for him and added that “the Jewish people are happy to express through music their gratitude for the help the Church gave to persecuted people. Our orchestra is composed of musicians from 14 countries, most of them have suffered persecución.”
When Pope Pius XII died on 9 October 1958, Golda Meir, then Israeli delegate to the United Nations, sent official condolences: “We share in the grief of humanity at the passing away of His Holiness, Pope Pius XII. In a generation affected by wars and discords, he upheld the highest ideals of peace and compassion. When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.”
Yet, as Mark Reibling observed, “in the second half of the twentieth century Pope Pius XII’s reputation would be transvalued by one of the strangest and most total makeovers in the annals of biography.”
The genesis of the fabrication of Pius XII’s past was revealed by the defection of Lieutenant General Ion Pacepa to the United States in 1978. General Pacepa, who was the highest ranking Soviet bloc intelligence agent ever to defect to the west, exposed the program of “disinformation” undertaken by the Soviet propaganda cells under Stalin and Kruschev, by which the character and reputation of Pius XII was systematically undermined and falsified in an operation which was given the Code name “Seat 12”. Before his defection, General Pacepa had been the head of the Rumanian DIE, the Communist Rumanian equivalent of the KGB, under Nicholae Causcecu.
According to General Pacepa, the accusation of “silence” on the part of Pope Pius XII was initially brought as part of a propaganda operation by Stalin through Radio Moscow in 1945 in an attempt to attack the moral authority of the Catholic Church, an institution that was viewed by Stalin as the main obstacle to the spread of communism. It was Radio Moscow which had first utilized the phrase “Hitler’s Pope”. These allegations, however, in General Pacepa’s words, “fell flat as a pancake”. Allegations of “silence” on the part of Pope Pius XII were ignored by a generation who had heard and read the statements and encyclicals of the Pope against the “idolatry of a race and blood cult” throughout the war and in the years preceding. This was a generation who had witnessed the persecution of the Catholic Church and the murder of millions of Catholics as well as Jews under the Nazis. They were a generation, moreover, who had witnessed the treaty between Stalin and Hitler, by which the Nazi advancement was facilitated by the communists to enable the German invasion of Poland.
The claims of “silence” on the part of Pius XII, abandoned by SMERSH, the Communist disinformation cell under Stalin, were revived, according to General Pacepa, under Kruschev, as the result of Pius XII’s attacks on the Communist regime for the persecution of those behind the Iron Curtain and the imprisonment and torture of Catholic priests and Cardinals within the Soviet bloc, including Cardinal Stepinac, in Croatia and Cardinal Mindsenty, in Hungary. General Pacepa stated that, “in KGB jargon, changing people’s pasts was called ‘framing’, and it was a highly classified disinformation specialty.”
On General Pacepa’s account;
“In February 1960, Kruschev formally appointed a joint Party/KGB operational plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe. Since 1945, the Kremlin had fought the Vatican indirectly by framing many of its priests and top clergymen….slandering them either as Nazi war criminals or as enemies of peace. Now the Kremlin wanted the KGB to frame the Vatican … Concocted by KGB chairman Aleksandr Shelepin and by Alexei Kirichenko, the Soviet Politburo member responsible for international policy, the new plan was constructed around Stalin’s 1945 idea of portraying Pius XII as ‘Hitler’s Pope.’”
The operation involved the dissemination by operatives and agents, described by General Pacepa as follows:
“The intelligence structure needed to make the Vatican toothless by changing Pius’ past was already in place. The first thing to do was to have as many intelligence assets as possible start spreading the word all around the world that Pius had indeed been ‘Hitler’s Pope’- that simple, catchy epithet launched by Radio Moscow in 1945.”
The first step in the disinformation campaign was the production of a play, “The Deputy” in 1963. That play, which was publicly justified by the playwright, a former Hitler Youth and member of the Communist Party, Rolf Hochhuth, as “fiction,” made accusations against Pope Pius XII, accusing him of “silence” in the face of the persecution by the Nazi regime of the Jews, and portraying him as a cold, ambitious ruler. It was directed by Erwin Piscator, described by General Pacepa as a member of the Communist Party “since its earliest days.” The play “received mixed reviews at best, but it caused a political uproar.” Riots ensued at the production in Paris, with demonstrations against it in New York and Basle. The German Chancellor, Konrad Adenhauer, apologized to the Vatican. Nevertheless, the play achieved a level of success with the assistance of media promotion. One such columnist was described by General Pacepa in the following terms:
“A few weeks after The Deputy was launched on Broadway, an American journalistic icon published a powerful piece faulting the Catholic Church for its role in the rise of fascism. Writing in his own influential weekly, IF Stone stated:
‘Pius XII, in being friendly to Hitler (and to Mussolini) was only following in the footsteps of Pius XI. … More than the sin of silence lies on the consciousness of God’s “deputies”. They were accessories in the creation of these criminal regimes … It helps to heal our hearts that a young German should have written The Deputy”.
General Pacepa stated that “recently published KGB documents in the Vassiliev Archive show that IF Stone (nee Isidor Feinstein) was a paid Soviet spy. He had been recruited in 1936 and given the code name “Blin”.
It is notable that Hochhuth’s claim to “fiction” had already been translated by IF Stone to “fact.”
It is also noteworthy that the utility of an accusation of “silence”, (in the absence of actual evidence), is the ability to change the accusation to suit the circumstances – there would always be some period in which a statement has not been made. In circumstances where no reference by self-styled “experts” and “scholars” is ever made to the 40 speeches by Pius XII against Nazism, (before he was Pope); the powerful denunciation of Nazism by Pius XI – Mit Brennender Sorge, (for which hundreds of priests were executed and imprisoned); the two encyclicals by Pius XII, (starting with his first encyclical as Pope), that were such powerful denunciations of Nazism that the Allies dropped 88,000 copies as propaganda; or the Christmas speeches by Pius XII in 1941 and 1942 denouncing Nazism – cited by the New York Times as a “lone voice” – then a charge of “silence”, accompanied by a complicit media, is effective. It has an oleaginous and protean quality that is ever applicable.
Promotion of The Deputy was met with the publication of defences of Pope Pius XII. One person who was driven to defend his reputation was Pinchas Lapide. Lapide had served during the war in the 178th Transport Company of the 8th British Army. On 23 December 1943, he had been involved in the repatriation of 500 Jewish refugees who had been found, “sound and thankful” as a result of the intervention of Pope Pius XII. Lapide had personally interviewed Holocaust survivors and had spent six months studying documentary evidence of Jewish refugees and survivors in Yad Vashem. His book, Three Popes and the Jews, was written as a defence of Pius XII and the Catholic Church and as a record of its role as rescuer of Jews during the War. He stated that the number of those rescued by the Catholic Church “exceeds by far those saved by all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organisations combined.”
He commented that these figures stood in startling contrast to:
“the unpardonable foot-dragging and hypocritical lip-service of those outside Hitler’s reach, who certainly disposed of far greater means to rescue Jews whilst there was still time: The International Red Cross specifically and the Western democracies in general.”
The definitive study of Hungarian Jewry was published by Jeno Levai, a Hungarian Jew. In “Hungarian Jewry and the Papacy” , the massive rescue of the Hungarian Jews by the Catholic Church was catalogued. Levai observed that it was “particularly regrettable” that the person picked as the scapegoat for the tragedy of the Jewish people was “the very man who probably alone in occupied Europe tried through his agents to halt the dreadful crime and – where possible – alleviate its consequences.”
It is notable that the publication of a play, which was sought to be justified by artistic license, as “fiction”, gave rise to such passion that these spirited defences, supported by documentary evidence and first-hand testimony, were produced in response by Jewish chroniclers, who had no interest in perpetrating a lie against their people and who, on the contrary, had every interest in publicising abuses.
General Pacepa commented that, “one play alone could not have changed the world’s perception of Pius XII from an anti-Nazi pope into a pro-Nazi one. No single piece of literature could accomplish such a transformation. A full-blown KGB framing operation could, however, do just that.”
More recently, since 1999 and into the twenty-first century, popular histories have regularly been produced and promoted by the main stream media, by which increasingly elaborate charges have been made against Pius XII, all of which take as their starting point and assume as established fact the original charge of “silence”, justified by Hochhuth in 1963 as “fiction”. This assumption of the allegation of “silence” as fact, entails ignoring the evidence, well-known to the generation who witnessed The Deputy, that had necessitated Hochhuth resorting to the disclaimer that his work was “fiction,” and, furthermore, that such a fictional untruth was justified by it being “art”.
The more recent publications, produced for a new generation, make no effort to evidentially establish as fact Hochhuth’s “fictional” claim of “silence”: The claim is simply asserted as a fact, and immediately subsumed within a counterfeit speculation of “why he was silent,” frequently invoking a pseudo-psychiatric diagnosis of Pius XII and, indeed the whole of the Catholic faithful, for the duration of the 2,000 year history of the Catholic Church from the time of the Apostles, of “anti-Semitism.”
While the initial attack was the result of Kruschev and the KGB methodology, subsequent “revelations” and attacks on the character of Pius XII, on the surface at least, seem to have been the consequence of disparate origins. Different agendas play into the desire to attack the moral authority of the Catholic Church, an ancient institution, viewed by some as patriarchal, intolerant, or perhaps, as the Church created by Christ Himself, a witness by her very existence. Rabbi David Dalin, in his exposure of the defamation of Pius XII, “The Myth of Hitler’s Pope,” suggested that modernist influencers within the Catholic Church herself were behind some of the character assassination of this brave and holy man. One would hate to imagine the Church that would be the result of such unscrupulous methods. But then again, it is quite probable that the veneer of a Catholic identity has simply been used to give gravitas and to bolster what is, in reality, just another step in a socialist campaign of character assassination. We see the media using their privilege to perpetrate character assassination to suit their political objectives on other members of the Church today. Whatever the motives, it is important that we, as Catholics, are aware and honour these men as wonderful examples of the Christian spirit and that we inform ourselves of the true courage of Pius XII, a courage derived completely, (and inconveniently for some), from his Catholic faith. It was his faith that underscored his actions and the actions of the army of priests and religious under his inspirational lead. It is the foundation of faith, and, in particular, Catholic faith, that is the key here – a fact that is indisputable and is something that any enemy of the Church would, of course, seek to silence and obscure. For these people were frank and total witness to the power of Christ, as devolved by His Church, something that, to paraphrase Pinchas Lapide, “convinced millions that there was more to Christianity than pious sermonizing.”* The evil nature of such character assassination itself bears witness to the people who disseminate it – a weak and cowardly twisting of history – a complete contrast to the heroism of the pope himself and those under him, for objectives which, in the words of Father Robert Graham SJ:
“[do] not justify distortion of the historical reality. Facts remain facts and are not to be relegated to insignificance as if they did not happen. Yet that is what is happening: all that the Pope did for the Jews, and also, all that the Jews said in praise of Pius XII, has been covered with a curtain of oblivion. The real silence has been the silence of the polemicists who have succeeded in closing one eye to the reality, thereby leading the public into a grotesque conception of the role of Pius XII in World War II.”