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A headline from the Washington Post:
WWII-era letter suggests Vatican knew of Holocaust atrocities
A newly revealed letter from the Vatican archives suggests that World War II-era Pope Pius XII was aware thousands of Jews were being killed in gas chambers in occupied Poland, undercutting earlier Vatican arguments justifying the pope’s wartime silence on the Holocaust.
Following decades of pressure from Jewish organizations and historians, the Vatican in 2020 opened its secret archives on the wartime pope, who headed the Catholic Church from 1939 to 1958. Pius XII has since become one of the most controversial pontiffs for not publicly condemning the Nazis during the war, with critics dubbing him “Hitler’s Pope.” Others, including the Vatican, have argued his diplomacy saved lives in part by preventing a Nazi backlash.
A newly unveiled document has added fuel to the debate. It’s a German letter sent by a German Jesuit member of the anti-Nazi resistance, Father Lother Koenig, and addressed to the pope’s trusted private secretary Rev. Robert Leiber. In the letter dated Dec. 14, 1942, Koenig wrote that up to 6,000 people, “above all Poles and Jews,” were dying every day in “SS-furnaces” at the Nazi-run Bełzec concentration camp in what was then occupied Poland. Reported this week by Italian daily Corriere Della Sera, the letter was discovered by Vatican archivist Giovanni Coco, who described it as further evidence of a flow of explicit and detailed news on Nazi crimes to the Holy See.
I have some news for the Washington Post. Not only was the Vatican aware of Holocaust atrocities, so were the British and US governments before 1942.
Jan Karski was a Polish soldier, resistance fighter, and a diplomat. He acted as courier for the Polish government in exile.
Starting in 1940, Karski reported to the Polish, British, and US governments on the situation in Poland, especially on the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the Nazi extermination of Polish Jews.
He smuggled out of Poland microfilm with further information from the underground movement on the extermination of European Jews in German-occupied Poland. His reports were transcribed and translated by Walentyna Stocker, the personal secretary and interpreter for Sikorski. Based on Karski’s microfilm, Polish Foreign Minister Count Edward Raczyński provided the Allies with one of the earliest and most accurate accounts of the Nazi Holocaust.
Raczyński’s Note, addressed to the governments of the United Nations on 10 December 1942, was later published along with other documents in a widely distributed leaflet entitled The Mass Extermination of Jews in German Occupied Poland. – from Wikipedia
From 1940 the reports were available to the Allies and as well as the Vatican. How many Military Divisions did the Vatican have? The same number of journalists that know anything about history, none.
Pope Pius XII encouraged and oversaw efforts to try and save as many Jews as possible from the Nazi Holocaust. “The Israeli diplomat and historian Pinchas Lapide estimated the figure at between 700,000 and 860,000, although the figure is contested.”
The exact number may never be known, but the Vatican and Catholics throughout Nazi-occupied Europe saved more Jewish lives than all the Allies combined.Published in