Book Paints Pope As Hitler Ally

Pope Pius XII helped Adolf Hitler gain power and did nothing to stop Nazi atrocities because he believed Jews got what they deserved, an explosive new book charges.

The shocking book, "Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII," by John Cornwell, is excerpted in the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine.

Cornwell, a best-selling author and Vatican observer, said he was given access to secret church files because he had initially planned to defend the pope against charges he was silent about death camps.

But after studying Pope Pius XII's own files and depositions taken under oath 30 years ago to support his eventual canonization, Cornwall said he was in a "state of moral shock."

Cornwall says that when the pope, Eugenio Pacelli, came to power in 1939, he knew about Hitler's plans for a "Final Solution" and was begged repeatedly by bishops in Germany, even by an emissary from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, to use his authority to condemn Nazi atrocities.

But he said nothing, and never acted to stop Catholic clergymen who collaborated in racial certification to identify Jews before they were sent to death camps.

Pacelli, who became pope in 1939, met with Hitler several times and first agreed to help him in 1933, when he was a Vatican diplomat, the book says.

He promised Hitler he'd disband a German Catholic political party in a deal that protected the Vatican's rights in Germany.

When he did, millions of Catholics joined the Nazi Party.

The only denunciation Pacelli made during the war was a bland Christmas Eve radio message in 1942 that did not mention Jews, but merely mourned the plight of "hundreds of thousands who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only by reason of their nationality or race, are marked down for death or gradual extinction."

Cornwall said Pacelli was silent because he "was patently, and by the proof of his own words, anti-Jewish."

In a letter Pacelli wrote in 1919, he described a group of revolutionary Jews in Munich as "a gang of young women of dubious appearance, Jews like all the rest of them ... with provocative demeanor and suggestive smiles," led by "a young man, about 30 or 35, also Russian and a Jew. Pale, dirty, with vacant eyes, hoarse voice, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and sly."

One papal report about the "Jewish Question," written under Pacelli's authority, says the Jews were responsible for their own fate:

"Blinded by their dream of worldy gain and material success," they deserved the "worldly and spiritual ruin" that they had brought down upon themselves.

When the Nazis invaded Rome in 1943 and moved to deport 1,000 Jews who lived near the Vatican, the German ambassador in Rome, fearing a backlash from the general Italian population, pleaded with the pope to issue a public protest.

He did not. And the Roman Jews were sent by cattle car to Auschwitz. Only 15 survived, one of those a woman, Settimia Spizzichino, who served as a human guinea pig of Dr. Josef Mengele.

In a recent interview, Spizzichino said Pius "was an anti-Semitic pope, a pro-German pope ... He did not save a single child. Nothing."

Vatican officials declined to comment, saying they had not read Cornwall's book.

The Vatican, however, has consistently defended the conduct of Pius XII, claiming his behind-the-scenes work saved thousands of Jews.

Source: New York Post - Linda Massarella