Historians examine churches’ anti-Nazi stance

WASHINGTON, May 22 (UPI) — A leading historian of the Holocaust is uneasy about Christian apologies for Nazi genocide.


“Christians were among the very first victims of the Nazis,” said [Sir Martin] Gilbert, who is Jewish.


What about Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, who has been criticized for being “silent” on the genocide?

“Rather than being indignant about what the pope didn’t do,” Gilbert said, “I try to find out what the Catholic churches and churchmen and Pacelli himself actually did do.

“So the test for Pacelli was when the Gestapo came to Rome in 1944 to round up Jews. And the Catholic Church, on his direct authority, immediately dispersed as many Jews as they could.

“The Vatican hid the vast majority of the Jews of Rome,” Gilbert said. Some were sheltered within the Vatican itself, and others were dispersed among the monasteries and nunneries of the eternal city. In this way, about 4,000 were saved.

“If the (current) pope has to apologize,” Gilbert said, “perhaps someone could also thank him. In fact, my book does thank him for what the Vatican did to save Jewish lives.”