Hubert Wolf, a Catholic priest and professor at the University of
Munster, told German weekly Die Zeit that his team has uncovered a
previously unreleased memo that may shed light on Pope Pius XII’s
actions during the Holocaust.
The Vatican granted researchers access on March 2 to the World War
II-era archives of Pius XII in accordance with a decision by Pope
Francis last year.
A team of German researchers led by Wolf immediately began pouring
over the thousands of documents. And then the coronavirus pandemic
broke out, shutting down the archives until at least this summer.
However, Wolf says that his team has already made some interesting
The chain of events began on September 27, 1942. A U.S. diplomat
delivered a secret report to the Vatican detailing the slaughter of
Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland, including the massacre of 100,000 in the
Warsaw ghetto and 50,000 in Lvov.
The report had been sent from the Jewish Agency for Palestine in
Geneva, and the U.S. wished to know if the Vatican could provide any
The archive reportedly confirms that Pius XII read the report on the
day it was received, but he did not provide an immediate response.
The Americans again requested an answer on October 1, 1942. Pius XII
replied on October 10 that he “had heard about the harsh treatment of
the Jews,” but that it was not possible to verify the accuracy of the
However, the archive contains two letters that were in the possession
of the pope at the time, which corroborate the U.S. report.
On September 18, just nine days before receiving the U.S. report, Pius
XII received word from an Italian businessman named Malvezzi of the
“incredible butchery” of Jews he had witnessed during a recent visit
In August 1942, Pius XII received a letter from the Ukrainian Greek
Catholic archbishop of Lvov, Andrey Sheptytsky, informing him of some
200,000 Jews who were massacred under the “outright diabolical” German
Wolf says that his team has discovered an internal memo which may shed
some light on the situation. The memo was not included in the
11-volume collection of documents that was commissioned by the Vatican
in 1965 to defend the reputation of Pius XII.
The memo, written by papal adviser Angelo Dell’Acqua, casts doubt on
the accuracy of the reports concerning the Jews “because the Jews also
tend to easily exaggerate” and “Orientals” — a reference to Archbishop
Sheptytsky — “are really not an example of honesty.”
“We are dealing with a key document, which was previously withheld
from us, because it is clearly anti-Semitic and provides background on
why Pius XII did not cry out against the Holocaust. That’s why we have
to be skeptical about the entire 11-volume edition and will have to
check it against the archive page by page,” Wolf told the German
Catholic weekly Kirche und Leben.
Michael Hesemann, a Catholic historian and author, doubts the
importance of Wolf’s findings.
Hesemann told the National Catholic Register that Wolf’s team “had
only five days in the archives, their project was interrupted due to
the coronavirus crisis, so to make any claim is premature, but to
exaggerate the importance of a personal note of a monsignor and to
misuse it for such big claims is just ridiculous.”
Wolf’s team also found three small photographs showing emaciated
concentration camp inmates and bodies thrown into a mass grave. A
Jewish informer had given them to a Vatican ambassador in Switzerland
who then sent them to the Vatican.
Courtesy: World Israel News