The Vatican came out in defense of who was the Supreme Pontiff during World War II, Pius XII, and decided, with the endorsement of Pope Francis, to make public information about his actions during the Nazi threat in Europe.
The Holy See published online this Thursday thousands of letters written by European Jews to Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) asking him for help in the face of Nazi persecution during World War II.
About 40,000 digitized files and distributed in 170 funds can be consulted on the website of the Holy See. Most of these were published in the last few hours.
In March 2020, the Vatican had already allowed researchers to access 120 funds and series of historical archives on Pius XII, who some accuse of having kept silent during the extermination of six million Jews.
This new publication, which obeys the will of Pope Francis, will allow the descendants of the senders to “find the traces of their relatives from anywhere in the world,” explained Monsignor Paul Gallagher, in charge of relations with the States, in a article published by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.
The authors of the letters, who came from all over Europe, sought above all to obtain visas or passports, obtain asylum, help to reunite relatives or information on deported people. Some asked for help to be released from the concentration camps.
But the fate of most of those asking for help is unknownthe Vatican specified.
In a letter written in 1942, a 23-year-old German student explains that he wants to flee from a concentration camp in Spain. “There is little hope for those who have no outside help,” the young man wrote.
The files do not reveal any other information about him but, according to investigations by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the man was released a year after he sent his letter and ended up settling in California, the Vatican said.
This publication, which came a day after the pope met in audience with an international Jewish organization, is the result of decades of pressure from academics and historians, divided over the role of the Italian pope during the Holocaust.
The Vatican defends Pius XII, stating that he saved numerous Jews by hiding them in religious institutions and that, with his silence, the pontiff only wanted not to further aggravate their situation.
With information from AFP