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Hitler's Pope: the Secret History of Pius XII (German) Paperback

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  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Ullstein-Taschenbuch-Verlag, Zweigniederlassung de
  • Language: German
  • ISBN-10: 3548600875
  • ISBN-13: 978-3548600871
  • Product Dimensions: 19.1 x 12.4 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,088,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael W. Perry on 27 Sep 2008
Format: Paperback
In an interview in The Bulletin (Philadelphia, Sept. 27, 2008), the author of Hitler's Pope stated that since the publication of his book, his views have changed, noting:

"While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this," he said. "Nevertheless, due to his ineffectual and diplomatic language in respect of the Nazis and the Jews, I still believe that it was incumbent on him to explain his failure to speak out after the war. This he never did."

Others would argue that the author's insistence that Pope Pius XII should have taken a more public stance against Nazism has never made much sense. The Pope lived in Vatican City, a militarily indefensible neighborhood in Fascist Rome. Any time he wanted, Hitler could have sent German troops already in Italy to silence the Pope. In spite of that, the Vatican's open opposition to Nazism compares favorably to that of Switzerland, protected by its mountains and an army that included virtually all adult Swiss males, and Sweden, protected from invasion by icy cold waters and Hitler's need to ensure that nothing happened to his supply of Swedish iron ore.

Instead of making a public statement that would have been sneered at by Hitler and flashed across the front pages of newspapers in the US and UK for a single day and then faded into oblivion, Pope Pius XII did far more good in secret, issuing orders and encouraging others to protect European Jews. Scholars, obsessed themselves with mere words on paper, attach too much value to them. Deeds are better.
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Amazon.com: 1 review
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Cornwell has written important (and sometimes controversial) books such as Breaking Faith: Can the Catholic Church Save Itself?, A Thief in the Night: Life and Death in the Vatican, and The Pontiff in Winter: Triumph and Conflict in the Reign of John Paul II, as well as the memoir Seminary Boy. [NOTE: page numbers below refer to the 430-page 1999 hardcover edition.]

He wrote in the Preface to this 1999 book, "I was convinced that if his full story were told, Pius XII's pontificate would be vindicated. Hence I decided to write a book that would satisfy a broad spectrum of readers... nearing the end of my research, I found myself in a state I can only describe as moral shock. The material I had gathered... amounted not to an exoneration but to a wider indictment... my research told the story of a bid for unprecedented papal power that by 1933 had drawn the Catholic Church into complicity with the darkest forces of the era. I found evidence, moreover, that from an early stage in his career Pacelli betrayed an undeniable antipathy toward the Jews, and that his diplomacy in Germany in the 1930s had resulted in the betrayal of Catholic political associations that might have challenged Hitler's regime and thwarted the Final Solution. Eugenio Pacelli was no monster; his case is far more complex, more tragic, than that. The interest of his story depends on a fatal combination of high spiritual aspirations in conflict with soaring ambition for power and control. His is not a portrait of evil but of fatal moral dislocation---a separation of authority from Christian love. The consequences of that rupture were collusion with tyranny and, ultimately, violence." (Pg. viii)

He notes that in a 1919 letter, "Pacelli's constant harping on the Jewishness of this [Bolshevik] party of power usurpers is consistent with the growing and widespread belief among German s that the Jews were the instigators of the Bolshevik revolution, their principal aim being the destruction of Christian civilization. But there is something else about the passage that is repugnant and ominous. The repeated references to the Jewishness of these individuals, amid the catalogue of epithets describing their physical and moral repulsiveness, gives an impression of stereotypical anti-Semitic contempt." (Pg. 75)

He suggests, "Only a dictator could have granted Pacelli the sort of concordat he was seeking. Only a dictator of Hitler's cunning could have seen teh concordat as a means of weakening the Catholic Church in Germany." After... Pacelli and Hitler had reached their fateful accord in July 1933---both men expressed their separate views of the treaty's significance. The gulf between their aims was remarkable." (Pg. 130) He adds, "The signing of the Reich Concordat marked the formal beginning of German Catholicism's acceptance of its obligations under the terms of the treaty which imposed a moral duty on Catholics to obey the Nazi rulers. Thus Catholic critics fell silent. A great Church, which might have formed the basis of an opposition, confined itself to the sacristy." (Pg. 157)

He charges that in a May 1938 appearance to open an International Eucharistic Conference in Hungary, "Pacelli demonstrated... his willingness to appease... Not only did Pacelli make no reference to the burgeoning anti-Semitism in Hungary, but he had no work of criticism, at this most public Catholic forum of that year, against the regime across the border. In fact, in a principal passage of his sermon... he called for an appeasement that would be matched that same year in secular political terms by France and Britain... Pacelli, representative of the Pope at the Eucharistic congress, was making it clear that the 'comprehensive love' he preached at the meeting did not include the Jews." (Pg. 185-186)

He observes, "No clear word issued from either the Vatican or the German hierarchy following Krystallnacht. And yet, Pacelli had claimed for himself and the Holy See a position on the moral high ground of courage earlier in the year... Pacelli's policy ... had been one of public silence and private indifference on the Jewish issue... the attitude was: the Jews must look after themselves. Yet indications are that Pius XI himself began to take a more sympathetic, if qualified, view of the plight of the Jews as events unfolded." (Pg. 188) A draft encyclical condemning anti-Semitism "reached Pius XI days before his death on february 9, 1939. for all its prejudices, the encyclical might have made clear to the world that the Pope condemned anti-Semitism. Pacelli, soon to be Pope, was to bury the document deep in the secret archives." (Pg. 191-192)

He summarizes, "it is clear that Pacelli believed that the Jews had brought misfortune on their own heads; intervention on their behalf could draw the Church into alliance with forces... whose ultimate aim was the destruction of the institutional Church... we are obliged to conclude that his silence had more to do with a habitual fear and distrust of the Jews than a strategy of diplomacy or a commitment to impartiality... That failure to utter a candid word about the Final Solution in progress proclaimed to the world that the Vicar of Christ was not moved to pity and anger. From this point of view he was the ideal Pope for Hitler's unspeakable plan. He was Hitler's pawn. He was Hitler's Pope... His complicity in the Final Solution through failure to register appropriate condemnation was compounded by a retrospective attempt to portray himself as an outspoken defended of the Jewish people. His grandiloquent self-exculpation in 1946 revealed him to be not only an ideal Pope for the Nazis' Final Solution, but a hypocrite." (Pg. 296-297)

He concludes, "It is a hard thing for a Catholic to accuse the Pope... of acquiescing, for whatever reasons and in whatever state of conscience, in the plans of Hitler... To his everlasting shame, and to the shame of the Catholic Church, Pacelli disdained to recognize the Jews of Rome as members of his Roman flock." (Pg. 318) He adds, "Pacelli's initiatives in Hungary and elsewhere no doubt contributed to Catholic rescue efforts. But his protest was too late to prevent the nearly half-million Jews deported from the provinces. To the very end, moreover, he declined to name the Nazis or the Jews... it was ordinary religious, clergy, and laypersons... without Pacelli's encouragement, who were largely responsible for Catholic rescue efforts... An earlier protest from a higher authority, however, might have made a significant difference." (Pg. 326)

Of course, this is a highly controversial book. Cornwell's background of Pacelli's earlier life is one of the most useful parts of the book; but this book would well be read in addition to other books such as Pius XII and the Holocaust: Understanding the Controversy, The Myth of Hitler's Pope, Hitler, the War, and the Pope, The Pope and the Holocaust, Pius Xii, Greatness Dishonored, etc.
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