David Kertzer is an American historian who has taken advantage of the Vatican's new open-door policy. In 1998 the Archives of the Roman Catholic Church were opened for historians to ascertain the truth about the alleged involvement of Pope Pius XII in the holocaust. The historians have still not shown that Pius XII was guilty of anything more than an angst-ridden silence, but Kertzer effectively shows how anti-Semitism was deeply rooted in every aspect of European culture including the opinions and policies of the popes and inquisitors of the Catholic Church.
As one would expect from a professional historian of Kertzer's status, his book is objective, balanced and fair. If anti-semitism was deeply rooted in the culture of Catholic Europe, it is also true that there were constant voices within the Catholic Church challenging the anti-Semitic assumptions and calling for change. Kertzer's main point, that the anti-Semitism ingrained in European Catholic culture prepared the way for the holocaust, is strong and presented well. He writes with a clear, readable style and his research and documentation are impeccable. While it is true that Catholics cannot take the blame for the holocaust, Kertzer has still presented a case for Catholics to answer. Hopefully, in Pope John Paul II's millennium mea culpa and his rapprochement with the nation of Israel, we have seen the first steps towards long term reconciliation and co-operation. --Dwight Longenecker
'Kertzer has done a staggeringly thorough job of tracing Catholic statements on the Jews....He lays out this revolting record with admirable calm.' -- New York Times Book review, September 2001
'Once again Kertzer has produced impressive evidence of the part played by the papacy in the growth of anti-Semitism in the twentieth century.' -- John Cornwell, author of Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius Xii