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The Myth of Hitler's Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany Hardcover – 14 Jul 2005
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About the Author
David G. Dalin is a professor of History and Political Science at Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida.
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The most surprising part of this book was the chapter on “Hitler’s Mufti,” showing how the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem supported the Third Reich while Pope Pius XII was working against it. Rabbi Dalin ties all of this in with the rise of radical Islam and modern-day anti-Semitism.
I would have liked a bibliography with more details of the primary sources used here, rather than just the secondary sources mentioned in the notes, but this is a book for the general reader, not the academic specialist, and I’m sure that people who are new to this controversy as well as those who have already done some reading on it will find Rabbi Dalin’s book to be worthwhile.
This book goes some way to answering those points, defending the reputation of Pius X11. How effective it is in that regard I suppose for many readers will depend upon their own perspective. My problem with this text is that there are really only two chapters in what is quite a short book that directly deal with the issue. The author takes a direct stand on the various criticisms that have been leveled at Pius XII without providing any discussion or room for doubt. The reader is put in the position of either totally accepting the author's views or researching the subject themself. I am just not interested enough in this subject to refer back to all the references provided. The problem with that is when an issue comes up that one disagrees with there is a temptation to dismiss all the arguments. For example Dalin has a section in the book describing the Renaissance Popes. I don't know why that is relevant but he paints a very rosy picture of this group as regards their relations with Jews. But no mention of Pope Paul IV and the Inquisition.
My view is that both Dalin and (to a lesser extent) Cornwell would have been better to have taken a more realistic view of Pius XII. The man was an intelligent diplomat faced with an impossible task of maintaining the Vatican as an independent state within the context of a widely anti-sematic Europe and overwhelming fascist might. As a diplomat he made choices some right and some wrong. With the benefit of hindsight he probably did not do enough to help European jews but his position was strictly limited by his weak position. One could argue that the long-term survival of a force for good (i.e. an independent Catholic church) was more important than risking all with futile gestures.
If nothing else both books are well worth reading to illustrate the difficulty historians have in dispassionately describing such significant historical events.
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