Apparently Pope Pius XII wasn’t complicit in the Holocaust after all. My historian buddy Mark Riebling has many, many details. Ordinarily I would not bestir myself over this controversy, but I make an exception because:

  • Mark’s excellent book Wedge, on the history of FBI-CIA relations, is out in paperback this fall, and I owe him a plug.
  • I manage and serve his sites.
  • The controversy is actually interesting. Pius’s reputation was destroyed by a work of fiction, The Deputy, by the German playwright and agitprop specialist Rolf Hochhuth. It portayed Pius as aloof and utterly indifferent to the Holocaust. I read The Deputy as a teenager, and being a remarkably backward teenager, I was convinced. There was one telling detail in the play, Pius constantly gargling with hydrochloric acid to keep his mouth fresh, that I think really sold me. I had to read quite a bit of actual history, twenty-five years later, to be unconvinced. This gives me a certain amount of sympathy for people who permit Oliver Stone’s movie JFK to persuade them that the CIA killed Kennedy. Well, it doesn’t really. But maybe it should.
Aaron Haspel | Posted September 3, 2002 @ 6:28 PM | General

4 Responses to “Hitler’s Pope?”

  1. 1 1. mark riebling

    Everything Aaron says is of course true, at least in this case. He complains that I do not read his site, but actually I do; it’s just that I have been keeping away lately because he reviewed Martin Amis’ new book on Stalin, and I am supposed to be reviewing it also, and I don’t want to peek at Aaron’s review because then I won’t be able to get it out of my f’n head, etc. For the record I like Aaron’s design elements much better than my own, and I keep waiting for him to put up a new site for me, contrarius.com, so that I can steal his templates and inject my own content.

    On a completely unrelated matter, Casey Fahy — who fancies himself a new blogger, and is an old friend – well, Casey, I’m pissed at you, because you made up a fake movie in your E online reviews, used it to track piracy, but in the process you used my real name in this notional artifact; so now half the hits for me on google refer to ROTTEN TOMATOES and BUY POSTERS for this fucking movie I supposedly starred in, WHICH DOES NOT EVEN EXIST. People keep asking me about it. Were you a child film star? Blah blah blah. Casey, what were you thinking???????????????


  2. 2 2. mark riebling

    Okay well on PIUS, I should say that he WAS responsible for the Holocaust in the sense that everyone in the West was; because until the discovery of the camps everyone here was at least a country-club anti-Semite. BUT

    (a) Pius was far less responsible than those who had more power to do things, e.g. FDR and Churchill, who would not take in very many Jews during the prewar period when Hitler offered them free passage to the West.

    (b) Pius was the only world leader who pursued the only wartime policy which, if successful, would have averted the Holocaust: viz., the assassination of Adolf Hitler. For this see my fortchoming book and my new site vaticanassassins.com which will shortly be up. Cornwell admits that Pius tried to kill Hitler; yet he still titles his book HITLER’S POPE. Which is akin to alleging that JFK was OSWALD’S PRESIDENT.

    (c) The attacks on Pius by Goldhagen and Cornwell are scurrilous. There are plenty of criticisms that can be mustered against the Church, which in 2,000 years as an institution has done its share of evil. But to lay the Holocaust at the throne of St. Peter is patently absurd, since it was the Popes who protected the Jews, gave them sanctuary, etc. Thus the Jewish community in Rome is the oldest in Europe: no fucking accident, is it? And a shade better then the treatment accorded Christians under the Hebrew theocracies between CE 35 and 70 AD, when, leaving aside the slanders about Jews killing Christ, the punishment for Christianity was death.

    (d) If Goldhagen really wishes to discover the roots of genocide in the West, it would be nice to see some reference to the slaughter of the Amalekites by the Hebrews, which indicates clearly the orthodox Jewish view that good and evil, like choseness, are passed on genetically. It seems that this would have somewhat more in common with the doctrine of Hitler and Co. than the Christian view of every soul being equal and sacred in God’s eyes.


  3. 3 3. mark riebling

    Goldhagen is also dishonest on this count: He accepts the death-toll figure of 6 million Jews, which can only be derived if one counts Jews who converted to Christianity as Jews; i.e., it’s a genetic-based concept of Jewishness. Fine so far. Then he turns around and says Pius XII deserves no praise for his successful efforts to save an estimated 800,000 converted Jews, because they were not Jews, but Christians. In this connection I would draw attention also to the VIKTOR KLEMPERER diaries, justly celebrated here when published in translation a few years ago, which underscore the fact that Jewish relief organizations refused on principle to assist during the war any Jews who had converted to Christianity. When you get down to it, Jews looked after Jews, and Christians looked after Christians: Yet only Christians are now blamed for this donkeyheadedness. Finally one should note (as Goldhagen doesn’t) that Pius XII was also silent on the deaths of around 2 million Polish Catholics in German "noncombat military operations" between 1939 and 1941, before the Jewish Shoah began (the latter was officially begun by Heydrich only in July 1941). In other words, Pius was an equal opportunity appeaser, if such he was: if his silence is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism that it is also evidence of anti-Catholicism; which is absurd. His silence is proof only of a consisent policy; and to explain that policy one must look not to what he DID NOT SAY but to what he ACTUALLY DID DO; and among the things he did do, as even Goldhagen admits, was attempt to kill Hitler.

    So, for Goldhagen, the question JEW OR NOT A JEW is answered with great disingenuity. What a fuck-head.


  4. 4 4. mark riebling

    Goldhagen is also dishonest on this count: He accepts the death-toll figure of 6 million Jews, which can only be derived if one counts Jews who converted to Christianity as Jews; i.e., it’s a genetic-based concept of Jewishness. Fine so far. Then he turns around and says Pius XII deserves no praise for his successful efforts to save an estimated 800,000 converted Jews, because they were not Jews, but Christians. In this connection I would draw attention also to the VIKTOR KLEMPERER diaries, justly celebrated here when published in translation a few years ago, which underscore the fact that Jewish relief organizations refused on principle to assist during the war any Jews who had converted to Christianity. When you get down to it, Jews looked after Jews, and Christians looked after Christians: Yet only Christians are now blamed for this donkeyheadedness. Finally one should note (as Goldhagen doesn’t) that Pius XII was also silent on the deaths of around 2 million Polish Catholics in German "noncombat military operations" between 1939 and 1941, before the Jewish Shoah began (the latter was officially begun by Heydrich only in July 1941). In other words, Pius was an equal opportunity appeaser, if such he was: if his silence is prima facie evidence of anti-Semitism that it is also evidence of anti-Catholicism; which is absurd. His silence is proof only of a consisent policy; and to explain that policy one must look not to what he DID NOT SAY but to what he ACTUALLY DID DO; and among the things he did do, as even Goldhagen admits, was attempt to kill Hitler.


Add a Comment

Basic HTML acceptable. Two-link limit per comment.