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Pope Pius Considered Reports on Nazi Atrocities on Jews Exaggerated

The late Pope Pius felt in 1943 that Nazi anti-Jewish atrocities were being exaggerated by the Allies and stated that “when talking of atrocities he could not name the Nazis without at the same time mentioning the Bolshaviks” which might displease the Allies, according to official State Department documents made public yesterday.

The Pope was quoted by Harold H. Tittman, assistant to Myron C. Taylor, personal representative of President Roosevelt to the Vatican, in a dispatch sent Jan. 5, 1943, from U.S. Minister Leland Harrison in Berne, Switzerland, to the Secretary of State; Describing his meeting with the Pope, Mr. Tittman said the Pope “stated that he ‘feared’ that there was foundation for the atrocity reports of the Allies but led me to believe that he felt that there had been some exaggeration for purpose of propaganda.”

Diplomatic documents of 1942 had already disclosed that the United States, through President Franklin D. Roosevelts’ personal representatives at the Vatican, joined other Governments in urging the Pope to speak out against the “incredible horrors” committed by the Nazis against Poles and others as well as Jews. Volume II of the 1943 papers, in a series entitled “Foreign Relations of the United States,” makes public one more document on the subject. It contains Mr. Tittman’s report to the State Department.

Mr. Tittman, in his report, said that he had a 40-minute interview with the Pope. The conversation turned to the Pope’s 1942 Christmas message issued the week before. “With regard to his Christmas message,” Mr. Tittman wrote, “the Pope gave me the impression that he was sincere in believing that he had spoken clearly enough to satisfy all those who had been insisting in the past that he utter some word of condemnation of the Nazi atrocities and he seemed surprised when I told him that I thought there were some who did not share his belief.

“The Pope said he thought that it was plain to everyone that he was referring to the Poles, Jews and hostages when he declared that hundreds of thousands of persons had been killed or tortured through no fault of their own, sometimes only because of their race or nationality,” Mr. Tittman stated in his report. “He explained that when talking of atrocities he could not name the Nazis without at the same time mentioning the Bolsheviks and this he thought might not be wholly pleasing to the Allies.

“He stated that he ‘feared’ that there was foundation for the atrocity reports of the Allies, but led me to believe that he felt that there had been some exaggeration for purpose of propaganda,” Mr. Tittman wrote, quoting the Pope. “Taken as a whole, he thought his ‘message should be welcomed by the American people and I agreed with him,” Mr. Tittman said.

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