ROME (Jun. 28)
The Vatican this weekend came again to the defense of the late Pope Pius XII and his role during the Nazi slaughter of European Jewry with a special 95-page issue of its official publication dealing with the controversy.
The special issue of L’Osservatore della Domenica, the weekend edition of L’Osservatore Romano, contains photographic copies of previously unpublished documents from various Catholic and Jewish sources designed to refute the charge that the Pope could have done much more than he did to save Jews from the Nazi murder machine. The charge of the Pope’s silence on the holocaust has been revived and widely discussed since the production of “The Deputy,” a play by West German playwright Rolf Hochhuth, condemning this silence.
The special issue deals with the assistance given Jews by the Catholic Church in all countries invaded by the Nazis. Contributors included Father Weber, writing about Church assistance to help Jews emigrate; Cardinal Zaliege of Toulouse; as well as such Jewish leaders as Rafael Cantoni, former president of the Rome Jewish community; Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff of Rome; and individual Jews relating how the Church saved them from the Nazis.
One of the articles was by Ettori Dellaricia, who recently wrote a series of articles about the Jews of Rome in Giornale D’Italia, dealing with events in 1943. The series was considered a defense of the late Pontiff against the charges in the Hochhuth play.
Dellaricia, in his article, recounted the story of the Nazi demand for 50 kilos of gold from the Jews of Rome, and declared that the then president of the Rome Jewish community had confirmed in writing the offer of Pope Pius to advance a portion of the gold. The article described other exactions of the Germans culminating in the roundup and deportation of 3,000 Jews. At the same time, Dellaricia wrote, about 4,000 Rome Jews found refuge in various convents and other Catholic institutions.
The article stresses that the Rome Jewish community had expressed in the “most explicit manner” the conviction that all that had been done for Jews by Catholic organizations in that period would have been impossible without explicit instructions from the late Pope Pius XII.