cover image The Pope’s Jews: 
The Vatican’s Secret Plans to Save Jews from the Nazis

The Pope’s Jews: The Vatican’s Secret Plans to Save Jews from the Nazis

Gordon Thomas. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-60421-9

Sometimes referred to as “Hitler’s Pope,” Pope Pius XII has long been accused by Jews and Christians of standing by silently while Hitler killed millions of Jews. Drawing upon Vatican archival material available to only a few scholars (the rest of the archive will not be opened till 2020) and interviews with survivors and Vatican insiders, Thomas (Gideon’s Spies) firmly challenges this long-standing view. Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli learned of the Nazi threat to the Jews and devised a plan for their well-being. Any Vatican denunciation of the Nazi tyranny would, he believed, provoke more Nazi reprisals against the Jews. But, according to Thomas, he continued working behind the scenes to save as many Jews as possible; he instructed his archbishops to apply for visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” to help Jews escape. Once installed as Pope Pius XII, Pacelli urged archbishops to condemn Nazi crimes against Jews and authorized cardinals to issue baptismal certificates for their protection. After his death, Golda Meir praised Pius for raising his voice for the victims. Because Thomas’s argument goes against many historians’ view of Pius XII, his book will ignite a contentious debate about the interpretation of his evidence and Pius’s role during the Holocaust. (Oct.)