A recently discovered correspondence between Pope Pius XII, who served as Pope during World War II, and a German Jesuit has revealed that Pius knew of the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the Holocaust, according to an article by Italian News Corriere Della Sera published earlier this week.
The letter confirmed that Pius was told of the 6,000 Jews and Poles being gassed in Poland every day during the Holocaust. This, according to AP News, has meant that the Holy See’s argument that it couldn’t verify official reports of atrocities to denounce them is invalid.
There has been significant discourse on how Pius’ legacy should be remembered. Some have seen him as a silent ally to Jewish victims who made subtle arrangements to save the lives of European victims, while others have viewed him as someone who enabled the Holocaust with abject silence.
The article by Corriere made specific reference to a speech made by the former pope, on December 24, 1942. Pius had stated “hundreds of thousands of people, who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only for reasons of nationality or lineage, are destined to death or progressive deterioration."
However, as the article points out, the pope failed to make any direct mention of the Jews, or Nazis, or specify the atrocities referenced.
Information on the recently discovered letter
The letter, dated December 14, 1942, was sent from the German Jesuit priest to Pius’ secretary.
The letter highlighted the war crimes committed in the Belzec concentration camp; specifically within the crematoriums.
The transcript of the letter will be available to see in a book about Pius to be published on September 18 by Giovanni Coco, a researcher and archivist in the Vatican’s Apostolic Archives.