Toward the mid 1970s, The Deputy started running out of steam. In 1974 Andropov conceded to us that, had we known then what we know today, we would never have gone after Pope Pius XII. What now made the difference was newly released information showing that Hitler, far from being friendly with Pius XII, had in fact been plotting against him.
Just a few days before Andropov’s admission, the former supreme commander of the German SS (Schutzstaffel) squadron in Italy during World War II, General Friedrich Otto Wolff, had been released from jail and confessed that in 1943 Hitler had ordered him to abduct Pope Pius XII from the Vatican. That order had been so hush-hush that it never turned up after the war in any Nazi archive. Nor had it come out at any of the many debriefings of Gestapo and SS officers conducted by the victorious Allies. In his confession Wolff claimed that he had replied to Hitler that his order would take six weeks to carry out. Hitler, who blamed the pope for the overthrow of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, wanted it done immediately. Eventually Wolff persuaded Hitler that there would be a great negative response if the plan were implemented, and the Führer dropped it.
It was also during 1974 that Cardinal Mindszenty published his book Memoirs, which describes in agonizing detail how he was framed in Communist Hungary. On the evidence of fabricated documents, he was charged with “treason, misuse of foreign currency, and conspiracy,” offenses “all punishable by death or life imprisonment.” He also describes how his falsified “confession” then took on a life of its own. “It seemed to me that anyone should at once have recognized this document as a crude forgery, since it is the product of a bungling, uncultivated mind,” the cardinal writes. “But when I subsequently went through foreign books, newspapers, and magazines that dealt with my case and commented on my ‘confession,’ I realized that the public must have concluded that the ‘confession’ had actually been composed by me, although in a semiconscious state and under the influence of brainwashing… [T]hat the police would have published a document they had themselves manufactured seemed altogether too brazen to be believed.” Furthermore, Hanna Sulner, the Hungarian handwriting expert used to frame the cardinal, who had escaped to Vienna, confirmed that she had forged Mindszenty’s “confession.””
A few years later, Pope John Paul II started the process of sanctifying Pius XII, and witnesses from all over the world have compellingly proved that Pius XII was an enemy, not a friend, of Hitler. Israel Zoller, the chief rabbi of Rome between 1943-44, when Hitler took over that city, devoted an entire chapter of his memoirs to praising the leadership of Pius XII. “The Holy Father sent by hand a letter to the bishops instructing them to lift the enclosure from convents and monasteries, so that they could become refuges for the Jews. I know of one convent where the Sisters slept in the basement, giving up their beds to Jewish refugees.” On July 25, 1944, Zoller was received by Pope Pius XII. Notes taken by Vatican secretary of state Giovanni Battista Montini (who would become Pope Paul VI) show that Rabbi Zoller thanked the Holy Father for all he had done to save the Jewish community of Rome — and his thanks were transmitted over the radio. On February 13, 1945, Rabbi Zoller was baptized by Rome’s auxiliary bishop Luigi Traglia in the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. In gratitude to Pius XII, Zoller took the Christian name of Eugenio (the pope’s name). A year later Zoller’s wife and daughter were also baptized.
David G. Dalin, in The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews From the Nazis, published a few months ago, has compiled further overwhelming proof of Eugenio Pacelli’s friendship for the Jews beginning long before he became pope. At the start of World War II, Pope Pius XII’s first encyclical was so anti-Hitler that the Royal Air Force and the French air force dropped 88,000 copies of it over Germany.
A fascinating article