The Myth of Hitler's Pope

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The Myth of Hitler's Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews from the Nazis is a book written by American historian and Rabbi David G. Dalin and published in 2005 by Regnery Publishing.

Background[edit]

In 2001 Joseph Bottum commissioned Dalin to write an omnibus review article on the books relating to Pope Pius XII, who was the centre of controversy in the wake of John Cornwell's book "Hitler's Pope." The latter received attention in the Weekly Standard.

Published in February 2001, Dalin's essay (later expanded into the book) concluded that Pius XII was a Righteous Gentile who saved hundreds of thousands of lives during the Holocaust. Bottum stated that the essay "went far beyond any claim I had been willing to make", though he did not say whether he disagreed with any of the claims in the essay, and also noted that one New York Times reviewer who "responded in the way I had supposed most would" had "grumbled a little but eventually concluded the claims about Pius XII were overwrought and Dalin was basically right: the Pope did 'more than most to shelter Jews.'"

Bottum said that at a Holocaust symposium the next summer, one conservative editor, who had previously supported Bottum's approach, declared he would never read another word David Dalin wrote. Bottum also said that in "conservative Catholic" circles it was generally well received, but noted that many in these circles have a "self-image as victims" and fear that attacks on Pius XII are signs of "rampant anti-Catholicism" in larger society, and that these sorts of fears drive them to an insular attitude of wanting to "flee to small fellowships of the saved and away from the corruption of the public square". When people like this endorse the book, Bottum says, then in the minds of others who completely disagree with Dalin and were "only angered" by his pro-Pius XII argument, these endorsements just serve to confirm "that David Dalin let himself be used as a Jew to advance a sectarian Catholic agenda".[1]

Contents[edit]

Dalin first presents evidence to support his conclusion that popes through history have defended the Jews, and that they have refuted attacks like the blood libel.

Then he gets to the main part of the book: defending the reputation of the late Pope Pius XII by presenting extensive documentation culled from Church and State archives throughout Europe. Rabbi Dalin suggests that Yad Vashem should honor Pope Pius XII as a "Righteous Gentile", and documents that Pius was praised by many leading Jews of his day for his role in saving more Jews than Schindler. Pius's admirers included Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog of the Palestinian Mandate and Israel, Israeli Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett, and Israel's first president Chaim Weizmann.

Dalin also presents Albert Einstein as one of the Jews who supposedly praised Pius XII, writing that Einstein "paid tribute to the 'courage' of Pope Pius and the Catholic Church".[2] He references a 23 December 1940 article in Time magazine and quotes Einstein as saying in the article that "Only the Catholic church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing the truth."[2] However the article actually quoted Einstein saying, "only the church", not the "Catholic church",[3] and in the original 1934 La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press article that the quote came from before it was reprinted 6 years later in Time, the author prefaced it by saying he was "quoting in free translation a statement made by Professor Einstein last year to one of my colleagues who has been prominently identified with the Protestant church in its contacts with Germany."[4] In a 1943 letter Einstein said he made a statement "which corresponds approximately" with the Time article, but that it was made much earlier than 1940 "during the first years of the Nazi regime" and that his actual comments were "more moderate."[5] In a 1950 letter Einstein said that his quoted remarks from the Time article were "not my own", that they had been "elaborated and exaggerated nearly beyond recognition" and that he was "predominantly critical" of the clergy.[6] In a 1943 interview Einstein was extremely critical of the Catholic Church's behavior under the Nazis, and also singled out Pope Pius XII for criticism because of his Concordat with Hitler, saying "Since when can one make a pact with Christ and Satan at the same time?"[7]

Dalin writes:

"anti-papal polemics of ex-seminarians like Garry Wills and John Cornwell (author of Hitler's Pope), of ex-priests like James Carroll, and or other lapsed or angry liberal Catholics exploit the tragedy of the Jewish people during the Holocaust to foster their own political agenda of forcing changes on the Catholic Church today."

Dalin also argues that there really was a "Hitler's cleric", Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who spent the war with Hitler, was a friend of Adolf Eichmann, and later became the mentor of Yasser Arafat.

Reviews[edit]

In the July/August 2006 issue of The American Spectator, Martin Gilbert, a Holocaust historian, writes: "Building on earlier, documented defenses of Pius XII...[ Dalin ] builds a powerful case for Pius XII, suggesting that the desire of Pope John Paul II to canonize Pius need not have been offensive -- or insensitive -- to Jews, as it was widely portrayed."[8] Gilbert asserts that "Professor Dalin's book is an essential contribution to our understanding of the reality of Pope Pius XII's support for Jews at their time of greatest danger."[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The End of the Pius Wars", Joseph Bottum, First Things Magazine, April 2004, retrieved July 2009 [1]
  2. ^ a b Dalin, David G. (2005). The Myth of Hitler's Pope. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, p. 99.
  3. ^ Anonymous (1940). "Religion: German Martyrs." Time 36 (Dec. 23): 38.
  4. ^ “The Conflict Between Church And State In The Third Reich”, by S. Parkes Cadman, La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press (28 October 1934), viewable online on p. 9 of the issue here.
  5. ^ Antiques Roadshow (2008) "1943 Albert Einstein Letter" PBS. May 19. Video Einstein wrote "It's true that I made a statement which corresponds approximately with the text you quoted. I made this statement during the first years of the Nazi regime—much earlier than 1940—and my expressions were a little more moderate."
  6. ^ Dukas, Helen, ed. (1981) Albert Einstein, The Human Side. Princeton: Princeton University Press, p. 94. The letter was a 14 November 1950 response to Rev. Cornelius Greenway of Brooklyn, who asked if Einstein would write out the statement in his own hand, and Einstein responded "The wording of the statement you have quoted is not my own. Shortly after Hitler came to power in Germany I had an oral conversation with a newspaper man about these matters. Since then my remarks have been elaborated and exaggerated nearly beyond recognition. I cannot in good conscience write down the statement you sent me as my own. The matter is all the more embarrassing to me because I, like yourself, I am predominantly critical concerning the activities, and especially the political activities, through history of the official clergy. Thus, my former statement, even if reduced to my actual words (which I do not remember in detail) gives a wrong impression of my general attitude."
  7. ^ Hermanns, William (1983). Einstein and the Poet Brookline Village MA: Branden Books,p. 65. Hermanns asked him "Isn't it only human to move along the line of least resistance?" and he replied with a specific criticism of Pope Pius XII, saying "Yes. It is indeed human, as proved by Cardinal Pacelli, who was behind the Concordat with Hitler. Since when can one make a pact with Christ and Satan at the same time? And he is now the Pope!"
  8. ^ Gilbert, 08/18/06, p. 1.
  9. ^ Gilbert, 08/18/06, p. 4.

Notes[edit]