Inside the Vatican Magazine Press Release
Monday, January 9, 2012
Is much of the modern world's prevailing scholarly thinking about Pope Pius XII and his relations with Jews and the Jewish community just plain wrong?
It may very well be, according to remarkable new evidence discovered by researcher William Doino, Jr., and published in the latest edition of Inside the Vatican magazine.
The evidence shows that Pope Pius XII helped hundreds of shipwrecked Jews to avoid deportation to German concentration camps.
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The evidence is compelling, so compelling that some Jewish voices are now calling on the authorities of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Israel to consider declaring Pope Pius XII one of the "Righteous among the Nations" for personally intervening to save Jewish lives during World War II.
William Doino, Jr., researcher and Pius XII expert, during five years of painstaking research, has uncovered and here published explicit new testimony from two Jewish witnesses — evidence either up to now unknown, not fully known, or, for reasons difficult to understand, deliberately ignored by scholars and others engaged in a 50-year campaign of defamation against Pius XII.
Doino's research challenges those who hold negative views of Pius XII, and in particular, Yad Vashem,Israel's Holocaust Memorial, which still displays an exhibit accusing the wartime pontiff of indifference toward Jews during the Holocaust.
Will this powerful evidence, revealing the Pope’s firm support for Jewish victims, finally persuade Yad Vashem to take down its inaccurate exhibit? Might it move Yad Vashem, in fact, toward declaring Pius XII a “Righteous Gentile"?
The new research may also influence the Catholic Church’s thinking as a decision about whether to advance Pius XII’s cause for beatification is weighed.
The eyewitnesses to Pius XII's actions are two Jewish refugees: Howard Heinz Wisla (1920-2004), fromGermany; and Herman Herskovic (1921-1983), from Czechoslovakia, each of whom left behind dramatic testimonies until now overlooked or forgotten. Doino earlier touched on some of Wisla's testimony, which had
anonymously been published in the Palestine Post (today's Jerusalem Post) in 1944. To read that 2006 story, click here.
This new January essay, "Pope Pius XII: Friend and Rescuer of Jews," draws upon Wisla's virtually unknown memoir, first published in German and Hebrew (1945), and then, in expanded form, in English (1966).
The memoir describes his astonishing audience with Pius XII at the Vatican in late 1941, when Pius embraced the young Wisla, and told him: "Always be proud to be a Jew!"
The revealing article also tells the full story of the Jewish refugees shipwrecked in the Aegean Sea, who had managed to get to a deserted island, only to discover they faced slow starvation, and approaching Germans. The Nazis did eventually take control of the island and commit atrocities. Before that, however, Wisla had escaped, reaching Rome and the Pope. Alerted by Pius XII, the Italian Red Cross took the refugees to relative safety in southern Italy.
In addition to Wisla's first-hand account, there is that of his fellow refugee, Herman Herskovic. Herskovic confirms Wisla's meeting with the Pope, as well as the harrowing ordeal of the Jews saved by Pius, and declares: "I owe my life to the Pope," adding that "several hundred Jews" also owed their lives to Pope Pius.
This groundbreaking journalism establishes in detail a successful rescue effort carried out at the personal direction of Pius XII, enabling 500 endangered Jews to survive the deadly anti-Semitism of World War II.
"This is just another example of how Pope Pius XII directly interceded to save Jewish lives when most of the world's religious leaders did nothing," said Gary Krupp, a Jewish researcher on Pius XII and the Second World War who lives in New York. "And Pius did so while being surrounded by hostile forces and mindful of the plan to invade the Vatican to kidnap him in 1943. It is time for the world to appreciate what this man did. We call upon the authorities at Yad Vashem to seriously look at this material, in addition to the other evidence we have submitted to them, in order for Pope Pius XII to be called righteous among nations."(Gary Krupp is the Founder and President of Pave The Way Foundation.)