New documents contradict Vatican claims on WWII Jew murders – media

Lazy eyes listen


According to a letter published on Saturday by the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Pope Pius XII was informed about the slaughter of thousands of Jews in the Belzec extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. The Vatican has long claimed ignorance of the full scope of the Holocaust.

The letter, addressed to Pius’ secretary, was written in December 1942 by German Jesuit priest Lothar Koenig and was just unearthed by a Vatican archivist.

The priest apparently references an SS-operated gas chamber at the Belzec death camp in Poland, as well as the Auschwitz extermination camp, in the missive.

According to Koenig, “up to 6,000 men die every day, especially Poles and Jews” in the “blast furnaces” at Belzec.

It is unknown if Pius ever read Koenig’s letter. However, in the same month of 1942, the Pontiff began receiving correspondence from British and Polish envoys alerting him that the Nazi authority had already slaughtered up to a million Jews in Poland.

In a speech held two weeks after receiving Koenig’s letter, Pope Francis condemned the killings of “hundreds of thousands” of “faultless” people because of their “nationality or race.” He did not name the perpetrators or victims of these crimes in his remarks.

Critics of Pius have long contended that the Pope did not do enough to spotlight the Holocaust, and that his pronouncements on the subject were unduly cautious. According to his defenders, he was bound by the Holy See’s neutrality and worked through diplomatic channels to save up to 800,000 Jewish lives.

Furthermore, Koenig reportedly begged Pius’ secretary not to make the contents of his letter public, fearing that Nazi authorities would assassinate him and his resistance sources.

Following the war, Pius received a monetary award from World Jewish Council head Dr Leon Kubowitzky “in recognition of the Holy See’s work in rescuing Jews from Fascist and Nazi persecutions.” Israeli Prime Ministers Golda Meir and Moshe Sharett, as well as Chief Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog, also honoured him.

Next month, the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome will hold a discussion on Koenig’s letter and other documents during his reign. The conference will be attended by representatives from Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust research centre, the US Holocaust Memorial, and Israeli and US embassies, according to the Associated Press on Saturday.