Just another neutral state: The Vatican in the Holocaust
This short excerpt from a noted scholar of the Holocaust, Prof. R.S. Landau, depicts the behaviour of the State of the Vatican City as no different from that of any other neutral country anxious to avoid being attacked and to emerge on the winning side.
“I am afraid that history may have cause to reprove the Holy See for a policy accommodated to its own advantage and little else. And this is very sad, above all whan one has lived under Pius XI.”
— Eugene Cardinal Tisserant to Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard, 11 June 1940.
The Nazi Holocaust
Excerpts from Dr. Ronnie S. Landau, 1992
Why, it has been asked repeatedly, did the Pope not utter a solemn denunciation of this crime against the Jews and against humanity? His moral authority was so great that, had he publicised the true purpose behind the deportation, he would have been believed, whereas Allied broadcasts could always be dismissed as propaganda. Why did he not threaten with excommunication the many Catholics who participated in this mass murder? [p. 216]
Why, it has been demanded, did he not give a clear moral and spiritual lead to Catholic priests throughout Europe? In June 1941, when the Vichy French government introduced ‘Jewish laws’ closely modelled upon the Nuremberg Laws, the pope responded to appeals for French bishops by stating that such laws were not in conflict with Catholic teaching. Later efforts by the British, Americans and Poles to persuade the Vatican to publish a specific condemnation of Nazi extermination of the Jews fell on deaf ears. The pope, came the reply, could only issue a general denunciation of wartime atrocities. [p. 217]
Ronnie S. Landau, The Nazi Holocaust, 1992.
Dr. Landau, former Head of Humanities at the City Literary Institute, is Director of the British Holocaust Education Project and Member of Faculty at Leo Baeck College, London, where he lectures in modern Jewish history.