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Eugenio Pacelli was born in 1876 and served as Nuncio to Bavaria, Germany, from 1917- 1929. He then acted as Secretary of State until elected Pope on 2nd March 1939. Taking the title 'Pius XII' he reigned till 9th October 1958. His public life thereby spanned the whole period of Nazism (1920-1945).

During and after the war he was greatly praised by the Western Media for his opposition to Nazism. Catholics called for him to be declared a saint, while Jewish voices called for him to be recognized as a: 'Righteous Gentile'.

But following the war, Communism presented a threat of gaining Western Europe via the ballot box. Pius had always denounced Communism as well as Nazism, so the Soviet Union increased its campaign to defame him. Its main accusation was that he had been pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish. The world network of Communist parties and neo-Communist intellectuals echoed this campaign, but there were so many witnesses of the Pope's statements and humanitarian work, that it was easily answered.

However, the Communists did have one success. A German play by Rolf Hochhuth first performed in 1963 entitled
Der Stellvertreter [The Representative or The Deputy], was publicised by Communists throughout the world. In the play, and notes attached, Hochhuth asserted that Pius XII had deliberately kept silent as the Jews were being transported to the death camps. This was because he was more concerned about the safety of the Church and Vatican finances.

Historians, and many witnesses of the period, wrote books and articles in defence of the Pope's reputation. In doing so they successfully exposed the distorted 'evidence' in the play. But much damage had been done to the public memory of Pius XII.

Four years later the author wrote a play, 'Soldaten' (Soldiers). In this he accused Winston Churchill of planning, in 1943, the murder of General Wladislaw Sikorski, head of the Polish government-in-exile. In 1972, after a libel action in London promoted by defenders of Churchill, Hochhuth was found guilty and heavily fined. But anti-Catholics still treat him as a reliable historian.

For many years it was a mystery how such a little known playwright, with no solid historical training, had been propelled into the public eye. But in 1990 Ian Mihari Pacepa, a former Romanian Intelligence agent, published his autobiography.

He claimed in
Red Horizons that he had assisted the KGB (Russian Intelligence) in an attempt to collect materials in Rome for Huchhuth's play. Two articles concerning Pacepa's book are available at:

The tenth article in the list-
Moscow's Assault on the Vatican -is a detailed version.
The eleventh article-
KGB intent- provides a brief summary.

When Communism collapsed, the attacks on Pius XII lessened greatly. But, with the passing of time, the life of Pius began to be forgotten. He became a little known figure in the minds of the younger generation.


In 1997 James Carroll, a former priest who had rejected the primacy of Jesus as the means of salvation and Papal infallibility, wrote an article called 'Silence', in which he repeated Hochhuth's fantasies. Two years later John Cornwell, a former seminarian, published: Hitler's Pope. A Media, now generally hostile to the Catholic Church, gave his book fulsome praise. This widespread publicity ensured it became a world-wide publishing success.

Seeing the high sales of Cornwell's book to a population with little knowledge of Pope Pius XII, other publishers and authors, quickly issued similar books during the following years. Old Communist propaganda stories dressed up as history, with provocatively sensational accusations, fed a profitable market.

The attacks on Pius in these books were not launched by Communists or by reliable Catholic historians. At least half were by Catholics not happy with certain Church teachings. A Church preaching traditional Christian values was irking an increasingly secular, sexually permissive society. So the western liberal media had a strong motivation to co-operate in an attempt to destroy the reputation of Pius XII. If his reputation could be ruined, it would undermine the moral authority of more recent Popes with their unwelcome Catholic teachings.

In reaction, Catholic, Jewish and other historians produced books and articles to refute these travesties of history. By 2006 the good reputation of Pius XII had been restored in the eyes of historians willing to examine the evidence. But the mass media had broadcast the slanders widely. Many in the general public have been left with a false picture of Pius XII, or a vague feeling that his actions had been 'controversial'.

It was a fulfilment of the old saying: "If you throw enough mud, some will stick".


The non-sensational work, of restoring the reputation of Pius XII, is being achieved slowly. The Mass Media has little interest in such work.

There are a vast number of articles and books providing answers to the attacks. But the enquirer, with little time available, can become confused and hesitant when choosing books and articles to read. So we hope the following notes will be of assistance to both history students and members of the general public.

A good place to start is a brief outline of the life of Pius XII regarding Hitler and the Jews. This is available in:
The Record of Pius XII's Opposition to Hitler.
This may be read when you type its title into the Google Search Engine.
More articles may be located from

Type into its Search Engine

Pius XII and the Jews
Pius XII and the Holocaust


John Cornwell's book gained the greatest notoriety - possibly because of its sensationally stark title. He claimed he was a believing and practicing Catholic, who had conducted research at the Vatican with the original motive of wishing to defend Pius XII.

Catholics soon pointed out that Cornwell had previously authored several books disclosing his anti-Catholic/ anti-Christian attitudes.

Cornwell claimed that he been allowed to study, "for months on end", in the secret confidential Vatican archives. He claimed to have discovered an anti-Semitic letter of Pius written before he became pope, which had lain hidden, "like a time bomb".

An article published in the weekly English edition of L'Osservatore Romano of 13th October 1999 answered these claims. It is entitled:
Setting the record straight about a recent book. This is available at:

Cornwell had no academic degrees in history, law or theology.
His critics said the main object of Cornwall's book was to urge changes in Catholic teachings.


+Ronald Rychlak wrote two books in answer to Cornwell:

Hitler, the War and the Pope (2000).
Righteous Gentiles and How Pius XII and the Catholic Church saved half a million Jews (2005).

Comments about these books may be read at:

Also available on this site are articles by Rychlak including:
The Morphing of a Book Cover. The publishers of Cornwell's book considered sensation more important than accurate history. An indication of this is the miss-use of a picture on the front of the book. It falsely implied that Paccelli was having meetings with Hitler in 1939. This article by Rychlak explains how it was done.

On the same site, Rychlak answers attacks on Pius XII by Daniel Goldhagen. In an article:
Goldhagen vs. Pius XII he exposed the errors in Goldhagen's pre-2002 books.

Rychlak also wrote an article:
Another Reckoning, in answer to Goldhagen's 2002 book: A Moral Reckoning See:
Click: Archive passed Issues
Click: January 2003.

After the publication of: Goldhagen's
A Moral Reckoning, a German Court ordered it's German edition to be withdrawn from circulation because it contained slander.


+William Doino wrote a good article:
Exposing Hitler's Pope and its Author. This is available at:


+ From a non-Catholic source, reviews of Cornwell's book are located at:


+Rabbi David G. Dalin published a much-praised book responding to Cornwell:
The Myth of Hitler's Pope (2005).

An important article by Dalin:
A Righteous Gentile, is available at:

In another article by him:
History as Bigotry, Dalin criticises the books of Cornwell, Zuccoti and Goldhagen He quotes two leading British historians- the Anglican Owen Chadwick, who said Zuccotti's work was: "not history but guesswork", and Michael Burleigh saying that Goldhagen's book was "vile" and "A strip cartoon view of European history". The article is to be found at: www.catholicleague.org/research/history_as_bigotry.htm


+Sir Martin Gilbert is the official biographer of Winston Churchill and a highly regarded expert on Jewish history. He defends the Pope in three books:
Never Again: A History of the Holocaust , (2000) and: The Rightous: Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust (2002) and: Hitler's Pope? (2006)

An article by Martin Gilbert;
Once Again: Hitler's Pope, is available at:


+Margierita Marchione has written many books on this subject. Her best known is:

Yours is a Precious Witness: memoirs of Jews & Catholics in wartime Italy (1997).

This answers the accusation by Susan Zuccoti that Pius XII neglected to defend the Jews living in Rome.

An article by Margierita Marchione:
The Truth about Pope Pius XII is obtainable at: www.catholicleague.org/pius/truth.htm


+The Chief Rabbi of Rome during the war was in a unique position to know the Pope's attitude and actions. He had studied the Old and New Testaments all his adult life. Following a private vision, he, his wife and daughter were baptised after the war.

As an act of respect for what the Pope had done for the Jewish community in Italy, Rabbi Zolli took the baptismal name of 'Eugenio'. The story of the Jews in Rome during the war is recounted in his autobiography:
Before the Dawn (1954). For an article about his life, including his wartime experiences in Rome, see:
Search Engine: Rabbi Zolli
Second article: Christian Rabbi
Sixth article:
How Pius XII Protected Jews


+Adolf Eichmann, Chief of the Gestapo's Jewish Department, had his memoirs seized by Isreal. They were released in March 2000. Eichmann wrote regarding Rome that: "the Nazis knew that Pius had worked hard to prevent the deportation".
Type into Google: Catholic League
, 60 minutes, Cornwell
Click on first item and scroll to middle of article by Ronald Rychlack.






The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII
by Joseph Bottom (2004), It contains articles on this subject from a wide range of historians. There is also a 180 page annotated bibliography by William Doino. He has aimed to list every known book, pamphlet, leaflet or radio broadcast concerning Pope Pius XII and the Jews.

For a review of this book see:
Winning the War over Pius XII by Karol Gajewski :

In 2005 William Doino wrote:
Why We Published the Pius War. see:



Cornwell in his book: Pontiff in Winter (2004, page 193), acknowledged that he erred in ascribing evil motives to Pius when writing Hitler's Pope. He said he now found it impossible to judge the wartime Pontiff's motives. See:
http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitler's Pope

This partial retraction is encouraging but not well known. Such news does not attract profitable high sales media excitement.



While it is important to point out errors in Hochhuth's play and the books, it is also important to recall the words of praise for Pius XII, uttered by those who lived through the war. For a partial list see:

The Good Samaritan: Jewish Praise of Pope Pius XII by Dimitri Cavalli


Type The Good Samaritan into its search engine.


This version: 22nd April 2008

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