Catholic Response to Nazi Oppression and the Concordat
Chronological Time Line
Hitler’s consolidation of Power was Before Concordat
Conditions and Persecution Under which the Concordat was Signed
Catholic Church’s Response
a Concordat ?
Pius XII – A Holy Man
Pope have a Direct Role in Saving the Jews in Rome ?
Chronological Time Line
1923 - January 1933. Cardinal Pacelli works tirelessly to
prevent the ideas and the party of the Nazi’s from gaining power.
E.g.Letter Shows Future Pius XII Opposed Hitler in 1923 (Zenit).-
A letter written in 1923 by the future Pope Pius XII shows his early
opposition to Nazi anti-Semitism. ... The letter dated Nov. 14, 1923.
Vatican Publishes the order of excommunication by the German Bishops to
all Catholics who join the Nazi Party.
1933, on January 30: The Nazi’s gain power in elections and
Adolf Hitler was officially appointed chancellor and he acted quickly to
consolidate power into an absolute dictatorship.
1933, in February : Hermann Göring banned all Catholic
newspapers in Cologne on the claim that Catholics were illegally
engaging in politics.
5. 1933, on
March 23: Hitler’s Nazi government was given dictatorial powers through
an Enabling Act which was passed unanimously by all parties except for
those who were already imprisoned. Basic human rights were set aside
for “four years.”
1933, on 20 July : Concordat signed. Cardinal Pacelli as a
Nuncio is commissioned to do the bidding of the Pope Pius XI. Pope Pius
XI was eager to obtain Concordats with several countries so as to
minimize the control and oppression that those governments wished to
place on the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, as the excommunication
decree mentioned above failed in preventing Hitler from gaining absolute
dictatorial power in Germany the Catholic Church agreed to lift the
decree in exchange for some concessions from the Nazi's. At this time
many people in Germany were atheists and amongst Christians Catholics
were are a minority due to the influence of Martin Luther. Under the
severe persecution of all those opposing Hitler and the threat of having
all the Catholic churches and schools completely shut down the Catholic
Church agreed to lift the excommunication decree and to refrain from
political issues in return for the Nazi’s agreement to allow the
Catholic churches and schools to remain open and unhindered in religious
affairs. The previous excommunication decree had had minimal effect in
the overall German population and this way the Church would still have a
free voice in encouraging people to repent of the sins of racism and
oppression, at least according to the agreement of the Concordat.
1937. Cardinal Pacelli and later as Pope Pius XII continues
to opposes the Nazi’s and their racist eugenics. E.g. See 1937
Cartoons Lampooning Pacelli – one of many. 1937, in March : The Holy
See issued the Mit brennender Sorge encyclical to Germany, condemning
racism, idolatry of the state, neo-paganism, and repeated Nazi
violations of the Concordat, while defending the Old Testament sourced
in Jewish history.
Cardinal Pacelli is elevated to the Papacy.
? 1940’s It was not immediately obvious to world just how bad
the Jews were being treated. About 6 million were put to death. From
early 1942 until late 1944, transport trains delivered 1.3 million
people to the Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz, around 90 percent
of them Jewish.
10. 1940 Seven
years after the Concordat – Jewish physicist Albert Einstein praises the
Church as being the only one who stood in the way of Hitler and the
oppression of freedom.
1943 – 1944 Pope Pius XII works directly to help save the
Jews in Rome. See physical documentation from 1943 below.
Prior to Concordat
Much ink has spilt on the claim that the Catholic
Church enabled Hitler to rise in power by signing the Concordat in
1933. These antagonists against the Church fail to recognize the timing
of the Concordat in relation to when Hitler assumed dictatorial control,
the conditions under which it was signed, and what a concordat is.
Prior to signing the Concordat the Catholic Church
went to enormous lengths to prevent Hitler from coming into power.
Cardinal Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) was such
an outspoken opponent to the Nazi’s that they Lampooned Cardinal Pacelli
repeatedly as an Anti-Nazi. See one example here
Letter Shows Future Pius XII Opposed Hitler in 1923
A letter written in 1923 by the future Pope Pius XII shows his early
opposition to Nazi anti-Semitism. ...
The Catholic Bishops in Germany had even gone so
far as to excommunicate Catholics who joined Hitler’s party in 1930,
three years before he came into power. This was republished in the
Vatican Newspaper of that year.
consolidation of Power was Before Concordat
The Concordat that the Catholic Church signed with
the German government was on July 20 of 1933. However, Adolf Hitler had
assumed dictatorial control by March of 1933.
Persecution Under which the Concordat was Signed
Catholic dot Com article
On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was officially appointed chancellor
by the aged President Paul von Hindenburg. A mere month later, on
February 27, the infamous Reichstag Fire (a plot concocted by the Nazis)
gave Hitler the pretext to establish a dictatorship through the
so-called Enabling Act that was passed in March 1933. The act bestowed
sweeping powers on the government, including setting aside key elements
of basic rights, for four years. …
In February 1933, Hermann Göring banned all
Catholic newspapers in Cologne on the claim that Catholics were
illegally engaging in politics. …
As the parties were disbanded, the Gestapo began
rounding up all who might oppose the social revolution. Hundreds of
priests were arrested for speaking out against the anti-democratic
changes and the persecution of Jews. …
“The truth is many thousands of Catholic men,
women, and children died in concentration camps, SS and Gestapo torture
chambers, or in fields and villages across Europe for the ‘crime’ of
proclaiming the truth to one of the most evil regimes in human history.
The historical reality of this oppression does not in any way reduce the
culpability of some Catholics in the Holocaust, nor does it suggest that
the unprecedented genocide of the Jewish people should be forgotten or
considered reduced in significance. …
“By the late 1920s, the Catholic Church in Germany
claimed some 20 million members. They were outnumbered by the 40 million
“At first, many average Catholics, like other
Germans, were not fully aware of the dangers of National Socialism. Some
saw the Nazis as a potential ally against the spread of Communism.
Bishop Christian Schreiber of Berlin, for example, granted permission
for Catholics to join the party. Most German bishops and priests,
however, were alarmed by the Nazis and their anti-Semitic speeches,
radical nationalistic tone, and clear willingness to use violence and
intimidation. In early 1931, the bishops’ conference of the Cologne
region condemned National Socialism …”
From Wikipedia sources
On 20 July 1933, the Vatican signed an agreement
with Germany, the
Reichskonkordat, partly in an effort to stop Nazi persecution of
Catholic institutions … With this background, Catholic officials wanted
a concordat strongly guaranteeing the church's freedoms. Once Hitler
came to power, and started enacting laws restricting movement of funds
(making it impossible for German Catholics to send money to
missionaries, for instance), restricting religious institutions and
education, and mandating attendance at Hitler Youth functions (held on
Sunday mornings to interfere with Church attendance), the need for a
concordat seemed even more urgent to church officials. ...
On 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler was appointed
Chancellor. On 23 March 1933, his government was given dictatorial
powers through an Enabling Act passed by all parties in the Reichstag
except the Social Democrats and Communists (whose deputies had already
from Wikipedia sources
In March 1937 the Holy See issued the Mit
brennender Sorge encyclical to Germany, condemning racism, idolatry of
the state, neo-paganism, and repeated Nazi violations of the Concordat,
while defending the Old Testament sourced in Jewish history.
Eugenio Pacelli, the former Nuncio to Germany
(1920–1930), became Pope Pius XII in 1939. His legacy is contested. As
Vatican Secretary of State through the 1930s, he assisted in drafting
the Concordat and Mit brennender Sorge. … Pius used
diplomacy to aid war victims and lobby for peace. At times, risking
neutrality, he shared intelligence with the Allies, used Vatican Radio
and press to speak out against atrocities like race murders. Under Pius
XII, the Church rescued many thousands of Jews, by issuing false
documents, lobbying Axis officials, and hiding them in monasteries,
convents, schools and elsewhere including the Vatican and Castel
In the Nazi Empire, responses to Nazism varied.
Priests were watched closely, frequently denounced, or imprisoned. The
Nazis established a dedicated clergy barracks at Dachau, where 2,579
Catholic priests were imprisoned; mostly, Polish, among them, 411
Mit brennender Sorge (German: "With burning
concern") On the Church and the German Reich is a Catholic Church
encyclical of Pope Pius XI, published on 10 March 1937 (but bearing a
date of Passion Sunday, 14 March). Written in German, not the usual
Latin, it was smuggled into Germany for fear of censorship and was read
from the pulpits of all German Catholic churches on one of the Church's
busiest Sundays, Palm Sunday (March 21 that year). It condemned breaches
of the Reichskonkordat agreement signed between the German Reich and the
Holy See in 1933, criticised Nazism and its elevation of one race above
Read about a Catholic Nun, Sister Maria Restituta,
who was arrested and killed for the crime of hanging Crucifixes in the
rooms of the hospital where she worked.
What is a Concordat ?
A Concordat is not an agreement amongst friends.
One does not have to have a friend put in writing that he will recognize
your rights, rather it is more like a temporary truce between opposing
Pope Pius XII – A Holy
What Power Does the Pope Have?
Some imagine that if the Pope said more than he did
– which was already substantial even before Hitler came to power - then
Hitler would not have persecuted the Jews, as if everyone just jumped at
his command. However, that was not true then nor is it true now. E.g.
How many Catholics practice artificial birth control despite the
repeated condemnation of this practice? God did work a miracle through
him though. Consider the number of Jews that he was able to save. (see
And yet, some antagonists will retort, “Cardinal
Pacelli (later Pope Pius XII) did not have a gun to his head. He was
not forced into signing the Concordat. He should not have done so.”
Unfortunately, these antagonists seem to fail to
understand just how beautiful of a person Pope Pius XII really is (and
who is now probably in heaven.) Regardless of whether or not a gun was
pointed to his head he would not have signed this compromised agreement
unless he believed that it was for a greater good and this was the best
under the circumstances that could be achieved. The risk to his life
was not an issue to him.
The Pope’s advisors had recommended that he leave
Rome for his own safety. We now even have documentation that Hitler had
indeed ordered the Pope’s capture or even execution if necessary. And
yet, the Pope was willing to risk his life, and stay in Rome in order to
serve his people.
In fact, this Concordat is exactly what helped Pope
Pius XII save so many Jews. There is a Jewish organization called Pave
the Way (PTW) by Gary Krupp that is publishing documents from the
Vatican Archives. It includes the following
80-Letter from Card. Pacelli trying to secure
200,000 visas for "Converted Italians" in 1938 3 weeks after
Kristallnacht. The following pages list over 65 nuncios asked for
assistance. "Non-Aryan Catholics" was a code word for persecuted Jews.
Since the 1933 concordat permitted the Church to care for converted Jews
they used this phrase in their correspondence. There is also no
reasonable way one can believe that there were 200,000 converted Jews in
Germany in 1938. The following documents are of the list of nuncios that
received the requests. There is one response in English from Scotland
speaking about caring for the Jews. There is the front page of the Irish
News stating that the Pope is trying to help the Jews of Germany.
Courtesy of Michael Hesemann
Prior to WWII the number of Jewish converts to
Catholicism is relatively small. The reference to the hundreds of
thousands of Jews who were then considered “Christians” must have been
inflated by artificial conversions in name only. By being recognized as
“Christians” they were under the protective care of Catholic buildings
and convents in Rome. They were given fake baptismal certificates to
protect their lives.
While it is undisputable that the Catholic Church
saved about 750,000 to 800,000 Jews in Rome, some have contended that
this was NOT done under the direction of Pope Pius XII, but done in
spite of him.
Did the Pope have a Direct Role in Saving the Jews
in Rome ?
We know that many things had to be done in secret.
98-Many lifesaving documents had to be encrypted or
destroyed. This letter, dated May 20, 1944, is from British Ambassador
D’Arcy Osborne to Harold Titman the assistant to Myron Taylor President
Roosevelt's representative to the Holy See. It clearly states the
concerns of documents falling into enemy hands and the necessity to
destroy it. courtesy of Ron Rychlak
Now consider these cloistered nuns are nuns who are
so separated from society to serve God exclusively in prayer that they
are forbidden any contact with outsiders and certainly not with any
men. Therefore, it is inescapable to the rational person to conclude that the
nuns would have never
taken in the Jews unless the Pope had allowed an exception to most venerable
rules and asked them to do so. Still, other than verbal testimonies there was no known direct physical
link between the Pope and the rescue of the Jews. That is, until
Thanks to Gary Krupp, a Jew, and his PTW foundation
we have access to more documents from the Vatican archives proving that
Pope Pius XII had directly expressed his wishes that the priests and
cloistered nuns Rome risk their lives by taking in these desperate Jews
so that their lives might be spared.
52-A telling 1943 diary entry of Augustinian nuns
where they state they were ordered by Pius XII to take in the Jews in
1943. She names many of the Jewish "guests". The nun reports how they
made alterations to make their guest as comfortable as possible. The nun
states the Holy Father is personally feeling the suffering of the Jews.
Courtesy of Fr Peter Gumpel
52a-English translation of the Nun's diary above
Four unpublished articles from the Augustinian nuns
who were ordered by Pope Pius XII to sheltered the Jews in Rome and
testimony from the survivors
The fact that Pope Pius XII heroically risked his
life, and asked so many priests and cloistered nuns to risk their lives
to save so many Jews is precisely why I believe that he will be
canonized a Saint.
from Card. Pacelli trying to secure 200,000 visas for "Converted
Italians" in 1938 3 weeks after Kristallnacht. The following
pages list over 65 nuncios asked for assistance. "Non-Aryan
Catholics" was a code word for persecuted Jews. Since the 1933
concordat permitted the Church to care for converted Jews they
used this phrase in their correspondence. There is also no
reasonable way one can believe that there were 200,000 converted
Jews in Germany in 1938. The following documents are of the list
of nuncios that received the requests. There is one response in
English from Scotland speaking about caring for the Jews. There
is the front page of the Irish News stating that the Pope is
trying to help the Jews of Germany. Courtesy of Michael Hesemann
telling 1943 diary entry of Augustinian nuns where they state
they were ordered by Pius XII to take in the Jews in 1943. She
names many of the Jewish "guests". The nun reports how they made
alterations to make their guest as comfortable as possible. The
nun states the Holy Father is personally feeling the suffering
of the Jews. Courtesy of Fr Peter Gumpel
translation of the Nun's diary above
articles from the Augustinian nuns who were ordered by Pope Pius
XII to sheltered the Jews in Rome and testimony from the
lifesaving documents had to be encrypted or destroyed. This
letter, dated May 20, 1944, is from British Ambassador D’Arcy
Osborne to Harold Titman the assistant to Myron Taylor President
Roosevelt's representative to the Holy See. It clearly states
the concerns of documents falling into enemy hands and the
necessity to destroy it. courtesy of Ron Rychlak
See More on:
Hitler's Plan to Kidnap
Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
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