“The election of Cardinal Pacelli is not accepted with favor in Germany because he was always opposed to Nazism and practically determined the policies of the Vatican under his predecessor.”
Berlin Morgenpost, March 3, 1939
Of all the historical controversies that I have examined over the years, the one over Pius XII has to be the most mendacious. Everyone, the Nazis, the Allies and the Jews, knew where Pope Pius XII stood during the War. Pope Pius was regarded as a hero by all who opposed the Nazis and the Nazis regarded him as a bitter enemy. The controversy arose after his death, instigated by playwright Rolf Hochhuth and his historically worthless anti-Catholic diatribe The Deputy (1963), a play which sought to cast Pius XII as coldly indifferent to the fate of the Jews, a reverse mirror image of the actual historical record. Haters of the Church eagerly seized upon this thesis as a club to belabor the Church for her stances in current controversies. There has never been any historical validity to the thesis: zilch, zero, none. Its persistence has much to do with anti-Catholicism and nothing to do with History.
“When the pope arose the next morning, he had made up his mind. He would engage the German military resistance and encourage a conservative counterrevolution. He would serve as secret foreign agent for the resistance—presenting and guaranteeing its plans to the British. He would partner with the generals not just to stop the war, but to eliminate Nazism by removing Hitler.”
Pius XII was even willing to be involved in plots to assassinate Hitler:
“The Vatican remained the crossroads in the plot to kill Hitler: all roads truly led to Rome, to the desk with a simple crucifix overlooking the fountains on St. Peter’s Square.”
None of this is news to those who know the historical record, but the wealth of detail the author has unearthed by his meticulous research, detailed in his 107 pages of sources, is impressive and absolutely damning against those who mendaciously have attacked Pius XII as either the silent Pope or even a sub rosa ally of Hitler. This book is highly recommended, especially to people who, through ignorance, have bought into the calumnies against a hero Pope. Pius XII recognized the menace posed by Hitler and his Nazis from the start and was ever his sworn adversary.
“He opposed unilaterally every compromise with National Socialism. He regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person. He did not believe Hitler capable of moderation, in spite of appearances, and he fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand.”
Alfred W. Klieforth, US Consul General in Cologne, in a memorandum filed with the State Department in 1939 recalling a three hour conversation in 1937 with then Cardinal Pacelli.