Although there was a collective effort by the Catholic Church to save Jewish children, many questions remain, such as the degree of the pontiff’s involvement and the underlying motivation.
Pope Francis takes part in the penitential procession on Ash Wednesday in Rome, Italy, last week. (photo credit: REUTERS)
For many years, the figure of Pope Pius XII was both vilified and defended in connection to his alleged role during the Holocaust.
His detractors believe the pontiff tolerated the advent of Nazism, and later, did not raise his voice to protect the Jews.
His defenders, especially the Vatican, claim that Pius XII did protect the Jews behind the scenes, and opted not to be outspoken against the Nazi atrocities for fear it would prove counterproductive.
This fierce controversy has a chance to come to an end if the Vatican will fully open its secret WWII-era archives, and offer free and unfettered access to historians and researchers in search of the truth.
According to Pope Francis, this will occur on March 2, 2020, coinciding with the 144th anniversary of Eugenio Pacelli’s birth and the 81th anniversary of the commencement of his papacy.
Back in 2014, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation launched its Houses of Life program. Its objective is to identify and recognize sites across Europe that provided shelter to the victims of Nazism, mostly children who were left by their parents who faced deportation to the concentration camps.
In the last five years, our NGO has managed to identify well over 500 Houses of Life in Italy, France, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece and Albania, and the numbers are growing on a daily basis. Our intention is to fix a commemorative plaque on the facade of each building, explaining the feats of heroism which took place under its roof. The aim is to educate visitors and passersby about the heroes who stood up against evil in the darkest era known to humankind.
The statistical data in our hands show that the majority of Houses of Life were churches, convents, monasteries and boarding schools connected to the Roman Catholic Church. In our view, this has extraordinary significance, as it hints of a well-orchestrated rescue effort within a hierarchic organization and hence, one might surmise that the highest ecclesiastical echelons, including Pope Pius XII, who must have known this, or even directed and encouraged this magnificent operation.
Many of the rescued children did not get back to their biological parents, for they perished in the Nazi death camps. Some of them became Catholic, or even priests and nuns. Others were retrieved by their original families and kept their faith, oftentimes with the encouragement of those rescuers who did not hide from them the fact they were Jewish.
The Houses of Life program teaches us that there was a collective effort by the Catholic Church to save Jewish children. Still, many questions remain pending, such as the degree of involvement of the pontiff, and the underlying motivations of these life-saving feats.
To be sure, the free access to the archives will shed light into these and broader questions in regard to the role played by the Holy See during one of most tragic chapters of history.
Eduardo Eurnekian and Baruch Tenembaum are chairman and founder of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, respectively.
A 2008 protest by ver.di Jugend in Karlsruhe, Germany. Photo: Wikipedia commons.
A German youth organization affiliated with the country’s second largest trade union has disavowed the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, as well as an anti-Zionist group that endorses a “one state” solution.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, ver.di Jugend announced that it passed a motion at its annual conference to reject BDS and FOR-Palestine, a group that advocates for a Palestinian-majority state in lieu of Israel and strongly opposes Zionism — the movement that supports the Jewish people’s right to national self-determination.
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Isaiah 2:3 (The Israel Bible™)
One year following the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, leaders from the White House Faith Initiative, along with Evangelical and Latin American leaders, gathered in Israel’s Knesset to promote dialogue and foster relations between Christians and Jews, as well as the United States, Latin America and Israel.
“I will bless those who bless you And curse him that curses you; And all the families of the earth Shall bless themselves by you.” Genesis 12:3 (The Israel Bible™)
An ICEJ delegation visited Israeli communities along the Gaza border and viewed a new specially designed ATV security vehicle donated through the ICEJ to a local moshav. Credit: ICEJ.
After Israel absorbed as many as 700 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) sent a delegation to the western Negev region on Monday to assess the updated security needs of local Israeli communities and how best to help them prepare for any future escalations.
A replica of the golden menorah in front of Titus’ Arch in Rome. (Courtesy)
“He said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a menorah all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes;” Zechariah 4:2 (The Israel Bible™)
A small group of Christians’ remarkable act of faith has ambitious aspirations: to fix the theft of the golden menorah from the Temple by Titus in 70 CE. In addition, they are seeking to return some of the Divine love that has sustained Germany despite the horrific crimes perpetrated on the Jews in the Holocaust.
U.S. Jews are more likely than Christians to say that U.S. President Donald Trump favors Israelis more than the Palestinians, according to a Pew Research poll released on Monday.
Some 42 percent of American Jews say Trump is favoring Israelis more than the Palestinians, while 47 percent of them say he has been striking the right balance between the two.
Apr 30, 2019 0Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) was accused of launching a long-range rocket from northern Gaza at Israel on Monday evening, in an attempt at provoking a heavy response from the Israel Defense...
Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.
I do not believe in free speech for me, but not for thee. But I do believe in condemning those who hide behind the First Amendment to express anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, homophobic, sexist or racist views.
One of the most influential newspapers in the world, the Jewish-owned New York Times decided to present the Jews with a gift in honor of the last day of Passover – a major Jewish holiday – an antisemitic caricature. The controversial cartoon shows US President Donald Trump as a blind man with a skullcap on his head, being led by a dog that looks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And to make sure the reader knows it is indeed the Israeli premier, the dog has a Star of David dangling from its collar.
Last week, Jared Kushner, one of the administration’s point men on the Middle East, dispensed with the term “two-state solution” in its impending peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. “The two-state solution has failed,” he said.
The “two-state solution” does not appear in the 1993 Oslo Accords, which called only for “interim self-government” for the Palestinians. The goal was a negotiated final status agreement, in which independence was not specified.
Religious fervor always picks up before the Jewish holidays. Not surprisingly, Israeli undercover police arrested Jewish activists from the Hozrim L’Har (Returning to the Mount) organization early Friday afternoon, just before the onset of the Passover holiday, after an apparent attempt to bring a young goat on to the Temple Mount for a self-proclaimed sacrificial rite. Indeed, this drama plays itself out every year, but according to Jerusalem police, this year a record of at least twelve members of the organization were arrested throughout the course of the day on counts of disturbing the peace.
Every year when Passover eve arrives, I do my best not to think about that night; to allow the joy of cherished rituals meant to renew our family’s tribal history and faith envelop us in its warm glow as whoever among the kids and grandkids it’s our turn to host partake of the matzoh, bitter herbs, and wine. Often – actually most often – I succeed.