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.
Aug 16, 2019 0
An Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Leonhard Foeger / File.
The acting chief of the UN nuclear watchdog policing Iran‘s nuclear deal with major powers, Cornel Feruta, will meet senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday.
“The visit is part of ongoing interactions between the IAEA and Iran,” the spokesman said
The headquarters of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) in Tel Aviv. Photo: Screenshot.
The World Zionist Organization (WZO) on Friday opened a three-day conference in Santiago, the capital of Chile, on the topic of confronting antisemitism in Latin America.
Convened by WZO vice-chair Yaakov Hagoel, the conference will involve 150 Jewish professionals from around the region who will receive briefings from “high-level experts in the field to deal with the growing phenomenon,” the Spanish-language Jewish news outlet Diario Judio reported.
Russian immigrants (new olim) attend an event marking the 25th anniversary of the great Russian aliyah to Israel from the former Soviet Union at the Jerusalem Convention Center on Dec. 24, 2015. Photo: Hadas Parush/Flash90.
JNS.org – For most olim, moving to Israel is the realization of a dream. After years of hoping and planning, making aliyah and taking root in the Jewish state is a joyous and exultant experience. Still, the big move is not without its challenges, and many new immigrants become frustrated while attempting to navigate Israeli bureaucracy, secure a job, and find the right neighborhood to call home.
Taglit-Birthright Israel trip participants visit the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Aug. 18, 2014. Photo: Flash90.
JNS.org – “It’s so much more.” That’s the mantra of the 54 Jewish young adults from across North America who just wrapped up 10 weeks in Israel.
Sure, they had applied to the Birthright Israel Excel program for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to intern at Israeli offices of such top global companies as Facebook, Visa, Microsoft, Ernst & Young (EY), and Barclay’s.
Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s announced that the State Department will consider allowing U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem to list “Jerusalem, Israel” on their U.S. passports.
“We’re constantly evaluating the way we handle what can be listed on passports,” he told JNS in a wide-ranging interview. “It’s something that’s actively being looked at.”
The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry responded to this in a statement published in Wafa News saying the move was “an emphasis by the administration of President Donald Trump to antagonize the Palestinian people and undermine any chance for peace on the basis of a two-state solution.”
Sep 08, 2019 0Father Vladimir Tobin (courtesy: screenshot) HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – A Christian Orthodox priest in Nova Scotia was forced to retire after delivering a sermon that honored Judaism and Israel...
If you’re Jewish, how afraid should you be of being a victim of a violent anti-Semitic hate crime? In the wake of the Pittsburgh and Poway synagogue shootings in the last year, many American Jews remain afraid. The specter of white-supremacist hate that fueled those and other mass shootings has become the primary focus of those tasked with fighting and monitoring anti-Semitism.
If the use of Nazi symbolism in fashion was manifested in isolated cases, there would be only slight cause for concern. But when this trend is backed or glossed over by giants such as Amazon, the biggest online sales platform in the world, we cannot remain indifferent. From home decor to clothing and accessories, the popular website is infested with products depicting Holocaust victims heading to the gas chambers and images glorifying the Third Reich.
When the Second Intifada broke out in 2000, Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin boasted that the desire of his people for death in the service of Hamas was greater than the Israelis’ desire to live. Yassin, of course, was not referring to himself; happy to send his people off to die, he himself clung to life and even believed that his advanced age and status would protect him. But nothing lasts forever, and in March 2004, he was killed in an Israeli airstrike.
Egypt’s leading authorities have reinstated a notoriously “radical” cleric and hate preacher to the pulpit (minbar), despite strong opposition.
According to Arab Weekly, “The Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments, which controls the mosques, gave Yasser Burhami, the deputy head of the Salafist Call, the umbrella organisation of Salafi movements, approval to deliver sermons before Friday prayers at the Wise Caliphs Mosque in Alexandria.”
This week’s Torah reading Shoftim, maps out for us, the ideal national structure, of the Jewish people in their homeland, the Land of Israel. It describes the policies that Jews should be striving to implement today: Malchut/Kingdom, Sanhedrin/Torah, Nevuah/Prophecy, and Kehunah/Temple.