Man Without Qualities

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The Pope v. Der Führer?

Mark Riebling's new book looks like it's going to be controversial:

[T]he Vatican had pursued a two-track policy toward Hitler. In public, Pius Twelve refrained from denouncing the Holocaust -- a silence that would later cause much controversy. In secret, however, the Pope was a linchpin of counter-Nazi coup plans. He had been an accessory to these plans since the seventh week of the war, when he agreed to be a covert conduit between the German resistance and the British Government. Gradually the Catholic role expanded, until the Vatican was not merely a mediator, but an active plotter. Through a trusted courier, the Pope sanctioned the efforts of German Catholics, including some Bavarian-Jesuit priests, who sought to remove Hitler. For security reasons, these underground agents sometimes acted without the Pope’s prior knowledge. But the surviving plotters, debriefed after the war, insisted that no important decisions were made against the Pope’s expressed wishes. Their resistance activities, therefore, were not rogue actions. "In the OSS," Rocca said, "we referred to the Catholic conspirators as the ‘Vatican Assassins.’"

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