In the midst of World War 2, Catholics looked to the pope to guide them. Hitler had already begun secretly launching his plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Secretly, that is, to most- except Pope Pius XII. The pope remained silent whilst the rest of the world awaited any kind of grand gesture or speech condemning Hitler’s atrocities.
He chose to keep quiet in the face of the crimes committed by the Nazis throughout Europe, crimes that even took place below the Pope’s own windows, like the 1943 liquidation of the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, to which the pope made no official reaction.
These photos show the strong alliance between the Vatican and Adolf Hitler as top Catholic leaders are shown smiling as they salute him and his fellow Nazis.
The following is an AI generated summary of the 54-minute video shown above, which was published by Best Documentary YouTube Channel. The complete transcript is shown below the summary, unedited for grammar and spelling.
The Vatican’s Response to the Holocaust
- Pope Pius XII, as the spiritual leader of Catholics worldwide during World War II, was well-informed about the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis.
- Despite being aware of the extermination of Jews in concentration camps, the pope remained silent and did not condemn the actions.
- This silence left many people waiting for a grand gesture or speech from the pope, but none came.
- The world expected the pope to speak out against these atrocities due to the stark contrast between Nazism and Catholicism.
“The world awaits any kind of grand gesture or speech condemning these atrocities. But the pope remains silent.”
The Pope’s Silence
- The Pope receives a letter regarding the church’s silence on Nazi atrocities but chooses not to take any action.
- The Vatican had received Edith Stein’s letter at the worst possible time, as they were finalizing an agreement with Hitler.
- The Vatican saw the agreement as a relief for the rights of German Catholics, but in reality, it benefited Hitler as well.
“In reality, the real winner of this international treaty is Hitler.”
Hitler’s Violation of the Concordat
- Hitler quickly violates the Concordat by dismantling the organizations of the church and persecuting Catholic opponents.
- He also intensified his anti-Semitic measures with the enactment of the Nuremberg laws in 1935.
- Pope Pius XI becomes disillusioned and decides to confront Hitler with a prosecution speech against Nazism.
“Hitler wants to position himself as a dictator.”
Pope Pius XII’s Silence
- As Hitler implements the Final Solution and initiates mass extermination of Jews, Pope Pius XII decides to keep quiet.
- Despite receiving reports of exterminations and detailed information from various sources, the Pope remains silent.
- The Allies are also aware of these atrocities and issue a declaration condemning the Nazi’s treatment of Jews.
- Pope Pius XII’s Christmas speech in 1942 barely addresses the issue of the Jews.
“The Pope is seen as the person who could change the course of history.”
The Persecution of Jews in Rome
- Anti-Judaism and persecution of Jews in Rome is not a new phenomenon.
- The Jews suffer, and the Pope does not publicly condemn or show compassion.
“This contempt, this anti-Judaism, the Jews will pay the price for this once again”
The Persecution of Jews in the Jewish Ghetto
- The persecution of Jews in Rome happens near the Pope’s doorstep in the Jewish ghetto.
- German military boots approach and arrest 1,259 people, including 200 children, in the Jewish ghetto.
- The majority of those arrested are deported to Auschwitz and killed. Only 15 people survive.
- Pius XII remains silent and does not publicly condemn the persecution.
“But this time, the persecution will happen practically on the Pope’s doorstep. The Gestapo enters the Ghetto and arrests 1,259 people.”
Catholics Hiding Jews in Convents and Monasteries
- In spite of Pius XII’s lack of public condemnation, many Catholics in Rome hide over 4,000 Jews in convents and monasteries.
- These Catholics risk their lives to save entire families without waiting for a message from Pius XII.
“In other words, many believers did not wait for a message from Pius XII. They acted on their own conscience.”
Mayol de Lupe, a Catholic Bishop and Nazi Collaborator
- Mayol de Lupe, a French Catholic bishop, actively collaborates with the Nazis and joins the Waffen SS as a military chaplain.
- He is granted permission and blessing from his superiors, including Cardinal Suhard and the Vatican.
- Mayol de Lupe spent three years on the Eastern Front, spewing out Nazi propaganda and actively supporting Hitler.
“A French Catholic bishop, Mayol de Lupe, is willing to lend his image to Hitler, proving that Catholicism and Nazism can be compatible.”
Complicity of the Vatican in Helping War Criminals
- Even after the fall of Hitler, some high-ranking officials in the Vatican engaged in outright complicity, helping war criminals escape.
- These relationships between the Church and Nazis continue even years after the end of the war.
“In reality, even years after the fall of Hitler, some very highly-positioned men in the Vatican will enter into outright complicity organizing the escape of war criminals.”
Monk Alois Hudal and Franz Stangl
- Monseigneur Alois Hudal, a Vatican official, runs a branch of the Assistant Pontifical Commission to aid refugees, including war criminals.
- Franz Stangl, the former commandant of Treblinka extermination camp responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews, seeks aid from Hudal.
“Monseigneur Alois Hudal hears a knock at the door. It’s a refugee coming to ask for aid. His name is Franz Stangl. But this man is by no means a refugee like the others. He has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Jews on his hands.”
Stangl’s escape and the help from the Vatican
- Stangl is arrested and imprisoned in Austria.
- Facing a heavy sentence, Stangl decided to escape in May 1948.
- He plans to reach Rome with the hope of finding a network inside the Vatican that can help him flee Europe.
- Stangl is given a contact, Alois Hudal, who is well-known and influential within the Vatican.
- Stangl heads to Rome, uncertain of how to find Hudal and not even knowing the correct spelling of his name.
- By pure coincidence, Stangl runs into a former comrade, a former SS man, who knew where to find Hudal.
- Hudal is located in the Santa Maria dell’Anima Church in Rome, where he not only helps the poor but also deals with Nazi criminals.
“He came to Rome and he knew he had to, somehow, find this bishop Hudal. But he had no real idea where exactly he was and he didn’t even know the correct spelling of his name. And pure coincidence, he ran into a former comrade, a former SS man that he knew, in Rome on a bridge and, you know, asked ‘What are you doing here? What a coincidence!’ and he said ‘I’m looking for Hudal, I’m on the way to Hudal’ and the former SS man could describe him, could tell him how to find Hudal in the Santa Maria dell Anima.”
Complete Transcript Unedited for Spelling and Grammar:
1942, the entire world is at war. The Axis and the Allied forces are bombing nonstop. We are in the midst of the biggest conflict in history. A war which will cause almost 50 million deaths. In Rome, the Pope, Pius XII, is confined to his palace far from the chaos of war. As the spiritual leader to hundreds of millions of Catholics around the world, he must guide the church through one of the darkest periods of our history. Because 1,000 kilometers away in Poland, Hitler has already begun carrying out his gruesome plan. The extermination of all Jews in Europe, whom he would gas to death in concentration camps all carried out in top secret. And yet, the pope is well-aware. As he is one of the most well-informed men on the planet. The world awaits any kind of grand gesture or speech condemning these atrocities – But the pope remains silent.
Surely, in principle, Nazism and Catholicism are fundamentally opposed. – Excluding their points in common with Hitler, the Catholic Church will find that as early as the 1930s onwards, dozens of priests became Nazis. The Vatican will let it happen. The church will even make a pact with the Fuhrer, by signing an international agreement.
You will discover the story of certain men of the church, fervent admirers of Hitler, who champion the cross of Christ as well as the swastika. – After the war networks within the Vatican will help the biggest Nazi criminals to escape Europe. Among them, Joseph Mengele and Klaus Barbie – We’re talking about criminal activity here. I think we should point this out in this case. It’s not just about forgiveness and clemency, helping somebody who is in hiding, giving him some food. But organizing new identity papers under false identity, for Holocaust perpetrators trying to avoid justice by Italian authorities and allied authorities. This goes far beyond to be the Good Samaritan. – This is the story we are about to tell you, the story of an institution that many thought to be above all suspicion, the story of their fall into collusion with evil itself.
All ambiguity of the links between the Vatican and Nazism had begun well before the Second World War. To understand this, we must go back into the beginning of the 1930s. More precisely, January the 30th, 1933. Hitler has just been elected Chancellor of Germany. But this is not enough for him. His goal is to impose a dictatorship.
To accomplish this, Hitler must change the constitution, and to do that, he must have two thirds of the vote of the Reichstag representatives. His one hope is to have a political party, one that holds great power within the Assembly, the Centrum. A hundred or so centrist Catholic representatives. – But the problem is, in principle, that it would be impossible for the church to give its voice to Hitler. Nazism and Catholicism are fundamentally opposed.
But more is needed to discourage Hitler. If he wants full powers, he must convince, at all costs, the Zentrum. (speaking foreign language) – But these fine words will not be enough to appease the German Catholics. However, everything is at stake So, here is the Fuhrer’s plan, it’s not only the German Catholics that he needs to seduce but their leader the Pope himself. From the outset, this mission seems to be a lost cause and yet, we see that on the Vatican’s side, the idea will be rather welcomed. We find ourselves in Rome, Italy. Wedged inside the capitol, the Vatican City the Catholic Church’s seat of power. At its head since 1992, the Pope, Pius XI. A Pope with an obsession, to sign an agreement with Germany to protect the interests of German Catholics.
Hitler could thus agree to sign the Concordat on the condition that he had the assured backing of the full powers. And it seems that the idea of negotiating with the Fuhrer does not repel the Pope. Because for Pius XI, Hitler is not yet the devil. He sees him, above all, as a fierce anti-communist. A man who could prevent Stalin from invading Europe and suffocating the Church. The Vatican’s incessant fear.
To negotiate with Hitler, the Pope sends one of his closest associates, Eugenio Pacelli. He is the Secretary of State. He’s the number two of the Vatican City. And the Pope had chosen him for this high-risk mission, because he knows Germany very well. He was ambassador for the Vatican for 13 years. A strategic post. – But the Concordat is far from being signed. Elsewhere, in Germany, the Zentrum have just decided on a policy full of implications.
On March the 23rd, 1933 in Berlin at the Reichstag the German Catholics voted to give full powers to Hitler. The Fuhrer now has free reign to impose his dictatorship. It’s impossible for historians to know in what ways the Vatican and Eugenio Pacelli put pressure on the Centrum. – Several days later, the German church will once again give Hitler what he wants, allowing Catholics to also be Nazis. Two years earlier, the bishops had banned this. Only, with the desire to sign the Concordat, the church will give in. From the 28th of March 1933, German Catholics can officially be Nazis. Dozens of priests will thus join the NSDAP, the Hitlerite party.
At the Vatican, no one can see anything left to say, quite the contrary.
But will the Vatican really dare to sign an international agreement with the Nazis? Especially as in Rome, during the negotiations with Hitler, the Pope receives some worrying information about the situation in Germany. The Jews there are being persecuted. Their shops are being boycotted. They are excluded from all public employment, ousted from the economy. The Fuhrer is putting in place the first anti-semitic measures that will become the foundation of his policies.
Voices are raised to warn the Vatican. Among them, an outraged woman writes a letter to the Pope, she pleads with him to intervene. Her name is Edith Stein. Her journey is surprising. Edith was born into a Jewish family. She is an intellectual and a feminist. She has unlike most other women of this period a doctorate, and is a professor at Munster. At 30 years old, Edith Stein converted to Catholicism. She is recognized as a woman of profound faith and an exemplary life. In April 1933, this was the beginning of her letter.
Edith Stein’s letter to Pope Pius XII:
“Holy Father! As a child of the Jewish people who has become by the grace of God a child of the Catholic Church 11 years ago, I dare express to the father of Christianity what is tormenting millions of Germans. Through its call to boycott, the government is pushing many people to desperation. I was aware of five suicide cases following these attacks. I am persuaded that this is hinting at a general phenomenon that will take still many more victims. – But above all, Edith Stein pleads with the Pope to intervene. If he doesn’t, she threatens, he would be an accomplice to these horrors. The responsibility falls in large part upon those who have pushed them to this extremity. It also falls upon those who remain quiet on the subject. We fear the worst for the image of the church if it continues to remain silent.”
The Pope receives this letter on his desk, and he will read it. But he will choose not to do anything. His only response was to let Edith Stein know that he’d ask for God’s blessing for her.
In fact, without knowing it, Edith Stein had sent her letter to the Vatican at the worst possible time. The Vatican will soon be reassured that Eugenio Pacelli was about to finalize this Concordat that he so desired. Hitler accepted the terms of the agreement.
Rome, 20th of July, 1933.
Around the table, next to Pacelli, representing the Pope, Franz Von Papen, the Vice-Chancellor of the Reich. He represents the Fuhrer This agreement, which contains 34 articles, is a relief for the Vatican. It assures them, officially, the respect of the rights of German Catholics, as stated in article one. Article one, the German Reich guarantees freedom of profession and public exercising of the Catholic religion. It recognizes the right of the Catholic church to organize and administer its affairs autonomously. But in reality, the real winner of this international treaty is Hitler. The church offered on a silver platter the final piece he was missing the stature of a true head of state.
But this honeymoon period between the Vatican and the Nazis will not last long. Hitler wants to position himself as a dictator. Very quickly, he violates the Concordat. He dismantles the organizations of the church and arrests, and sometimes assassinates Catholic opponents. At the same time, he attacks the Jews once again with a new arsenal of anti-semitic measures, the Nuremberg laws of 1935. The Jews lose their German nationality and most of their civil rights, mixed marriages are forbidden. In Rome, Pope Pius XI is not ignoring these persecutions. Four years after having entered into a pact with the Fuhrer, the pope becomes disillusioned. He comes to realize who Hitler really is. So for the first time, he decides to confront him. His weapon, a prosecution speech against Nazism. In German: “Mit brenneder sorge”. In English: “With burning concern”. –
This impactful text is prepared in utmost secrecy. The censorship of the Nazi Regime is omnipresent. – The 31st of March 1937, the text is read in all the churches in Germany. Hitler does not react. But from now on, to the eyes of the world, Pius XI appears to be a challenger to Nazism. Only, it is not him who will lead the Church when the war begins. Will, then, the Vatican dare to defy Hitler? And play its role as defender of humanity while an entire people get exterminated?
March 1939, just three months before the war. In Rome, a new Pope has just been elected. Pope XI died of a heart attack. And the new pontiff is far from being a stranger. He has chosen the name Pius XII. In reality, his name is Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican’s former number two. This man’s entrance into power will mark a halt in the political battle of his predecessor against Hitler. Because Pius XII himself is a man that is far more careful. – Except that while Hitler prepares his Final Solution, this voice of compromise will not suffice. – To accomplish this, Hitler puts in place a true industrial process. Jews are arrested by the hundreds of thousands during big raids. They are brutally packed into overflowing animal trucks. And driven towards Poland to specially designed death camps, on a massive scale, where the majority of Jews would be gassed to death. This genocide had to take place in top secret. In principle, it was impossible for the Pope to know about these atrocities committed by the Nazis. Except in reality, Pius XII will very soon know. Because the church, omnipresent in Europe, is a vast network of information wherever there is a Catholic, there is a potential spy in the service of the Vatican.
But this official proof, the pope will very soon receive. Like in March 1942 with this report coming from The Jewish World Congress. In this report is a highly detailed index of the exterminations, country by country. The exact figures given show 92,000 Bessarabien Jews executed by the Nazis. Later, the Pope will receive confirmation of this alarming news. This time, by the Polish government-in-exile. In regards to the number of Polish Jews exterminated by the Germans, we estimate that it has surpassed one million. It is primarily the elderly, the disabled, women and children who are taken, which is proof that this is not deportation for work, but that the deportees are being put to death using various methods, in places specially created for this purpose. All of these reports urge Pius XII to condemn Hitler. The Pope is seen as the person who could change the course of history. – But for the time being, the Pope has decided to keep quiet. He is not the only one to have received these reports. The Allies have also been informed. On December the 17th, 1942, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin published a declaration. A searing text in which they clearly identify the Jews as the target of Nazis.
In every country under German occupation, the Jews are being transported on trains in horrific conditions, with inconceivable brutality. The number of victims of these bloody acts of cruelty are hundreds upon hundreds of completely innocent men, women and children. We condemn in no uncertain terms this bestial policy of cold-blooded extermination. Now that the whole world knows, the Pope no longer has a choice, he must speak. A severe, unequivocal condemnation is expected. On the 24th of December 1942, as the Sovereign Pontiff began his traditional Christmas speech, an entire people was waiting. But they are going to be disappointed, as Pope Pius XII barely speaks on the matter at all. In a lengthy speech of over an hour, the issue of the Jews is addressed in one single sentence, during which he does not even specifically name them. He alludes simply to the… – So, how to explain this silence? A silence that, once again, threw a dark veil over the Vatican. Pius XII would have been nervous about retaliation. Because in Holland, a few months earlier, in July 1942, the public condemnation of Nazism by a group of bishops had devastating effects – Amongst the victims there was Edith Stein. Remember, this German woman who, nine years earlier, had written the famous letter to the Pope begging him to break his silence. According to certain specialists, the tragic event in Holland would have weighed heavily on Pius XII.
But that is not the only reason. Something else also paralyzes the Church. The Catholics are not hugely fond of the Jews, and this is nothing new. – This contempt, this anti-Judaism, the Jews will pay the price for this once again a few months later. But this time, the persecution will happen practically on the Pope’s doorstep.
We’re in the Jewish ghetto in Rome, in the western part of the city. On the night of the 15th to the 16th of October 1943, the sound of German military boots approached. The Gestapo enters the Ghetto through the Via del Portico d’Ottavia. They arrest 1,259 people, 200 of whom are children. The majority of those are deported to Auschwitz and will be gassed. Only 15 people will survive. Pius XII, yet again, keeps quiet. No public condemnation. No symbolic gesture of compassion. – Three months before the rounding up of the Jewish ghetto, Rome was bombed, causing 1,600 deaths. At that moment, Pius XII rushed to the center of the crowds to comfort the Romans, the majority of whom were Catholic. – Of course, the Pope hid hundreds of Jews, even inside his own private residences. But he would not publicly speak out to encourage his flock to follow suit. However, in Rome, more than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries. Risking their lives, Catholics allowed entire families to be saved. In other words, many believers did not wait for a message from Pius XII, They acted on their own conscience. – The problem is that in the absence of a clear course of action from their spiritual leader, other Catholics then chose the dark side. And this led to mistakes and misconduct.
Berlin, in October 1943.
Today, a new issue of the biggest Nazi propaganda magazine is being released. A newspaper, translated into 25 languages with and two and a half million copies published and distributed throughout occupied Europe, Signal. And on the front page this month, the German soldier in uniform, standing right next to the Eagle and the swastika. But this man is not German, he is French. His name, Mayol de Lupe. And even more astonishing, although he is wearing the uniform of the Waffen SS, he is first and foremost a Catholic bishop. This man so willingly lending his image to Hitler is proof that Catholicism and Nazism can be compatible. This is a godsend for the Fuhrer, who takes the opportunity to plaster it all around Europe. – Mayol de Lupe is part of this Nazi turning point at the start of the ’30s. He has a long-standing obsession, Bolshevism, and most definitely shares his hatred of the Reds with the Hitlerite regime. But also, he shares this hatred with the Vatican, since the Vatican never ceases to condemn communism, much more so than it condemns the Fuhrer.
Except Mayol de Lupe, will not just be attracted by Nazism. In the name of anti-Bolshevism, he is ready to actively lend a hand to Hitler, in the hope that this will help the church to finally get rid of the Reds. And soon, he will have just the opportunity.
We are in the Soviet Union In the winter of 1941. For months, the country has been fighting the bloody German invasion in Operation Barbarossa. Four million Axis soldiers have invaded the USSR by surprise. But the war is brutal. Hitler needs more men. He is recruiting from all over the occupied territories. But the French are unwilling. The Fuhrer must find them a solution. – The problem is that Mayol de Lupe needs the authorization of the Church. But apparently, one of their bishops joining Hitler’s side does not pose any problem. Not for Cardinal Suhard, his superior in Paris, a close friend of Marechal Petain. He gives him his permission without batting an eyelid. Not even for the Vatican, who Mayol de Lupe contacts through Monseigneur Sibilia, a Cardinal close to Pius XII. He sends him his authorization and even his blessing!
In October 1941, Mayol de Lupe left for the front line along with hundreds of French youth and Nazis. Their trains are covered in explicit slogans, “Death to the Jews, Heil Hitler!” At nearly 70 years old the new crusader finds himself as a military chaplain on the Russian plains. His mission, to spew out his party line, Amen Hitler! – In total, Mayol de Lupe will spend almost three years on the Eastern Front. He then settled in Germany until the end of the war. As the Allies arrive, he hides himself in a monastery but is quickly found and arrested. At the end of his trial, Mayol de Lupe will serve four years in prison for enemy intelligence. In theory, with the defeat of the Germans one could think that this would also put an end to these somewhat clouded Church-Nazi relationships. But you will see that, in reality, even years after the fall of Hitler, some very highly-positioned men in the Vatican will enter into outright complicity in organizing the escape of war criminals.
We return to Rome, the war is over. The Italians, too, have discovered the unbearable images of the millions of victims of the just-liberated extermination camps. There is utter disbelief. In the Vatican, the Pope still has not reacted publicly nor has he condemned these horrors. And after three years, life has resumed its course.
It is 1948. A stone’s throw from the Holy See, this is the Via della Pace, the Road of Peace. We are at number 20, at the headquarters of the German Church Santa Maria dell Anima. Monseigneur Alois Hudal lives here. He runs one of the branches of the Assistant Pontifical Commission, created at the end of the war to welcome refugees.
They wanted to help, they saw the millions of Europeans and millions of Europeans on the road, on the street, homeless, displaced persons, survivors of the Holocaust. It was very chaotic, a very difficult situation in Europe in those years, about more than 20 million people homeless and on the streets, it was a massive problem. And so the Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Pope himself realized, We want to do something as well, we want to help these people. – And so, on this day, Alois Hudal hears a knock at the door. It’s a refugee coming to ask for aid. His name is Franz Stangl. But this man is by no means a refugee like the others. He has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Jews on his hands. – His criminal career really started out when he was involved in the so-called euthanasia killings in Austria, and then he was transferred from a euthanasia killing center to Treblinka extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where he became the Commandant of Treblinka. In Treblinka, between 1942 and 1943, one million people were murdered and he was one of the main perpetrators of this crime.
After the war, Stangl is arrested and imprisoned in Austria. The law is preparing to judge him and he knows he faces a heavy sentence. So he escaped in May 1948. And so begins his 1,000 kilometer journey, destination Rome. Stangl has heard that inside the Vatican there is a network that could help him flee Europe. They have even given him contact with the famous Alois Hudal. – He came to Rome and he knew he had to, somehow, find this bishop Hudal. But he had no real idea where exactly he was and he didn’t even know the correct spelling of his name. And pure coincidence, he ran into a former comrade, a former SS man that he knew, in Rome on a bridge and, you know, asked “What are you doing here? What a coincidence!” and he said “I’m looking for Hudal, I’m on the way to Hudal” and the former SS man could describe him, could tell him how to find Hudal in the Santa Maria dell Anima. – In other words, at the Santa Maria dell Anima Church, Hudal not only helps the poor and destitute. He also deals with Nazi criminals, and does so with full knowledge of the situation.
He knew that Stangl was a mass murderer and a Holocaust perpetrator who had killed hundreds of thousands of people. – It should be said that the bishop Hudal is also an admirer of the Nazi regime. – Hudal’s specialty is supplying passports for war criminals so that they can get out of Europe. And Stangl is in great need of this service. It is in the name of the Vatican, and with the help of the Holy See, that Hudal will proceed. This, here, is proof of the document that was procured for him. It is a letter written by the Pontifical Commission, with the Vatican coat of arms as a header. It is dated the 17th of August, 1948. He is asked to kindly deliver the passport to the following person, Stangl. The request is addressed to the International Red Cross. At the time, Europe was in such chaos that it was the Red Cross who was entrusted with the task of providing passports to refugees who wish to emigrate. But to ensure success, what could be better than a letter like this, with the guarantee of the Vatican?
We know from witnesses, from former officials of the Red Cross in Rome, that priests and Hudal himself asked personally, or went to them himself to ask for travel documents from the Red Cross for a number of people that he wants to help. And, of course, in those cases, the officials could not say no. How could they refuse the application of a bishop, of a Catholic bishop in Rome? That’s impossible. – The result, a few weeks later, Hudal hands Franz Stangl his passport. It is his guarantee that he will be able to escape justice. However, this war criminal doesn’t celebrate. Because he was bothered by a small detail. – The papers were not really issued in a false name. They were issued for a certain Paul Stangl. So the middle name was turned into the first name. Stangl protested, he told the bishop You made a mistake, somebody made a mistake, maybe the Red Cross or you because my name is not Paul Stangl, it is Franz Stangl. And the bishop Hudal told him, don’t worry, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, because you realize you’re wanted as a war criminal. It’s better to be Paul Stangl than Franz Stangl because they’re looking for Franz Stangl. –
But they would not find him, as the former Nazi left Europe and headed to Syria to start a new life. He would not be found for another 20 years, in Brazil, and there he will finally be condemned to lifetime in prison.
But Hudal did not help just one war criminal. Numerous others also passed through this Vatican network. Amongst them, the most-wanted in Europe such as Adolf Eichmann, the lead organizer of the death camps. Doctor Mengele, the head doctor of Auschwitz. And Klaus Barbie, the butcher of Lyon. Was Pope Pius XII aware of his bishop’s schemes? Impossible to know, as the Vatican refuses, even today, to declassify their records. On the other hand, one report is unequivocal. It is dated back to 1947 and comes from the American Secret Service. Its author, Vincent La Vista.
He did a very good job, he looked into all the structures, he figured out how these people come to Italy over the mountains, to Tirol very often in the Austrian-Italian border, and then how they stayed in monasteries, how some of them had contact with former Nazis there or former fascists there, and then how to get to Genoa or to Rome. – And what he discovered was that, at the heart of the Vatican, there were numerous members suspected of being involved in the escape of war criminals. 22 in total. Many of them are bishops. And in very first place, is written Monsignor Hudal. His address and even his telephone number are given! Again, it is impossible to know for sure that Pius had any knowledge of this report. But according to experts, it is almost certain. – In any case, the Pope did not react publicly. At the Vatican, affairs are dealt with internally. Alois Hudal would resign five years later, in 1952. Even today, Pius XII is shamed for his silence. All of it, his silence during the genocide but also his refusal to speak out after the war and to explain himself, when he no longer needed to be in fear of retaliation. It would not be until his death, in 1958, that the people would finally hear his regrets.
This is how his will opens.
“Have mercy on me, Lord, and grant me your forgiveness. The knowledge of my weaknesses, failures, and sins committed during such a long pontificate, in such terrible times, has revealed my short fallings and my disgrace. I humbly ask forgiveness of all those I have offended, wronged and outraged.”