Jewish gratitude for the Help of Pope Pius XII who helped them against the perverse regime of the Nazis.


“The People of Israel will never forget”


As one European nation after another was liberated from the Nazis, expressions of thanks from chief rabbis, Jewish organizations, and individual Jews whose lives had been saved by the intervention of the Holy See and its representatives poured into Rome. Here are but of few:


“In the most difficult hours which we Jews of Romania have passed through, the generous assistance of the Holy See . . . was decisive and salutary. It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme Pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews, sufferings which had been pointed out ot him by you after your visit to Transnistria. The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance.” – Chief Rabbi Alexander Saffran of Bucharest, Romania, to Monsignor Andrea Cassulo, Papal Nuncio to Romania, April 7, 1944.


“While our borthers were hunted, imprisoned and threatened with death in almost every country in Europe because they belong to the Jewish people, Your holiness has not only sent us large and generous gifts. . . . but also has shown your lively fatherly interest in our physical, spiritual and moral well-being. In doing so, Your Holiness has as the first and highest authority upon earth fearlessly raised his universally respected voice, in the face of our powerful enemies, in order to defend openly our rights to the dignity of man.  . .. When we were threatened with deportation to Poland, in 1942, Your Holiness extended his fatherly hand to protect us, and stopped the transfer of the Jews interned in Italy, thereby saving us from almost certain death.” – Jan Hermann and Dr. Max Pereles, the camp elders of Ferramonti-Tarsia, October 29, 1944.


“The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundation of true civilization, are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world.” – Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog of Palestine, February 28, 1945. What is more is that Rabbi Herzog of Jerusalem, as well as the Rabbis of the Italian, United States, Romanian, and Hungarian Jewish communities came to Rome or sent messages thanking Pope Pius XII for the way in which he mobilized the Church in their behalf.


“All us to ask the great honor of being able to thank personally His Holiness for the generosity he has shown us when we were persecuted during the terrible period of Nazi Fascism.” – Petition of twenty-thousand Jewish refugees from Central Europe to Pius XII, Summer 1945.


During the Nazi terror, When fearful martyrdom came to our people in the decade of Nazi terror, the voice of the Pope was raised for the victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out on the great moral truths, above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a great servant of peace.” – Golda Meir, Israeli Prime Minister,  in a cable to the Vatican expressing condolences at the death of Pius XII, 1958.


Albert Einstein (who was Jewish) wrote a letter to Time magazine in December 1940 stating: "Only the [Catholic] Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom. I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised, I now praise unreservedly."

And even earlier he when dismayed at the lack of outcry or assistance from secular establishments.  He said:  "Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty." -  (Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews, pg 251).

Jeno Levai, who testified at the Eichmann Nazi War Crimes Trial, insisted: "The one person [Pope Pius XII] who did more than anyone else to halt the dreadful crime and alleviate its consequences, is today made the scapegoat for the failures of others"


What is more is that Pope Pius XII saved 860,000 Jews directly or indirectly; in Rome alone during the Nazi occupation 4,447 Jews were hidden in over 155 Catholic houses, ecclesiastical institutions, parishes and schools -- more than all other rescue operations, including those run by Jews. This fact was affirmed openly by Jewish Rabbi Pinchas Lapide who wrote that:

"The final number of Jewish lives in whose rescue the Catholic Church had been the instrument is thus at least 700,000 souls, but in all probability it is much closer to ... 860,000." (Pinchas E. Lapide, 'Three Popes and the Jews', pp 227-228).

This is more than all other Jewish relief organizations in Europe, combined, were able to save.

Pope Pius XII was instrumental in protecting the Jews of Rome, even to the point of gathering 50 kilograms of gold to provide "indemnity" money to save them from imprisonment.

Pope Pius XII ordered that all monasteries and convents be opened to hide Jewish refugees, and the Vatican coordinated a wide effort to obtain passports and other documents to help thousands of Jews to escape

Pope Pius XII personally gave refuge to at least 3,000 at his own summer residence at Castel Gandolfo

At the end of World War II, the chief rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, converted to Catholicism and chose for his baptismal name, Eugenio, after the pontiff

The notorious Nazi official, Adolph Eichmann, in his Diary released on March 1, 2000, complains that the Vatican "vigorously protested the arrest of Jews, requesting the interruption of such action; to the contrary, the Pope would denounce it publicly"

Through the agency of Pope Pius XII 80% of the Jews in Italy were saved; to the contrary, 80% of the Jews in the northern countries were executed by the Nazis. 

When Pope Pius XII was elected Pope, the Berliner Morgenpost, a pro-Nazi newspaper, stated: "The election of Cardinal Pacelli is not of Germany's liking, as he has always been opposed to Nazism."

Following Pope Pius XII's 1942 Christmas radio message, the Gestapo wrote in a report: "the Pope has rejected the new National Socialist European Order. He has not attacked National Socialism directly, but he has severely criticized everything we believe.... He has spoken clearly in favor of the Jews"

In his lifetime, Pius XII received more praise and expressions of gratitude from the Jewish people than any other pope in history; in several churches in Rome there are Jewish plaques thanking the Church for saving Jewish lives

In 2001 New York Rabbi David Dalin has proposed that Pope Pius XII be proclaimed "Righteous Among the Nations," the highest award given by the state of Israel to persons outstanding in assisting persecuted Jews during World War II: "More than any other 20th century leader, Pius XII fulfilled this Talmudic tradition, when the fate of European Jewry was at stake. No other Pope had been so widely praised by Jews, and they were not mistaken. Their gratitutde, as well as that of the entire generation of holocaust survivors, testifies that Pius XII was, genuinely and profoundly, a righteous gentile.... Pius XII was not Hitler's pope, but the closest Jews had come to having a papal supporter, and at the moment when it mattered most."

Moshe Sharrett, former Foreign Affairs Minister and Prime Minister of Israel, after the Second World War went to see Pius XII "to thank the Catholic Church for what it did to save the Jews in all parts of the world."

A New York Times editorial of December 25, 1942, stated: "The voice of Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe this Christmas.... He is about the only ruler left on the continent of Europe who dares to raise his voice at all."