Gary Krupp came across the evidence in a letter from a Jewish woman whose family was rescued thanks to direct
“It is an unusual letter, written by a woman who is alive today in northern Italy, who said she was with her mother, her uncle, and a few other relatives in an audience with Pius XII in 1947,” Kruppexplained. Next to Pope Pius during the meeting was his Assistant Secretary of State, Monsignor Giovanni Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.
“Her uncle immediately looks at the pope and he says, ‘You were dressed as a Franciscan,’ and looked at Montini who was standing next to him, ‘and you as a regular priest. You took me out of the ghetto into the
Krupp believes the claim to be true because the personality of the wartime pope was such that he “needed to see things with his owneyes.”
“He used to take the car out into bombed areas in
Krupp and his wife, Meredith, founded the Pave the Way Foundation in 2002 to “identify and eliminate the non-theological obstacles between religions.” In 2006 he was asked by both Jewish and Catholic leaders to investigate the “stumbling block” of Pope Pius XII’s wartime reputation. Krupp, a very optimistic 64-year-old from
“We are Jewish,” he says. “We grew up hating the name Pius XII. We believed that he was anti-Semitic. We believed that he was a Nazi collaborator -- all of the statements that have been made about him, we believed.”
But when he started looking at the documents from the time, Krupp said he was shocked. And “then it went from shock to anger. I was lied to,” says Krupp.
“In Judaism, one of the most important character traits one must have is gratitude, this is very important, it is part of Jewish law. Ingratitude is one of the most terrible traits, and this was ingratitude as far as I was concerned.”
Krupp says he now firmly agrees with the conclusions of Pinchas Lapide, the late Jewish historian and Israeli diplomat who said the direct actions of Pope Pius XII and the
“I believe that it is a moral responsibility, this has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church,” says Krupp, “it has only to do with the Jewish responsibility to come to recognize a man who actually acted to save a huge number of Jewish lives throughout the entire world while being surrounded by hostile forces, infiltrated by spies and under the threat of death.”
Krupp explained that Pope Pius used the Holy See’s global network of embassies to help smuggle Jews out of occupied
Closer to home, the convents and monasteries of
Krupp speculates that the wartime actions of Pope Pius XII, whose birth name was EugenioPacelli, can be further understood in the light of his own personal history. His great boyhood friend was Guido Mendes, who hailed from a well-known Jewish family in
The new pope “opposed unalterably every compromise with National Socialism,” Klieforth wrote, after a private chat with the pontiff in the
Pope Pius, explained Klieforth, “regarded Hitler not only as an untrustworthy scoundrel but as a fundamentally wicked person,” and “did not believe Hitler capable of moderation.” Hence he “fully supported the German bishops in their anti-Nazi stand.”
Krupp describes the reputation of the wartime pope as both glowing and intact until 1963, when German writer Rolf Hochhuth penned his play “The Deputy.” It portrayed Pope Pius as a hypocrite who remained silent about Jewish persecution.
The Pave the Way website carries evidence from a former high-ranking KGB officer, Ion MihaiPacepa, who claims that the tarnishing of the pope’s reputation was a Soviet plot.
Krupp explains how the Communists wanted to “discredit the pope after his death, to destroy the reputation of the Catholic Church and, more significantly to us, to isolate the Jews from the Catholics. It succeeded very well in all three areas.”
But he says he also firmly believes that a fundamental revision of Pope Pius’ wartime record is now well under way.
“The dam is cracking now, without question,” he says.