Gerard-Jules Saliege

Gerard-Jules Saliege

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Jules-Gerard Saliége was born in the Auvergne, France, in 1870. He joined the priesthood and was associated with the liberal wing of the Church and for many years was a member of Sillon, the reformist group founded by Marc Sangnier.

In 1929 Saliége became Archbishop of Toulouse. Three years later he began suffering from paralysis that affected his speech as well as his legs.

In August, 1942, Saliége criticized Henri-Philippe Petain and Pierre Laval for allowing the rounding-up and deportation of foreign-born Jews living in Vichy France. In a sermon that was published as a leaflet, Saliége pointed out that "women, men, fathers and mothers are treated like a vile herd, members of the same family are separated from each other and shipped off to an unknown destination; it has been reserved to our times to see these sad spectacles."

The following year Saliége also opposed the forced labour policy of the Vichy government. In June, 1944, the Gestapo began arresting Saliége's friends but he was spared because of his physical infirmity.

After the war Saliége became increasingly radical and was a prominent spokesman for the working-class in Toulouse. Jules-Gerard Saliége died in 1956.

There is a Christian morality, there is a human morality which imposes duties and recognizes rights. These duties and rights are derived from the nature of men. It is in the power of no mortal to suppress them.

Christian, women, men, fathers and mothers are treated like a vile herd, members of the same family are separated from each other and shipped off to an unknown destination; it has been reserved to our times to see these sad spectacles.

Jews are men and women. Foreigners are men and women. There is a limit to what can be permitted against them; against these men, these women, against these fathers and mothers. They belong to the human race. They are our brothers like so many others.

Archbishop of Toulouse Protests the Persecution of the Jews

On "human dignity", read out from the pulpit on August 23, 1942 without comment.

There is a Christian morality, a human morality, which lays down duties and recognizes rights. These rights and duties stem from the nature of man they come from God. One can violate them. [but] no mortal has the power to do away with them.

Children, women, men, fathers and mothers being treated like a lowly herd members of a single family being separated from each other and carted away to an unknown destination - it is our age which was destined to see this dreadful sight.

Why is there no longer any right of asylum in our churches?

In our diocese, moving scenes have occurred in the camps of Noe and Recebedou. The Jews are men the Jewesses are women. The foreigners are men and women. One may not do anything one wishes to these men, to these women, to these fathers and mothers. They are part of the human race they are our brothers, like so many others. A Christian cannot forget this.

France, beloved Fatherland France, which bears in the consciences of all your children the tradition of respect for human dignity chivalrous and generous France - I have no doubt that you are not responsible for these errors.

Yours devotedly, dear Brothers,

(Signed) Jules Gerard SALIEGE
Archbishop of Toulouse

Source: AIU, CC-26, CDJC, CCXVIII-72 Source: Yad Vashem

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Waging a Racial War

By the summer of 1940, the Germans occupied almost all of northern and western Europe and were eyeing a number of countries besides Poland to the south and the east. In every country they conquered, “race” mattered. Notions of racial superiority and inferiority shaped the choices Germans made on the battlefields and in their occupation of other countries.

During the invasion of France, the Germans captured thousands of French soldiers. Among these prisoners of war (POWs) were men from all parts of France’s empire, including French West Africa. “Race” determined how the Germans treated those POWs. In German prison camps, at least 3,000 African POWs were separated from their white counterparts and then murdered. Some were shot by German soldiers, while others were blown up with grenades. Historian Raffael Scheck writes that their treatment echoed German behavior in Poland in 1939 and foreshadowed the massacres of millions of Soviet prisoners of war that began in the summer of 1941. 1 Perceived differences between “German” and “foreign” blood also often determined how civilians fared under the Germans. For instance, Poles were treated with contempt and brutality, while Danes were treated with some respect, because Germans believed them to be racially similar to themselves.

In every country they conquered, the Nazis regarded Jews as the greatest enemy of the German people. Almost everywhere, Jews were required to register with local police so that they could be kept under surveillance. Marion Pritchard, then a graduate student in Amsterdam, recalled the way Germans used the registries to separate Jews from “Aryans” in the Netherlands:

Gradually the Germans instituted and carried out the necessary steps to isolate and deport every Jew in the country. They did it in so many seemingly small steps, that it was very difficult to decide when and where to take a stand. One of the early, highly significant measures was the Aryan Attestation: all civil servants had to sign a form stating whether they were Aryans or not. Hindsight is easy at the time only a few enlightened people recognized the danger and refused to sign. Then followed the other measures: Jews had to live in certain designated areas of the towns they lived in, and the curfew was stricter for them than for the general population. Jews over the age of six had to wear yellow stars on their clothing. Jewish children could not go to school with gentile children Jews could not practice their professions, use public transportation, hire a taxicab, shop in gentile stores, or go to the beach, the park, the movies, concerts, or museums. The Jewish Committee was instructed by the Germans to publish a daily newspaper in which all these measures were announced the regular Dutch press was not allowed to print anything about Jewish affairs. 2

A similar process took place in almost every occupied nation. On May 27, 1941, after witnessing the roundup of Jews in Paris, Germaine Ribière, a French student, wrote in her diary:

For the past two weeks the sky has become more and more overcast. The Church, the hierarchy, remains silent. They allow the truth to be profaned. Father Lallier [a priest in charge of the Catholic student movement in Paris] told me that there are more urgent things for me to worry about than the Jews . . .

The tide is rising, rising. I am afraid that one of these days, when we wake up, it will be too late and we shall all have become Nazis. I am afraid, because people are asleep. Those who should keep watch are the ones who put others to sleep. We must shout the truth no matter what the cost. But who will do it? I know that there are Christians who are willing to accept martyrdom if necessary but they do not know what is happening. They wait for a voice, and the voice does not speak. We must pray that it will speak.

France has betrayed her soul, and now Nazism is gaining the upper hand. All genuine values are dragged in the dust. We no longer have any honor. Pétain has become the French Hitler. The great dance has begun and the world is blind. It is blind because it is afraid of death. The clergy remains passive. As in Austria, they accept what is happening. 3

More than a year passed after these roundups before the Catholic Church took a stand. In August 1942, Archbishop Jules-Gérard Saliège of Toulouse told Catholics:

That children, that women, that men, that fathers and mothers should be treated like a vile herd, that members of the same family should be separated from one another and sent to an unknown destination—this sad spectacle it was reserved for our times to see. . . . These Jews are men these Jewesses are women these aliens are men and women. You cannot do whatever you wish against these men, against these women, against these fathers and mothers. They are part of humankind. They are our brothers, as are so many others. No Christian can forget that. 4

They Must Never Be Forgotten: Priests and Nuns Who Rescued People From the Holocaust

In those times of chaos, it was extremely dangerous and difficult to organize rescue activities. The Nazi Gestapo and secret police were vigilant and quick to punish anyone who tried to save Jewish people. Aware of the terror and cruelty of the Nazi regime, the Catholic priests and nuns who engaged in rescue activities did so at the risk of their own lives.

"There is a Christian morality, there is a human morality which imposes duties and recognizes rights. These duties and rights are derived from the nature of men. It is in the power of no mortal to suppress them. Women, men, fathers and mothers are treated like as vile herd, members of the same family are separated from each other and shipped off to an unknown destination it has been reserved to our times to see these sad spectacles.

Jews are men and women. Foreigners are men and women. There is a limit to what can be permitted against them against these men, these women, against these fathers and mothers. They belong to the human race. They are our brothers like so many others."

Father Jules-Gerard Saliege

Jules Gerard Saliege was the Archbishop of Toulouse, France during World War II and gave his full support to the rescue of Jewish people.

The Holocaust is a story of indescribable tragedy and horror. No nation ever attempted the systematic mass murder of people as did Germany in World War II. It is estimated that 11 million people were victims of Nazi genocide, 6 million were Jewish, the others were Gypsies, people with disabilities, Germans who resisted, and thousands of others.

In those times of chaos, it was extremely dangerous and difficult to organize rescue activities. The Nazi Gestapo and secret police were vigilant and quick to punish anyone who tried to save Jewish people. Aware of the terror and cruelty of the Nazi regime, the Catholic priests and nuns who engaged in rescue activities did so at the risk of their own lives.

Rescue activities took many forms and included hiding people, helping them escape, and providing false identities, food and shelter. These activities had to be carried out in secret, there was always the risk of being discovered. The rescues that took place are a tribute to the power of goodness over evil. Rescuers who were caught were arrested and sent to concentration camps and prisons and many were killed. The stories of the heroic priests and nuns who risked their lives to rescue Jewish people have been documented, they have been honored by the Catholic church and the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Documentation Center in Israel, but they are not as well known as they deserve to be. They must never be forgotten. This article is based on documented accounts and briefly summarizes the rescue activities of courageous priests and nuns.

In spite of the fact that Italy was Germany's ally on the battlefields, many priests and nuns were deeply involved in rescue activities. Renzo De Felice, an Italian historian, calculated that 155 Catholic institutions, convents and monasteries, orphan homes, institutions and hospitals in Italy opened their doors to Jewish refugees and contributed so much to help the majority of Italian Jews to be saved from the Holocaust.

The sheer brutality of the mass arrests were seen everywhere. Families were separated and hundreds of Jewish children were homeless and abandoned. Father Arrigo Beccari saved the lives of a hundred Jewish orphans who had escaped to Italy from Germany, Austria and Yugoslavia and were taken to a village in central Italy. When SS troops were stationed in the village, Don Baccari hid the youngest children in his seminary and found places for the older ones with local farmers. He visited them nearly every day and made sure they were well looked after. The children trusted Father Beccari and looked to him for comfort and courage.

A large rescue effort took place in Assisi, the birthplace of St. Francis, the founder of the Franciscan order. Assisi is a medieval town in the heart of Umbria, 90 miles north of Rome. Jewish people were hidden in monasteries and churches in Assisi and the surrounding countryside. Shortly after the Nazis invaded Italy, Padre Ruffino Nicacci, head of the seminary of Saint Damiano made the Basilica of Assisi a hiding place for more than 300 Jewish refugees and helped them escape. Not one of the 300 refugees sheltered by Padre Nicacci was captured.

Father Pietro Boetto, the Cardinal Archbishop of Genoa, Italy, worked with the Jewish underground agency to rescue Jewish people. As soon as Father Boetto learned about the death camps, he intensified his rescue efforts. With Don Franseco Repetto, he organized a rescue network that continued its operations even after Mussolini was overthrown in 1943 and the Nazis occupied northern Italy. Father Boetto never relented, despite the efforts of the Nazis to stop him. He was helped by Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa of Florence, Ildefonso Schuster of Milan and Maurilio Fossati. Father Boetto saved the lives of at least 800 people.

Monsignor Vincenzo Barale provided food and shelter for Jewish people in the city of Turin. Arrested by the Gestapo, he was not liberated until the war was over.

Monsignor Quadraroli, and Father Calliste Lopinot urged convents in Rome to open their doors to Jewish people. Refugees were given shelter at the convent on Via Cicerone. Monsignor Quadroli, secretary at the Vatican provided them with false Identification papers. Sister Maria Pucci hid Jewish people in the convent on Via Caboto. During the frequent air raids, the sisters took the refugees to the cellar or to the trap door under the stage. With bombs falling around them, they prayed and wept together.

Father Pierre-Marie Benoit, the head of the Capuchin Monastery in Rome saved hundreds of Jewish lives. When war broke out between France and Italy, he moved the Capuchin monastery to Marseille. At that time, thousands of Jewish refugees from Poland, Germany and other countries were fleeing to the south of France. When the Vichy government began its ruthless manhunt for Jewish refugees, Father Benoit welcomed refugees to the monastery, he arranged hiding places and planned their escape into Switzerland and Spain.

In 1942, the Germans occupied southern France. Father Benoit moved the Capuchin monastery back to Rome where he worked with the Jewish service agency, Delasem ( Delegazione Assistenza Ebrei) to save Jewish people. He became the president of Delasem when the Jewish president was arrested. Father Benoit brought a printing press to the basement of the monastery so that false baptismal certificates could be printed and obtained ration cards from the police on the pretext they were intended for non-Jewish refugees. Under his leadership, Jewish people were hidden in private homes and churches.

Father Petro Palazzini, Father Frederico Don Vincente, Cardinal Fossati and Don Beniamino Schivo and Father Pio Abresch were also involved in rescue.

The Germans occupied France in June 1940. The country was divided into two zones the occupied zone of the north and the "Free zone" ruled by the Vichy fascist government that collaborated with the Nazis. The French police were ruthless and cooperated with the Nazis. To a large degree, the war against the Jews of France was a war against children. Between 1942 and 1944, 11,401 children were deported to Nazi death camps. Nearly 12,000 children were rescued by priests and nuns.

During the German occupation of the south of France, many Jewish children found themselves alone and abandoned when their parents were arrested. Father Pierre Chaillet, a Jesuit priest, searched the streets of Lyon and the countryside looking for abandoned children. He found children hiding in caves and brought them to a monastery. When he learned that children were being held by the police, he went to police stations to rescue children being held by the French police. Father Chaillet also hid Jewish adults.

Father Jacques de Jesus (Lucien Burel) a Carmelite friar was headmaster of a school in Avon. Young men who were being forced to go to Germany as laborers and appealed to him for help. Father Jacques hid these men along with the Jewish children he wanted to save. He was arrested by the Gestapo and badly mistreated. He died soon after he was liberated by American troops.

The Abbé René de Naurois arranged the escape of Jews into Spain. His activities were known to the Gestapo and he had to leave the country to avoid arrest. Abbe Joseph Folliet, Catholic chaplain of the Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne (JOC) arranged for Jewish refugees to stay at church sanctuaries in the department of Haute-Savoie. He also helped people escape.

Bishop Pierre-Marie Theas in the Diocese of Montauban, near the city of Toulouse, wrote to all the parishes within 100 kilometers of Montauban asking for help in saving Jewish people. Many priests in Toulouse and Lyon answered his call Bishop Gabriel Pignet arranged for Jewish children to be hidden in Sainte Marguerite, a Catholic boarding school. He was arrested for his activities. The seminary had to be closed.

Mother Marie-Angelique, Mother Superior of the Sisters of St. Joseph, arranged and supervised hiding Jewish children and children of members of the French resistance.

Father Marie-Jean Viollet, the Abbey Simon Gallay, Albert Simond sheltered Jewish people in Evian-les-Bains. The Archbishop of Nice, Monsignor Paul Remond hid Jewish children in convents until they could be placed with families.

The Fathers of St. Francis, a Catholic seminary close to the Swiss border helped many people escape. Father Louis Favre, Gilbert Pernoud, Raymond Boccard and Francois Favrat enabled hundreds of refugees, most of them Jews, to escape into Switzerland. They had to be constantly on guard. Father Favre was betrayed and was executed in 1944.

The German army invaded and occupied Belgium in May 1940. Although the Belgians were allowed to govern their own internal affairs, no leniency was to be shown to Belgian Jews. Cardinal Van Roey , the head of the Catholic church in Belgium, defied the German orders and worked with the Jewish Defense organization to rescue people..

Father Joseph Andre also worked with the Jewish Defense Organization. He had to be very careful, his parish office was located across the street from the German military headquarters. The parish door was always open, he never refused anyone. Father Andre traveled from place to place looking for monasteries and convents willing to hide Jewish children. Father Andre did not hesitate to move a child, if he thought the child was not safe. One small boy in his care became very ill and Father Andre brought him to the hospital under a false identity. As soon as the boy recovered, Father Andre brought him to his own parish. His activities were discovered and in 1944, he had to go into hiding.

Father Bruno (Henri Reynders), a Benedictine monk worked with the Jewish organization and placed hundreds of children in homes and churches in the Liege region of Belgium. He took responsibility for every child. The Gestapo learned of his activities and he had to go into hiding himself, but he managed to visit the children every week. Father Bruno saved the lives of more than 300 children and 116 adults. After the war, Father Bruno searched for their parents and reunited as many as he could with their families.

Sister Marie Leruth looked after the La Providence orphanage near Antwerp. She brought Jewish boys whose families had been arrested to the orphanage. Sister Marie never faltered and continued her secret activities even after the Germans began to conduct surprise visits.

Rescue in eastern Europe was much more difficult. In Hungary, Father Jakab Raile, Prior of the Jesuit College, saved almost 150 people at the Jesuit residence. Father Jozsef Javiossy, head of the Holy Cross Society, saved many lives. Several priests and nuns who tried to rescue people were betrayed and arrested. Sister Margit Slachta who headed the Benedictine Order helped to save Jewish lives. On her instructions, the order's convents were opened to Jewish refugees. She did this without the support of the church hierarchy.

In Poland, assistance to Jews was made a crime punishable by death. Yet nuns in more than 300 institutions sheltered Jews in convents and schools. Rescue had to take place under the strictest secrecy. The few cases that have been documented represent only a fraction of the rescue efforts that did take place. False baptismal certificates had to be obtained for every child, their names had to be changed. In Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania, similar conditions prevailed.

At the end of the war, in gratitude for having been rescued, many tributes have been paid to the heroic priests and nuns.

Dr. Joseph Nathan spokesman for the Hebrew Commission publicly expressed heartfelt gratitude to those who protected and saved Jews during the Nazi-fascist persecutions. "Above all," he stated, "we acknowledge the Supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who, executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized the persecuted of their brothers and, with great abnegation, hastened to help them, disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed."

Sally M. Rogow. "They Must Never Be Forgotten: Priests and Nuns Who Rescued People From the Holocaust." Catholic Educator's Resource Center (November, 2003).

Pius XII: Guilty as Charged?

The records of the Nuremberg trials carry the testimony of S. Szmaglewska, a Polish guard at Auschwitz during the summer of 1944. Regarding the murder of Jewish children by the Nazis, he said:

When the extermination of the Jews in the gas chambers was at its height, orders were issued that children were to be thrown straight into the crematorium furnaces, or into a pit near the crematorium, without being gassed first. 'They threw them in alive. 'Their screams could be heard at the camp.[1]

Rivka Yosselevscka told a Jewish court something of what he saw take place on a Sabbath at the beginning of Elul, the 12th month of the Jewish year, in the Pinsk district of Nazi-occupied Belorussia (Belarus).

'They tore off the clothes of the old man and he was shot. I saw it with my own eyes. And then they . . . caught Mother and shot her too then there was my father's sister. She had children in her arms and was shot on the spot with the babies in her arms. 'They were lying all over, all dying suffering, not all of them dead, but in their last sufferings naked shot but not dead. There were children crying "Mother!" "Father-but they were all smeared with blood and one could not recognize the children. I cried for my daughter.[2]

These two statements provide a glimpse into the phenomenon called The Holocaust: a uniquely absurd and utterly diabolical event, defying both human and religious comprehension. Albert Speer, Hitler's minister of armaments from 1942 until the end of the war, a man who belatedly condemned Nazism, and the only criminal convicted at the Nuremberg trials to admit his guilt, said of the Holocaust in a 1977 interview: "Killing a people simply because you don't like the people is something you can't compare with anything in history. I don't have any example of it."

In the spring of 1994, a magnificent concert was held in the immense Paul VI Hall (Sala Nervi) next to St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Titled "The Papal Concert to Commemorate the Holocaust," it was conceived and organized by American conductor Gilbert Levine and Pope John Paul II, and attended by 7,500 people, including Elio Toaff (the chief rabbi of Rome) and three additional rabbis, 22 cardinals and more than 200 survivors of the Holocaust from 12 countries.

The concert was a first in many ways. It was the first time that the Vatican commemorated the Jewish Holocaust. It was the first time that a rabbi visited the Vatican for the purpose of co-officiating at a public function. It was the first time Catholics and Jews gathered under the roof of the Vatican to pray for those who perished in the Holocaust.

Intended, according to Gilbert Levine, "to unite the hearts of those who would hear the music in the memory of terrible events so that they are never repeated," the concert marked, in the words of a Vatican official, "the best relations between Catholics and Jews in 2,000 years." The concert underscored the fact that the State of Israel and the Vatican have recently established formal diplomatic relations.

The event could be viewed as the logical and fitting culmination of the generous and courageous support and spirit of cooperation extended by European Catholics in general and by the papacy in particular toward the suffering Jewish community in Nazi—occupied territories, especially in Rome, during the years of the Final Solution—an assistance not universally recognized, at least, when it comes to Pope Pius XII. Martin Luther King once wrote, "To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it."[4]

Today, Christians and Jews alike recognize the great evil involved in the failure to speak out publicly against atrocious crimes—especially in the case of someone in a position of considerable authority, whose voice could stir multiple millions of people to constructive action, such as the refusal to cooperate with the perpetrators of atrocity. Consequently, some historians and some literary figures have passed a harsh judgment upon Pope Pius XII because of his silence on Nazi crimes. During the years of the Final Solution, numerous religious leaders and diplomats beseeched and implored the Pope to speak out clearly, specifically and forcefully against the Nazi effort to exterminate the Jews. But he never did.[5] He feared that to do so would risk even worse atrocities[6]—in hindsight an apparently colossal misjudgment on his part.

The farthest he went was to produce a vague exhortation in his Christmas message of 1942. He spoke about a vow that "all righteous and magnanimous hearten must take to lead society back to divine law." Without mentioning either the Nazis or the Jewish people by name, he pleaded that "Humanity owes this vow to hundreds of thousands of people who, through no fault of their own and solely because of their nation or their race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction."[7] The questionable silence from Rome and from many Protestant churches, some claim, "helps to explain the suffocating moral atmosphere that made the extermination of the Jews possible."[8]

Among the critics of the Pope was the playwright Rolf Hochhuth, whose 1963 play "The Deputy" created a veritable storm over the Pope's knowledge of and alleged inaction in response to the Holocaust. But Hochhuth has not been alone in his criticism. According to Carlo Falconi, Pius XII not only failed the duty of his office, but his duty "to Christianity and mankind. His refusal to speak out played into the hands of evil and this grew bolder and fiercer and became more provocative. Silence amounted to complicity with iniquity. "[9]

Father John Morley points out that the Pope's reserve and prudence could not coexist with humanitarian concern. The Vatican acted "in ways that ignored the depth of suffering that was so widespread among both Christians and Jews."[10] Recently, Pope Pius XII was criticized by Michael Berenbaum in a volume that is a kind of compendium of the contents of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. His criticism focuses on Rome and the Pope's "failure" to speak out against the deportation of Jews from Rome that began in the fall of 1943.

Berenbaum mentions that the Jewish leaders of Rome had been alerted to the impending deportation, but they did not act. They neither heeded the warning nor passed the information on to the Jewish community, convinced that the Germans would not deport the Jews from Rome, the immediate entourage of the Pope. Berenbaum adds:

The Vatican also had been informed of the planned deportations, but the Pope failed to issue private protests or public disapproval either before or after the fact. The German ambassador to the Holy See commented to his foreign ministry that the Pope had not allowed himself to be drawn into any demonstrative censure of the deportations. The Pontiff appeared to be more concerned with preserving his own institutions.[11] Berenbaum creates the impression of an aloof, disinterested, neutral Pontiff—a smoke screen, by the way, that the Pope chose to create for Nazi consumption—who, he implies later, refrained from assisting his Jewish neighbors. Berenbaum, however, goes on to admit something that the enlightened observer would certainly find rather incongruous with that image, something therefore that suggests more than a little naivete on Berenbaum's part in seemingly getting caught up in the smoke screen. He writes, in words that immediately follow the above citation: "Nevertheless, hundreds of priests and nuns, bishops and ordinary clerics did come to the aid of Jews. Priests hid Jews in churches monks and nuns opened monasteries and convents to them "[12]

This rescue effort indeed happened not only in Rome but all over Nazi-occupied Europe. It occurred not in small part due to the Pope.[13] While the Pope did not speak out loudly and clearly, he acted. Pius XII directed covert rescue operations to save Jews from deportation and death. These operations, which often consisted of shipping Jewish people out of Nazi-controlled countries, required a considerable amount of diplomatic work and the expenditure of large sums of money-mostly American.[14]

During the nine-month German occupation of Rome (Sept. 10, 1943-June 4, 1944), Pius XII personally saw to the sheltering of the Jewish population. Convents, monasteries, churches and schools became havens for the oppressed Jews.[15] According to Israel Zoller, then chief rabbi of Rome, in one of the convents the sisters slept in the basement, having surrendered their beds to their Jewish guests 4,000 to 5,000 Jews were protected in this manner. Another 2,000 or 3,000 were given sanctuary by their mostly Catholic, Italian neighbors. Of the 8,000 or so permanent Jewish residents of Rome, about 7,000 were saved by going into hiding.

Regarding the personal involvement of the Pope in the rescue of Jews, Rabbi Zoller (who later changed his name to Eugenio Zolli) writes in his autobiography:

The Holy Father sent by hand a letter to the bishops instructing them to lift the enclosure from the convents and monasteries so that they could become refuges for the Jews. I know of one convent where the sisters slept in the basement, giving up their beds to the Jewish refugees.[16]

Elsewhere in his autobiography, the former chief rabbi and noted biblical scholar states:

The attic of one of the great churches in the center of Rome is divided into many sections, each bearing the name of the saint in whose honor the altar below is dedicated. The refugees are divided for the distribution of food according to the names of these saints.[17]

In September 1943, after the Germans had occupied Rome but before they initiated an all-out attack on the Jewish community, a Gestapo commander informed the Jewish leadership that Jews had 24 hours in which to produce 50 kilograms (more than 100 pounds) of gold. Should they fail to do so, 300 hostages would be seized, some would be deported, others shot. A frantic effort on the part of the Jewish population to raise the gold left the community short 15 kilograms. The Jewish council bid Zoller to seek help from the Vatican.

Although the Gestapo was in active pursuit of him, Rabbi Zoller agreed. He gained an audience with Cardinal Lulgi Maglione, the secretary of state, who accompanied him to the Vatican treasurer, before whom he pleaded the cause of the Roman Jews. The treasurer excused himself to confer personally with the Pope. The Pope agreed to the request and a certificate for more than 30 pounds of gold was given to Zoller.[18] While the collected gold did not save the Jewish community of Rome, the noteworthy donation by the Pope indicates his personal involvement in the Jewish rescue effort. Rabbi Zoller eventually converted to Catholicism, taking the name Eugenio—in honor of Pope Pius XII, the former Eugenio Pacelli. He came to recognize in the Pope a Christ-like concern for all human beings, a desire to extend the hand of healing to each of God's children. He writes eloquently about Pius XII:

As from the Cross of Christ, so from the Chair of Peter proceed spiritual rays which aim at reaching and illuminating and doing good to all without distinction. One might say of the reign of Pius XII that he is inspired by Isaias' words: Peace is harmony, peace is salvation, to those near to those afar off I want to heal them all.[19] There is no place of sorrow where the spirit of love of Pius XII has not reached.

Volumes could be written on the multiform works of succor of Pius XII. The Catholic priesthood throughout the whole world, religious men and women and the Catholic laity, stand behind the great Pontiff. Who could ever tell what has been done?[20] Pope Pius XII is followed by all with the fervor of that charity that fears not death. No one asks for anything except to follow in the footsteps of the Master under the guidance of Pius XII.[21]

The direct aid that the Pope accorded the persecuted Jews of Rome—according to Russian Jew, World War II resistance fighter and historian Leon Poliakov—included sheltering and protecting some dozens of Jews in the buildings and offices of the Vatican itself. This aid, he says, was "only the symbolic expression of an activity that spread throughout Europe, encouraging and stimulating the efforts of Catholic churches in almost every country."[22] ("The Vatican exerted itself to help the Jews by a thousand different means."[23])

Poliakov claims ("there is no doubt") that the Pope sent out secret instructions urging the national churches to intervene on behalf of oppressed Jews in whatever ways they could. In Hungary, Slovakia and elsewhere, communications of this type were dispatched from the Vatican directly to civil authorities. Such communications saved numerous Jews, especially in Slovakia where Msgr. Jozef Tiso was chief of the Slovak puppet state.

According to Poliakov: "From German diplomatic reports of the time, it appears that the cessation of deportations of Jews from Slovakia in the summer of 1942 (and consequently the survival of nearly 25 percent of the Slovakian Jews) must be attributed to such pressures exerted on Msgr. Tiso, chief of the Slovakian puppet state."[24] Everyone acknowledges that Pope John XXIII—as Archbishop Angelo Roncalli, the papal nuncio in Istanbul, Turkey—helped rescue thousands of Jews from certain death at the hands of the Nazis. What is not generally known, but which Pope John himself admitted, is that he had always acted on precise orders received from Pope Pius XII.[25] Pinches E. Lapide, at one time Israeli consul in Italy, contended that "the Catholic Church saved more Jewish lives during the war than all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organizations put together. Its record stands in startling contrast to the achievements of . . .Western democracies."[26]

Poliakov concurs: "No statistics will ever tell how many lives were saved by the Church in any case, it is certain that a great many of the Jewish survivors of the Nazi occupation benefited from its aid at some moment in their odyssey."[27]

In addition to the many initiatives that the Pope undertook to directly assist the Jewish populations of the various Nazi-occupied European countries, Pope Pius XII involved himself in an action which, had it succeeded, would indirectly but significantly have assisted the Jews. Acting as an intermediary for certain German anti-Hitler generals, Pius XII attempted in January 1940 and again in February 1940 to elicit the aid of the British in a plot to curb Hitler's militaristic ambitions. His interventions failed.

In 1970, a large number of British Foreign Office documents relating to the year 1940 were made available to the public. They contain evidence that a group of Germans, including generals of the German army, obtained the services of Pope Pius XII in a peace mission.

The Pope willingly served as a channel through whom the Germans conveyed to the British government their plans for a revolt against Hitler. The generals were hoping to obtain from the British favorable terms of peace for Germany, if the revolt proved successful. "On 12 January the Pope spoke to the British Minister (to the Holy See, Sir D'Arcy Osborne) about a violent, bitter and unscrupulous offensive planned against Holland in February, and said that certain anti-Hitler generals were prepared to frustrate this if they could be assured about peace terms."[28]

Initially told that his request was too vague, the Pope renewed the inquiry on Feb. 7. He informed Osborne "that parts of the German army were ready to act, even at the cost of civil war, as long as the territorial sovereignty of Germany, with Austria, could be guaranteed."[29] When Britain's foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, relayed to the Pope through Osborne that numerous conditions would have to be met before such a guarantee could be provided, the subject was dropped. Two months later, in April, the Pope explained to Osborne that whatever hopes there had been for favorable developments were dashed.

In his book The Conspiracy Against Hitler, in the Twilight War, Harold Deutsch (professor of history at the University of Minnesota in 1968 and one of the interrogators attached to the United States intelligence services in Germany in 1945) quotes a high British official as saying to Father Leiber, S.J. (the Pope's secretary), after the occupation of Rome by the Allies, that "Pius XII, in his efforts for peace, went to the outer limits of what was possible for a pope."[30]

The Pope displayed admirable courage and a deep concern for peace and justice in the intermediary role that he played between the German generals of goodwill and the British. He demonstrated profound compassion and generosity in his tireless work on behalf of the Jewish people of Europe.

One wonders what would have happened had this courage and desire for justice been directed toward open and public confrontation with Hitler. What would have occurred if Pope Pius XII had denounced Hitler's criminal activities from every pulpit in every Catholic cathedral, church and chapel the world over? No one really knows. But an event that occurred Sunday, Aug. 3, 1941, is worth some reflection.

On that date, Clemens Count Galen, bishop of Munster, the most courageous and outspoken Catholic bishop of World War II, a man who dared directly challenge the authority of the Gestapo, preached a powerful sermon. In his homily, he informed the congregation that the German government was in the process of murdering "unproductive" citizens—in particular, the mentally ill.

He explained that according to German law it was his obligation to inform the proper authorities, and that he had complied. He had proceeded to set forward charges with the local district attorney against the civil employees involved in the murders. He also told his congregation of his insistence that the district attorney keep him abreast of the police investigation into this criminal matter.

Very interestingly, 20 days later, on Aug. 23, 1941, Hitler dissolved Aktion T[4], the program aimed at exterminating the "unfit."[31] Why the program was shut down is uncertain, but there may have been a causative link between Bishop Galen's powerful sermon and the termination of Aktion T[4]. (Another program was already in process, however. Aktion 14F[13], "begun in the spring of 1941, to 'comb out' the concentration camps, and exterminate the physically or socially undesirable, continued." 32) If the Bishop Galen story-involving a German ordinary in a large city of western Germany-can be viewed as illustrating favorably what open, public confrontation with Hitler could accomplish, another story, with less favorable consequences, must also be told.

The story involves Jewish converts to Christianity in Holland. In July 1942, the Catholic and Protestant churches of Holland agreed to publicly protest the Nazi deportations. They had prepared a message to be read publicly. Intimidated by German threats, the Protestant churches backed down at the last minute and did not read the protest message. The Catholic churches, however, went through with the agreed-upon plan. "Consequently, the Jews who had converted to Catholicism were arrested and deported, whereas the Protestant converts remained in Holland."[33]

This last story indicates that the Pope's fear of speaking out with resounding clarity against Hitler's atrocities was not unfounded. Admittedly, it is difficult to imagine more extensive brutality occurring than did in fact take place-including the annihilation of 6 million Jews, a million Gypsies and thousands of mentally and physically handicapped people.

It is likely that hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of lives destroyed in the death camps and elsewhere could have been saved had the majority of Catholic Christians, in response to papal exhortations, flatly refused to cooperate with the Nazis- spurning, for example, their requests to have them finger Jewish families, or to indicate their whereabouts.

Nevertheless, it is easy to understand how the Pope could have thought that greater atrocities were possible, given his lack of perspective on the immediate historical situation and his limited access to the secret goings-on inside the death camps. Amazing as this might appear to some people, it is possible to state, even today in the light of current historical knowledge on the Holocaust, that had history unfolded differently -for instance, had the United States remained neutral and uninvolved-it is not inconceivable, in view of Hitler's disdain for the value of human life, that even more lives could have been extinguished than actually were. According to Jewish theologian Richard Rubenstein: "Had the Nazis won, their death machines would have been self-perpetuating. The demise of the last Jew would have been followed by the acceleration of an enlarged extermination campaign against the Russians and other Slavs."[34]

Even without a change in the historical circumstances, noncooperation with the Nazis on the part of the Poles and other defeated peoples would certainly have been met with great harshness. Father Maximilian Kolbe, as you recall, was one of 10 men of Cellblock 14, Auschwitz, executed by the Nazis in the summer of 1941 in retaliation for the fact that one Polish prisoner fled the German concentration camp.

The Pope had good reason to fear that a very heavy blow could have been dealt to the Catholic Church in Nazi-controlled countries. The words of Harold H. Tittmann, an American diplomat at the Holy See, dispatched to the State Department on Oct. 6, 1942, could possibly be indicative of such a fear on the part of Pius XII: "The Holy See is still apparently convinced that a forthright denunciation by the Pope of Nazi atrocities, at least as far as Poland is concerned, would only result in the violent deaths of many more people."[35]

As it was, in Poland "during the course of the war, 18 percent of all Polish diocesan priests were killed."[36] Hitler hated Christianity. This is a persistent theme of his wartime "table talk."[37] Rubenstein claims that the ultimate intent of the Nazis was to uproot the hold of Christianity upon the German people.[38]

The Pope was well aware of the Nazi intention of stifling the life of the Church in Germany and elsewhere. In an April 30, 1943, letter to the archbishop of Berlin, he enumerates German injustices against the Church. Then he writes: "All of this has been and is only part of a vast plan which aims at stifling the life of the Church in the territory where there German writ runs."[39]

While Pope Pius XII undoubtedly feared that even greater atrocities might be inflicted upon Catholic Christians if he openly and forcefully denounced Nazism and the deportation of Jews, and especially if he exhorted Catholics to block deportation efforts, he also feared that reckless moves or use of authority on his part could lead to an increase in the deaths of innocent Jewish people.

On Sept. 5, 1944, Rabbi Isaac Herzog, chief rabbi of Palestine, met in Cairo with Msgr. Hughes, papal delegate to Egypt and Palestine. The chief rabbi had been seeking a meeting with the Pope so that he might plead for his help on behalf of Hungarian Jews being deported by the Germans. Msgr. Hughes explained that a telegram to the chief rabbi inviting him to come to Rome had been held back by the Vatican at the last minute. "The reason was the Holy Father's fear that Your Reverence's coming to the Vatican in connection with measures to save the people of Israel might, perhaps, drive the Germans to wreak vengeance on the remnants of Jewry in Europe."[40]

Later, in the same Cairo meeting, Msgr. Hughes told the chief rabbi of an interview he had had with the Pope in the company of J.A. Clifford, the British minister in charge of dealing with refugee matters in Italy, a man who conjured up numerous rescue plans to save Jews. During the interview, an expression of extreme suffering came over the Pontiff's face. According to Msgr. Hughes, the Holy Father then said: "We must do all in our power to save the people of Israel. But every step we take must be calculated with the greatest caution, because I could not bear the idea that our activity might have an effect opposite to the one intended and cause the death of still more Jews."[41]

In response to a request by the chief rabbi that the Pope publicly appeal to the Hungarian people to place obstacles in the way of the deportation of Hungarian Jews, Msgr. Hughes responded: "I believe the Holy Father will fear that a public appeal to the Hungarian people may drive the Germans to liquidate the rest of the Hungarian Jews. The Germans still have sufficient strength in Hungary to do that, even against the will of the Hungarians."[42]

In summary, the Pope should not be judged and condemned for what he did not do. Rather, he should be appreciated and praised for his many accomplishments and endeavors, and imitated in these. Pope Pius XII acted vigorously, courageously and decisively in favor of peace and on behalf of the lives of innocent Jews. His successes were many and significant.

In hindsight, it would seem that he should have followed the lead of Bishop Galen and publicly and clearly condemned Nazi crimes.[43] He should have vigorously exhorted Christians the world over not to cooperate with Nazi deportation and extermination efforts—not even in identifying Jews. It does not seem at all probable that such speaking out would have resulted in a greater number of tragedies occurring than did in fact transpire, nor in ultimately more devastating tragedies. However, we cannot know these things with absolute and unqualified certainty.

In any event, and far more significantly, it must be remembered that the Pope was not operating with a post-World War II vantage point on history. His decisions were reached prior to the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps by the Allied forces.[44] Pope Pius XII bequeathed to us a legacy of compassionate action on behalf of a helpless, oppressed religious minority that we as Catholic Christians would do well to take pride in and emulate, remembering all the while the importance of speaking out fearlessly against moral evil—never forgetting the screams of the children.

1 Raul Hilberg, Documents of Destruction (Chicago: 1973), pp. 50-51 cited in Irving Greenberg, "Cloud of Smoke, Pillar of Fire: Judaism, Christianity and Modernity after the Holocaust," in Auschwitz: Beginning of a New Era?, ed. Eva Fleischner (New York: Ktav, Cathedral of St. John and Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1977), pp. 16-17.

2 Eric Kulka and Uta Kraus, The Death Factory (Oxford: 1966), p. 114 cited in Greenberg, pp. 9-10.

3 Hans Knight, "Conversation With Albert Speer," The Sunday Bulletin/Discoverer July 21, 1977), p. 9.

4 Martin Luther King, "Black Agony," Critic 25 June-July 1967), p. 12.

5 Both the Allies and the Axis Powers pressured the Pope to publicly condemn or protest specific actions committed by the other camp during the war. Instead, the Pope consistently spoke in general terms, condemning savagery and barbarism, but not specific persons, groups or actions. Cf. Samuel Nigro, "The Silence About Pope Pius XII," Social Justice Review 86 (July-August 1995), p. 100.

6 Saul Friedlander, Pius XII and the Third Reich: A Documentation, trans. from the French and German by Charles Fullman (New York: Octagon Books, 1966), pp. 118, 139, 226, 228 and 231. Among other things, he may have feared that to condemn Nazism without also condemning the Bolsheviks and their atrocities would be to risk weakening the Reich as bulwark against the advances of communism. Ibid., p. 134.

7 Ibid., pp. 130-31. Unspecific as it was, Pope Pius XII's Christmas message constituted quite a courageous speech. It was recognized by German security as including not only a defense of the Jews but an accusation against the German people of perpetrating injustices toward the Jewish population. Samuel Nigro states that the Pope's words "spoken while surrounded by malignant, brutal, beastly, unscrupulous savages, is an event unique in history, given the circumstances. His survival is miraculous." Nigro, p.101.

8 Alfred Kazin, "The Heart of the World," <Auschwitz>, p. 70.

9 Carlo Falconi, The Silence of Pius XII,> trans Bernard Wall (Boston: Little, Brown, 1970), pp. 72-73.

10 John E Morley, Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews During the Holocaust 1939-43 (New York: Ktav, 1980), pp. 208-9. Jewish historian, Leon Poliakov, however, writes: "It is painful to have to state that at the time when gas chambers and crematoria were operating day and night, the high, spiritual authority of the Vatican did not find it necessary to make a clear and solemn protest that would be echoed through the world and yet one cannot say that there may not have been pertinent and valid reasons for this silence." Cf. Leon Poliakov, "The Vatican and the 'Jewish Question': The Record of the Hitler Period-and After," Commentary 10 (1950), p. 443.

11 Michael Berenbaum, The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1993), p. 168. A 1983 movie, starring Gregory Peck, depicts the true story of an Irish priest, Msgr. Hugh O'Flaherty, who boldly masterminded a massive rescue operation in Nazi-occupied Rome, hiding refugees and Allied POWs from the Germans. The jacket of a 1992 video version of this film, released by Live Home Video, Inc., describes the Pope in a manner consistent with Berenbaum's perspective: "Pope Pius XII remains aloof, insisting on the Church's neutrality."

13 It occurred even though the Pope may not have been opposed in principle to some of the restrictions imposed upon the Jewish people by the Nazis and by the quisling regimes under the German aegis, including requiring them to wear the Jewish badge, consigning them to ghettos and treating them as second-rate citizens (Poliakov, pp. 441, 443-5). If this seems contradictory, it was the situation in the Middle Ages. Yosef Yerushalmi, a Jewish historian, points out that medieval Christianity was dedicated to holding the Jew down in a subservient position, but it was also dedicated to his preservation. Laws existed to protect Jewish property and life (Yosef Yerushalmi, "Response to Rosemary Reuther," Auschwitz, pp. 97-107). The Late Middle Ages introduced the ghetto walls and the Jewish badge. The latter was sanctioned by the Fourth Lateran Council, 1215 (Poliakov, p. 441). The Church's medieval policy toward the Jews was therefore complex. It affirmed that Jewish life was inviolable. But it also approved of measures to insure that Jews were humiliated and remained second-class citizens. Medieval popes originated many anti-Jewish measures. Rosemary Reuther writes: "The paradox of the Church's attitude to the Jews was that it was simultaneously committed to their preservation and to making them exhibit externally the marks of their reprobation" (Rosemary Reuther, "AntiSemitism and Christian Theology," Auschwitz, pp. 85-86). St. Thomas Aquinas' theological position on the Jews reflects certain practices that existed in Christian society during the Middle Ages. Aquinas held that nonbelievers, including members of the Jewish faith, should not be allowed to acquire authority over Christian believers since the latter could easily be influenced by them into fallacious thinking, and if they swayed from the faith, the nonbelievers would hold the faith in contempt (The "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province [London: R. & T. Washbourne, 1917], Vol. 9, p. 140 Part II: 2, Quest. 10, art. 10). St. Thomas wrote: "The Church altogether forbids unbelievers to acquire dominion over believers, or to have authority over them in any capacity whatever" (Ibid.). This resulted, it seems, in their being prohibited access to public office, and in their being admitted into the liberal professions and the universities only according to a quota system (Poliakov, p. 445). Jews, however, are to be allowed to practice their faith, states Thomas Aquinas. He recognized Jewish rites as constituting a foreshadowing of the truth of the Christian faith, and therefore as bearing witness to the faith. "For this reason they are tolerated in the observance of their rites" (art. 11, p. 143). With regard to the baptizing of Jewish children, Aquinas indicates that "it was never the custom of the Church to baptize the children of Jews against the will of their parents" (art. 12, p. 145). Once the child has attained the use of reason, then he or she can be baptized even against the parents' wishes if he or she consents freely (p. 146). With regard to the question of the deportation of Jews in the Middle Ages, Yerushalmi states that this was not done with papal encouragement. Even the most anti-Semitic popes of the Middle Ages did not advocate expelling Jews. "Rome was the one city of Europe from which the Jews were never expelled" (Yerushalmi, p. 104).

14 Friedlander, p. 141. Friedlander cites an April 30, 1943, letter of Pope Pius XII to the archbishop of Berlin, in which the Pope refers to his work on behalf of Jews and the warm thanks he received from Jewish organizations.

15 Francis J. Weber, "Witness for Pius XII," American Benedictine Review 26 (1975), pp. 227-30.

16 Eugenio Zolli, Before the Dawn (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954), pp. 140-41.

17 Ibid., p. 188. Msgr. Hughes, papal delegate to Egypt and Palestine, confirms the fact that the Pope demonstrated a solicitude for Jewish well-being in Rome, and Italy in general. In a September 1944 conversation with Dr. Herzog, chief rabbi of Palestine, he talks about the many Jews saved by the Church. "When the Germans took control of the country, orders were given to all monasteries to conceal Jews. In Rome, for example, my brothers, the White Friars, have a monastery which houses four priests we kept 32 Jews hidden in that monastery for a whole year. In the convent of the English Church, dozens of Jews had been hidden. A great many Jews were concealed inside the Vatican itself and particularly at Castel Gandolfo, where the Holy Father spends his holidays" (Friedlander, p. 228-29).

25 Anthony Rhodes, The Vatican in the Age of the Dictators (1922-1945) (New York: Holt, Rinehart &c Winston, 1973), pp. 339-40.

28 Sir Alec Randall, "The Pope and the Plot Against Hitler," The Tablet 225 (Jan. 23, 1971), p. 80.

31 Joachim Remak, ed., The Nazi Years: A Documentary History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ.: Prentice-Hall, 1969), p. 99 and pp. 139-40.

32 Ibid., pp. 140-41. When the deportation of Jews from France was underway in 1942, numerous French bishops and priests protested vigorously. Jules-Gerard Saliege, archbishop of Toulouse, directed the priests of his diocese (Aug. 30, 1942) to read a powerful pastoral letter from the pulpits. It states in part: "It has been reserved to our time to witness the sad spectacle of children, of women, of fathers and mothers being treated like a herd of beasts to see members of the same family separated one from another and shipped away to an unknown destination" (Friedlander, pp. 112 and 115). From his pulpit, Msgr. Theas proclaimed (Aug. 30): "The present anti-Semitic measures are a mockery of human dignity, a violation of the most sacred rights of the person and family" (Ibid., p. 116).

According to Msgr. Hughes, papal delegate to Egypt and Palestine, when the Germans began deporting French Jews, the Catholic bishops "went into the streets wearing a yellow star" (Ibid., p. 233). These protests may have made a difference, for Msgr. Hughes stated in September 1944 in reference to the bishops' wearing of the star: "This action made a considerable impression and, in some places, rendered deportation impossible" (Ibid.).

34 Richard Rubenstein, After Auschwitz: Radical Theology and Contemporary Judaism (New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1966), p. 35.

38 Ibid., p. 9. On Dec. 13, 1941, Hitler stated in conversation: "One day, the war will end. It will then be the final great task of my life to solve the religious problem. Only then will the German nation be secure" (cf. Adolf Hitler, Hitler's Table Talk [London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1953], p. 90 cited in Friedlander, p. 150). 39 Friedlander, p. 140.

43 The Pope did approve of some resounding protests made at the local level, but he "did not consider it wise to add to these protests the authority of his own voice" (Poliakov, p. 442). He preferred leaving the protest actions to local pastors who could better assess the dangers of reprisals and the like (Friedlander, p. 139).

44 "No one can be accused of really knowing what the Holocaust was until the slave, labor and death camps were liberated. To judge retrospectively is unreasonable" (Nigro, p. 102).

MR. DeCELLES holds the rank of professor in the department of religious studies at Marywood College in Scranton, Pa.

This article was taken from the January, 1996 issue of "The Priest". To subscribe please write: "The Priest", Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, 200 Noll Plaza, Huntington, In 46750.

The Adventures of Gerard, the Lion Killer, comprising a history of his ten years' campaign among the wild animals of northern Africa. Translated from the French by Charles E. Whitehead

Jules Gerard. Charles E. Whitehead, translator

Published by NY: Derby & Jackson, 1860

Condition: Good. signed by Whitehead at the front free endpaper 432 pp., frontis., illustrated half-title, plates original gilt & blind stamped brown cloth, covers worn, spine chipped, good only.

The Life and Adventures of Jules Gerard, Containing a History and Description of Algeria Paperback – 10 September 2010

Interesting read concerning a period and country about which comparatively little is known. I was also attracted to buying this book because it dealt with the now-extinct Barbary lion of the Atlas mountains which forms a chain across the current-day countries of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia. The Barbary lion was known to be a much larger sub-species of today's lions which are found in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, The last Barbary lions were exterminated in the Atlas Mountain range by the beginning of the 20th century, by the French and Spanish-occupiers, not only because of the heavy toll these lions took on the Bedouin's camels, horses, oxen, donkeys, sheep and goats, etc., but because the lions were also known to be regular man-eaters who regarded all humans as simply another form of red meat, and availed themselves regularly of it at every opportunity, if the old stories are to believed at all. The traditional and abundant wild game of the lions of southern Africa was seemingly cut-off by the expanse of the Sahara, and the wild game of the Atlas Mountains really consisted of only wild boar, gazelles, mountain goats and sheep, and smaller game . all of which were/are relatively scarce because of scarce forage and watering sources. This caused the lions to to re-adapt to operating and hunting as individuals or in mated pairs and NOT in large multi-adult 'prides' as is characteristic of the lions throughout the rest of equatorial Africa. Because of that scarcity of traditional prey, man-eating Barbary lions were not only common, but it apparently was an expected behavior of these unique lions.

The author was a French soldier who actually found a secondary occupation and unexpected fame as a unique 'lion-killer' in benevolent-defense of the Arab 'douars', their families, and their flocks during the 1840's and 1850's, before leaving the military service and returning to France.

This book should get a higher rating by me but, in truth, it was still difficult to understand much of the English translation of this Frenchman's biography. That said, I still enjoyed it!.

The Vatican & the Holocaust: 860,000 Lives Saved - The Truth About Pius XII & the Jews

People often ask: why did Pius XII, Eugenio Pacelli, not speak out more forcefully against Hitler? Historian Fr Dermot Fenlon of the Birmingham Oratory looks at the facts and sets the record straight.

The answer is recounted by a former inmate of Dachau, Mgr Jean Bernard, later Bishop of Luxembourg:

"The detained priests trembled every time news reached us of some protest by a religious authority, but particularly by the Vatican. We all had the impression that our warders made us atone heavily for the fury these protests evoked . whenever the way we were treated became more brutal, the Protestant pastors among the prisoners used to vent their indignation on the Catholic priests: 'Again your big naive Pope and those simpletons, your bishops, are shooting their mouths off .. why don't they get the idea once and for all, and shut up. They play the heroes and we have to pay the bill.'"

Albrecht von Kessel, an official at the German Embassy to the Holy See during the war, wrote in 1963:

"We were convinced that a fiery protest by Pius XII against the persecution of the Jews . would certainly not have saved the life of a single Jew. Hitler, like a trapped beast, would react to any menace that he felt directed at him, with cruel violence."

The real question is, therefore, not what did the Pope say, but what did the Pope do? Actions speak louder than words. Papal policy in Nazi Europe was directed with an eye to local conditions. It was co- ordinated with local hierarchies. Nazi policy towards the Jews varied from country to country. Thus, although anti-Jewish measures were met in France by public protest from Archbishop Saliege of Toulouse, together with Archbishop Gerlier of Lyons and Bishop Thias of Mantauban, their protest was backed by a highly effective rescue and shelter campaign. 200,000 lives were saved. In Holland, as Fr Michael O'Carroll writes, the outcome was 'tragically different'. The Jewish historian Pinchas Lapide sums it up:

"The saddest and most thought provoking conclusion is that whilst the Catholic clergy of Holland protested more loudly, expressly and frequently against Jewish persecutions than the religious hierarchy of any other Nazi-occupied country, more Jews - some 107,000 or 79% of the total - were deported from Holland more than anywhere else in the West."

Van Kessel's view is therefore borne out by the experience of Nazi Holland: protest merely made for more reprisals.

What of Rome itself? In 1943 the German ambassador to the Holy See, Von Weizsaecker, sent a telegram to Berlin. The telegram has been cited as damning 'evidence' against Pius XII.

"Although under pressure from all sides, the Pope has not let himself be drawn into any demonstrative censure of the deportation of Jews from Rome . As there is probably no reason to expect other German actions against the Jews of Rome we can consider that a question so disturbing to German-Vatican relations has been liquidated."

Von Weizsaecker's telegram was in fact a warning not to proceed with the proposed deportation of the Roman Jews: 'there is probably no reason to expect other German actions against the Jews of Rome'. Von Weizsaecker's action was backed by a warning to Hitler from Pius XII: if the pursuit and arrest of Roman Jews was not halted, the Holy Father would have to make a public protest. together the joint action of Von Weizsaecker and Pius XII ended the Nazi manhunt against the Jews of Rome. 7,000 lives were saved.

In Hungary, an estimated 80,000 baptismal certificates were issued by Church authorities to Jews. In other areas of Eastern Europe the Vatican escape network (organised via Bulgaria by the Nuncio Roncalli - later John XXIII) has impressed those writers who have studied the subject, with the effectiveness of the Church's rescue operation. David Herstig concludes his book on the subject thus:

"Those rescued by Pius are today living all over the world. There went to Israel alone from Romania 360,000 to the year 1965."

The vindication of Pius XII has been established principally by Jewish writers and from Israeli archives. It is now established that the Pope supervised a rescue network which saved 860,000 Jewish lives - more than all the international agencies put together.

After the war the Chief Rabbi of Israel thanked Pius XII for what he had done. The Chief Rabbi of Rome went one step further. He became a Catholic. He took the name Eugenio.

Note that the quotes in this article are take from Fr Michael O'Carroll's book, Dublin, 1980.

Sources: Eternal Word Television Network This article first appeared in Catholic Family #10, Autumn 1991. Electronic version of this text copyright (c) 1995 National Association of Catholic Families. It can be distributed freely provided the text and this copyright notice are preserved intact. For further information contact [email protected]

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While indifference and hostility towards the Jews were the general rule in Nazi occupied Europe, there were always a few who risked their lives to help the persecuted. Among the Righteous Among the Nations there are also Muslims from Albania, Bosnia, Turkey, countries of the former Soviet Union. and an Egyptian doctor residing in Berlin.

They were young girls of very modest or poor background, who had to leave their parents&rsquo home at an early age and go to work taking care of other people&rsquos households and children. When the war broke out the situation often changed overnight and a reversal of fortunes took place: the Jewish employers were stripped of their status, assets and rights and became helpless victims to persecution and murder, and it was the nursemaids who, despite the danger, their young age and lack of education, took charge and assumed full responsibility for the Jewish families&rsquo survival.

As Nazi Germany intensified its anti-Jewish policy, increasing numbers of Jews were driven to flee and to seek ways to emigrate. Long lines of desperate people seeking visas formed in front of foreign consulates, but the free world was reluctant to permit entry of the many refugees. Most diplomats continued to employ ordinary procedures in extraordinary times only very few proved to be an exception and faced with the refugees&rsquo plight, were willing to act against their government&rsquos policy and instructions and suffer the consequences.

Christian conduct during the Holocaust continues to challenge the Christian world well into the 21st century. Many factors played a role in influencing the behavior of church leaders and clergy when confronted with the murder of the Jews. Some spoke out against the persecution, others remained silent, many acquiesced, and some even collaborated. A few &ndash from all Christian denominations &ndash risked their lives to save Jews.

Among the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust were Armenians - some of them motivated by the memory of the atrocities committed against them at the beginning of the 20th century. These acts of rescue took place where the Armenians fled subsequent to the genocide - Ukraine, Crimea, France, Hungary, and Austria.

Rescue acts were by their very nature performed in secret. The danger of denunciation was great, and Jews had to be hidden not only from the perpetrators, but also from neighbors. Yet, in several places organized rescue was put in place, with rescuers joining together and pooling their resources and efforts. Sometimes these groups were part of organized resistance movements in other cases they were spontaneous.

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops entered the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp, the last such camp still functioning. They found 7,000 survivors. Another 50,000 inmates had been marched out several days earlier by the camp&rsquos staff in order to prevent them from falling into Allied hands. Most of them perished before the war ended. Auschwitz, where over one million people &ndash most of them Jews &mdash were killed, has become a symbol for the Holocaust and for evil as such, and rightly so. For the Jewish people, it is the largest Jewish cemetery in the world, a cemetery without graves.

And yet, even within the horror that was Auschwitz, there were flickers of light. Despite the total dehumanization that was part of the camp system, there were remarkable acts of solidarity and humanity by camp inmates. Among them were non-Jews, who at risk to their own lives, sought to ease the pain, to give aid and to rescue Jews. They proved that even within the brutality and the murder, people could choose not to remain indifferent. These non-Jews are among the more than 21,000 who by 2006 have been recognized by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. Since 1963, as mandated by the Israeli Parliament, Yad Vashem has honored those non-Jews who, during the Holocaust, saved Jewish lives in circumstances that posed a risk to his or her life, without intending to receive a reward, monetary or otherwise.

We bring you here six of their stories.

About One and a half million Jewish children perished in the Holocaust. Every child, every baby was targeted &ndash only because they were born Jewish &ndash in the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. A whole generation was killed only a few survived. In trying to save their children, parents often had to take the painful decision to part from them other children were hidden after their parents were deported or killed.

In a Europe where Jews were ostracized and targeted for murder, most people abandoned their former neighbors, and only a few stood by their side. The price that rescuers had to pay for their actions differed from one country to another. In Eastern Europe, notices were put up threatening those who helped Jews and their families with death. In Germany and Western Europe punishment was generally less severe. However, witnessing the brutal treatment of the population and the perpetrators&rsquo determination to hunt down every single Jew, people must have feared that they would suffer greatly if they attempted to help the persecuted. Moreover, in many places rescuers had to beware not only of the authorities, but there was a great risk of denunciation on the part of their neighbors.

Some of the rescuers had to pay the ultimate price. Here are some of their stories:

In order to perpetrate the murder of six million Jews it was necessary to enlist the cooperation of different state institutions. Many of those involved were, so they claimed, professionals merely doing their job. Only a small minority mustered the necessary courage and honesty to recognize the real significance of what they were doing or what they were required to do and decided to defy their superiors and their orders and instructions.

These Righteous Among the Nations, who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, and are featured in this unique exhibition, embodied the Olympic spirit by dedicating their lives to "social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles". (taken from the Olympic Charter).

During the Holocaust most people abandoned their Jewish neighbors, turned a blind eye or even participated in the persecution of the Jews. Among them were teachers, who watched as their students were marked, harassed, discriminated against and finally murdered. Only some felt that it was their duty not only to educate and instill values in the classroom, but to live by those ideals, even at the risk of their lives. Yad Vashem has recognized those teachers as Righteous Among the Nations.

A little over half of the Righteous Among the Nations recognized by Yad Vashem are women. While many of them acted in cooperation with other family members, some of these courageous women were the initiators of the rescue and acted independently to save Jews. Here are some of their stories.

Featured here are several dozen stories of Righteous Among the Nations arranged by topics and by countries. All the Righteous Among the Nations recognized by Yad Vashem are included in the Database of the Righteous.

Watch the video: Conférence: Les Attentats du 13 Novembre - Origines et perpectives


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