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Yad Vashem's Reacts to Recent Archival Findings Exposed in Letter Sent to Pope Pius XII by German Jesuit Priest in 1942

18 September 2023

The recent discovery of a chilling letter written in December 1942 casts new light on Pope Pius XII's awareness of the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

"The importance of the newly discovered document is that it provides a better understanding of the detailed information, from trusted sources, that reached the Vatican during the war about the extermination of the Jews. The document therefore adds to the debate on the reaction of Pius XII vis-à-vis the Holocaust," stated Director of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem Dr. Iael Nidam-Orvieto.

Of particular importance is the credibility of the source that informed the Pope and the fact that evidently this letter was part of a continuing correspondence, a flow of data that reached the Vatican. This letter provides important information about death camps reaching the Vatican only a few days before Pope Pius' Christmas speech, where he chose not to denounce openly and clearly the extermination policy of Nazi Germany.

"This letter contributes to the discussion on why did Pius XII chose this strategy and what were the factors and people in his entourage, that influenced his policy. One such issue relates to the role of Monsignor Angelo Dell'Acqua in undermining the veracity of information that reached the Vatican from various sources, and in other matters, such as the reaction of the Vatican facing the roundup of the Jews in Rome, in October 1943

In light of these recent findings, the debate surrounding Pope Pius XII's actions during the Holocaust continues. The complex and nuanced history of this period demands a careful study of all available evidence, and these new documents contribute to our understanding of some of the disputed questions on this deeply tragic chapter in history" noted Dr. Nidam Orvieto

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, remains committed to the pursuit of historical accuracy and understanding. We encourage further research and dialogue on this matter, and we hope that these revelations will foster a more comprehensive understanding of the events of the Holocaust.