The Pope’s attitude to Jewish deportations (1943)

In October 1943 Ernst von Weizsaecker, Berlin’s ambassador to the Vatican, filed a brief report on Pope’s attitude on Jewish deportations:

“The Pope, although he is said to be under pressure from various sides, has not allowed himself to be forced into any demonstrative statement against the deportation of the Jews from Rome. Although he can expect this [silence] to be resented by our enemies, and exploited by the Protestant circles in Anglo-Saxon countries for the purpose of propaganda against Catholicism, he has done all he could in this delicate question to avoid straining relations with the German government and the German authorities in Rome.

As here in Rome, further German action in respect of the Jewish question [that is, deportations] is unlikely to be carried out, the matter, which is awkward for German-Vatican relations, can therefore be regarded as settled.

An indication of the Vatican attitude has in fact already appeared. The Osservatore Romano published in a prominent position on October 26th an official communique on the activity of apostolic love on the part of the Pope, which says, in the style characteristic of the Vatican newspaper, ie, extremely tortuous and vague, that the Pope bestows his fatherly care on all men, irrespective of nationality and race. The many-sided and constant activity of Pius XII has increased recently as a result of the increased suffering of so many unfortunates. There is no real reason to raise objections to this announcement since the wording (a translation of which is attached) will be taken by few people as referring specifically to the Jewish question.

Ernst von Weizsaecker
October 28th 1943