Vatican to release 40,000 wartime documents

Materials from the pontificate of Pope Pius XII in the Vatican Apostolic Archives (CNS/Paul Haring)

Thousands of records detailing requests made to the Vatican by Jewish people persecuted by the Nazis will be published online, the Vatican announced yesterday. Source: CNS.

In a statement, the Vatican said universal access to the documentation, which has been available to researchers since March 2020, was made “at the request of the Holy Father”.

The documentation, titled Ebrei (“Jews”), aims “to preserve the petitions for help from Jewish people all over Europe, received by (Pope Pius XII) during the Nazi-Fascist persecutions,” the statement said.

“The archival series consists of a total of 170 volumes, equivalent to nearly 40,000 digital files. An initial 70 per cent of the complete material will be made available initially, before being integrated with the final volumes that are currently being worked on,” the Vatican said.

While the Vatican made no direct link, the decision to make the documents available online closely follows controversy over a new book by historian David I. Kertzer.

In his book, The Pope at War, Kertzer suggested that Pope Pius remained silent out of fear of the Nazis and that the Vatican prioritised saving Jewish converts to Catholicism from persecution.

In an article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, said that the release of the documents to the public will aid “descendants of those who asked for help to find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world.”

It also will “allow scholars and anyone interested to freely examine this special archival heritage from a distance”, Archbishop Gallagher said.


Vatican makes archives detailing aid to Jews available online (By Junno Arocho Esteves, CNS)


Pope orders online release of WWII-era Pius XII Jewish files (Crux

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