Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust – a rare moment of benevolence

September 27, 1943: Ugo Foa, head of the Jewish community in Rome approached the Vatican in hopes of getting a Papal loan for the fifty kilograms of gold the Nazi German SS was demanding if the Jews were to avoid deportation to the death camps.  In a rare act designed to save Jews, Pope Pius XII (1876-1958) approved the request.  Funds were never released since the Jews, acting in desperation, raised the funds on their own.

Pope Pius XII’s actions during the Holocaust remain controversial. For much of the war, he maintained a public front of indifference and remained silent while German atrocities were committed. He refused pleas for help on the grounds of neutrality, while making statements condemning injustices in general. Privately, he sheltered a small number of Jews and spoke to a few select officials, encouraging them to help the Jews.

This stamp portraying Pius XII was issued by the Vatican City postal administration in March 1945:

pope pius XII


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