2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man opens a door that leads to the shelves containing folders with documents about Pope Pius the V 2/2

(This September 17 story has been corrected to clarify that the town of Rava-Ruska is now in Ukraine, but the Belzec camp location in paragraph 5 is in Poland.)

By Philip Pullella

(Reuters) – War Pope Pius was vague and unconfirmed.

The yellowed, typewritten letter, printed in Italy’s Corriere della Sera on Sunday, is significant because it was discovered by an internal Vatican archivist and published with the encouragement of Holy See officials.

The letter, dated December 14, 1942, was written by Father Lother Koenig, a Jesuit who was in the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany, and was addressed to the Pope’s personal secretary at the Vatican, Father Robert Leiber, also a German.

Vatican archivist Giovanni Coco told Corriere that the significance of the letter was “enormous, a unique case” because it shows that the Vatican has information that labor camps are in fact death factories.

In the letter, Koenig Leiber said that sources had confirmed that around 6,000 Poles and Jews were being killed every day in “SS ovens” in the Belzec camp in southeastern Poland. The camp was located about 20 km (12 miles) northwest of the town of Rawa-Ruska, a railway center that was then also part of German-occupied Poland but is now in western Ukraine.

“The novelty and importance of this document arises from one fact: we now have the certainty that the Catholic Church in Germany Pius XII. gave accurate and detailed news about the crimes committed against the Jews,” Coco told the newspaper, whose article headlined: “Pius XII. knew it”.

When asked by the Corriere interviewer whether the letter showed that Pius knew, Coco replied: “Yes, and not just from that time.”

Documents sorted randomly

The letter referred to two other Nazi camps – Auschwitz and Dachau – and suggested that there were other letters between Koenig and Leiber that have either disappeared or have not yet been found.

Supporters of Pius say he worked behind the scenes to help Jews and did not speak out to prevent worsening the situation for Catholics in Nazi-occupied Europe. His critics claim he lacks the courage to speak out about information he had despite being asked to do so by Allied powers fighting Germany.

The letter was among documents that Coco said were kept indiscriminately in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and only recently transferred to the central archives where he works.

Suzanne Brown-Fleming, director of international academic programs at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, told Reuters in an email that the publication shows that the Vatican is supporting Pope Francis’ statement that “the church is not afraid of history He ordered the opening of the war archives in 2019.

“There is both a desire and support for a careful assessment of the documents from a scientific perspective – whether positive or negative in relation to what the documents reveal,” she said.

In an email to Reuters, David Kertzer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “The Pope at War,” a 2022 book about the Pius years, said Coco was a “first-rate, serious scholar” who was central working in the Vatican to uncover the truth.

Brown-Fleming, Coco and Kertzer will attend a major conference on Pius and the Holocaust at the Pontifical Gregorian next month, sponsored by Catholic and Jewish organizations, the U.S. State Department and Israeli and American Holocaust research groups, among others.

Source : www.investing.com

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