Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy by Susan Zuccotti, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy

Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy

by Susan Zuccotti
     
 
Pope Pius XII has often been criticized for his silence during the extermination of European Jewry during World War II. In his defense, some have alleged that the pope was doing a great deal to help the Jews but that his efforts were necessarily behind the scenes. This meticulously researched and balanced book examines exactly what the pope, his advisers, and his

Overview

Pope Pius XII has often been criticized for his silence during the extermination of European Jewry during World War II. In his defense, some have alleged that the pope was doing a great deal to help the Jews but that his efforts were necessarily behind the scenes. This meticulously researched and balanced book examines exactly what the pope, his advisers, and his assistants at the Vatican Secretariat of State did to help the Jews of Italy. It finds that they did very little.

The book begins by discussing prewar Vatican and Jesuit publications, in which Zuccotti uncovers a hitherto unsuspected prevalence of anti-Jewish sentiment. These publications, along with archival documents, indicate that Vatican protests against Italian anti-Jewish laws were limited to measures affecting converts and Jews in mixed marriages with Catholics, as was help with emigration; the papal nuncio's visits to foreign Jews in Italian internment camps did not differ from those to non-Jews and in no way eased their material discomfort; and interventions by diplomats of the Holy See for Jews threatened with deportation were rare, always polite, and seldom decisive.

Above all, Zuccotti finds no evidence of a papal directive to church institutions to shelter Jews and much evidence to suggest that the pope remained uninvolved. The notion that Pius XII was benevolent and helpful to Jews behind the scenes proves to be a myth.

Editorial Reviews

Jack Miles
The silence of Pius XII. The Catholic rescue of much of Italian Jewry. Susan Zuccotti reconciles the contradiction between the two in a subtle,many-layered history of heroism,cowardice,and tragically,often culpably missed opportunities.
James Carroll
A convincing analysis of a tragic history. Zuccotti’s work honors Catholic heroes while making the broad failure of Catholic leaders irrefutably clear. This book sets a new standard,changes the debate,moves this painful question closer to resolution.
Commonweal
Zuccotti’s conclusion is . . . absolute and thorough.
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Based on extensive. . . research. . . [An] important book exposing comforting. . . falsely heroizing fictions about Pius XII, the chuch, and the Holocaust.
New Republic
Paul Breines
Rigorously researched, judiciously argued and lucidly composed.
Washington Post Book World
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Even before WWII ended in Europe, defenders of Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli), according to the author, were busy manufacturing a myth that the Holy Father directly and indirectly was responsible for saving the lives of "hundreds of thousands" of Jews. Coming both from Jews and Christians, these testimonials seemed to be proof that Pius XII personally intervened in the rescue of Jews from the Shoah, a view supported by the Jesuit Robert Graham, Sister Margherita Marchione, the Catholic League and the current pope, John Paul II. However, a recent spate of books, including John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope and Michael Phayer's The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, have severely damaged the claims of papal intervention. To definitively separate myth from reality, historian Zuccotti's new book, while hindered somewhat by the partial accessibility of Vatican archives to scholars, is an authoritative, balanced and, in the end, devastating indictment of moral failure on the part of the Church as an institution, despite the heroic acts of some of its members. Indeed, Zuccotti clearly delineates a history of anti-Semitism in Italy and the Vatican, including the policies of Pacelli's immediate predecessor, Pope Pius XI, who, despite his "hidden encyclical" denouncing racism, was, she says, publicly timid in the face of fascism and Nazism. Moreover, she maintains that her primary source, the 11-volume Actes et documents du Saint Si ge relatifs la seconde guerre mondiale, a collection selectively put together after the war by the handpicked representatives of the Vatican, is "more than adequate" to determine what the Vatican "actually did to help Jews in Italy, the country where they enjoyed the greatest opportunity to be useful." What emerges is a complex picture: According to this account, Pius XII was informed early on about the massacres taking place on the eastern front, but he publicly condemned neither Nazism nor the persecution of the Jews, nor did he provide refuge. Until scholars are permitted full and unfettered access to the archives, the story of the Vatican's actions during the Holocaust must remain incomplete. And until then, Zuccotti's treatise will stand for many as the the greatest access to the truth available. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Since the publication of John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope (LJ 5/15/99) and various Church rebuttals, Pope Pius's activities before and during World War II have been placed under a magnifying glass. The discussion becomes more relevant as the Church contemplates giving Pius sainthood. In this scholarly contribution to the controversy, Zuccotti (Barnard Coll.; The Italians and the Holocaust), a 1988 winner of the National Jewish Book Award, argues that one can judge Pius's attitude by examining his public action--or lack thereof--regarding Italian and especially Roman Jews. She shows how reprehensible it was that nothing was done to help the Jews between Mussolini's fall and the German occupation of Italy in 1943 and that during the roundup of Roman Jews, Pius missed another opportunity to offer Jews refuge. Zuccotti compellingly makes the case that Pius's great fear of communism drove him into the arms of the Nazis and that he had developed a misplaced sympathy for the Germans following his appointment as nuncio to Bavaria. The book suffers from repetitive examples taken from every section of Italy, and the tone seems strident for a scholarly work--though it is hardly surprising, given the passion this topic generates. This important book is recommended for all academic libraries and for public libraries interested in World War II and Roman Catholic history.--Randall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Christopher Duggan
A serious and well-researched book that certainly raises yet more questions about the conduct of the papacy in World War II.
New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300084870
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
12/11/2000
Pages:
420
Product dimensions:
6.13(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

What People are saying about this

James Carroll
A convincing analysis of a tragic history. Zuccotti's work honors Catholic heroes while making the broad failure of Catholic leaders irrefutably clear. This book sets a new standard, changes the debate, moves this painful question closer to resolution.
(— James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword: The Church and the Jews)
Arnold Ages
Susan Zuccotti's solid work will be the standard by which other books will be judged.--(Arnold Ages, Chicago Jewish Star)

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