Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler

Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler

by Mark Riebling

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

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The heart-pounding history of how Pope Pius XII — often labeled "Hitler's Pope" — was in fact an anti-Nazi spymaster, plotting against the Third Reich during World War II.

The Vatican's silence in the face of Nazi atrocities remains one of the great controversies of our time. History has accused wartime pontiff Pius the Twelfth of complicity in the Holocaust and dubbed him "Hitler's Pope." But a key part of the story has remained untold.

Pope Pius in fact ran the world's largest church, smallest state, and oldest spy service. Saintly but secretive, he sent birthday cards to Hitler — while secretly plotting to kill him. He skimmed from church charities to pay covert couriers, and surreptitiously tape-recorded his meetings with top Nazis. Under his leadership the Vatican spy ring actively plotted against the Third Reich.

Told with heart-pounding suspense and drawing on secret transcripts and unsealed files by an acclaimed author, Church of Spies throws open the Vatican's doors to reveal some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy. Riebling reveals here how the world's greatest moral institution met the greatest moral crisis in history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465094110
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 11/08/2016
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 392
Sales rank: 128,668
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mark Riebling is a path-breaking writer on secret intelligence. The author of Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, he lives in New York.

Table of Contents

1. Darkness over the Earth
2. The End of Germany
3. Joey Ox
4. Extraordinary Affairs
5. The Pope Is Very Interested
6. Luck of the Devil
7. The Black Chapel
8. Absolute Secrecy
9. The X-Report
10. Warnings to the West
11. The Brown Birds
12. Forging the Iron
13. The Committee
14. Conversations in the Crypt
15. Shootout at the Cathedral
16. A Bottle of Cognac
17. The Siegfried Blueprints
18. The White Knight
19. Prisoner of the Vatican
20. It Must Happen
21. Holy Germany
22. The Trove
23. Hell
24. The Gallows
25. A Dead Man
26. The Emerald Lake

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Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War Against Hitler 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
The cover of this book grabs one’s attention – shadowy with a figure emerging from the darkness dressed in Ecclesiastical apparel, red and white lettering proclaiming, literally, that what is seen is but the beginning of revelations. Such an announcement, by its very boldness, sets a high expectation for the reader. Either what follows will be an enormous letdown by being a dry, academic, theoretical analysis of Pope Pious XII’s blaring silence during WWII or a “biography” of the Catholic Church, loosely based upon “facts, that will cast light upon that era of shadow and misinformation. As it turns out, this is a well-researched (1/3 of the book is endnotes and source material), historical account of events within the Catholic Church in the years leading up to, through and just after World War II that reads more like a First-rate spy novel than a work of non-fiction. I had heard of Pope Pious XII (Eugenio Pacelli) in my history classes and by listening to World War II veteran’s anecdotes about their war experiences. Neither of those accounts was glowing in their remarks about this Papacy. Because of his silence regarding Nazism and the atrocities perpetrated by Hitler’s regime, the kindest assessment I heard from any source was Pope Pious was “sympathetic” to the Third Reich. Documents recently released and researched by Mr. Riebling, have brought to light the cause for the Vatican’s silence and the Pope’s action(s) during this horrible era in World History. The truth is so much more exciting than any lecture I had ever endured on the subject or fictional spy novel I have ever read. As early as 1934, there were Germans who realized that Hitler was a cancer to Germany and made plans to excise that malignancy. German military, Work Unions and Catholic leaders recognized that what Hitler was creating “was not German” and could not be allowed to continue. One of Pacelli’s first tasks after he was elected Pope was to take a meeting with some of those plotters. For the next six years (many of the plots were enacted but failed for various reasons) he played an intricate role in the planning of “a true German regime change” and how would that country would be rebuilt after such events took place. His actions were in response to the brutality by the Nazis toward Jews and Catholics (it is estimated that six million Jews and five million Catholics died by the hands of the Nazis). In the summer of 1943, the Bishops in Holland publically condemned the Nazi treatment of the Jews – the response was the deportation of 40,000 Jews from that country. Such acts led the Vatican to determine “the Pope would do better to keep a public silence and do whatever he could in secret.” (p. 132). The cast of spies, Church Officials, German and various other intelligence agents involved in this History is extensive. The action, particularly as the war was ending, is fast-paced, tense and enlightening. The Church is cast in a flattering light (how refreshing) and many of those committed to fight Hitler in this fashion did so because of their Christian faith and values. Mr. Riebling minces few words and holds back few details in relating this story. His description of some events caused me to gasp, feel nauseous and fear for humanity. There are no swear words but much vile hi
Peter Riebling More than 1 year ago
As someone interested in what really happened behind the scenes in World War 2, I found this book riveting and hard to put down. Using records from Germany’s Institute für Zeitgeschichte and from the Vatican Secret Archives, Church of Spies casts light on WWII covert operations and spycraft that remained in the shadows for 75 years. Perhaps most-earth shattering and historically game-changing is the proof that a modern Pope, running a vast intelligence network inside Germany, green-lighted Hitler’s assassination, something neither FDR or Churchill, so far as we know, risked their reputations to do. "Church of Spies" will inspire many Catholics. It brings to life the heroic priests and ordinary faithful who did not sit on their hands, and who shed their own blood in the Pope’s high-stakes espionage to stop the Third Reich. This book will also interest students of the Holocaust. It provides new context for evaluating Pope Pius XII, who opted for quiet clandestine operations instead of loud public speeches. Although not uncritical of Pius – Riebling writes that "he should have spoken out" – the book shows the German resistance itself begged the Pope not to do or say anything publicly that would cause retribution against Catholics in Germany who were concurrently planning assassinations and coups against the Third Reich. Written with the attention to detail that one finds in Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer Prize winning World War II books, Church of Spies reads like a thriller. But the nearly 100 pages of source citations remind us that what happened here is true. And savoring that truth makes reading “Church of Spies” all the more compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago