Hitler's Plan to Arrest Pius XII and
Destroy the Vatican

ZENIT - The International News Agency

Code: ZE01082705

Hitler Ordered Destruction of Vatican and Kidnapping of Pius XII In Revenge for Papal Assistance to Jews, Says Book

RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 27, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Adolf Hitler once ordered his SS troops to level the Vatican with "blood and fire" and kidnap Pope Pius XII, a new book says.

In "Pius XII, Pope of the Jews," Italian historian Andrea Tornielli reveals that Hitler ordered the destruction of the Vatican and the deportation of Pius XII to Liechtenstein in 1943, in reprisal for the Pontiff´s reported assistance to Jews and for the Church´s opposition to the Nazi regime.

In his work, which has just gone on sale in Italy, Tornielli explains that the "Führer" was livid after the signing of the armistice between the Badoglio government and the Allies on Sept. 8, 1943, and ordered the SS to destroy the Holy See with "blood and fire."

Hitler´s plan did not materialize, however, thanks to General Karl Wolff, then SS commander in Italy, who succeeded in dissuading the Nazi dictator from this course of action.

Former Italian Minister Giulio Andreotti defended the validity of Tornielli´s thesis last week when he addressed the meeting of the Catholic movement Communion and Liberation. The meeting ended Saturday in this northern coastal city.

Andreotti supported Pius XII and rejected the criticisms leveled against the Pontiff at the end of World War II, accusing him of passivity in face of the Holocaust.

"The hostility against Pope Pacelli was not due to his weakness against Nazism, but to his rejection of Communism," Andreotti said.

Tornielli´s arguments had already been noted in recent years by historians and scholars, who quoted testimonies and documents from the time of the Nazi occupation of Rome.

Among Pius XII´s defenders is Antonio Gaspari, author of "The Jews, Pius XII, and the Black Legend," which offers testimonies of Jews in Rome who were saved from the Nazi-Fascist persecution thanks to the help of men and women of the Church, as requested by Pius XII himself.

Pius XII´s process of beatification is under way, though it is opposed by some Jews and leaders of the right in the Israeli government.

Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII, died Oct. 9, 1958, in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, after a 19-year pontificate.

Pius XII´s actions helped save 800,000 Jewish lives, either directly or indirectly, according to Jewish researcher Pinchas Lapide.

Far from affinity with Hitler, as claimed by Rolf Hochhuth in his play "The Vicar," Pius XII was actively involved in the German resistance´s plans to remove the tyrant, as revealed in the British Foreign Office documents on the so-called Schwarze Kapelle, which involved Admiral Canaris, Count Von Stauffenberg and other German personalities opposed to the Führer.

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Testimony of Gen. Karl Otto Wolff, SS chief in Italy toward the end of the war

Hitler: Now, Wolff, I have a special mission for you, with significance for the whole world, and it is a personal matter between you and me.  You are never to speak of it with anyone without my permission, with the exception of the Supreme Commandant of the S.S. [Himmler], who is aware of everything.  Do you understand?

Wolff: Understood, Führer!

Hitler: I want you and your troops, while there is still a strong reaction in Germany to the Badoglio treachery, to occupy as soon as possible the Vatican and Vatican City, secure the archives and the art treasures, which have a unique value, and transfer the Pope, together with the Curia, for their protection, so that they cannot fall into the hands of the Allies and exert a political influence.  According to military and political developments it will be determined whether to bring him to Germany or place him in neutral Liechtenstein.  How quickly could you prepare this operation?

Wolff said that it would take four to six weeks in order to come up with a plan.  Hitler replied: “That’s far too long.  It’s crucial that you let me know every two weeks how you are getting on.  I should prefer to take the Vatican immediately.”

        Early in December 1943, Wolff informed the Führer that he had completed his preparations for the plan against the Vatican.

(Testimony of Karl Otto Wolff, March 14, 1972, before the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Munich, on the beatification of Pope Pius XII. p.832.  Cited in Rychlak, Hitler, the War, and the Pope, p. 265.  It should not come as a surprise that the dictator who desired to burn Paris should have wished to destroy the Vatican.)




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