Friday, January 22, 2010

While everyone talks about the topic in generalities, I offer below a very specific historical instance when Pope Pius could have saved the lives of many thousands of Jews "in a discreet way." -- Peter Kubicek to the editors of the New York Times

Peter Kubicek, who survived life in several Nazi camps during WWII as a teenage boy, a has tried several times to get the NYT to publish this letter to the editor or an oped piece, but the Times oped dept or letters editors either
consider the Pope Pius controversy of no general interest, or else they do
not want to publicize it more than necessary.

Below is his actual e-mail to the NYT.


To: "Dept, OP-ED"

Conversation: Pope Bendedict Pushes Pius XII Closer to Sainthood
Subject: FW: Pope Bendedict Pushes Pius XII Closer to Sainthood



To:

Dear Editors,

I refer to your today's article, "At Rome Synagogue, Pope Pius Tries to
Soothe Tensions With Jews."

While everyone talks about the topic in generalities, I offer below a very
specific historical instance when Pope Pius could have saved the lives of
many thousands of Jews "in a discreet way." I think that my comments below
are specific and timely and newsworthy and I trust you will agree and
publish them.





How the Vatican decides on who should be regarded as a saint ought to be its
own business, but its continued push to sanctify Pope Pius XII, in spite of
all the evidence of his cowardice during the Nazi period is nothing short of
shameful.

The Vatican advertises Pius's "heroic virtues," his supposed "powerful
attacks on totalitarianism;" his supposed behind-the-scenes work on behalf
of the Jews during the Nazi persecution, saying that he worked "secretly and
silently" to save Jews; that speaking out more directly would only have
caused more deaths...

In Pope Benedict's speech on the occasion of his visit to a Rome synagogue
on Sunday, January 17, he alluded to the controversy, without mentioning the
name of Pope Pius, merely saying that the Vatican "provided assistance [to
the Jews during the Nazi period], often in a hidden and discreet way." As
reported in Italian newspapers, Rome's Jewish community was not satisfied
with this brief, vague, mention. And all the while, everyone talks about the
topic in mere generalities.

I could give the Vatican one example from personal experience when Pope Pius
XII could have saved tens of thousands of Jewish lives, without endangering
himself, or the Church, but instead chose to wash his hands and keep silent.

I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930. In 1939 Hitler dismembered this
country and we found ourselves living in the independent state of Slovakia
which was run by its fascist party that was closely allied to the Nazis.
This party was led a group of Catholic priests and devout Catholic laymen,
under the leadership of the new country's President, Monsignor Josef Tiso.
In 1940 this government promulgated a series of anti-semitic laws, designed
to gradually choke off Jewish life. Jewish businesses were "aryanized," and
Jews were gradually left without property, without means of livelihood, and
without any civil rights. As far as is known, Pope Pius had no comment about
any of these events.

In 1942, the same Slovak government went further and embarked with great
determination and enthusiasm on the task of completely annihilating Slovak
Jewry, a community of close to 90,000 people. Between March and October of
that year, the Slovak government deported close to 60,000 Jews to German
concentration camps. Of these about 240 survived. Think of it: that makes
four survivors -- fewer than the fingers of one hand -- for each transport
of 1,000 people deported. Where was Pope Pius then? What hidden and discreet
directives did he give to his faithful shepherds in Slovakia?

The remnants of the Jewish community either escaped, or were confined to
Slovak labor camps, or lived in impossibly straightened circumstances. My
family and I were among the latter.

In the summer of 1944, the Slovak underground -- yes, there were actually
those who actively opposed the Fascist government -- started an uprising. In
true Nazi fashion, the Slovak government blamed the totally powerless Jews
for this action and proceeded to round up the pitiful Jewish remnants. This
time my family was also caught in the net and we were deported in September
to concentration camps in Germany. I should also mention that until I
arrived in Bergen-Belsen, the first of six camps that I survived, I barely
even saw a German. All the dirty work in Slovakia was performed by President
Tiso's minions, devout Catholics all. Where was Pope Pius then?

After the War, Monsignor Tiso was tried by the new, free Slovak government
for crimes against humanity, convicted, and executed. All the court heard
from the Vatican at the time was a plea for mercy for its faithful shepherd.

Until the Vatican provides proof to the contrary, we must assume that
basically the Pope's wartime advice to his clergy was to keep their heads
down; don't get involved in politics; the survival of the Church is the only
thing that counts. There is a lot of historical evidence that some Catholic
priests were dismayed by the Pope's advice. Many of them declared privately
that their decision to devote their life to the priesthood was based on the
deeply held belief that it was their duty to help those in need, help the
oppressed, the persecuted. Many of them defied the Vatican's directives by
helping Jews. There were monasteries and convents that sheltered Jews, at
great risk, and some were savagely persecuted. About 2,000 German Catholic
priests wound up in the Dachau concentration camp and many of them lost
their lives there. Some priests were even exterminated in Auschwitz.

The Vatican's decision to declare Pius a saint in effect insults the memory
of these brave priests, in addition to that of the millions of Jews who were
murdered while the Pope kept silent. Any one of the heroic, humane wartime
Catholic priests, nuns, and monks would be more deserving of sainthood than
Pope Pius XII.


signed
-- Peter Kubicek

13 comments:

Paul A. Strassmann said...

In 1934, Bulgaria had a population of more than six million people. In that year, Jews constituted 0.8 percent of the total population, or roughly 50,000 individuals.

In early March 1941, Bulgaria joined the Axis alliance and, in April 1941, participated in the German-led attack on Yugoslavia and Greece. In return, Bulgaria received most of Thrace from Greece, and Macedonia as well as parts of eastern Serbia from Yugoslavia. Though Bulgaria participated in the Balkan military campaign in support of Germany, they refused to enter the war against the Soviet Union in June 1941.

Beginning in July 1940, Bulgaria instituted anti-Jewish legislation, as dictated by the Germans. Jews were excluded from public service, discriminated against in their choice of places of residence, and restricted economically. Marriage between Jews and non-Jews was prohibited.

However Germany-allied Bulgaria did not deport Jews. They did, however, deport non-Bulgarian Jews from the territories they had annexed from Yugoslavia and Greece. Jews of Bulgarian citizenship remained secure from deportation to German-held territory. Nevertheless, Bulgarian Jewish men between the ages of 20 and 40 were drafted for forced labor, and in May 1943 the Bulgarian government announced the expulsion of 20,000 Jews from Sofia to the provinces. In the spring of 1943, the Bulgarian government made extensive plans to comply with the Nazi insistence that deportion of Bulgaria's Jews to Poland commences. Protests from leading political and clerical leaders moved King Boris to cancel these deportation plans.
As Soviet forces approached in October 1944, Bulgaria switched allegiance and declared war on Germany.

In 1945, the Jewish population of Bulgaria was still about 50,000, at its prewar level. Next to the rescue of Danish Jews, Bulgarian Jewry's escape from deportation and extermination represents the most significant exception of any Jewish population in Nazi-occupied Europe.

The saving of Bulgaria's Jewish community is one of the more remarkable stories of World War II and one of the least known. It happened in a country that was allied with Germany and the Axis powers. This is not to say that the Jews were not affected. Twice deportations of Jewish Bulgarian citizens were ordered, but in the end no Bulgarian Jew was sent to the death camps.

Several forces combined to save the Bulgarian Jewish community. The Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox church was especially honorable in this regard, probably more than any other church in Europe. They worked, both in public as well as privately, on behalf of their Jewish citizen. The efforts of Metropolitans Stefan and Kirgil were particularly noteworthy. The Bulgarian people and their historical attitude of religious tolerance were reflected in the fact that Jews, Christians and Moslems had lived harmoniously centuries. In the northern part of the country, farmers threatened to lie down on the railway tracks, as did one of the leaders of the Bulgarian church.

Comment by prof. Paul A. Strassmann
Decorated Czechoslovak partizan, 1944-1945

Popo said...

Together these two accounts from Mr. Kibicek (my father in law) & Mr. Strssman argue strenuously against beatification. Who would dare advocate for making Pious a saint in the face of these facts?

Jeff McAdams

Anonymous said...

Mr kubicek is making a point.The people who should have something for bravery seldom gets it.The opposite apply.Mr Bader Sweden

Anonymous said...

At the very least one major criteria for Sainthood should be the willingness to help all humanity. Pope Pius not only turned his back, he let the world know he didn't have much of a backbone himself. Shame on the Church for even considering him for such a worthy honor.

Sasha said...

Mr. Kubicek brings poinant observation to this matter. I hope the NYT does publish his letter and that discussion follows.

My mother was one of thse few survivors even though pregnant with me at the time; I was born as mother was being transported further east on May 7th, 1945.

My father and brother (Arpad and Ishti Langfelder) both perished.

Father had converted to Catholisism and had an exemption based on his value to the local economy. By late 1944, however, none of this worked.

Dr. Andreus Paldan, who became my Godfather and babtized me was one of those brave priests who saved many Jewish people. He tried to help our family.

He was exiled by the communists when Slovakia became part of the Eastern Block.

Bearing in mind that Pope Pius had a Priest as President begs the question "Did he do enough"?

Should he be disqualified from Sainthood?

I agree with Peter Kubicek and Paul Strassmann, who by the way, were childhood friends of my late brother and family.

Charles

Anonymous said...

Today I read the article from Mr. Peter Kubicek about Pope Pius XII.
Thank you very much for this true words. Pope Pius XII was the highest moral autority of the Catholic Church and he has failed as priest and human being . WHY ?
Many Catholics - including priests were in the resistance against the Nazis , were deported and murdered in the camps and other places .
Sainthood for Pope Pius XII? WHY ?

Anonymous said...

Anybody who even thinks about the sainthood of Pope Pius shpould read Daniel Silva's book: The confessor.
It clearly describes his inactivity about the killing of Jews, in fact, his tacit approval.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who even thinks about Pope Pius sainthood should read Daniel Silva The Confessor.
It describes Pius tacit approval of the genocide of the Jews and his approval of Nazi method of solving the Jewish World Domination

burritos-tchefe said...

In short, until the Vatican decides to open its archives containing the documents of Pius XII papacy and dealings with the Nazis and their collaborators, the known facts - namely that he did little to help the Jews - will prevail. And until proven the contrary, he simply should not be sanctified.

burritos-tchefe said...

In short, until the Vatican decides to open its archives containing the documents of Pius XII papacy and dealings with the Nazis and their collaborators, the known facts - namely that he did little to help the Jews - will prevail. And until proven the contrary, he simply should not be sanctified.

burritos-tchefe said...

In short, until the Vatican decides to open its archives containing the documents of Pius XII papacy and dealings with the Nazis and their collaborators, the known facts - namely that he did little to help the Jews - will prevail. And until proven the contrary, he simply should not be sanctified.

Anonymous said...

In short, until the Vatican decides to open its archives containing the documents of Pius XII papacy and dealings with the Nazis and their collaborators, the known facts - namely that he did little to help the Jews - will prevail. And until proven the contrary, he simply should not be sanctified.

burritos-tchefe said...

In short, until the Vatican decides to open its archives containing the documents of Pius XII papacy and dealings with the Nazis and their collaborators, the known facts - namely that he did little to help the Jews - will prevail. And until proven the contrary, he simply should not be sanctified.