The Holocaust also called Ha-Shoah in Hebrew refers to the period from January 30, - when Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany - to May 8,when the war in Europe officially ended. During this time, Jews in Europe were subjected to progressively harsher persecution that ultimately led to the murder of 6, Jews 1.
To the Vatican, neutrality meant remaining apart from the two power blocs and, most important, maintaining an environment in which the church could operate as freely and openly as possible.
Particularly since the presentation of Rolf Hochuth's angry play, Der Stellvertreter The Deputy inthis posture has been subjected to withering criticism.
The Vatican has responded with the publication of a voluminous collection of documents on the role of the Holy See during the war, generating one of the most extensive historical discussions of the many ethical questions associated with the history of the Holocaust.
Historians generally see the policy of Pius XII as consistent with a longstanding tradition of Vatican diplomacy. During political storms of the depression years, this tradition was interpreted by Eugenio Pacelli, Cardinal Secretary of State under Pius XI and later to become the wartime Pope.
Pacelli exemplified a profound commitment to the spiritual and pastoral mission of the Holy See; he saw his role as avoiding association with power blocs and forging diplomatic links with conservative or even fascist regimes.
As fascism extended its influence in Europe during the s, the Vatican remained aloof, occasionally challenging fascist ideology when it touched on important matters of Catholic doctrine or the legal position of the church, but unwilling to interfere with what it considered to be purely secular concerns.
Beyond this, the Vatican found most aspects of right-wing regimes congenial, appreciating their patronage of the church, their challenge to Marxism, and their frequent championing of a conservative social vision. What were the churches doing? How could such a monstrous crime be committed in the heart of Christendom by baptized Roman Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox who were never rebuked, let alone excommunicated?
Where were the Christians? Littell, "Foreword" in Bonifas, Prisoner The Vatican quarreled with both Hitler and Mussolini on race, but hardly out of concern for the welfare of Jews.
Throughout this period the Church seldom opposed anti-Jewish persecutions and rarely denounced governments for discriminatory practices; when it did so, it usually admonished governments to act with "justice and charity", disapproving only of violent excesses or the most extravagant forms of oppression.
Much more important for church policy was the clash between the pseudobiological bases of racism and the fundamental principles of Catholicism and church authority. The tendency of fascist movements, especially Nazism, to use race as a foundation of their regimes directly challenged the Church's claims in the fields of baptism, marriage, and, more broadly, the definition of who was and who was not a Catholic.
The Holy See sometimes muted its opposition, usually preferring conciliation and diplomacy even on fundamental questions such as these. Nevertheless, conflict could break through the surface.
One notable occasion was Marchwhen the papal encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge With Burning Concern condemned the false and heretical teachings of Nazism. The Holy See openly protested Mussolini's turn toward racism the following year. As always, the goal was political neutrality and the safeguarding of the institutional interests of the Church in a perilous political world.
Church policy toward Jews during the war can be seen in this historical perspective. For the first few years persecution seems to have caused few ripples at the Vatican and awakened no more interest or sympathy than in the s.
Church diplomats continued to speak in favor of "justice and charity", but were largely unconcerned about the persecution of Jews by Nazi or collaborationist governments. According to this diplomat the Holy See was not interested in the French antisemitic laws and worried only that they might undermine Church jurisdiction or involve occasional breaches of "justice and charity".
So far as the French were concerned, the Vatican essentially gave them a green light to legislate as they chose against Jews. Why, it has been demanded, did he not give a clear moral and spiritual lead to Catholic priests throughout Europe?
Later efforts by the British, Americans and Poles to persuade the Vatican to publish a specific condemnation of Nazi extermination of the Jews fell on deaf ears. The Pope, came the reply, could only issue a general condemnation of wartime atrocities. Landou, The Nazi Holocaustpp.
When mass killings began, the Vatican was extremely well informed through its own diplomatic channels and through a variety of other contacts. Church officials may have been the first to pass on to the Holy See sinister reports about the significance of deportation convoys inand they continued to receive the most detailed information about mass murder in the east.The killings took place during – They were organised by the German Nazi Party which was led by the leader, Adolf Hitler.
Most of the victims were killed because they belonged to certain racial or religious groups which the Nazis wanted to wipe out. An emaciated year-old Russian girl looks into the camera lens during the liberation of Dachau concentration camp in Dachau was the .
The Holocaust was the state-sponsored murder and persecution of Jews in Germany when Hitler came into power in Hitler and his supporters believed that Germans were a superior race to the Jews and that the Jews posed a .
Blacks during the Holocaust Era Although the Nazis did not have an organized program to eliminate African Germans, many of them were persecuted, as were other people of African descent. Some blacks in Germany and German-occupied territories were isolated; an unknown number were sterilized, incarcerated or murdered.
During my time, I've found no scholarship on the specific killings of Freemasons unless they were also Jewish. I've also found that many Freemasons, especially those in Germany and France, left the craft in order to become rank and file members of their respective governments.
Over half of these individuals, approximately , Jews, emigrated during the first six years of the Nazi dictatorship, leaving only approximately , Jews in .