Apparently Pope Pius XII wasn’t complicit in the Holocaust after all. My historian buddy Mark Riebling has many, many details. Ordinarily I would not bestir myself over this controversy, but I make an exception because:
- Mark’s excellent book Wedge, on the history of FBI-CIA relations, is out in paperback this fall, and I owe him a plug.
- I manage and serve his sites.
- The controversy is actually interesting. Pius’s reputation was destroyed by a work of fiction, The Deputy, by the German playwright and agitprop specialist Rolf Hochhuth. It portayed Pius as aloof and utterly indifferent to the Holocaust. I read The Deputy as a teenager, and being a remarkably backward teenager, I was convinced. There was one telling detail in the play, Pius constantly gargling with hydrochloric acid to keep his mouth fresh, that I think really sold me. I had to read quite a bit of actual history, twenty-five years later, to be unconvinced. This gives me a certain amount of sympathy for people who permit Oliver Stone’s movie JFK to persuade them that the CIA killed Kennedy. Well, it doesn’t really. But maybe it should.