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Pope Francis wants to open Holocaust-era Vatican archives as quickly as possible

WJC, Pope Francis has reiterated his position to open the secret Vatican archives covering the period of World War II to allow researchers to assess the role played by Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

In an extensive interview with the Israeli newspaper 'Yediot Ahronot', Francis said there was "an agreement between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 that prevents us from opening the archives to researchers at this point in time. But because of the time that has passed since World War II, I see no problem with opening the archives the moment we sort out the legal and bureaucratic matters."

The pope expressed worries that the current debate about Pius XII was not fair. "One thing worries me, and I'll be honest with you – the image of Pope Pius XII. Ever since Rolf Hochhuth wrote the play The Deputy in 1963, poor Pope Pius XII has been accused of all sorts of things (including having been aware of the extermination of the Jews and doing nothing). I'm not saying he didn't make mistakes. He made a few. I get things wrong often too. But prior to the release of the play, he was considered a big defender of the Jews.

"During the Holocaust, Pius gave refuge to many Jews in monasteries in Italy. In the Pope's bed at Castel Gandolfo, 42 small children were born to couples who found refuge there from the Nazis. These are things that people don't know. When Pius XII died, Golda Meir sent a letter that read: 'We share in the pain of humanity. When the Holocaust befell our people, the Pope spoke out for the victims.' But then along came this theater performance, and everyone turned their backs on Pius XII.

"And again, I'm not saying that he didn't make mistakes. But when you interpret history, you need to do so from the way of thinking of the time in question. I can't judge historical events in modern-day terms. It doesn't work. I'll never get to the truth like that. Prof. Benzion Netanyahu, the father of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, once gave me a copy of the book he wrote about the Inquisition. I read it studiously. I'm not saying we should justify the actions of the Inquisition, but we need to investigate this period with the right tools and only then pass judgment.

"Did Pius XII remain silent in the face of the extermination of the Jews? Did he say all he should have said? We will have to open the archives to know exactly what happened. But to judge the actions, we will also need to understand the circumstances under which he was acting: Perhaps it was better for him to remain silent because had he spoken, more Jews would have been murdered? Or maybe the other way around? I don't want to sound petty, but it really gets my goat when I see that everyone is against the Church, against Pius XII – all those detractors.

"And what about the Allies during the war? After all, they were well aware of what was going on in the death camps and they were very familiar with the railroad tracks that led Jews to Auschwitz. They had aerial photographs. And they didn't bomb those tracks. I'll leave that question hanging in the air, and say only that one needs to be very fair in these things."
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Diary of Hitler aide resurfaces in United States

Rosenberg, a Nazi Reich minister who was convicted at Nuremberg and hanged in 1946, hand-wrote his recollections from spring 1936 to winter 1944

WJC, The long lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a crony of Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler who helped exterminate millions of Jews during World War II, has surfaced in an upstate New York home. According to media reports it promises new insights into dealings between top Nazi officials and specific information about the looting of Jewish-owned art. Some 400 pages from the ‘Rosenberg Diary’ could offer new details about meetings Rosenberg had with Hitler and other Nazi leaders, including Heinrich Himmler and Herman Göring. The pages also include details about the German occupation of the Soviet Union and chilling plans for the slaughter of Jews and other Eastern Europeans. The diary vanished after the war crimes trials, and only recently turned up in papers held by a one-time secretary to a Nuremburg prosecutor.
"The documentation is of considerable importance for the study of the Nazi era, including the history of the Holocaust," according to the assessment, prepared by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. "A cursory content analysis indicates that the material sheds new light on a number of important issues relating to the Third Reich's policy. The diary will be an important source of information to historians that compliments, and in part contradicts, already known documentation."
Rosenberg, a Nazi Reich minister who was convicted at Nuremberg and hanged in 1946, hand-wrote his recollections from spring 1936 to winter 1944, according to the museum's analysis. Among the insights into the German high command are details about the crisis caused by Rudolf Hess's flight to to Britain in 1941, and the looting of art throughout Europe, the news agency 'Reuters' reported.
The recovery will be announced this week at a news conference in Delaware held jointly by officials from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Justice and Holocaust museum.
Rosenberg directed the Nazi party's foreign affairs department, edited the Nazi newspaper and directed the systematic Nazi looting of Jewish art, cultural and religious property throughout Europe. Several memos he wrote directly to Hitler were entered into evidence at Nuremberg.
A Nuremberg prosecutor, Robert Kempner, was long suspected of smuggling the diary back to the US. Indeed, Kempner cited a few Rosenberg diary excerpts in his memoir, and when he died in 1993, legal disputes about his papers raged for nearly a decade between his children, his former secretary, a local contractor and the Holocaust museum.
The Holocaust museum has gone on to recover more than 150,000 documents, papers held by Kempner's former secretary, who by 1999 had moved into the New York state home of an academic named Herbert Richardson. The Rosenberg Diary, however, remained missing.

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