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The Framing of Hitler’s Pope

Two down, one to go.

by
Susan L.M. Goldberg

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November 24, 2013 - 10:30 am
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See the previous parts of Susan L.M. Goldberg’s blogging on Ion Mihai Pacepa’s Disinformation

Red or Dead: How Stalin Re-Defined American Liberalism

The Assassination of Patriotism: Intellectuals, Disinformation and JFK

*****

“The first Soviet tsar, Vladimir Lenin, killed thousands of priests and closed most of Russia’s churches so as to make Marixsm-Leninism the country’s sole religion. Stalin, who continued that bloody rampage, transformed Lenin’s new religion into Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism, and used it to portray himself as a Soviet saint in order to keep his famished, oppressed population quiet.”

– Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa

In his book Disinformation, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa supports a wealth of evidence with a first-hand accounting of the Soviet empire’s war on Judaism and Christianity. Stalin’s purpose in attacking both religions was simple:

“… atheistic communism’s very existence and expansion required that it discredit and demonize its chief competitor”

Consequently, Stalin followed the tsarist suit, employing Russia’s historic anti-Semitism (think: Protocols of the Elders of Zion) to portray America as “a Zionist realm owned by Jewish money and run by a greedy ‘Council of the Elders of Zion’.” According to Pacepa, Stalin “…transformed his Georgian anti-Semitism into a national and international policy.” As a result, the Soviet dictator, ”labeled Zionism as the main tool used by the United States to undermine the ‘socialist camp,’ and he committed unlimited Soviet political, military, and financial support to Israel’s historical enemies, its neighboring Arab states.” Simultaneously, Stalin purged his party and the Soviet nation of millions of Jews “…allegedly to preserve the ‘purity of Eastern European Socialism’.”

Stalin also played on post-World War II global fears of European anti-Semitism to discredit his number one enemy: The Pope of the Catholic Church. As the number one religious leader of the western world, the Pope was tapped by President Truman in his “Campaign of Truth” against the expansion of communism, “the mortal enemy of religion – of all religions.” The Catholic Church had a history of railing against Communism since the days of Marx. Now, legitimized by the Western World, Stalin the Nobel Prize winner decided it was time to make his move.

If this two-pronged attack on Western religion sounds confusing, don’t worry. It’s supposed to be. As Pacepa explains, the “nature of disinformation” is that of “a sophisticated, complicated, long-term, multifaceted campaign of pure lies and smears.” When the seeds of pure lies planted by Stalin in 1945 finally flourished, they contributed to the creation of an intellectual and spiritual cataclysm in the West.

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I need a clarifying question. Who are the intellectuals during the time The Deputy was released? I was figuring that their identities would be enough for me to start researching and see what their train of thought is during that time.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for writing this.

Pius XII was Pope during all the years of my childhood and beyond. I always felt a special sympathy for him because he endured bouts of prolonged, unrelenting hiccupping, often lasting for days at a time. As a kid I was prone to them also. Luckily mine only lasted for (seemingly interminable) minutes, but they were anything but funny after 3 or 4, and often went on longer, so I considered his affliction unimaginable.

I was in college when “The Deputy” came to New York. We discussed it in ethics class several times, with great sadness. It was my first brush with the hatred that many people feel for Catholics and the Church.

Coincidentally, Pius has been on my mind frequently during the last few months as I’ve been reading my way through Daniel Silva’s captivating series of 15 or so best-sellers featuring the fictional Gabriel Allon, legendary Israeli intelligence officer and art restorationist.

If you’ve read any of Silva’s his books, you’ll know that he takes every possible opportunity to hammer the Church for what he sees as its collusion in the Holocaust through silence. Among other cities in Europe, Rome features in many of these stories, and its Jewish Ghetto comes in for many haunting observations. In terms of art history, the works appear to be extremely well-researched, so it’s natural to assume the same applies to his take on Pius and the Church’s conduct during the War. Although I have been an unobservant Catholic for many years, these passages always fill me with great sadness and a desire to research the topic more deeply for myself at some point.

So after I read this article for the first time yesterday, I pulled out Ronald J. Rychlak’s “Righteous Gentiles: How Pius XII and the Catholic Church Saved Half a Million Jews from the Nazis,” recommended a few years ago by a conservative Jewish colleague (who also happens to be a rabbi). I have yet to read the book, but in browsing came across a brief mention that during the War, Pius had survived on the same rations that everyone else in Rome had, “little food, no coffee, and no heat,” and that by the end of the War, he carried just 130 pounds on his 6 foot-plus frame. It seemed perfectly consistent with the personal goodness for which he was revered in Catholic circles.

I also learned some interesting facts reported in a heavily footnoted entry, “How Pius XII Protected Jews, ” at a site called Catholic Answers. I was particularly intrigued by the assertion that Isaac Herzog, then Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, wrote a warm letter to the Pope in 1944, thanking him for all he had done to save the Jews during the war. Among many other things, this included making up the balance, from the Vatican treasury, of a ransom in gold demanded by the Nazi’s from the Jews of Rome. Rather remarkably and perhaps most telling of all, Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, converted to Catholicism after the war, taking “Eugenio” as his new baptismal name (Eugenio Pacelli being the later to be Pius XII’s given name.)

That people of good will can differ markedly on their interpretation of facts and history is of course a cliché. And it can surely be argued that nothing that was done could possibly be called even close to “enough,” or the Holocaust would never have happened. Still I find myself wishing that a writer of Silva’s considerable gifts and wide audience would somehow find it in his heart to sketch a more balanced picture of Pius XII and the Catholic Church.


1 year ago
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