Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War
Based on newly available documents from the U.S. National Archives

Pius XII, the Holocaust, and the Cold War

Michael Phayer
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/19/2007
Format: cloth 352 pages, 14 b&w photos, 2 maps
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-34930-9
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Using newly available material from the U.S. National Archives, Michael Phayer sheds new light on the actions of the Vatican and of the man whom some have mistakenly called "Hitler's Pope." As a new world war loomed, the Vatican believed it had to make a choice between communism and Nazism. Reluctantly, both Pius XII and his predecessor chose the Nazis as the lesser of two evils. In the balance rested the genocide of European Jews. As difficult as his wartime behavior is to accept, perhaps nothing demonstrates Pius's fear of communism more than his misguided and unethical attempt to thwart its growth in South America by abetting the escape of Nazis and Ustaši war criminals. The story of these Vatican "ratlines" adds another facet to the complex picture of Pius XII and the Holocaust.

Author Bio

Michael Phayer, a recognized authority on the Catholic Church and the Holocaust, is Emeritus Professor of History at Marquette University and the Ida E. King Distinguished Visiting Scholar of Holocaust Studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. He is author of The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965 (IUP, 2000). He lives in Columbia, Maryland.


"Phayer's text reads like a riveting suspense novel—filled with intrigue, conspiracy, and money laundering. . . . The so-called Pius Wars will not end with this book, but Phayer makes a welcome addition to the debate. . . . Recommended." —Choice

"This is an impressive study, which uses the new documentation in a judicious manner to develop credible reinterpretations of papal policy during the war and after. . . . The book makes a particularly valuable and original contribution . . ." —The International History Review , March 2009

"The new material that Phayer has brought to light from the National Archives offers a useful contribution to our understanding of the controversial relationship between the Vatican and the perpetrators of the Holocaust, expecially in the postwar period." —
American Historical Review , April 2009

"Michael Phayer has made excellent use of newly released archival material in his study of Pope Pius XII." —
German Studies Review , May 2009

"Diligently researched and documented, judicious in its conclusions . . . compassionate and humane in its outlook." —Richard L. Rubenstein, author of
After Auschwitz: History, Theology, and Contemporary Judaism

"Unlike several passionate recent studies of Pius XII . . . Phayer makes every effort at scholarly restraint and caution. But, in the end, his careful effort produces powerful evidence that will likely add significantly to the controversy surrounding the pope . . . Certainly anyone interested in this fascinating, important, and disturbing topic must read this book." —Central European History , Volume 43, 2010

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Table of Contents


1. Eugenio Pacelli: 1900 to 1942
2. The Genocides of Polish Catholics and Polish Jews
3. Pius XII's 1942 Christmas Message: Genocide Decried
4. 1943: Pius XII Reverses Course
5. Papal Capitalism during World War II
6. The First Cold War Warrior
7. The Origin of the Vatican Ratlines
8. Bishop Hudal's Ratline
9. Looted Gold and the Vatican
10. Ante Pavelic: War Criminal, Murderer, and Defender of the Faith
11. The Biggest Ratline
12. An Obsession with Communism