am 8. Juni 2009
This book presents the reader with intrigue worthy of a top notch mystery and history that holds your attention like a novel. This is what appears to be a well researched study into the delicate maneuvers Pope Pius XII, SS Commander in Italy, Gen. Karl Wolf, Adolph Hitler and a host of other characters who all play their part in this drama. The basic premise is that Hitler gave orders to Wolf to seize the Vatican, kidnap Pope Pius, and take the Vatican's archives and portable art to Germany. Wolf did not want to kidnap the Pope so he worked to frustrate Hitler's plan. This book approaches the question of Pius' response to the Holocaust. Author Dan Kurzman does an excellent job of providing a balanced perspective of the problem. Whereas so many view the question only as whether Pius should be faulted for not speaking out, Kurzman reports on the Roman Jews who were saved by Pius' actions and the many factors which went into each decision. Would a public condemnation by Pius be effective? The Germans feared it, but many doubted whether it would receive the publication necessary to make a difference. What were Pius' obligations, to protect the Jews? To preserve the standing of the Church so it could continue to preach the Gospel under whatever government emerged from the war? To protect the West from Communism, which Pius may have seen as a greater threat than Nazism? Kurzman makes much of Pius' goal of preserving his potential as a peacemaker. While raising all of these issues and more, Kurzman leaves the reader to formulate his own answers.
I have long felt that Pius tried to do what he thought was right and that any errors were those of judgment, rather than of the heart. This book forced me to appreciate the importance that the Germans attached to Pius' silence and think about whether he could have handled things better. I believe that one who faults Pius would, if he reads this book with an open mind, will find his conclusions challenged also. For anyone with an interest in the Pius controversy or World War II, this is a very worthwhile read.