Jan Meisels Allen
Pope Francis has ordered the online publication of 170 volumes of its Jewish files from the recently opened Pope Pius XII archives, the Vatican announced 23 June, 2022, amid renewed debate about the legacy of its World War II-era pope.
The documentation contains 2,700 files of requests for Vatican help from Jewish groups and families, many of them baptized Catholics, so not actually practicing Jews anymore. The files were held in the Secretariat of State’s archives and contain requests for papal intervention to avoid Nazi deportation, to obtain liberation from concentration camps or help finding family members.
The online publication of the files comes amid renewed debate about Pius’ legacy following the 2020 opening to scholars of his archives, of which the “Jews” files are but a small part. The Vatican has long defended Pius against criticism from some Jewish groups that he remained silent in the face of the Holocaust, saying he used quiet diplomacy to save lives.
The Vatican’s foreign minister Paul Gallagher said it was hoped that the digital release of the “Jews” files would help scholars with research, but also descendants of those who had requested Vatican help, to “find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world.”
“The requests would arrive at the Secretariat of State, where diplomatic channels would try to provide all the help possible, taking into account the complexity of the political situation in the global context,” Gallagher wrote.
Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Kertzer, suggests that the people the Vatican was most concerned about saving were Jews who had converted to Catholicism, the offspring of Catholic-Jewish mixed marriages or otherwise related to Catholics.
To read more see: https://tinyurl.com/bd9fkhax
The Vatican’s Apostolic Archives are located at: https://www.archivioapostolicovaticano.va/content/aav/it.html
To access the previous postings about the Vatican Archives including Pope Pius Xll see the IAJGS Records Access Alert archives at: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts You must be registered to access the archives. To register for the IAJGS Records Access Alert go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts. You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized. It is required to include your organization affiliation (genealogy organization, etc.)
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee
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