The Vatican & the Holocaust: Pope Pius XII & the Holocaust

Jewish Virtual Library

By Mitchell Barth

Pope Pius XII’s (1876-1958) actions during the Holocaust remain controversial. For much of the war, he maintained a public front of indifference and remained silent while German atrocities were committed. He refused pleas for help on the grounds of neutrality, while making statements condemning injustices in general. Privately, he sheltered a small number of Jews and spoke to a few select officials, encouraging them to help the Jews.

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Germany was once the witch-burning capital of the world. Here’s why


Wax dolls being given to the devil.

Protection against Satan and his witch-y minions was a hot commodity in early modern Europe.

By Gwynn Guilford

ReporterPublished January 24, 2018Last updated on July 24, 2018

In 1572, the killings began. That year, authorities in the tiny settlement of St Maximin, in present-day Germany, charged a woman named Eva with using witchcraft to murder a child. Eva confessed under torture; she, along with two women she implicated, were burned at the stake.

The pace of prosecution picked up from there. By the mid-1590s, the territory had burned 500 people as witches—an astonishing feat, for a place that only had 2,200 residents to begin with.

Why is it that early modern Europe had such a fervor for witch hunting? Between 1400 to 1782, when Switzerland tried and executed Europe’s last supposed witch, between 40,000 and 60,000 people were put to death for witchcraft, according to historical consensus. The epicenter of the witch hunts was Europe’s German-speaking heartland, an area that makes up Germany, Switzerland, and northeastern France.

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By Paul Lewis, Special To the New York Times

  • July 28, 1982

The apparent suicide last month of an Italian financier known as ”God’s banker,” who was found hanged beneath London’s Blackfriars Bridge, has added to the mystery of a major Italian financial scandal in which the Vatican appears heavily involved.

The cost to the Roman Catholic Church could amount to several hundred million dollars. The scandal centers on some $1.4 billion in unsecured loans made in Latin America by Banco Ambrosiano, Italy’s largest privately owned banking group, and endorsed by the Vatican bank. It is sending shock waves through the world of international finance and raising questions about current efforts to regulate the foreign operations of multinational banks. Unusual Outside Inquiry