Gerald Posner’s op-ed in a recent edition of the New York Times broke no new ground, and offered a dishonest assessment on the Vatican Holocaust archives. Moreover, he has been accused of serial plagiarism, and his work on this subject has already been discredited. Now he is back accusing the Vatican of refusing to release its “secret wartime files.”
There is nothing “secret” about the Holocaust archives: much has been disclosed, with more to come. More important, from what has been learned, the evidence overwhelmingly puts critics such as Posner on the defensive. If anything, the evidence supports the position that Pope Pius XII did more to save Jews than any other world leader, secular or religious, meriting the honor, “Righteous Gentile.”
Professor Ronald J. Rychlak is one of the world’s most noted scholars in this area, and it is his judgment that the archival evidence we have so far, “supplemented with eyewitness accounts and documents from other sources, provide a consistent portrait of the wartime pope as a champion of the victims, opponent of the villains, and inspiration to the rescuers.”
Posner needs to stop skirting the evidence. For example, in 2009 some important archival documents proved that Hitler had planned to kidnap or kill Pope Pius XII. The recent book by Mark Riebling details four plots to kill Hitler, and that the pope was involved in three of them. Why doesn’t Posner mention any of this?
Why didn’t Posner direct readers to the website of the Pave the Way Foundation? It has a wealth of documents from the wartime years. The founder of this initiative, Gary Krupp, was once a Jewish critic of Pope Pius XII, but the more evidence he uncovered, the more convinced he was that the critics were wrong. He now concludes that the pope “was a true hero of WWII.”
We can’t wait until there is a more complete disclosure of the Vatican Holocaust archives. If we were Posner, we’d want to keep them “secret.”