The Catholic Church and Nazism in Germany and Croatia


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The Pictures Accuse: The Catholic Church and Nazism in Germany and Croatia

Photo montage and text by Jared Israel
[Posted 22 April 2005. New Introduction, 11 April 2006]


Did the Catholic Church help German Nazism?

"Antagonism to the Jews of today must not be extended to the books of Pre-Christian Judaism."

-- Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber in the Advent sermons,  delivered in 1933. According to the Vatican statement, "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," the Advent sermons "clearly expressed rejection of the Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda." For more on Faulhaber, see below.

The Vatican claims Nazism was the antithesis of the Catholic Church:

[Excerpt from "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," starts here]

At the level of theological reflection we cannot ignore the fact that not a few in the Nazi Party not only showed aversion to the idea of divine Providence at work in human affairs, but gave proof of a definite hatred directed at God himself. Logically, such an attitude also led to a rejection of Christianity and a desire to see the Church destroyed or at least subjected to the interests of the Nazi state.

It was this extreme ideology which became the basis of the measures taken first to drive the Jews from their homes and then to exterminate them. The Shoah was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime. Its anti-semitism had its roots outside of Christianity and, in pursuing its aims, it did not hesitate to oppose the Church and persecute her members also.

[Excerpt from "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," ends here]

If you read the text of  "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust," you will see that the Vatican refuses to acknowledge that the Church ever officially aided Nazism; it names only Church officials who allegedly opposed the Nazis. (Regarding this, I have posted the argument, made in "We Remember," that Cardinal Faulhaber stood up to Nazi antisemitism, plus two excerpts from Faulhaber's actual remarks.) 

Indeed, "We remember" quotes Pope John Paul II saying that the Church not only opposed Nazism and repudiated Nazi racial doctrines, but that it had always rejected the views held by some Christians that Jews were to blame for supposedly killing Jesus:

"In the Christian world--I do not say on the part of the Church as such--erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this people."
-- John Paul II as quoted in "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust"

Pope John Paul II and "We Remember" are widely praised for supposedly facing up to errors made during the Holocaust.

I ask: if the Church never aided, and indeed opposed, the Nazis, and never even accepted religion-based antisemitism, to what errors did the Vatican face up?

Here's how Joseph Ratzinger explains it. Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote the following when he was a top advisor to John Paul II:

"'Even if the most recent, loathsome experience of the Shoah (Holocaust) was perpetrated in the name of an anti-Christian ideology, which tried to strike the Christian faith at its Abrahamic roots in the people of Israel, it cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians.'" (My emphasis - Jared Israel.)
-- Joseph Ratzinger as quoted by Abe Foxman in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) press release welcoming Ratzinger's election as Pope.
Also quoted on

So Joseph Ratzinger claims that: a) Nazism was "anti-Christian"; b) Christianity erred only by "insufficient resistance" to Nazism, not by complicity or active support; c) even this error resulted from individual Christian's religious hostilities to Judaism - "an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians" - rather than widespread and virulent antisemitism and the policies of religious organizations, such as the centralized Catholic Church.

But the evidence shows that:
A) The Catholic Church hierarchy - especially Eugenio Pacelli, before and after he became Pope Pius XII - aided the Nazis. Indeed, Pacelli and the Church played a central role in making Hitler the dictator of Germany.
B) The Catholic Church was active in Nazi movements outside Germany, especially in the Baltic region and in the Balkans, where the Church helped run the Nazi puppet State of Croatia. After the war, the Vatican sheltered Croatian Nazi war criminals.
C) Although at Yad Vashem, Pope John Paul II described the Nazis as having "a Godless ideology," this is not how the Nazis presented themselves or how the Catholic Church described the Nazis when they were in power.
The German Catholic Church's Centre Party (Zentrum) did clash with the Nazis in the 1920s, but as Hitler wrote (see quote below) their quarrel was over politics, not Catholic religious teachings, let alone belief in god. I can find no record from the period of Nazi rule of the Catholic Church attacking the Nazis as atheists, perhaps because they weren't. The Nazis themselves claimed they were fighting against atheism, specifically Bolshevist atheism, which they charged was a Jewish-created movement.  In attacking the Jews, the Nazis routinely employed Christian symbolism and traditional Christian antisemitic arguments, with which Europeans were familiar.  
On 23 March 1933, the Nazi government put forward the Enabling act, which would allow Hitler to create new laws without parliamentary approval.  This was after the Nazi-staged Reichstag fire; after the banning of the huge Communist party and subsequent arrest of thousands of communists and other anti-Nazis; and amidst a campaign of violent antisemitism. To become law, the Enabling act needed a 2/3 parliamentary vote. Before the vote, Hitler addressed the Reichstag (parliament) saying:
"While the Government is determined to carry through the political and moral purging of our public life, it is creating and insuring prerequisites for a truly religious life. The Government sees in both [Catholic and Protestant] Christian confessions the most important factors for the maintenance of our folkdom. It will respect agreements concluded between them and the States. However, it respects that its work will meet with a similar appreciation. The Government will treat all other denominations with equal objective justice. It can never condone, though, that belonging to a certain denomination or to a certain race might be regarded as a license to commit or tolerate crimes. The Government will devote its care to the sincere living together of Church and State." (My emphasis - Jared Israel)
The Social Democrats fiercely opposed the Enabling act.  Hitler needed a 2/3 majority, so the balance lay with Zentrum, the Catholic Center Party.  Zentrum leader Monsignor Ludwig Kaas, a close friend and advisor to Eugenio Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, addressed the Reichstag. Far from attacking the Enabling act, or disputing Hitler's claim that Nazism was based on Christianity, Kaas called for a 'yes' vote. The Zentrum faction did vote 'yes,' and the act became law. According to National Catholic Reporter correspondent John Allen, a liberal Catholic and student of Vatican history (he has written a biography of Joseph Ratzinger):
[Excerpt from John Allen's Telegraph article starts here]
Kaas acted in co-ordination with the German bishops. Four days later, on March 28, the German bishops rescinded their ban on Nazi party membership. On April 1, Cardinal Adolf Bertram of Breslau addressed German Catholics in a letter, warning them "to reject as a matter of principle all illegal or subversive activities". To most Catholics, it looked as if the church wanted a modus vivendi with Hitler.

The same impression was created a few weeks later when Hitler held a plebiscite to endorse his decision to pull Germany out of the League of Nations, which received the endorsement of the Catholic press and of several Catholic bishops. When Hitler and the Church came to terms for a concordat, it cemented the impression that Hitler was a man the Church "could do business with".

[Excerpt from John Allen's Telegraph article ends here]
Three and a half months later, on 6 July 1933, the Catholic Church's Center Party, Zentrum, dissolved itself.  Two weeks after that, the Vatican and the Nazi government signed the Concordat, confirming the alliance between the Catholic Church and the Nazi state. Article 16 of the Concordat, published below, required that Catholic bishops swear to honor the Nazi government, to make their subordinates honor it, and to shun acts that would endanger it. (Notice that the Church was not promising to avoid just illegal acts, but any acts that might endanger the Nazi state, even if such acts were not yet outlawed.)

"Article 16

Before bishops take possession of their dioceses they are to take an oath of fealty either to the Reich Representative of the State concerned, or to the President of the Reich, according to the following formula: "Before God and on the Holy Gospels I swear and promise as becomes a bishop, loyalty to the German Reich and to the [regional - EC] State of . . . I swear and promise to honor the legally constituted Government and to cause the clergy of my diocese to honor it. In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interests of the German Reich, I will endeavor to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it." (My emphasis - Jared Israel)


Notice that the Vatican committed German bishops to "honor the legally constituted Government." The Vatican was publicly asserting that the Enabling act, which could not have passed absent Catholic Church-controlled votes, made the Nazi dictatorship "legally constituted." So first the Catholic hierarchy fights to get the Center party to vote for the Enabling act (because there was an internal fight over this that Monsignor Kaas, who was very close to the Vatican, won) thus giving the dictatorship a pseudo legality and then the Vatican orders the German Church from bishops on down to honor the Nazi Reich because... it was legally constituted!
The Nazis pledged, among other things, to give certain organizational Church decisions the force of criminal law.  For example:

"Article 10

The wearing of clerical dress or of a religious habit on the part of lay folk, or of clerics or religious who have been forbidden to wear them by a final and valid injunction made by the competent ecclesiastical authority and officially communicated to the State authority, is liable to the same penalty on the part of the State as the misuse of military uniform."

Defenders of the Catholic Church, such as the Vatican official, Jesuit Peter Gumpel, argue that:

"As the Vatican authority itself and the most astute Catholics foresaw, Hitler never had any intention of respecting the Concordat, rather, with the exception of the strictly liturgical or para-liturgical functions, the rest of the Church’s activities were systematically hampered and later gradually suppressed."

-- Quoted by the Catholic news agency, ZENIT, at 

To read Emperor's Clothes articles supporting the charge that Gumpel, the main Vatican advocate for Pope Pius XII, is also a public advocate for antisemitism, see and  

It is certainly true that the Nazis reneged on parts of the Concordat, especially over issues involving control. And the German Church did sometimes criticize Nazi policies, for example regarding forced sterilization (which contradicts Catholic doctrine) but not, as the Vatican now claims, over Nazi treatment of the Jews. But the secondary fact, that German Catholic-Nazi relations were not always smooth sailing, does not mitigate the horrific truth: by voting to give Hitler dictatorial powers, the Catholic Center Party made it possible for Hitler to set up his dictatorship with a (phony) appearance of legality; by  dissolving the Center party, the German Church eliminated a potential source of resistance and, for many Catholics, took away their only vehicle of political expression; by dropping the ban on Catholics joining the Nazi Party, the Church made Nazism an alternative vehicle for political action; and by signing the Concordat, the Vatican gave Hitler international respectability and told millions of Catholics in Germany and worldwide that the Pope was cooperating with the Nazis.

Put yourself in the position of a 1933 German Catholic as you  read the text of the Concordat between Nazi Germany and the Vatican, the Reichskonkordat.

The German Catholic Church has rescinded its ban on joining the Nazi Party. The Catholic Center party has dissolved itself. In the Reichskonkordat, the Vatican has promised that German Bishops and their subordinates will be obedient to and honor the Nazi state (Article 16). It has promised that German Catholic educators will teach children patriotic love for the Nazi state (Article 21). It has requested and received the Nazi dictatorship's promise to enforce internal Church decisions (Article 10). Cardinal Bertram of Breslau has called on Catholics to avoid all subversive or illegal (by Nazi definition) activities. How should you respond to the Nazi's new nightmare state?  Doesn't the Catholic Church teach you to view Church officials as exemplary? Shouldn't they be emulated? Isn't the Pope's word law, and didn't the Pope sign the Reichskonkordat, an agreement with the Nazi dictatorship, that reads:

"In the performance of my spiritual office and in my solicitude for the welfare and the interests of the German Reich, I will endeavor to avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it." 
--Mandatory pledge for newly appointed Catholic Bishops, as stated in the Reichskonkordat, or Concordat Between the Holy See and the German [Nazi] Reich, Article 16

Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, wrote:

 " cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity [the Holocaust] on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians."

Sure, there was plenty of "anti-Judaism," not to mention plain  antisemitism. But the Vatican had committed the German Church to honor the Nazi dictatorship and "Avoid all detrimental acts which might endanger it." Is Pope Benedict XVI, formerly the Vatican's Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and before that a German professor of Theology, perhaps unfamiliar with the Reichskonkordat? Or does Ratzinger think the German Catholic Church should have rebelled against the Vatican?

And what if Fr. Peter Gumpel is correct? What if, as Gumpel argues, "the Vatican authority itself and the most astute Catholics" expected the Nazis to renege on some or all of what they promised in the Concordat? What if, in other words, the German Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican ordered Catholic deputies to vote for the Enabling act and negotiated the Concordat while expecting that Hitler would not deliver promised guarantees to the German Church?  What then was the motive of the Vatican and the German Catholic hierarchy for taking actions which put the Nazis firmly in power, permitted Catholics to join the Nazi party, and gave Hitler a document, signed by the Pope, which committed the German Church to honor the Nazi Reich and shun actions "which might endanger it"?

Catholic Church participation in Nazism was visible to the world starting in 1933, and despite recent Vatican efforts to whitewash the past, a pictorial record survived. These pictures accuse.

- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes 
11 April 2006

Related articles:

Emperor's Clothes has published the first three parts of a series on John Paul II's policies:

Part 1: "Did the Pope Really Reject Church Antisemitism? Mr. Foxman's Mistake"

Part 2: "Mr. Laughland's adulation"

Part 3: "As the Pope flew to Israel, a Top Adviser Attacked the Jews on TV"


Adolf Hitler converses with the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, at a New Year's reception in Berlin. (January 1, 1935)
[Photo source, US Holocaust Museum]

"On February 10, 1939, Pius XI died, at the age of 81. [Vatican Secretary of State Eugenio] Pacelli, then 63, was elected Pope by the College of Cardinals in just three ballots, on March 2. He was crowned on March 12, on the eve of Hitler's march into Prague. Between his election and his coronation he held a crucial meeting with the German cardinals. Keen to affirm Hitler publicly, he showed them a letter of good wishes which began, "To the Illustrious Herr Adolf Hitler." Should he, he asked them, style the Führer "Most Illustrious"? He decided that that might be going too far. He told the cardinals that Pius XI had said that keeping a papal nuncio in Berlin "conflicts with our honor." But his predecessor, he said, had been mistaken. He was going to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Hitler. The following month, at Pacelli's express wish, Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, the Berlin nuncio, hosted a gala reception in honor of Hitler's 50th birthday. A birthday greeting to the Führer from the bishops of Germany would become an annual tradition until the war's end."
--- From text excerpted from
John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope" and posted at

Cornwell reports that he was given access to secret Vatican archives with the understanding that he would write a defense of Pius XII but changed his mind after studying the record.

Forced conversion of Serbs to Catholicism

The Nazi-like Croatian Ustashi state, set up immediately after the Nazi German invasion of Yugoslavia, was based on fanatical Catholicism. Orthodox Christian Serbs who refused to convert were butchered in their villages, or at the Jasenovac death camp, or thrown into mountain crevaces. Hitler referred to the Ustashi as "Our Nazis."

The Catholic Center Party's support for the Enabling act, which gave Hitler dictatorial powers; the Center Party's subsequent decision to dissolve itself; and the signing of the Nazi-Vatican Concordat two weeks later - these actions told Catholics it was OK to work with Nazis or even to be a Nazi. This was a big boost for Nazi forces, not only in Germany but worldwide. Case in point: the Croatian Ustashi. When the German Nazis invaded Yugoslavia in 1941, the Ustashi terrorist organization set up the so-called 'Independent State of Croatia.' The Ustashi attempted to wipe out Yugoslavia's Jewish population and made a full-scale attack on the Serbs, who were members of the Serbian Orthodox Church, bitterly opposed by the Catholic hierarchy that was the mainstay of the Ustashi. The Ustashi state went to war against the Serbs:

[Quote from "Encyclopedia of the Nations" starts here]

 "Slavko Kvaternik explained [in a radio program on April 10, 1941, the day the 'Independent State of Croatia' was formed] how a pure Croatia should be built - by forcing one third of the Serbs to leave Croatia, one third to convert to Catholicism, and one third to be exterminated. Soon Ustasha bands initiated a bloody orgy of mass murder of Serbs unfortunate enough not to have converted or left Croatia on time.

"The enormity of such criminal behavior shocked even the conscience of German commanders, but Pavelic had Hitler's personal support for such actions which resulted in the loss of the lives of hundreds of thousands of Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.In addition, the Ustasa regime organized extermination camps, the most notorious one at Jasenovac where Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, and other opponents were massacred in large numbers."

[Quote from "Encyclopedia of the Nations" ends here]
-- 'Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations,' (Europe, 1995) 91

The above-quoted report describes German commanders as being shocked by Croatian Ustashi barbarity. However, the Germans used equally brutal methods to destroy Jewish villages in the Soviet Union after the German Nazi invasion. Perhaps the Germans were shocked because the people being slaughtered were perceived as human, that is, they were not Jews...

The forced conversion of tens of thousands of Serbs to Catholicism by the Ustashi regime proves its fanatically Catholic character; hence the 'Independent State of Croatia' is commonly referred to as a 'Clerical-Fascist' state. Since the Vatican controlled the Catholic hierarchy worldwide, and since the Croatian Catholic hierarchy accepted papal infallibility and organizational direction, how can we explain the Ustashi's Catholic violence except as an expression of the policies of the Church under Pope Pius XII?

The Germans invaded Yugoslavia on April 10, 1941. According to the following report from the Yugoslav Embassy in Washington, Croatian Catholic Archbishop Stepinac helped the Ustashi terrorists create their pro-Nazi state. As in Germany, the stance taken by the Church hierarchy guided lower clergy and lay Catholics: 

[Excerpt from Yugoslav Embassy report starts here]

[On April 10, the day of the Nazi invasion, Croatian Ustashi leader Ante Pavelic was in Italy.] On that very same day Pavelic's [lieutenant], Slavko Kvaternik, leader of the illegal Ustashi movement, proclaimed the Independent State of Croatia and formed the first Ustashi government. [Croatian Catholic] Archbishop Stepinac at once sided with the Ustashi traitors and helped them take over the government. On April 12, 1941, while fighting between the Germans and the Yugoslav Army was still going on in the Bosnian mountains -- while millions of patriotic Yugoslavs were still determined to resist the invaders -- Archbishop Stepinac openly called on Kvaternik and congratulated him on his success.

The day before Easter, Slavko Kvaternik visited Archbishop Stepinac. The official organ of the Archbishopric, Katolicki List, reported that the Archbishop had expressed his highest satisfaction to Kvaternik. The Ustashi newspaper Krvatske Novosti, in its Easter issue, underlined the significance of this interchange of visits and pointed out the cordiality with which the Archbishop of Zagreb had greeted the deputy of Dr. Pavelic. This newspaper drew the conclusion that the foundation was laid for intimate cooperation between the Ustashi movement and the highest representative of the Roman Catholic Church in the Croatian State.

What other conclusion could the lower clergy reach, despite the knowledge that both Kvaternik and Pavelic had been sentenced to death in absentia for their roles in the murder of King Alexander and French Foreign Minister Barthou?

On April 13, 1941, Ante Pavelic reached Zagreb from Italy. On the very next day -- the Royal Yugoslav Army was still fighting -- Archbishop Stepinac paid him a visit, to greet him and voice his congratulations.

Two weeks later, on April 28, 1941, Archbishop Stepinac issued a pastoral letter asking the clergy to respond without hesitation to his call that they take part in the exalted work of defending and improving the Independent State of Croatia. He emphasized his deep conviction that the efforts of the Poglavnik [i.e., the leader of the Croatian Ustashi state, Ante Pavelic - J.I.] would meet with complete understanding and support, basing this confidence on his acquaintance with the men now directing the destiny of the Croatian people. He believed and hoped, his letter said, that in the resurrected Croatian State the Church would be able in complete freedom to preach "the invincible principles of eternal truth and justice." The pastoral letter, which was also published in Nedelja and Katolicki List on April 28, 1941, declared:

"Honorable brethren, there is not one among you who did not recently witness the most significant event in the life of the Croatian people among whom we act as herald of Christ's word. These are events that fulfilled the long-dreamed of and desired ideal of our people.... You should therefore readily answer my call to do elevated work for the safeguarding and the progress of the Independent State of Croatia.... Prove yourselves, honorable brethren, and fulfill now your duty toward the young Independent State of Croatia."

The Ustashi section of the clergy, which had been active in terrorism even before the war, did not need this circular to tell them how to act. But a great part of the Catholic clergy, not earlier involved in the Ustashi movement, accepted the circular as a directive, an order from their most responsible chief; and in accordance with its exhortations placed themselves at the disposal of the Ustashi. Answering the call of the Primate of the church, many priests then engaged actively in supporting the Ustashi regime. [My emphasis - J.I.]

[Excerpt from Yugoslav Embassy report ends here]

Croatian Ustashi fuehrer Ante Pavelic giving Nazi salute (far left) with Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (far right) and other Catholic Church leaders

A Cardinal marches with the German Nazis

A religious leader, apparently Cardinal Michael Faulhaber, marches between rows of SA men at a Nazi rally in Munich.

Some claim the religious figure in the photo is papal nuncio Archbishop Cesare Orsenigo, not Cardinal Faulhaber. Regardless, no one denies he is a high ranking representative of the Catholic Church.
(Source: A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen - Posted on the Internet by Jim Walker; the text is my edited version of Mr. Walker's text - J.I.)

In the Vatican's much-praised, "We Remember: Reflections on the Holocaust,"  we read:

"The well-known Advent sermons of Cardinal Faulhaber in 1933, the very year in which National Socialism came to power, at which not just Catholics but also Protestants and Jews were present, clearly expressed rejection of the Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda."

Could it be that the Jesuit scholars who wrote "We Remember" never read Cardinal Faulhaber's 1933 Advent sermons? If so, let me help. I have the full text in front of me. The Cardinal's position was the exact opposite of what the Vatican claims. Faulhaber stated that:

"From the Church's point of view there is no objection whatsoever to racial research and race culture." (page 107)

What Faulhaber did oppose was the demand by some Nazis that Christians reject the 'Old Testament' (the Torah) which would in effect have negated the Catholic doctrine that Christianity is "the true Israel," which requires that it be the inheritor of the Torah. 

Consider this excerpt, reproduced exactly at it appears in the official translation of the Advent sermons:

"By accepting these books, Christianity does not become a Jewish religion.  These books were not composed by Jews; they are inspired by the Holy Ghost, and therefore they are the word of God, they are God's books.  The writers of them were God's pencils, the psalm-singers were harps in the hand of God, the Prophets were announcers of God's revelation. It is for this reason that the scriptures of the Old Testament are worthy of credence and veneration for all time.  Antagonism to the Jews of today must not be extended to the books of Pre-Christian Judaism."  - p.14
[My emphasis - J.I.]
- Faulhaber, Cardinal Michael von, "Judaism, Christianity, Germany." (New York, Macmillan: 1934)

So Faulhaber was not saying Christians should reject racist attitudes towards Jews.  He was saying he had no problem with "race culture," but hatred of Jews should not extend to pre-Christian Hebrew religious texts, which were a Christian legacy of heavenly origin.


Croatian Ustashi dictator Ante Pavelic with Franciscan monks.  The Franciscan order was active in the genocide against Serbs, Jews and Roma.


Catholic clergy and Nazi officials, including Joseph Goebbels (far right) and Wilhelm Frick (second from right), give the Nazi salute. Germany, date uncertain.
[Photo source, Holocaust Encyclopedia,]

In 1933, under the leadership of its Cardinal Secretary of State, Eugenio Pacelli (who became Pope Pius XII), the Vatican negotiated a Concordat with Adolf Hitler. Catholic historian James Carroll writes:

"Even an indirect endorsement meant everything to Hitler as he sought to establish his legitimacy at home and abroad.  In these early months of 1933, Catholic leaders went from being Hitler's staunch opponents to his latest allies. This transformation was dramatically symbolized by the fact that in 1932, the Fulda Episcopal Conference, representing the Catholic hierarchy of Germany, banned membership in the Nazi Party and forbade priests from offering communion to anyone wearing the swastika; then, on March 28, 1933, two weeks after Pacelli offered his overture to Hitler, the same Fulda conferees voted to lift the ban on Catholic membership in the Nazi Party. The bishops expressed, as they put it, 'a certain confidence in the new government, subject to reservations concerning some religious and moral lapses.'  Swastika bearers would now be welcomed at the communion rail."

As part of its Concordat with the Nazi regime, the Vatican had the huge Center Party, the Catholic Party, which had previously opposed the Nazis, vote for the so-called 'Enabling Act,' which gave Hitler dictatorial powers, and then dissolve itself. Carroll writes:

"The Reichskonkordat effectively removed the Catholic Church from any continued role of opposition to Hitler.  More than that, as Hitler told his cabinet on July 14, it established a context that would be 'especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry.' The deep well of Catholic antisemitism would be tapped, to run as freely as any stream of hate in Germany.  The positive side of the long-standing ambivalence, which had again and again been the source of impulses to protect Jews, would now be eliminated, allowing the negative side to metastasize."
J. Carroll, Constantine's Sword, (New York, 2002) 498-500

In the above-quoted excerpt, Mr. Carroll seems to suggest that it was the "long-standing ambivalence" of the Catholic Church as an organization that had been, prior to the Reichskonkordat, "again and again... the source of impulses to protect Jews." There are several problems with this.

First, the existence of a human impulse to decency, whether among Catholics or anyone else, is not proof of official policy. As a youthful participant in the US Civil Rights movement, I saw whites who objected to - and even took brave action to oppose - harsh treatment of black people. Such actions, while heartening, do not disprove the existence of an officially sanctioned system of abuse predicated on a theory (in this case, that blacks were supposedly less human). Similarly, of course many Catholics have been kind towards Jews and even drawn towards Jewish culture and thinking.  But this does not contradict a 2,000 year policy of the Church hierarchy which has a) stigmatized Jews as "killers of Jesus," which belief has fed and justified antisemitism, including the Nazi variety and b) discriminated sharply and/or subtly against Jews (e.g., the ghettos in which Jews were forced to live in the papal states) and c) conducted brutal campaigns against Jews (the inquisition is only one example.)

Second, the seeming ambivalence of the official Church is rooted in a doctrinal contradiction: since Christianity is presented as the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy, the Church hierarchy needs to have some Jews around, but it has not wanted them to prosper, or at least not for long, because ordinary Catholics might see that as evidence that God had not rejected the Jews for failing to accept Jesus as divine. This policy was first enunciated by St. Augustine, who cited Psalm 59: "Slay them not, lest my people forget: scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield."

In other words, don't wipe them out, or at least not all of them, because Catholic doctrine presents the Bible (i.e., Jewish scripture) as predicting the coming of Jesus. But scatter them (i.e., don't let them return to Judah, let alone have a state there) and bring them down (make sure they suffer) so that Christians will see what happened to the Jews because they rejected the doctrine that Jesus was divine. And, by all means, provide a steady stream of much-publicized Jewish converts as proof of the benevolence and divinity of Christianity, the acceptance of which constitutes, according to Church doctrine, the salvation of Jews.

Thus the Vatican is perfectly capable of making statements against abuse of the Jews (who are presented as constituting "our Abrahamic roots" which is not necessarily a statement of brotherly affection, but can be one of religious self-justification!) even as it encourages - sometimes in the same statements - abuse of Jews. I am in the midst of writing a series on Pope John Paul II that deals in part with the above-described phenomenon.  Three articles are posted: and



Priests give Hitler salute at a Catholic youth rally in the Berlin-Neukolln stadium in August 1933.

[Source: A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen]

Adolf Hitler greets his favorite, Ante Pavelic, leader of the Croatian Ustashi and soon to be fuehrer of the Ustashi state, upon Pavelic's arrival at the Berghof for a state visit. (June 9, 1941)

Hitler had reason to smile. The Nazi German Army would invade Yugoslavia April 10; Pavelic's Ustashi (Clerical-Fascist) forces would immediately set up a dictatorship based on fanatical Catholicism and so-called "racial purity." By April 28th Croatian Archbishop Stepinac would issue a pastoral letter telling Catholics to support this Nazi-like dictatorship.

Croatian Catholic Cardinal Stepinac, front center, was a deputy in the Sabor, the pseudo-legislature of the Nazi-like Croatian Ustashi dictatorship. 

After WWII, Yugoslavia put Cardinal Stepinac on trial. The Catholic Church fiercely defended Stepinac against the charge that he had helped the Ustashi even as the Vatican secretly worked with US military intelligence to help Ustashi war criminals escape from Europe, using a network known as the Ratline.

In 1991 the political heirs to the Ustashi took leadership of the Yugoslav Republic of Croatia and led a secessionist rebellion. They rehabilitated Ustashi leaders and renewed war against the Serbian people. The title of an Emperor's Clothes article accurately describes the Western response: "The Media Suppressed the Truth about the Rebirth of Croatian Fascism."

Just as the Catholic Church hierarchy helped to establish and lead the Ustashi 'Independent State of Croatia' during World War II, so the Church helped neo-Ustashi leaders create a new independent Croatia in the 1990s.When, in June 1991, neo-Ustashi extremists launched the Yugoslav wars of secession by attacking  federal troops in Croatia, the Church hierarchy painted a sympathetic picture of the secessionists. A few days after the Croatians declared war, the Pope sent a letter to the Yugoslav government demanding it not suppress the rebellion. On June 29th, the Pope spoke to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square:

[Excerpt from United Press International starts here]

Pope calls on Yugoslav leaders to respect 'legitimate aspirations', United Press International, June 29, 1991, Saturday, BC cycle, International, 546 words, By Charles Ridley, Vatican City


''My thoughts today turn in particular to the dear peoples of Croatia and Slovenia,'' the pope said. ''I feel close to those who are grieving for their dead, to the wounded and to all those who are living in sorrow and fear.

''I repeat once again that one cannot and must not suffocate with force the rights and legitimate aspirations of the peoples,'' the pope said.

''I want in this way to encourage all those initiatives aimed at seeking just solutions, which alone can guarantee peace and fraternal coexistence among the peoples,'' he said.

John Paul called on ''the authorities of all the Yugoslav republics to show a constructive will for dialogue and long-sighted wisdom.''

The pope's appeals, and his repeated reference to ''legitimate rights'' appeared to support a declaration made by Yugoslav Catholic bishops Thursday which strongly defended the right of Slovenia and Croatia to declare their independence.

Vatican radio broadcast the full text of the declaration Saturday, around the same time the pope spoke in St. Peter's square.
[My emphasis]


[Excerpt from United Press International starts here]

Over the next four years, independent Croatia drove about 600,000 Serbs from their homes, with never a word from the Pope protesting this "suffocat[ion] with force [of ] the rights and legitimate aspirations" of Serbs. About half the Serbs were expelled from Croatia proper and the other half from the neighboring territory of Krajina, claimed by Croatia; the overwhelmingly Serbian population of the Krajina had opposed the break-up of Yugoslavia.

The most explosive and violent act of ethnic cleansing occurred in  August 1995, when the Croatian army, led by US forces, drove a quarter million Serbian residents from the Krajina.

The media talks endlessly about a supposed massacre in Srebrenica, the existence of which is contested, whereas the media very rarely mentions the liquidation of Serbian Krajina, the greatest act of genocide in Europe since World War II.


The Trail of Tears.
Click picture for full-sized image.

In August 1995 the Croatian Army's 'Operation Storm' drove 250,000 Serbs from their homes.  Unknown numbers were slaughtered in the onslaught, which included armored and aerial bombardment of cities and towns, and subsequent house to house operations in Serbian villages, during which many more civilians were butchered. I have posted a (London) Guardian article, "Victorious Croats 'Burned Villages," which presents an understated description of what the Croats did after seizing the Krajina.

Three years after the eradication of the Krajina, the Pope was in Croatia, kissing the soil and beatifying the notorious Cardinal Stepinac. At a time when hundreds of thousands of ethnic Serbs, recently driven from their homes by the Croatian leaders, were living in poverty in refugee camps in Serbia, with no effort at reconciliation - let alone compensation - by Croatia, the Pope blessed the neo-Ustashi leaders with his presence and his words:

"I greet the members of the Government and the other distinguished persons who honour this meeting with their presence." [5]

While beatifying Cardinal Stepinac, the Pope also beautified Croatian war crimes, speaking as if Croatia had not itself launched the wars of secession, and, in Orwellian fashion, praising Croatia for having a  spirit of reconciliation:

"After the violent and brutal war in which it found itself involved, Croatia is finally experiencing a period of peace and freedom. Now all the population's energies are dedicated to the gradual healing of the deep wounds of the conflict, to a genuine reconciliation among all the nation's ethnic, religious and political groups, and to an ever greater democratisation of society." [5]

He had met a genocide, and he called it love.

To read the case against Cardinal Stepinac, the man Pope John Paul II beatified in Croatia, go to


 Hitler praying after a rally in Vienna
Pope John Paul II's claim (quoted below) that Nazism was a "Godless" movement is false, as suggested by Hitler's own words (also quoted below)

Pope John Paul II gave a speech at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority, in which he claimed the Holocaust was carried out by people with a "Godless ideology":

"How could man have such utter contempt for man? Because he had reached the point of contempt for God. Only a godless ideology could plan and carry out the extermination of a whole people."  [My emphasis - J.I.]

To read the full text of the Pope's speech at Yad Vashem, go to

On that page, click the link "Pope John Paul II at Yad Vashem." Then scroll down to the link "Text of Pope John Paul's speech in the Hall of Remembrance."]

But the German Nazis embraced both the Protestant and Catholic religions. Below is a quote from Hitler's Mein Kampf. Not only does he state that in the Nazi movement, "the most devout Protestant could sit beside the most devout Catholic, without coming into the slightest conflict with his religious convictions," he also states that while the Nazis fought the Center party (the Catholic party in Germany) during the 1920s, they did so for 'racial' and political reasons, not over religion. Later of course, in 1933, based on a decision taken in Rome, the Center Party went over to Hitler's side and then dissolved itself. Hitler states that it was "the highest duty of the top leadership of the National Socialist movement to offer the sharpest opposition to any attempt" to involve the Nazis in fighting "Ultramontanism." The term "Ultramontanism" is defined differently by different factions in the Catholic Church, but all agree that it means (at least) a Catholic Church organizationally/ideologically dominated by the Bishop of Rome, i.e., the Pope, who is viewed as infallible. So Hitler was saying the Nazis should *support* having the Pope dominate the Catholic Church even as he was fighting the Catholic party, the Center Party.

[Except from Mein Kampf begins here]

For the rest, the facts speak for themselves. The gentlemen who in 1924 suddenly discovered that the highest mission of the folkish movement was the struggle against 'Ultramontanism' did not break Ultramontanism, but tore apart the folkish movement. I must also lodge protest against any immature mind in the ranks of the folkish movement imagining that he can do what even a Bismarck could not do. It will always be the highest duty of the top leadership of the National Socialist movement to offer the sharpest opposition to any attempt to drive the National Socialist movement into such struggles [against the papacy! - JI], and immediately to remove the propagandists of such an intention from the ranks of the movement. And actually, by autumn, 1923, we succeeded entirely in this. In the ranks of the movement, the most devout Protestant could sit beside the most devout Catholic, without coming into the slightest conflict with his religious convictions. The mighty common struggle which both carried on against the destroyer of Aryan humanity had, on the contrary, taught them mutually to respect and esteem one another. And yet, in these very years, the movement carried on the bitterest fight against the [Catholic] Center [Party], though never on religious, but exclusively on national, racial, and economic-political grounds. The results spoke in our favor, just as today they testify against the know-it-alls. [My emphasis, J.I.]

-- A. Hitler, Mein Kampf, (Berlin, 1926), 564-565

[Except from Mein Kampf ends here]


"When you see a cross..."

Above is a page from the Nazi children's book, Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom). The caption reads, "When you see a cross, remember the gruesome murder of the Jews on Golgotha..."

[Excerpt from Nazi children's book starts here]

[A peasant mother points to a cross.] "Children, look there! The Man who hangs on the Cross was one of the greatest enemies of the Jews of all time. He knew the Jews in all their corruption and meanness... Because this Man knew the Jews, because He proclaimed the truth to the world, he had to die. Hence the Jews murdered Him. ...And in a similar way they have killed many others who had the courage to tell the truth about the Jews. Always remember these things, children. When you see the Cross, think of the terrible murder by the Jews on Golgotha."

[Excerpt from Nazi children's book ends here]

[Source, Jewish Virtual Library]


Front page of the Nazi publication, Der Stuermer.

Contrary to Pope John Paul II's remarks when he spoke at Yad Vashem, the Nazis were not "Godless." This headline from the infamously antisemitic Nazi periodical, Der Stuermer, reads, "Declaration of the Higher Clergy. So spoke Jesus Christ: You hypocrites who do not see the beam in your own eyes." [from Matthew 7:3-5] The cartoon depicts a group of Hitler Youth. The caption reads, "We youth step happily forward facing the sun... With our faith we drive the devil from the land." The devil in question was, of course, the Jews.

(Source: US Holocaust Museum)


Hitler leaves the Marine Church in Wilhelmshaven.



Hitler at Nazi party rally

Note the (Lutheran) Frauenkirch or Church of our Lady in the background; the rally was staged as if to say Christianity was the foundation of the Nazi Party . Photo taken in Nuremberg, Germany (circa 1928).

[Posted at 20th Century History, from US Holocaust Museum]


Church & State
Hitler in front of the Church of our Lady in Nuremberg, Sept. 1934. Photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann.

[Source: US Holocaust Museum]


'Further Reading' follows fundraising appeal

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Further reading

1) Emperor's Clothes is publishing a series of articles comparing the factual record to media claims about John Paul II's policies regarding:
  *  Jews and the Holocaust
  * Yugoslavia, especially the secessionist wars in Croatia and Kosovo
  * The murder of Catholic officials by death squads in El Salvador.

Parts1-3 are published:

Part 1: "Did the Pope Really Reject Church Antisemitism? Mr. Foxman's Mistake"

Part 2: "Mr. Laughland's adulation"

Part 3: "As the Pope flew to Israel, a Top Adviser Attacked the Jews on TV"

2) A long excerpt from John Cornwell's book, "Hitler's Pope," at

3) Articles on Yugoslavia, at

4) Articles on antisemitism, the Arab-Israeli conflict and related issues at 

5) The Pope's Speech At The Zagreb's Airport (October 2, 1998) at * Emperor's Clothes