Yad Vashem, the Jews & Two Popes

by Steve Ray on May 9, 2009

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On Monday the Pope will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. However, he is not expected to go inside — to protest the inaccurate and scandalous display concerning Pope Pius XII and the Jews during the Nazi regime.

My wife Janet and I visited Yad Vashem again two days ago. We have been there before and I also have all the books that provide even more detail. This is an incredible museum that graphically tells the haunting and disturbing history of the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people in Europe. There are thousands of pictures, videos, recorded interviews, and untold displays of the clothing, the whips used, the box cars for transport, the poison gas  canisters from Auschwitz, and on and on. Everyone should see this museum!

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However, my main purpose for this visit was to see for myself again, and to show you, the display that is gaining a lot of attention due to the Pope’s visit. I took some pictures of the scandalous display which denigrates Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church. The display was getting a lot of attention even while I was there. I witnessed it while standing in front of the wall. People, mainly Jews stopped and commented, “This is the display that is making the news, the one the Pope is talking and complaining about.” I stayed and talked to Jewish visitors for about 1/2 hour trying to see what they thought and helping to clarify the situation.

I know we were not supposed to take pictures but I did whip out my iPhone and snapped a few shots of the wall focusing on Pope Pius XII. I wanted to protest the misinformation and to show you what the news is all about.

Pictures: The first picture is the entrance to Yad Vashem, the second is me looking at the wall falsely portraying Pope Pius XII; the third is picture of Pope Pius XII as portrayed, and the fourth some of the text.

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One woman and her husband stepped up next to me. He was wearing a yarmulka on his head. Pointing at the picture of Pope Pius XII  she sputtered, “He was awful!” Her husband said, “No, this is not being fair. This makes him look like a Nazi but he was not. At worst he was only neutral.” I said, “You are right. This display is dishonest. Do you know that the Pope saved the lives of over 800,000 Jews?” She continued sputtering as she moved on to the next area but he was very interested and carried on the discussion with me for a while.

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(For larger image, click here) In the meantime three ladies stopped and were reading the placard. They were discussing Pope Benedict and criticizing him for refusing to visit Yad Vashem. I introduced myself and told them they were misinformed. The Pope was coming to Yad Vashem to show his solidarity with the victims of the holocaust but he was not entering inside the museum to protest the scandalous misrepresentation of Pope Pius XII. I explained why the display was dishonest and explained the truth about Pope Pius XII. They said, “Thanks so much for telling us. If you had not been here we would not have known the whole story. You should stay and tell everyone!” I told them I wish I could too!

When I get home I am going to write to the museum with a formal complaint. You can can do it to. Click on the link at the top for the Museum and contact them.

For information you can visit several websites. Pope Pius XII, Wikipedia, Books, Articles and Research Papers, How Pius XII Protected the Jews, recent Zenit article.

Today we were SO busy in Nablus with the Missionaries of Charity (pictures soon), and Fr. Vincent Nagel, secretary to the Patriarch of Jerusalem and parish priest in  Nablus, and having dinner with the Roman Catholic deacon from Bethlehem that I did not have time to catch up today. More tomorrow.

US group finds more evidence Pope Pius XII worked to save Jews
http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=3231
The Pave the Way Foundation has announced discovery of 2,300 documents from the World War II era, providing further evidence that Pope Pius XII worked to save Jews from the Holocaust. The New York-based foundation, dedicated to inter-religious understanding, has made a special study of the wartime papacy, and its founder, Gary Krupp, has emerged as a leading Jewish defender of Pius XII. Krupp reports that the newly discovered documents were housed in an Italian monastery, and speculates that other documents might be readily available in various Italian dioceses, if researchers are interested in searching for them.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzanne Calvano May 9, 2009 at 9:13 AM

Thanks so much for being there to explain the truth! Perhaps the Pope’s visit and the discussion this is all generating will help them to realize this is a false representation of Pope Pius XII and they will remove or at least change the display. I will send them a complaint also (in a respectful way, of course). Thanks again. God bless you.

C Brunader May 11, 2009 at 11:59 AM

The comment next to the picture comes from an important Israeli
poet (Polish born Nathan Alterman) who lived through the unspeakably evil years of
the Holocaust. Many of his generation were not aware of the sacrifices of Pope Pius XII on behalf of the Jewish people, and express well the anguish of a generation that
felt abandoned by the world in the darkest of times. The impression was unfortunately confirmed in the minds of many by the anti-semitism they experienced at the hands of
ill-formed Catholics, and by the demonically clever propaganda of the Nazis. (I remember seeing one picture of a mother and child by a crucifix with the words: “Mothers! When you see this (roadside crucifix), tell your children, ‘The Jews did this.” ) Perhaps we need to provide true historical information AND deal with latent anti-semitism among Catholics? Perhaps we need to be more vocal about the courage
of many Catholics during those years? St Edith Stein, pray for us.

Michal May 14, 2009 at 1:13 PM

C Brunader

I’m so happy to see that someone is here to represent the truth. The anti-semitism is still lingering. In fact, the events in the news show this where everyone is feeling sorry for the Arabs who sent Qassam missiles into Israeli schools and such. Apparently, people also forget what happened on September 11th, 2001.

Yes, there were Catholics that were courageous and saved or tried to save Jews during the Shoah. However, the majority of the world kicked the Jewish people when they were down.

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