The Holocaust as a Marginal Matter, Pius XII and the Jews: Michael Phayer, Pius XII, The Holocaust, and the Cold War
Michael Phayer’s second book on Pius XII is based on extensive research on World War II-related documents that became accessible in the National Archives of the United States only in 1997, as well as on archives in Argentina and Great Britain. His research opens an additional window to understanding Pope Pius XII’s attitude towards Jews during the war. Phayer concludes that for Pius XII, the murder of the Jews during the war was a peripheral and unimportant matter, and therefore he did not condemn the Nazi murderers clearly and unequivocally. According to Phayer, the Pope was not antisemitic, but rather, his main concerned was saving Christianity and Rome from the communists. Phayer shows that the Pope saw World War II as an apocalyptic war between Christianity and communism, in which Germany, whether Nazi or the regime that would follow, would play a significant role in protecting Christianity. Despite Phayer’s efforts to find a positive side to the Pope’s behavior, what emerges from the book is a picture of a spiritual leader whose moral judgement became warped and inappropriate to his high position in such a fateful period.