Pope Pius XII said “Be proud to be a Jew”
The testimony here described had been retrieved a few years ago after a close examination of the archives of the ‘Palestine Post’, the Jewish daily newspaper written in English which is now called the ‘Jerusalem Post’. In an anonymous article a Jewish man talked of an audience with the Pope during WWII. The man, who had managed to escape from Germany, also managed to approach Pius XII. This event must not surprise the readers as audiences with the Pope were conducted very differently then, the doors to the Vatican were flung open and the corridors of the Apostolic Palace became full of people queuing patiently to see the Pope, kiss his ring and exchange a few words.
On the 28th of April 1944 the Palestine Post published an article entitled ‘A Papal Audience in War-Time’. A young Jewish man told how three years before he had managed to meet the Pope with the help of a German priest. In 1941, after escaping from Germany, the young man entered the Apostolic Palace. He was filled with fear since there were also a few German soldiers present at the papal audience, but he managed to talk with Pius XII for a few minutes. He told the Pope about the conditions of five hundred Jewish refugees living in poverty in Rhodes and held captive by the Italian military who were waiting to hand them over to the Germans.
After telling the Pope who he was, Pius XII replied “You have done well to come to me and tell me this. I have heard about it before. Come back tomorrow with a written report and give it to the Secretary of State who is dealing with the question. But now for you, my son. You are a young Jew. I know what that means and I hope you will always be proud to be a Jew!”
Then raising his voice so those who were close by could clearly hear his words, Pius XII said “My son, whether you are worthier than others only the Lord knows, but believe me, you are at least as worthy as every other human being that lives on this earth! And now, my Jewish friend, go with the protection of the Lord, and never forget, you must always be proud to be a Jew!”
In the latest issue of ‘Inside the Vatican’, the American scholar William Doino, author of several papers and articles on Pius XII, managed to give a name and a face to the author of this story (http://moynihanreport.itvworking.com/author/billdoino).
It is Heinz Wisla: Jewish, born in Germany, at the time of the audience he was 21 years old. In his writings during the winter of 1941-1942, Wisla attested that, thanks to the personal intervention of the Pope, the Red Cross saved the Jews who had been imprisoned and took them to Italy. This is yet another testimony of the behaviour and actions of Pius XII, wrongly considered an ‘anti-Semitic’ Pope by some publications.