1964 cover of The Deputy

Catholics Acknowledge the Holocaust:
The Influence of The Deputy on the Vatican's Position

by Melissa Kravetz
March 20, 2002

student research paper for
UCSB History 133P, Winter 2002 (course homepage)
Prof. Marcuse (professor's homepage)
Proseminar Papers Index page, Student Research Papers page

The Catholic Church's

German Catholics
and Hitler
; 1933-45

The Second Vatican Council & Jews

Der Stellvertreter
Public Reaction





When thinking about the Holocaust, people often wonder how the genocide of an estimated six million people could occur with little opposition or resistance. This same question is what initiated my interest in the Holocaust. This interest was taken to a new level after learning about the suppression of information by Germans, Allies, and Neutrals during the Third Reich in Walter Laqueur's book, The Terrible Secret: An Investigation Into The Suppression of Information About Hitler's 'Final Solution'. This book addressed the lack of response by neutral organizations such as the Vatican. I was most intrigued by how a powerful and universally recognized religious institution such as the Vatican viewed the events that occurred during Hitler's reign. More specifically, I was interested in the Vatican's changing reactions to the Holocaust since the beginning of the Third Reich, especially the different stances the Church has taken throughout the years. My main focus involved the outpouring of the Church's public acknowledgment of the Holocaust that began in the 1960's with the formulation of the Second Vatican Council. Shortly after this Council was formed, the first criticism of Pope Pius XII's silence during the Holocaust came out in Rolf Hochhuth's play, The Deputy. My argument focuses on the role The Deputy played in the Vatican's 1965 statement on the Catholic Church's position with regard to the Jews. The play, which challenged the Church's neutral position on the Holocaust, coerced the Vatican to make a statement in response to Hochhuth.

Links added later (additional links at bottom)

The Catholic Church's History of Antisemitism: Roots of the Holocaust
(back to top)

From the beginnings of Christianity, Jews were thought to have rejected and murdered Jesus Christ and because of this, Jews have been shunned, persecuted, expelled, and killed throughout the centuries.[1] They had been cast aside as outsiders for centuries, which is one of the reasons why Adolf Hitler and his followers were able to develop extreme antisemitic attitudes in the early twentieth century. According to one Catholic theologian, Gregory Baum, "the hatred and persecution of the Jews in Hitler's Germany…had nothing directly to do with religion," but it is clear that "this terrible event…would not have been possible if hostility to the Jews had not been fostered by Christian preaching which spoke of Jews and Judaism almost from the beginning only in terms of rejection."[2] Although the Holocaust was an unprecedented event in history, it stemmed from a background of antisemitism in Christian history. Even legislation enacted in the 1930's by the Nazi party, such as the Nuremberg Laws which stripped Jews of their rights as citizens, was modeled after measures the Church had enforced for as long as it could.[3]

The (German) Catholic Church's Views on the Nazi Party before 1933
(back to top)

Before Hitler rose to power, Catholic bishops in Germany denounced the ideology of the Nazi party because it threatened many of the beliefs and principles held by the Church. These bishops were convinced that the Party would constitute a serious threat to the teaching and religious activities of the Church. They were concerned because the moral tenets of the Party conflicted with their own. For example, they opposed Article 24 of the Nazi program which demanded freedom of all religions in the German state providing they did not offend the moral and ethical sentiment of the German race. In a 1930 letter to the National Socialist German Worker's Party, the Vicar General in Mainz responded, "The Christian moral law is founded upon the love of one's neighbor. The National Socialist writers do not acknowledge this commandment in the sense taught by Christ…"[4] The German bishops warned people of Nazi racism and spoke against joining or supporting the Party, which proved effective because few Catholics voted for Hitler or the National Socialists between 1930 and1933.[5] Also, up until Hitler came to power and the Concordat of 1933 was signed, German bishops regularly refused the rites of the Church to Nazi officials.

Once Hitler came to power in 1933, the Church dropped its opposition to the Party, primarily because it signed the Concordat of 1933 with the German state. This Concordat, which regulated relations between the Catholic Church and the German state, appeared to prevent the possibility of future conflicts between the two institutions. The Roman Catholic Church beheld its rights, influence, and activities in the Reich, legally safeguarded through this formal agreement with the government. The church establishments were not equipped for confrontation with the Nazi state, as they were not financially able to resist and were not armed with a theological basis for resistance.[6] Thus, the Church signed the Concordat to preserve the status of the Church as an independent institution and to maintain peace between the state and church in Germany.

The Vatican's Views on Antisemitism and the Nazi Party during Hitler's Reign (back to top)

From 1933-1945, the Vatican remained neutral on all issues regarding the Jews. It failed to take a public stand against the Nuremberg Laws in 1935 or on Kristallnacht in 1938. Although Jewish and Western leaders encouraged Pius XII, who became Pope in 1939, to take a public stand condemning the 'final solution', he remained silent as Jews were deported, persecuted, and murdered. This strict neutrality was even maintained when Jews were rounded up in Rome for deportation on October 16-17, 1943.[7] The Vatican's goal in upholding neutrality was to limit the global conflict and protect the influence and standing of the Church as an independent voice.[8] Explicit attacks on the Nazi regime, especially during the war, might have had serious repercussions for Catholics throughout Europe and might have made the situation worse for Jews or anyone else the Church sought to defend. For example, reprisals were taken against Catholics of Jewish origin in Holland after Holland's Catholic bishops condemned the deportation of Dutch Jewry in 1942.[9] Fearing similar consequences if it spoke out against the Nazi Party, the Vatican concerned itself primarily with the fate of converts and non-Aryan spouses of Christians.

All encyclicals made by the Vatican were in response to the German state's violation of earlier legal commitments and obligations, and none of them mentioned the persecution of the Jews.[10] This rang true of the 1937 encyclical, Mit Brennender Sorge (With Burning Anxiety), issued by Pope Pius XI and read from all the pulpits in Germany on Palm Sunday (March 21, 1937). This encyclical condemned the false and heretical teachings of Nazism, but did not denounce National Socialism or antisemitism.[11] The only encyclical that did criticize Nazi racism and antisemitism was never published. This 1938 encyclical draft, entitled Humani Generis Unitas (The Unity of the Human Race), drafted by Father John LeFarge, never reached the public because it was not delivered to the Pope until he was on his deathbed in January of 1939. Pius XII, who was then elected, was eager to repair relations with Hitler and decided not to publish the encyclical to avoid the appearance of any criticism of Nazi antisemitism.[12]

The first years after the war proved to be very similar to when Hitler was in power, as the Vatican made no public acknowledgement of the Holocaust and continued to maintain neutrality. The only public document issued during this time was the Ten Points of Seeligsberg, which were drawn up at an international conference in Seeligsberg, Switzerland in 1947. Failing to mention the Shoah, it "outlin[ed] steps Christianity need[ed] to take if it [was] to strip future Christian teaching of negative images of Jews."[13] It was not until the 1960's that the Vatican took a public stance on antisemitism, with the formation of the Second Vatican Council in 1962. The 1965 Council document, Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), denounced antisemitism and revolutionized Catholic thinking and theology concerning the Jews. It was also at this time that the first criticism of Pius XII's silence during the Holocaust came out in Rolf Hochhuth's play, Der Stellvertreter (The Deputy—a reference to the Pope as God's representative on earth). Hochhuth made an accurate criticism of Pius XII's silence during the Holocaust in The Deputy because he successfully demonstrated that Pius did not act in accordance with Christian mandates as the representative of God among men. His play had such an impact on society with its enormous public reaction that it most likely had some influence on the Vatican's decision to finally acknowledge the Holocaust and denounce antisemitism with the issuing of the Nostra Aetate. Not only did the play challenge the Church's neutral position, but it also coerced the Church to make a statement in response to Hochhuth and other critics.

Second Vatican Council and its Relation to the Jews (back to top)

A reform in Christian thinking occurred with the formation of the Second Vatican Council from 1962-1965. Pope John XXIII opened this ecumenical council on October 11, 1962 when more than 2,200 Roman Catholic bishops from around the world met in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.[14] It was continued by Pope Paul VI, who became pope when John XXIII died in June of 1963. Several changes in the Catholic Church occurred during this time, but the most vital to this discussion was the Church's changed view of the Jews. The Vatican renounced its view of the Jews as the perfidious people who had crucified Jesus, and it removed negative references to the Jews from the liturgy. Furthermore, it completely revised what was taught about Jews in Catholic schools and catechism classes, and put an end to the official Catholic belief in Jewish ritual murder. [15] The central affirmations of the council included a resolution to teach about Judaism from Judaism's own texts.[16] The German bishops were especially welcoming to the council's statements on the Jews. Not only did they regret that the church leaders had not spoken out more forcefully and explicitly against Nazi antisemitic policies and against the Holocaust, they also apologized publicly for the "inhumane extermination of the Jewish people." They stated in a 1964 letter, "we are aware of the awful injustices that were perpetrated against the Jews in the name of our people."[17] Although the statements made by Vatican II were thought by some to be a belated response to the Holocaust, the conciliar statement was a witness to Jewish existence and to the reality of Judaism.

The Second Vatican Council's official statement on the Church's relations with the Jews came out on October 28, 1965 when Paul VI and 2,221 Roman Catholic bishops approved Nostra Aetate (In Our Time). Also known as the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, this document summarized the Church's position on all major organized religions, with section four being devoted to "the chosen people," the Jews. Moreover, the document was dedicated to fostering "unity and love among men."[18] It recognized the common heritage of Christians and Jews, and admitted that the death of Jesus "cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today."[19] Most importantly, the document stated, "Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God" and that "the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved by the spiritual love of the Gospel and not by political reasons, decries hatred, persecutions, [and] manifestations of antisemitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone."[20] The Church, then, claimed it was denouncing antisemitism for theological reasons, not political reasons. Yet political and social reasons seem to be why the Church finally made a statement on antisemitism, as the Second Vatican Council did not publish this document until 1965, while it had been meeting since 1962. There seems to have been a delay in publishing any official statements on the Jews, and possibly some outside political or social pressures involved.

The Second Vatican Council's delay in publishing on the subjects of religious liberty and the Jews was addressed in The Christian Century during the Council's period of meeting. In 1964, Roman Catholic Archbishop William E. Cousins stated that the Council would endorse by a vote of 1,900 to 300 a statement condemning antisemitism. He also asserted his belief that the Church would make firm its belief that all men, rather than the Jews, were responsible for Christ's death.[21] Both of these proved to be true in the final version of the Nostra Aetate. According to Augustin Cardinal Bea, the Council's delay in acting on subjects of religious liberty and the Jews was good because the new draft "will be clearer and better balanced."[22] Thus, it seems that there was more than one draft being considered for the Church's statements on the Jews and that there was possibly a delay in issuing a final draft. Redefining the Church's relationship with several different religions was an enormous task for the Council, which is a feasible reason why it took the Council three years to issue the Nostra Aetate. Nevertheless, the fact that more than one version was deliberated gives the suggestion that new information may have been added or stronger statements about certain religions, possibly with regard to the Jews, needed to be revised. Certain outside pressures, such as the opening of The Deputy, may have caused such delays and revisions because the Church was compelled to defend itself against Hochhuth's criticism.

The Opening of Der Stellvertreter (back to top)

Rolf Hochhuth's controversial play Der Stellvertreter (The Deputy) opened in Berlin in early 1963 under the direction of Erwin Piscator, and in New York only one year later on February 26, 1964 under the direction of Herman Shumlin. It won the "Young Generation Playwright Award" in 1963, and the book became a best-seller in Europe.[23] However, when the production opened elsewhere in Europe, it was greeted by riots and often formal and strident Roman Catholic disapproval because of its controversial subject—Pope Pius XII's silence during the Holocaust. For example, the West German government in Bonn took a formal stance against the play.[24] Although he had offers from Eastern European countries, Hochhuth refused to let the play be performed in Eastern Europe or any country where the church was suppressed by the state for fear that these countries would abbreviate it in a radical way or that communists would use it as propaganda against the Church.[25]

The Deputy set off the criticism of the Catholic Church in the early 1960's and dealt with the question of the Pope's responsibility for the Holocaust. In his passionate attempt to find an answer as to how six million Jews could have been murdered in Europe, Hochhuth placed Pius XII at the top of his list of people to blame. Hochhuth asserted that Pope Pius XII might have prevented deportations and the mass murder of Jews by speaking out against the Nazi extermination camps. He came to this conclusion after studying all of the available archival documents in Germany, Paris, London, and Rome.[26] Two major characters of the play are based on real persons from historical documents and Vatican archives. Kurt Gerstein, an SS officer about whom Hochhuth learned while studying documents of the Nuremberg trials, was a resistance fighter who set about trying to sabotage the delivery of Zyklon B and to make facts known to Protestant and Catholic leaders.[27] Father Riccardo Fontana, in the play, is a synthesis of Father Maximilian Kolbe who sacrificed his life in Auschwitz for a fellow Jewish prisoner, and Provost Bernhard Lichtenberg of St. Hedwig's Cathedral in Berlin, who obtained SS permission to participate in the fate of the Jews by living in a ghetto in 1943 and then later dying on a relocation march to Dachau.[28] It is also to these two men who Hochhuth dedicated his play, as he viewed them and the other 2,500 Catholic priests that Hitler murdered to be "the true martyrs of the Catholic Church in our time, not the man who personally never tried to protest [Pius XII]."[29] The play is not anti-Catholic, but rather anti-Pius XII, as it made a direct attack on his silence during the Holocaust. It was not Hochhuth's intention to criticize the Roman Catholic Church or the papacy as an institution, but only Pius XII in particular. The Deputy, instead, created heroes out of Gerstein and Father Fontana, and while these two men's' sacrifices may seem senseless since they did not have the power to change history, they stood along side Pius XII, who did have that power but failed to speak or act.[30]

Public Reaction (back to top)

The play received an enormous amount of attention because it initiated the criticism of the Catholic Church's neutrality during the Holocaust. Debates broke out over how historically accurate the play was and whether it constituted a character assassination of Pius XII. It brought the philosophical issue of what it meant to be silent during the Holocaust to the forefront of society. Articles and critiques on the play and on Pius XII flooded newspapers and magazines during this time. People were also concerned about whether this serious of a subject was an appropriate theme for debate and dramatization. One New York Post editorial claimed that, "to avoid the subject [of the Holocaust] would make our generation guilty of the same kind of silence of which Hochhuth accuses Pope Pius XII," and thus felt that such material was indeed suitable for discussion and debate during the 1960's.[31] This was a radical time in which there were not only civil rights movements occurring, but war criminals were still being tried in West Germany.[32] More importantly, however, the play first appeared at the same time the Catholic Church was redefining its relationship with other faiths in the Second Vatican Council. People like Hochhuth possibly felt that by addressing the subject of Pius XII's neutrality, they could have some sort of influence over the Second Vatican Council's statements on the Jews. Moreover, if the criticism of the Pope in the play proved to be successful, the Church would be coerced to issue a statement if not on antisemitism, then at least in response to the accusations made in The Deputy.

Those who agreed with Hochhuth praised The Deputy for bringing such issues to the forefront of society, especially at such an opportune time with Vatican II discussing Catholic-Jewish relations prior to the issuing of Nostra Aetate. A New York Times editorial asserted that the play should be allowed before the public because then people could choose whether or not to read it. The article went on to say,

Those who appeased the dictator, those who wished to be innocent bystanders, those who closed their frontiers to the refugees, and those who merely remained silent contributed in different degrees to the downfall of man and his conscience in the twentieth century.[33]

Although this editorial blamed "the many" who did not assist the Jews during the Holocaust, it shows that people felt Pius XII fell under the category of those who were to be blamed because they remained silent. A more radical supporter of Hochhuth affirmed: "In choosing silence, Pope Pius XII not only revealed his saddening weakness but portrayed the disheartening attitude of many contemporary Christians who sit back in indifference or in helpless bewilderment at what is going on around them."[34] The same author acknowledged that we tend to admire the good men in the play like Father Riccardo Fontana and Kurt Gerstein because "though free to do evil or to take the alternative of silence (supposed neutrality), he has chosen the path of righteousness, standing up for the rights of others who are deprived of human freedom and dignity."[35] Hochhuth, then, was correct in glorifying these two men in the play, and not the Pope, because they acted in concurrence with what the Church advocated.

An editorial in America claimed that Hochhuth and his backers felt that Pope John XXIII, who was pope from 1958 until 1963, would have acted differently if he were in Pius XII's shoes during the Holocaust.[36] They cite his alert response as an Apostolic Delegate in Istanbul during the war, as he was one of the main sources of information about the Nazi designs against the Jews.[37] Not only did he show a "strong desire to help in every way possible," but he also prevented many deportations from Slovakia, Hungary, and Bulgaria because he handled matters himself.[38] Thus, "the actual source of decision to propose that the Council issue a declaration on the relationship of the Church to the Jewish people lay…in the heart of John XXIII," especially because of his understanding of Jewish suffering as an Apostolic Delegate in Eastern Europe.[39] John XXIII, who had a profound influence on issuing Nostra Aetate, might have also done things differently than Pius XII during the Holocaust. Hochhuth, who may have thought this, most likely also had a great influence on the issuing of Nostra Aetate.

Although Hochhuth maintained that he did not intend to attack the papacy as an institution, some people felt that he passed too hard of a judgment on Pius XII, particularly when Father Fontana says in the play, "The pope is a criminal." [40] These people felt that although Pius did little for the persecuted Jews, he was not an accomplice to their deaths. The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Montini, who became Pope Paul VI in 1963, never wavered in his defense of Pius XII, as exemplified in a 1963 letter he wrote in response to The Deputy. Although Montini did not deny Pius' silence, he expressed the Pope's concern for all the victims and his fear of bringing greater tragedies.[41] Montini defended Pius XII as "a man of exquisite sensibility and the most delicate human sympathies," and asserted that "the character given to Pius XII in this play…does not represent the man he really was; in fact, it entirely misrepresents him."[42] In his letter, Montini made the traditional argument that other defenders of the Church advocated, "[a]n attitude of protest and condemnation such as this young man [Hochhuth] blames the Pope for not having adopted would have been not only futile but harmful," because "what could have been effectively and responsibly done then, in those appalling conditions of war and Nazi oppression" was much different than "what would be feasible in normal conditions."[43] Montini, then, criticized Hochhuth for making assumptions about Pius XII's character and creating hypothetical conditions under which he himself did not live.

Albrecht von Kessel, who belonged to the staff of Ernst von Weizsäcker, German ambassador to the Vatican during the war, also stated his defense of Pius XII in a 1963 issue of a Hamburg magazine. Von Kessel, who worked with a man who had direct influence on what the Vatican did during the war, made a solid attempt to defend the actions of the German Embassy to the Vatican, as well as the Pope. Von Kessel made the controversial contention that all members of the German Embassy to the Vatican agreed on one point:

We were convinced that a fiery protest by Pius XII against the persecution of the Jews would in all probability put both the Pope himself and the Curia in the greatest danger, and at that late date—namely in the fall of 1943—would not have saved the life of a single Jew.[44]

Not only did von Weizsäcker and the German Embassy to the Vatican have to advise the Pope not to undertake any action that might have fatal consequences unforeseen, but von Kessel also stated that the Embassy "had specific information that if the Pope had resisted there was the possibility that he would be 'shot while attempting to escape.'"[45]

The Playwright Responds (back to top)

Hochhuth responded to these remarks and others as he defended his own reasons for writing the play and for criticizing Pius XII. Hochhuth originally wanted to write a short story about the character of Gerstein, whom he discovered in records of the Nuremberg trials, because he felt Gerstein embodied the true Christian spirit.[46] He was later influenced by the report of Gerstein published in Leon Poliakow's 1958 book The Third Reich and the Jews and another 1958 book that contained documents concerning the Vatican's attitude toward the deportation of Jews from Rome.[47] As to how the Pope entered The Deputy, Hochhuth remarked in his interview with Patricia Marx,

That came about with the consideration—with the question of how, in this so-called Christian Europe, the murder of an entire people could take place without the highest moral authority of this earth having a word to say about it.[48]

Hochhuth's remarks reflect the fact that he viewed Pius XII as a symbol for all leaders, as well as all people, and that what was important for this "representative of God among men, the Vicar of Christ on earth…is…that he should act in accord with Christian mandates."[49] Thus he was not criticizing Pius XII for how much or how little he did for the Jews, but rather for not remaining sincere to the Christian religion. In his interview with Marx, Hochhuth's criticism of the Pope seemed to be a reflection of his personal thoughts about humanity. Men and women are "meant to act, to be responsible" and as individuals, they "must always bear the responsibility not only for [their] famil[ies] but for the entire community."[50] It appears, then, that Hochhuth has an optimistic view of humankind, especially of the supposed most moral man on earth, even if he were put in such a situation as Pius XII faced during Hitler's reign. Those who criticize Hochhuth probably have a more pessimistic view of mankind, or in their opinion, possibly a more realistic view since some of these men, like von Kessel, were faced with the dangers of Hitler's tyrannical government.

In reply to Cardinal Montini's (Pope Paul VI) letter, Hochhuth challenged Montini's assertion that an act of condemnation by Pius XII would have been useless and harmful as inconclusive. He cited an example of the time when Kappler, the head of the German Gestapo, hastened to release two Jews from a deportation train that had already left only because Pius XII had unofficially requested it. So, Hochhuth questioned whether "an official protest in the presence of the entire world, or even the threat of one, [would] have been completely ineffective?"[51] With regard to the remarks made by von Kessel, Hochhuth refuted his argument that a "fiery protest…would not have saved the life of a single Jew" with four examples from the appendix of The Deputy that showed help could have been given without endangering the lives of any of the rescuers. In one of these examples, Hochhuth claimed that Hitler did not punish Bishop Galen of Münster who made defiant sermons against Hitler's deportation and extermination of the Jews. When R.A.F. planes started dropping reprints of these sermons on German cities, Hitler greatly reduced the practice of "mercy" killings.[52] Hochhuth also rejected von Kessel's affirmation that the German Embassy to the Vatican had information that the Pope would have been "shot while attempting to escape." Hitler would never have considered spreading this news because he would have stirred up thirty-five million Catholics and most of his allies, and therefore, Hochhuth called this declaration absurd, as it contradicted Joseph Goebbels' diaries, the von Weizsäcker memoirs, and the report of Father Leiber on the German occupation of Rome.[53] For instance, during the German occupation of Rome, Hitler was infuriated by the arrest of Mussolini and briefly considered accusing the Vatican and rounding up suspects in Rome. Goebbels, who was strongly opposed to this, wrote in his diary:

'I did not believe that it would be necessary to break into the Vatican, but on the contrary considered that the effects of such action on world opinion would be ominous…In any case, everyone, including the Führer, agrees that the Vatican should be excepted from all measures to be taken.'[54]

Hochhuth reported on this and other similar details of the German occupation of Rome in the appendix of his play and in these articles to successfully refute his critics.

Conclusions (back to top)

Although some people argued that Hochhuth was too hard on Pius XII, Hochhuth made a successful criticism of the Pope because he demonstrated that the Pope did not remain sincere to the claims of the Church. The message his play intended to get across to the public was made very clear, so clear in fact that The Deputy received all kinds of public attention. According to Hochhuth, "the fact remains: if one takes one's religion seriously, if one measures the sincerity of the church by the claims it makes, the silence of the Pope was a crime."[55] Regardless of what Pius XII did or did not do during the Holocaust, Hochhuth criticized him because he did not act in accordance with Christian mandates, not simply because he did not do enough for the Jews during the Holocaust. In his opinion, "only a consistent or at least a more frequent attempt to throw the moral weight of Roman Catholicism against Hitler and his exterminators would have been an act consonant with Christian moral claims."[56] In this respect, Hochhuth's argument is well-made and well-supported and reflects his optimistic view of mankind. He provides documented evidence in his lengthy appendix and in the letters and interviews cited in this paper to counter his critics.

Most importantly, The Deputy brought the attention of the Catholic Church's neutral stance during the Holocaust to the forefront of public opinion, and it most likely had a great influence on the Church's future statements and relations with regard to the Jews. The play came out at the opportune time when the Church was redefining its relations with other religions in the Second Vatican Council. It seems that Hochhuth possibly felt that by addressing Pius XII's neutrality, he could have some sort of influence over the Council's statements on the Jews. This was reflected in his interview with Marx, as he remarked that people should remain honest to the claims of their religion. It was also the appropriate time to address this subject with the Nazi war criminal trials just ending in West Germany, and civil rights movements occurring world-wide. Twenty years after the Holocaust, people had begun to acknowledge what had happened and how it could have been prevented. People were also acknowledging that to avoid the subject of the Holocaust any longer would be committing a similar crime to that of Pius XII and all the others who remained silent during the Holocaust. With the play receiving as much attention as it did, it would seem inevitable that the Catholic Church would have to make a statement in defense of Pius XII and the Church itself.

The Second Vatican Council, which opened in 1962, did not publish on its relations with any religions until 1965 in the Nostra Aetate, two years after The Deputy had reached the public. It seems that there was possibly a delay in publishing this document, perhaps because antisemitism had not been addressed in earlier drafts of the section on the Jews. Relations with the Jews may not have been as significant for the Council at the outset. This can not be known for a fact because of the inaccessible Vatican archives. However, The Deputy probably had a great influence on getting the Council to realize that it needed to make a statement on its relations with the Jews, primarily because of the public reaction the play received. Faced with this kind of guilty responsibility, the Church was compelled to make a statement on antisemitism to defend itself against Hochhuth's criticism. And although the Nostra Aetate failed to discuss the Holocaust, the apocalyptic event in modern Jewish history, which angered some Jews, its statements on antisemitism and the Jewish roots of Christianity proved to be sufficient.[57] Since the issuing of this document, relations between Jews and Catholics have improved. This also seems to be the general consensus according to an American Jewish committee who wrote in 1986, "there have been more positive encounters since 1965 than in the first 1900 years of the Church."[58]

Whether or not the Catholic Church bore a greater guilt for the Holocaust because it was an organized, supra-national power in a position to do something is up for each individual to decide for him/herself. In considering this, one must also take into account a full assessment of the Allied leaders who, when asked, could have done things to possibly save lives, but instead asserted the higher urgencies of war diplomacy and strategy.[59] The argument here, however, is not who is to blame, but why Pius XII is blamed by Hochhuth. Pius XII did not adhere to what his Church advocated as the "moral" institution on earth. He, instead, stood silent and this was not sufficient for the supposed representative of God among men. Hochhuth's play lends us a new viewpoint of the Church and of Pius XII during the Holocaust, and it had a great impact on the Church's positive future relations with Jews. In this respect, the play had a tremendous impact on society and a great influence on the improved relationship between the Church and the Jews.

Bibliography (back to top)

  • Bentley, Eric, ed. The Storm Over The Deputy. New York: Grove Press Inc., 1964.
  • Bonis, William D. Letter. The Christian Century 1 July 1964: 861-862.
  • Braham, Randolph. The Vatican and the Holocaust: The Catholic Church and the JewsDuring the Nazi Era. Columbia University Press, 2000.
  • Coppa, Frank J., ed. Controversial Concordats: The Vatican's Relations with Napoleon, Mussolini, and Hitler. Washington D.C.: Catholic University of American Press, 1999.
  • Cargas, Harry James. Holocaust Scholars Write to the Vatican. Connecticut: Press, 1998.
  • Hochhuth, Rolf. The Deputy. New York: Grove Press Inc., 1964.
  • "Hope for Vatican II Action on Jews, Religious Freedom." Editorial. The Christian Century 13 May 1964: 628-629.
  • "Jews Denounce Catholic Document." Editorial. The Christian Century 23 September 1964: 11, 65-66.
  • Kertzner, David I. The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Antisemitism. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001.
  • "Letter From Pope Paul VI." The Commonweal 79 (1964): 651-652.
  • Marx, Patricia. "An Interview With Rolf Hochhuth." Partisan Review 31: 363-376.
  • Mason, John Brown. Hitler's First Foes: A Study in Religion and Politics. Bugees Publishing Co., 1936.
  • Oesterreicher, John M. The New Encounter Between Christians and Jews. New York: Philosophical Library, 1986.
  • Phayer, Michael. The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930-1965. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2000.
  • Rittner, Carol, Stephen D. Smith, and Irena Steinfeldt, eds. The Holocaust and the Christian World: Reflections on the Past Challenges for the Future. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2000.
  • Rittner, Carol and John K. Roth, eds. Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy. New York: Praeger, 1991.
  • Stoop, Bert. "Tempest Over Der Stellvertreter." The Christian Century 80 (1964): 980-981.
  • "The 'Deputy' Controversy." Editorial. The Christian Century 22 April 1964: 507-508.
  • Weisbord, Robert G. and Wallace P. Sillanpoa. The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust: An Era of Vatican-Jewish Relations. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1992.

  1. [1] Robert G. Weisbord and Wallace P. Sillanpoa, The Chief Rabbi, the Pope, and the Holocaust: An Era in Vatican-Jewish Relations (New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1992), 11.
  2. [2] Carol Rittner and John K. Roth, "Indifference to the Plight of the Jews During the Holocaust" in The Holocaust and the Christian World: Reflections on the Past Challenges for the Future, ed. Carol Rittner, Stephen D. Smith, and Irena Steinfeldt (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc., 2000), 39. Quoted from the Foreword of Charlotte Klein's book, Anti-Judaism in Christian Theology, pg. xi.
  3. [3] David I. Kertzner, The Popes Against the Jews: The Vatican's Role in the Rise of Modern Antisemitism (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), 9. Information from Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), 11-12 in double-columned chart entitled "Table of Canonical Law and Nazi Anti-Jewish Measures" which shows Nazi anti-Jewish laws on one side and gives the counterpart of each in canon on the other.
  4. [4] John Brown Mason, Hitler's First Foes: A Study in Religion and Politics (Minnesota: Burgees Publishing Company, 1936), 1 and 93. Information from Article 24 of the Nazi program and a letter from Vicar General in Diocesan Chancery Office in Mainz to Erich Berger of the National Socialist German Worker's Party, Department of Public Relations, dated September 30, 1930.
  5. [5] Michael Phayer, "The Response of the German Catholic Church to National Socialism" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 59.
  6. [6] Franklin H. Littell, "The German Churches in the Third Reich" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 44-45.
  7. [7] Randolph Braham, The Vatican and the Holocaust: The Catholic Church and the Jews During the Nazi Era (Columbia University Press, 2000), 31.
  8. [8] Michael R. Markus, "Understanding the Vatican During the Nazi Period" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 128.
  9. [9] Jonathan Gorsky, "Pius XII and the Holocaust" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 135.
  10. [10] Braham, 25-27.
  11. [11] Markus, 127.
  12. [12] Kertzner, 281-282.
  13. [13] Chronology in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 27.
  14. [14] Chronology in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 28.
  15. [15] Kertzner, 20.
  16. [16] Peggy Obrecht, "After the Shoah: Christian Statements of Contrition" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 174.
  17. [17] Phayer, 61. From a letter issued during the council's deliberations in 1964.
  18. [18] Braham, 13.
  19. [19] Excerpt from the Declaration on The Relationships of the [Roman Catholic] Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), October 28, 1965 in "Post-Holocaust Statements From the Churches" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 246-247. Printed with permission from Catholic Jewish Relations: Documents from the Holy See (London: Catholic Truth Society, 1999), 18-21.
  20. [20] "Post-Holocaust Statements From the Churches" in The Holocaust and the Christian World, 246-247.
  21. [21] "Hope for Vatican II Action on Jews, Religious Freedom," The Christian Century 81 (1964): 628-629.
  22. [22] "Hope for Vatican II Action on Jews, Religious Freedom" in The Christian Century 81: 628-629
  23. [23] Judy Stone, "Interview with Rolf Hochhuth" in The Storm Over The Deputy, ed. Eric Bentley (New York: Grove Press Inc., 1964), 43. Stone is the editor of the daily drama, music, and art section of the San Francisco Chronicle and her interview is reprinted from Ramparts, Spring 1964.
  24. [24] Bert Stoop, "Tempest over Der Stellvertreter," The Christian Century 80 (1963): 980-981.
  25. [25] Stone, 45.
  26. [26] Stone, 43.
  27. [27] Stone, 49.
  28. [28] Stoop, 980-981.
  29. [29] Stone, 50.
  30. [30] Stoop, 980-981.
  31. [31] "Echoes of The Deputy" in The Storm Over the Deputy, 36. From an editorial which appeared in the New York Post on March 4, 1964.
  32. [32] "Silence" in The Storm Over the Deputy, 35. From an editorial which appeared in the New York Times on February 28, 1964.
  33. [33] "Silence" in The Storm Over the Deputy, 36.
  34. [34] William D. Bonis, "The Deputy Speaks to Us," The Christian Century 81 (1964): 861-862. From a series of letters written in response to the April 22, 1964 editorial entitled "The 'Deputy' Controversy" in The Christian Century 81: 507-508.
  35. [35] Bonis, 861-862.
  36. [36] "Character Assassination" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 41. From an editorial which appeared in America (The National Catholic Weekly Review) on March 7, 1964.
  37. [37] Braham, 28.
  38. [38] Oesterreicher, 113.
  39. [39] Oesterreicher, 114.
  40. [40] Stoop, 980-981.
  41. [41] Stone, 51.
  42. [42] "Letter from Pope Paul VI" in The Commonweal 79: 651-652. The Tablet, an English Catholic weekly, received this letter on June 21, 1963, the date of Cardinal Montini's election to the papacy. It was printed in the July 6, 1963 issue of the Tablet.
  43. [43] "Letter from Pope Paul VI," The Commonweal 79 (1964): 651-652.
  44. [44] Albrecht von Kessel, "The Pope and the Jews" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 75. Originally published in Die Welt in Hamburg on April 6, 1963, pg. 71. This article first appeared in the United States in the June, 1963 issue of Atlas, the Magazine of the World Press, trans. Mary Bancroft.
  45. [45] Albrecht von Kessel, "The Pope and the Jews" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 75.
  46. [46] Stone, 49-50.
  47. [47] Patricia Marx, "An Interview with Rolf Hochhuth," Partisan Review 31 (Summer, 1964): 364. This interview was recorded during his visit to the United States in February, 1964 and was broadcast over WNYC.
  48. [48] Marx, 364
  49. [49] "The 'Deputy' Controversy," The Christian Century 81 (1964): 507-508.
  50. [50] Marx, 367, 374.
  51. [51] Rolf Hochhuth, "Reply to Cardinal Montini" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 70. Originally published in Der Streit um Hochhuth's 'Stellvertreter', trans. William Duell, Jr. (Basel: Basilus Presse 1963).
  52. [52] Rolf Hochhuth, "The Playwright Answers" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 77. Originally published in Die Welt in Hamburg on April 6, 1963. This article first appeared in the United States in the June, 1963 issue of Atlas, the Magazine of the World Press, trans Herman I. Weiller.
  53. [53] Rolf Hochhuth, "The Playwright Answers" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 78.
  54. [54] Rolf Hochhuth, "The Playwright Answers" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 78. Quoted from Goebbels' diary.
  55. [55] Rolf Hochhuth, "The Playwright Answers" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 79-80.
  56. [56] "The 'Deputy' Controversy" in The Christian Century 81: 507-508.
  57. [57] Weisbord, 191.
  58. [58] Weisbord, 190. From A. James Rudin, "Catholics and Jews Together," in Hadassah Magazine (August/September 1986): 13.
  59. [59] "Echoes of The Deputy" in The Storm Over The Deputy, 37.

Links (back to top)

  • Patrick J. Gallo (ed.), Pius XII, the Holocaust and the Revisionists: Essays (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2006), 218 pp, US$39.95 (pbk)
    • reviewed by Gerhard Weinberg: in: Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 9, Issue 2 June 2007, pages 311 - 346: "This collection of 13 articles and an epilogue, with five of the pieces and the introduction written by the editor, is designed to counter criticism of Pope Pius XII, primarily with regard to his attitude and policy in the face of the systematic killing of Jews that has come to be called the Holocaust. A number of the chapters have been published previously, and are here collected for their common theme. This is essentially a series of reviews of books about Pius XII and the Catholic Church that the authors consider inaccurate and misleading. One by one and collectively, the works of such authors as Peter Godman, Daniel Goldhagen, Robert Katz, David Kertzer, Michael Phayer, Gary Wills, and Susan Zuccotti are taken apart and criticized for their alleged biases, inaccuracies, fabrications, and other serious errors. The authors of the chapters are agreed that what they consider a revisionist view of Pius XII is grossly unfair and in need of correction. ..." (link for subscribers)

paper written by Melissa Kravetz, March 20, 2002, prepared for web by H. Marcuse, 3/18/06, updated 6/20/07, 7/11/12
back to top, to 133p paper index page, to 133p course homepage, Student Research Papers page