Children of the Holocaust
Children of the HolocaustIsrael News Photo

The Yad L’Achim organization calls on Pope Benedict XVI, as he prepares to visit the Holy Land, to act to reveal the “hidden Jewish children” of the Holocaust.

It is estimated that thousands of Jewish children were left with Christian monasteries or families by their Jewish parents during the Holocaust, in the hope that they would thus survive the war. However, many of these children were never claimed, returned or told of their Jewish background.

A letter from Pope Pius XII to his representative in Paris on November 20, 1946 shows that he ordered Jewish babies baptized during the Holocaust not to be returned to their parents. The recipient of the letter, Angelo Roncalli, who was later to become Pope John XXIII, often disobeyed these instructions. 

Yad L’Achim has been active for decades in fighting against the decimation of the Jewish Nation, whether it comes in the form of missionaries, Arab men who marry and oppress Jewish women, or the issue of the missing Holocaust orphans.

Asking the Pope to Give an Order

The organization has now asked the Pope to declare that all those who follow him must reveal the truth to their Holocaust orphan children. “The continued silence on this sensitive topic will eternalize the Jewish nation’s suffering, and the triumph of the Nazi objective,” its letter to the pontiff states.

“As you prepare for your historic visit to the Land of Israel,” the letter reads, “we turn to you from the depths of our hearts and souls, in light of the story that shocks every Jewish heart regarding the Holocaust orphans left by their holy parents with Christian families with the express purpose of returning them to their Jewish families. However, to our great sorrow, anguish, and disappointment, the adoptive families refuse to tell the children of the holy martyrs their background, and thus prevent them from returning to the Jewish People.”           

A gesture by the Pope in this direction would be of inestimable value, says Yad L’Achim director Rabbi Shalom Dov Lifshitz: “Even today, not returning the children means a continuation of the Holocaust. This is a golden opportunity for the Pope, as he visits the Holy Land, to end the ugly state of affairs between us, via this gesture of utmost meaning to the entire Jewish People.”

Previous Popes

Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau has said that the Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII refused several requests by Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog to meet with him before and during the war to discuss how the Church could either help save Jewish lives or locate Jewish orphans cared for by Catholic families.

On the other hand, Rabbi Lau said that the previous pontiff, Pope John Paul II, told him in 1993 that he had refused to baptize a Jewish child whose parents had died, "because the parents had specifically requested that the child be brought up as a Jew." 

However, the same John Paul II did not respond to a request by Ukraine's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Dov Bleich to open church archives and reveal the names of Jewish children who were raised as Catholics during World War II. 

Response From the Queen

Yad L’Achim has been working for some years throughout Europe to locate the children. Most of its work is being done in Holland, but much is also being done in other countries. The organization reports that it received positive responses from the Queen of Holland and the Presidents of France and Belgium to their requests to use their influence to have the churches reveal the names of the hidden children.