Picture of Pope Pius XII at Yad Vashem
Picture of Pope Pius XII at Yad VashemReuters

The Vatican has published the remaining 170 volumes of requests by European Jews to Pope Pius XII for help during the Holocaust.

The Vatican Secretariat of State released the series, a “virtual reproduction” of the preserves documents as part of the archival release of Jewish material from the Historical Archive of the Secretariat of State-Section for Relations with States and International Organizations (ASRS), Vatican News reported.

In the 170 volumes are requests by Jews from all over Europe for help from Pius, who served as pope during the darkest days of the Holocaust, as they faced persecution by Nazi Germany and other fascist regimes in Europe.

About 70 percent of the documents were released online in June 2022 by Pope Francis, two years after making their physical copies available to historians. Now, the entire record is available to the public.

The correspondence contains 2,700 files specifically recounting Jewish groups and families requesting assistance from the Vatican in avoiding deportation or trying to free relatives from concentration camps, both in the run-up to and during the Holocaust. Pius XII, who served as pope during the most pivotal years of the war, is often charged by historians with ignoring Jewish pleas for help and cozying up to Hitler and Mussolini in order to preserve the influence of the Church.

The Vatican itself has long insisted that Pius XII should be celebrated for secretly advocating for Jews via diplomatic means, but that narrative is changing as more information about his papacy has been revealed to the public, including evidence Pius largely ignored pleas from Jews (while keeping a secret back channel to Hitler). The Church opened its secret files on Pius’s archives to historians in 2020, but by publishing its Jewish-related files online, it opens them up to easier access and greater scrutiny by the public.

The new material includes an appendix of names of the Jews asking for help that were found in over 2,500 files included in the volumes.

The complete digital reproduction of the documents has now been finished and will be released online so that the entire archive is accessible to researchers.