“Hitler’s Pope”: Pius XII did too little to save the Jews from the Holocaust

Wednesday November 14 | Video now online

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History Debate Series

Part of the Intelligence Squared History Debate series

Pope Pius XII (1939-58) has been described as “the most dangerous cleric in modern history”.  He was silent – his critics argue – and did nothing during the Holocaust to help the Jews. Others disagree, claiming  that he helped save a larger percentage of Jews in Rome than were rescued in any other city under German occupation, and that altogether he prevented thousands of Jewish deaths throughout Italy and across Europe. Was Pius part of a broad Roman Catholic anti-Semitic tradition, subordinating compassion for the Jews to his goal of increasing the power of the papacy? Or a good man doing his best in difficult circumstances?

Both sides are passionate about their positions on this controversial historical figure, but who is right?

Speakers for the motion

John Julius NorwichJohn Julius Norwich

Historian and author of The Popes: A History


Geoffrey RobertsonGeoffrey Robertson QC

Leading human rights lawyer and author of The Case of the Pope: Vatican Accountability for Human Rights Abuse


Speakers against the motion

William DoinoWilliam Doino

Author who writes about religion, history and politics. He contributed an extensive bibliography of works on Pius XII to The Pius War: Responses to the Critics of Pius XII

Ronald RychlakRonald Rychlak

Professor of Law at the University of Mississippi and author of Hitler, the War, and the Pope which deals with the accusations against Pius XII



Tony Curzon PriceTony Curzon Price

Associate editor at OpenDemocracy and online editor at Intelligence Squared



All speakers are subject to change.