Secret History of Vatican & HitlerJugend Pope. Pope Benedict XVI, born Josef Alois Ratzinger, is the 265th Pope. In 1941, he was enrolled in the Hitler Youth. In 1943 he was drafted into the German anti-aircraft corps. He then trained some time in the German infantry.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: World War II and Religion, Occult.
Vatican to open archives of WWII pope Pius XII in 2020
Pope Francis said that the Vatican is to open the secret archives of Pius XII in March next year. They could shed light on the pope`s actions during World War II.
Historian claims Pius XII was the centre of elaborate plot to have the FÃ¼hrer killed
The Pope during the Second World War who has been frequently derided for tacitly supporting Hitler was actually the lynchpin of a scheme to have him assassinated, it has been claimed. Pope Pius XII, sometimes derided as `Hitler`s Pope` because of his reluctance to condemn Nazi war crimes, was allegedly trying to stir up German agitators and convince them to strike down the Führer from within, according to a new book. Historian Mark Riebling claims that Pius`s apparent silence on Hitler`s atrocities against Jews, minorities and even members of his own church was in fact cover while he tried to help members of the German resistance.
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The Vatican Bank and Nazi Gold: A Scandal Unsolved
In 2013, Pope Francis publicly stated he`d get to the bottom of several scandals plaguing the Catholic Church. Despite the pontiff`s investigation, one scandal remains shrouded in mystery: that of the Vatican Bank and Nazi gold. You see, some bits of evidence suggest the Vatican collaborated with Nazi party members responsible for plundering Jewish citizens` gold during World War II. But other evidence casts doubt on the extent of the Catholic Church`s direct participation in Nazi activities.
How the fascist-supporting Vatican built a secret property empire using Mussolini`s millions
Few passing London tourists would ever guess that the premises of Bulgari, the upmarket jewellers in New Bond Street, had anything to do with the pope. Nor indeed the nearby headquarters of the wealthy investment bank Altium Capital. But these office blocks in one of London`s most expensive districts are part of a secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican. Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church`s portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.
A postwar letter by Jews praises Hitler`s Pope for preventing their deportations to death camps
Pius XII, a WW2-era Pope accused by historians of failing to speak up against the Holocaust, was praised by Jewish prisoners for preventing their deportation to death camps, documents released from the Vatican Secret Archives have revealed. "While in nearly all the countries of Europe we were persecuted... Your Holiness not only sent notable and generous gifts to our camp through the apostolic nuncio... but also showed your fatherly interest in our physical and spiritual well-being... When in 1942 we were under the threat of deportation to Poland, Your Holiness extended your fatherly hand to protect us and prevented the deportation of the Jews imprisoned in Italy, thereby saving us from almost certain death."
Documents from the Vatican Secret Archives reveal Pius XI wept when he learned of Stalin`s starvation of Ukraine
Father Athanasius McVay and Lubomyr Luciuk, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada, have coauthored The Holy See and the Holodomor: Documents from the Vatican Secret Archives on the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Soviet Ukraine. "The Pope learned about the Holodomor from the French Jesuit Bishop Michel d`Herbigny, who attempted to move mountains in order to convince Pius XI to launch an aid-mission to the Soviet Union. The emotional Pius XI wept when he received one report, and he insisted that something must be done. Unfortunately all concurred that no aid would ever reach the people because Soviet authorities were denying the existence of a famine that Stalin had orchestrated. In the end, the Pope was only able to authorize a gift of 10,000 Italian lire," says Father McVay.
Pope, who served in Hitler Youth, praises Croatian pro-Nazi cardinal
Alojzije Stepinac, a WW2 Croatian Catholic archbishop and cardinal who was found guilty for collaboration with the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime, was praised by Pope Benedict XVI during his official visit to Croatia. The Ustasha regime of the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia (NDH) ran death camps like Jasenovac and Nova Gradika, where mass Serbs, Jews and Roma were mass murdered.
Hitler, the War, and the Pope by Ronald J. Rychlak (book review)
65 years after the end of World War II, historians are still struggling to understand the manner and cope in which Pope Pius XII was involved. "Hitler, the War, and the Pope" reveals the intimate and complex diplomatic mission Pope Pius XII directed. Rychlak makes clear the true level of the Catholic Church`s secret activities in saving the lives of persecuted Jews. The book takes place and recounts the multiple interventions the then Cardinal Pacelli (Pius XII) made on behalf of the Church during the rise of National Socialism in Germany in the late 1920`s until the start of war in 1939.
Pope and Devil: The Vatican`s Archives and the Third Reich by Hubert Wolf (WWII book review)
The Vatican Archives covering the war years of the papacy of Pius XII remain closed. In 2003, in response to pressure for access to the Holocaust era files, the Holy See began to open up the records about the reign of Pius XI, who was pope from 1922-1939. One of the first scholars to access the archives was Hubert Wolf. His book, "Pope and Devil," explains the reasons for the Vatican`s refusal to oppose the Third Reich in the years leading up to the war. The anti-communist stand of the Nazis made them good allies for the Vatican, since the Vatican considered communism as its greatest threat.
Pius XI: The other Pope who lived during the times of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany
While the Vatican continues to push the process that would designate Pope Pius XII a saint, the other Pope who lived during the Third Reich, Pius XI, is rarely mentioned. Yet it is this Pope that came closest to changing the course of WWII. Achille Ratti took the name Pius XI in 1922, when he was elected Pope, but his misfortune was to rule during the "age of the dictators." In 1929 he signed a Concordat with fascist Italy which protected the Vatican, but decreased his ability to oppose Benito Mussolini`s aggression. In 1933 he signed a Concordat with Hitler to save Catholic church in Nazi Germany.
German historian researching in the Vatican archives: "Hitler`s Pope" saved thousands of Jews
Pope Pius XII, the controversial WW2 pontiff, may have saved thousands of Jews by securing visas so they could escape Nazi Germany. Pope Pius, called "Hitler`s Pope" because of his silence during the Holocaust, may have set up the exodus of 200,000 Jews from the Third Reich 3 weeks after Kristallnacht. The claim was made by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian researching the Vatican archives. Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli wrote to Catholic archbishops around the globe recommending them to apply for visas for "non-Aryan Catholics" and Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted to leave Nazi Germany.
"Spare Rome" pleaded Pope in secret wartime letter to U.S. President Roosevelt
A letter from wartime Pope Pius XII to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt asking him to spare Italy and Rome from Allied bombing has surfaced from a secret archive. The letter has been kept hidden away in the headquarters of the Knights of Columbus, a 128 year old American Catholic organisation. Pope Pius wrote the letter in English at the end of August 1943 as the Allies advanced towards Rome which had experienced several bombing raids. Marked personal and addressed to "His Excellency Franklin Delano Roosevelt" it is a remarkable piece of history which has remained unseen for decades.
Catholic Church supported genocidal regime of Nazi satellite Croatia
The controversy about Pope Pius XII concerns whether he spoke out enough against the slaughter of Jews. But that question is a red herring: The real question is: Did the Vatican support the new world order that the Third Reich sought after. The answer can be found in the Balkans, where the Catholic Church - looking to stop the church-destroying communism - supported a Croatian fascist movement called Ustasha. The archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac, blessed the mass-murdering Ustasha regime, calling them "God`s hand at work" - while the Catholic press issued approving articles about the regime.
The pope and the Nazis - Balanced view on the controversy
In 1933, Pope Pius XI negotiated the Reichskonkordat, the first treaty recognizing Hitler`s regime (it guaranteed the rights of the German Catholic Church were guaranteed: in return the church "honoured" the Nazis` civil authority). Hitler boasted that Pius` agreement, which gave his government legitimacy, was "especially significant in the urgent struggle against international Jewry." Pius didn`t hate Jews, but his opposition to "Final Solution" wasn`t firm - he feared the Nazis` wrath, and the destruction of the Vatican. When the Nazis arrived in the 1920s, Pius saw them as a bulwark against Bolshevism.
Nazis planned to infiltrate Vatican with spies dressed as monks
A Nazi sympathiser in Rome thought up the idea and it was quickly seized upon by officials in Berlin who saw it as an opportunity to track Allied activity in the city. Operation "Georgian Convent" included buying a building in Rome by Michael Kedia, a Russian anti-communist Nazi sympathiser from Georgia. The idea gathered pace in the Autumn of 1943 as the Allied troops advanced up through Italy. "The plan (involved the)...set up a Georgian cloister in Rome under Vatican protection and among the monks introduce agents who were to keep contact with German intelligence."
Vatican planning to place online some 5000 files from it`s 1939-1945 secret archives
The Holy See is planning to publish online several Second World War related documents from the Vatican Secret Archives. The initiative is partly in response to a petition from Pave the Way Foundation, a non-sectarian organization dedicated to bridging gaps between religions. The foundation proposed making digital files of, and later publicizing, some 5125 descriptions and documents from the secret section of the Vatican archives, from the period of March 1939 to May 1945.
Pope Pius XII after Rome was liberated: I won`t explicitly criticise the Nazis
In 1944 UK pleaded the Pope to speak out against the Holocaust but Pius XII was more worried about Communism, reveal documents in the National Archives at Kew, lending weight to claims that Pius failed to stand up to the Third Reich. The secret correspondence covers a meeting in Nov 1944 between Pius and the British ambassador to the Holy See, Sir D`Arcy Osborne, who told the Pope that the British government wanted him to issue a public appeal on behalf of the Hungarian Jews. But Pius said that he was under pressure to condemn crimes by the Red Army against Catholic civilians.
US Court: Holocaust survivors cannot sue Vatican Bank for storing millions of Nazi blood money
An American appeals court dismissed a case by Holocaust survivors who alleged the Vatican bank accepted millions of dollars of their valuables looted by Nazi sympathizers. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco maintained a lower court ruling that said the Vatican bank was immune from such a case under the 1976 Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which protects foreign countries from being sued in US courts. Holocaust survivors had filed suit against the Vatican bank, saying it stored and laundered the looted assets of thousands of Jews, Serbs and Gypsies who were killed by the Nazi-backed Ustasha regime that controlled Croatia.
How Catholic priests helped Nazi war criminals to escape Europe after the end of World War II (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Catholic priests turned more than a blind eye to the pasts of the Nazis they helped, and without the assistance of such priests, the Nazis could never have escaped Europe in such vast numbers - or with such a style: carried around in cars with Vatican diplomatic plates. The two most important priests in the system that enabled the Nazis to escape through Austria and Italy were the Croatian Mgr Krunoslav Draganovic and the Austrian Bishop Alois Hudal. When Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka (who oversaw the murder of 780,000 Jews) arrived in Rome in 1948, his first call was Hudal, who arranged Stangl a safe passage to Syria.
More proof of Adolf Hitler`s plan to kill Pius XII, claims newspaper Avvenire
It has long been speculated that Adolf Hitler ordered the SS commander in Italy, General Karl Wolf, to seize the Vatican and kidnap or kill Pope Pius XII and the King of Italy. Dan Kurzman wrote about it in "A Special Mission: Hitler`s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius the XII," which is based on interviews with Wolf - but this could never be verified. Now new evidence, citing Niki Freytag Loringhoven (son of Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven), points to the role of the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) in the plot. But Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the German counterintelligence service Abwehr, warned his Italian counterpart General Cesare Amè.
Pope: I was in the Hitler Youth movement - Vatican: Pope was never in Hitler Youth
The WW2 past of Pope Benedict XVI threatened to overshadow his peace mission to the Holy Land as the Vatican issued a denial that the Pope had served in the Hitler Youth. "The Pope has said he never, never was a member of the Hitler Youth, which was a movement of fanatical volunteers," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi stated. In the 1996 Joseph Ratzinger - the current Pope - said in a series of interviews: "When the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young but later, as a seminarian, I was registered in the Hitler Youth."
Pope cancels excommunication of Bishop who says that the Holocaust never happened
Pope Benedict XVI has reinstated 4 bishops from a breakaway wing of the Roman Catholic Church, a decision that will stir controversy. But announcement that the Vatican will undo the 20-year schism between the Vatican and the Lefebvrian movement is all the more sensitive because it comes just days after the broadcast of an interview in which Bishop Richard Williamson says that the Nazi Holocaust never happened. "I believe there were no gas chambers," he said, declaring that the historical evidence was "hugely against" the accepted belief that close to 6 million Jews were killed as part of Adolf Hitler`s Final Solution.
What is the real record of Pope Pius XII [Long article]
Eugenio Pacelli, who became Pope Pius XII in 1939, has been the subject of public criticism. His "silence" in the face of the Nazi atrocities, has led some of his critics to say he is a Nazi sympathizer. In 1999 journalist John Cornwell created a sensation with the publication of his attack on Pius XII, depicting Eugenio Pacelli as "Hitler`s Pope." But what are the facts: Sure, Heinrich Himmler and other top Nazis were baptized Catholics who were never excommunicated, but Pacelli was not "silent." For example the London Times of October 1, 1942, praises him for his condemnation of Nazism and his public support for the Jewish victims of Nazi terror.
Vatican Unveils Nazi-era Exhibition in Defense of Pope Pius XII
Radio transcripts in which the Nazi-era Pope Pius XII supposedly denounced totalitarian rule have gone on show in an exhibition. Some historians and groups have said that Pius XII failed to speak out against the Nazi atrocities. But the exhibition paints Pius in a different light. "The purpose is to allow the general public to get to know the full life of Pope Eugenio Pacelli," explained Walter Brandmueller. In one letter the future pope recalls the 1919 occupation by communist revolutionaries of the Nuncio offices in Munich, when Pius was threatened with a pistol pointed to his head.
Secret Vatican Nazi records will not be opened for 6 years
The Vatican revealed it would be "at least 6-7 years" before papers in the secret archives relating to Pope Pius XII, Nazism and World War II could be opened. Several historians have called for archives relating to Pius XII`s wartime record to be opened "with deliberate speed" since "more extensive study is required". Father Federico Lombardi said the request was "understandable and justifiable", but it was "unrealistic" to think that the archives could be opened soon. He said that the archive consisted of "about 16 million papers". The Vatican was working on the archives for 1939-1945, but "specialised staff is limited."
Nazi-era pope still stirs controversy
Pope Benedict XVI was set to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of pope Pius XII as the Vatican promised that history would clear the Nazi-era pontiff. The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano vowed to combat a "black legend" painting Pius XII as indifferent to the Holocaust or even "pro-Nazi". The mass will come only 3 days after Shear-Yushuv Cohen, the Grand Rabbi of Haifa, spoke out against such an honour for the late pope: "[Pius XII] should not be seen as a model... because he did not raise his voice against the Holocaust." The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, among others, accuse Pius of having remained silent during the Holocaust.
Pius XII: The Hound of Hitler by Gerard Noel
Few popes have so polarised opinion as Pius XII, leader of the Catholic Church during World War II. His silence in the face of the Holocaust, has seen him doomed as an anti-Semite, a Fascist sympathiser, Hitler`s Pope and a moral coward. The Church`s response has been extreme: It`s planning to canonise him. One of the biggest obstructions to reaching balanced view has been the Vatican`s refusal to open its archives - with the poor excuse that they haven`t been catalogued. In "The Hound of Hitler" Gerard Noel creates a psychological portrait of a flawed individual (hypochondriac, depressive), quite unsuited to difficult war-era.
Pope Pius XII who was silent on Holocaust on road to sainthood
The Vatican set up initiatives (like the Pius XII conference) to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius XII, seen as part of a drive to counter a image of the wartime Pope as a leader who "remained silent" during the Holocaust. Monsignor Salvatore Fisichella said the aim was to "clarify the complexity" of his career, and Monsignor Walter Brandmuller told Pius XII`s career was "too often seen in terms of politics rather than his Petrine ministry". Book "Pius XII: The Hound of Hitler" by Gerard Noel revealed that Pius XII performed exorcisms on Adolf Hitler, thinking the Nazi dictator to be possessed by the Devil.
Vatican tried to enlist Jews as guards to save them - Confusing claims
The Vatican tried to enroll Roman Jewish men in its security forces (the Palatine Guard) in 1943 in order to save them from the Nazis, the Vatican`s Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said. Holding up still classified Vatican documents he gave no further details, but that same month Nazi forces rounded up Jews from the Rome neighbourhood known as The Ghetto - and more than 1,000 were sent to their deaths. "If the Vatican has documents, let`s see them. These are such serious topics that more precise language should be used. Vague language does not help anyone," said historian Marcello Pezzetti.
Book: Hitler plot to kidnap pope, foiled by SS general Karl Wolff
SS general Karl Wolff foiled a World War II plot to kidnap Pope Pius XII and to put the Vatican and its treasures under Nazi control. "A Special Mission - Hitler`s Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII" by Dan Kurzman, refutes arguments that Pope Pius XII was sympathetic toward Hitler. "They were bitter, bitter enemies. They despised each other." Book details the actions of SS Gen. Karl Wolff, chief of staff to Heinrich Himmler, in the months after the overthrow of dictator Benito Mussolini. General earned the "full confidence" of Hitler, who ordered him in Sept 1943 to kidnap Pope, and of the pontiff, whom Wolff warned about the plot.
Pius XII: The Tainted Saint - Vatican Bank handled looted funds (Article no longer available from the original source)
While the debate about proposed sainthood for Pius XII rages, a lawsuit pending since 1999 against the Vatican Bank may prove the case for or against Pius. The lawsuit, Alperin v. Vatican Bank, filed in San Francisco and backed by a coalition of Serbian, Jewish, Roma and Ukrainian individuals and organizations seeks compensation for Axis plunder from Yugoslavia laundered through the Vatican Bank in 1946, well after the atrocities of World War II were revealed in full. In addition to the money and gold, the Vatican also sheltered the top Ustasha leadership including wanted war criminals.
Vatican to boycott Holocaust memorial over role of Pope Pius XII?
The Vatican ambassador to Israel threatened to boycott a Holocaust memorial ceremony over a museum`s portrayal of Pope Pius XII`s conduct during the Nazis` killing in World War II. Archbishop Antonio Franco said he had written to the Yad Vashem Museum asking for the revision of a caption suggesting the wartime Pope had been apathetic to the Jews` plight. The caption says Pope Pius XII "abstained from signing the Allied declaration condemning the extermination of the Jews" and "maintained his neutral position throughout the war". Defenders have said he did everything possible, while critics have portrayed him as an anti-Semite and Germanophile.
Nazi Pope considered an enemy by Third Reich
Pius XII, "Hitler`s Pope", was considered an enemy by the Third Reich. Several documents unearthed at a depot used by the Stasi show that Nazi spies within the Vatican were concerned at his efforts to help displaced. During the war, the British Foreign Office described Pius XII as the "greatest moral coward of our age". In 1999, John Cornwell`s Hitler`s Pope suggested that Pius XII was sympathetic to the Nazis. A historical commission, set up by the Vatican, said it was clear that Pius knew of persecution. However, the commission was forced to disband before it finished its work, and one member said it had run up "against a brick wall" from the Holy See.
Telegram`s date contradicts the Vatican`s official version
The man who later became Pope John XXIII tried in vain to challenge the Vatican`s indifference to the Nazi Holocaust, a study has found. Papers and diaries show Giuseppe Roncalli posted an urgent telegram in 1944 to Pope Pius XII on the atrocities. The telegram`s date contradicts the Vatican`s official version of when it received a report. The exchange of letters between Barlas and Roncalli was uncovered in a private collection. The letters show that Roncalli was frustrated by the Vatican`s silence in the face of what was emerging in Nazi Germany.
Historians say archives back criticism of Pius XII
Historians studying Vatican archives say the material strengthens views that the wartime pontiff, Pius XII, was a sometimes indecisive diplomat. The Vatican`s top man in the run-up to the war was Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli - the future Pius XII. He was indecisive diplomat who worried about taking strong public stands. Notes from meetings that he has show Pacelli`s dismay over Chicago Cardinal George Mundelein`s statement deriding Adolf Hitler as being an inept "paperhanger." Germany`s Nazi regime protested about the remark. Pius XII was bent on fruitless diplomacy while reports of atrocities poured in.
Study confirms Ratzinger forced to enrol in Hitler Youth (Article no longer available from the original source)
Benedict XVI described how he was unwillingly enrolled in the Hitler Youth and then conscripted into the forces of Nazi Germany. The fact that his early life was spent in a dictatorship has brought repeated questions about whether it influenced him. In 1943, when Joseph Ratzinger was 16, the authorities forced his class to move to a barracks, wear uniform and operate an anti-aircraft defence battery. The memoirs say his unit dug tank traps in eastern Austria. In December 1944, he was called up to join a home guard for a last-ditch defence, but it never fought. Research has confirmed his account of how boys were automatically put in the HitlerJugend.
Hitler and Stalin were possessed by the Devil - Vatican exorcist
Adolf Hitler and Russian leader Stalin were possessed by the Devil, according to the Vatican`s chief exorcist. "I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed. All you have to do is think about what Hitler - and Stalin did. Almost certainly they were possessed by the Devil. "You can tell by their behaviour and their actions, from the horrors they committed and the atrocities that were committed on their orders. That`s why we need to defend society from demons." According to secret Vatican documents wartime pontiff Pope Pius XII attempted a "long distance" exorcism of Adolf Hitler which failed to have any effect.
Vatican to open Nazi Germany tied archives from 1922 to 1939 (Article no longer available from the original source)
Pope has decided to open all Vatican archives from 1922 to 1939, giving new insight into what they knew and did as Europe saw the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Spanish Civil War. Decision means opening central files, known as the Secret Archives, and files of its Secretariat of State for the pontificate of Pope Pius XI on September 18. Historians have long pressed the Vatican to open its wartime archives to answer questions about what it knew about the Nazi actions.
Pope became priest because of Nazis
Pope Benedict XVI said he became convinced he should become a priest to help face what he called the "anti-human culture" of the Nazis in his native Germany. Benedict was enrolled in the Hitler Youth as a teen and later deserted from the German army near the end of World War II.
Hitler wanted a bit of the Vatican in Berlin - Documents from a secret room
Adolf Hitler intended to recreate the Vatican`s St Peter`s Square in Berlin to honour his ally Benito Mussolini, newly discovered documents reveal. Albert Speer, the Nazi leader`s chief architect, was commissioned to draw up the plans, which have been discovered by historians examining his papers. They had been stored in a secret room inside Moscow`s Museum of Architecture after being taken to Russia at the end of WWII. There were over 200 boxes of files belonging to Speer, whose grand designs for the rebuilding of Nazi Berlin were already well known. But the plans for a new, Germanic version of St Peter`s Square have stunned historians.
Lawsuit: The Vatican Bank profited from looting, funded Nazi escape to South America
The US Supreme Court allowed Holocaust survivors to proceed with a lawsuit claiming that the Vatican Bank and a Franciscan religious order profited from property stolen by Croatia`s pro-Nazi WWII government. The suit claimed the Order of Friars Minor conspired with the Vatican Bank to facilitate the transfer of gold and other looted valuable assets - property stolen from victims of Croatia`s brutal Ustasha regime from 1941 to 1945. The lawsuit claimed that the stolen property was used after the war to help Nazi war criminals escape from Europe to South America.
Rabbi Says Pius XII Deserves "Righteous" Title
A U.S. rabbi David Dalin says that the title "Righteous among the Nations" should be conferred on Pope Pius XII for his efforts to defend the Jews during WWII. Rabbi, a professor of history and political science, makes his case in his book "The Myth of Hitler`s Pope". It recounts many incidents which show how Pius XII saved Jews from Nazi persecution.
From HitlerJugend to the Vatican
The first German pope for nearly 1,000 years comes from Bavaria. His father was a police officer whose career suffered because he refused to become a Nazi. The young Ratzinger served briefly and unenthusiastically with the Hitler Youth and later with a German army anti-aircraft unit guarding the BMW factory in Munich. Ratzinger has defended himself from criticism of his war record by claiming - not strictly truthfully - that he could not have avoided military service in the circumstances. Others did and maybe he could have used his training in a seminary to dodge the call-up. In April 1945 he deserted, briefly becoming a prisoner of war.
Conference On Nazi Gold Slams Vatican
A multi-nation conference tracing looted Nazi gold issued a report that included a criticism of the Vatican for not opening its World War Two-era archives for investigation. The World Jewish Congress had accused the Vatican of receiving gold taken from Gypsy concentration camp victims. The Vatican denied the allegations and said the archives contain private, spiritual matters that must be kept sacrosanct.