JEWISH HISTORIAN DEFENDS CHRISTIANS IN HOLOCAUST
May 23, 2000

WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - A Jewish historian of the
Holocaust said this week he was uneasy with the call for
Christian apologies for not doing enough to stop the
genocide.

Sir Martin Gilbert, who lives in London, was interviewed by
United Press International while on a tour promoting his
book, "Never Again: A History of the Holocaust." Gilbert
told UPI: "It's somehow a mistake to associate a long
Christian tradition to convert Jews and other persecutions
with what we call the Holocaust, which was conceived and
carried out by people who certainly were not Christians and
were hostile to every Christian value and were abhorrent to
churches and to many devout Christians."

He noted that Christians were among the first victims of
Nazis. "One of the things I try to bring out in the book is
that the Christian churches took a very powerful stand --
other than the German church, which was under Nazi control.
Even the dependent German churches that struggled to
maintain their independence and were actually destroyed
took a very strong stand," he said. "At every stage of the
Holocaust, the Church had no hesitation. In every
(occupied) country you have extremists (who collaborated).
In the main, these extremists had already been denounced by
the mainstream politics of the country and by the churches."

Gilbert noted that it was individual Christian leaders in
each country who exercised or failed to exercise their
moral leadership, and in the main most did so. Gilbert said
all the major bishops of France protested the deportations,
and he spoke of the sheltering of Jews even in
traditionally anti-Semitic countries.

On the question of Pope Pius XII's alleged silence that
allowed the genocide, according to some critics, Gilbert
said: "Rather than being indignant about what the pope
didn't do, I try to find out what the Catholic churches and
churchmen and (Eugenio) Pacelli (the birth name of the pope)
himself actually did do." He added, "So the test for Pacelli
was when the Gestapo came to Rome in 1944 to round up Jews.
And the Catholic Church, on his direct authority,
immediately dispersed as many Jews as they could." He noted
that thousands of Jews were saved in this way.

"If the (current) Pope has to apologize," Gilbert said,
"perhaps someone could also thank him. In fact, my book
does thank him for what the Vatican did to save Jewish
lives."