Pope Francis orders online release of second world war-era ‘Jewish’ files

Pius XII and the Jewish Files

Pope Francis has ordered the online publication of 170 volumes of files relating to Jewish people from the recently opened Pope Pius XII archives, amid renewed debate about the legacy of the second world war-era pope.

The archive of 2,700 cases “gathers the requests for help sent to Pope Pius XII by Jewish people … after the beginning of Nazi and fascist persecution”, said the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, Paul Richard Gallagher, in a statement.

Although the documents have been available for consultation by scholars since March 2020, Pope Francis requested they be accessible to everyone, said the statement. Putting the archive online “will allow the descendants of those who asked for help to find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world”, it said.

The documentation contains 2,700 files of requests for Vatican help from Jewish groups and families, many of whom had been baptised as Catholics and were no longer practising Jews. The files were held in the secretariat of state’s archives and contain requests for papal intervention to avoid Nazi deportation, to obtain liberation from concentration camps, or help finding family members.