At the outbreak of World War II, the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) had some 1700 members in Nazi Germany, divided into three provinces: Eastern, Lower and Upper Germany. Nazi leaders had some admiration for the discipline of the Jesuit order, but opposed its principles. Of the 152 Jesuits murdered by the Nazis across Europe, 27 died in captivity or its results, and 43 in the concentration camps.
Hitler was anticlerical and had particular disdain for the Jesuits. The Jesuit Provincial, Augustin Rosch, ended the war on death row for his role in the July Plot to overthrow Hitler. The Catholic Church faced persecution in Nazi Germany and persecution was particularly severe in Poland. The Superior General of the Jesuits at the outbreak of War was Wlodzimierz Ledochowski, a Pole. Vatican Radio, which spoke out against Axis atrocities, was run by the Jesuit Filippo Soccorsi.
Jesuits made up the largest contingent of clergy imprisoned in the Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration Camp, where some 30 Jesuits died. Several Jesuits were prominent in the small German Resistance, including the influential martyr Alfred Delp of the Kreisau Circle.The German Jesuit Robert Leiber acted as intermediary between Pius XII and the German Resistance. Among the Jesuit victims of the Nazis, Germany's Rupert Mayer has been beatified. Among twelve Jesuit "Righteous Gentiles" recognised by Yad Vashem is Belgium's Jean-Baptiste Janssens, who was appointed Superior General of the Jesuits after the War.
Heinrich Himmler was impressed by the Order's organisational structure.Hitler wrote favourably of their influence on architecture and on himself in Mein Kampf. But Nazi ideology could not accept an autonomous establishment whose legitimacy did not spring from the government and it desired the subordination of the church to the State. According to historians Kershaw, Bullock, Evans, Fest, Phayer, Shirer and others, Hitler eventually hoped to eradicate Christianity in Germany.
Hitler biographer Alan Bullock wrote that though Hitler was raised as a Catholic, and retained some regard for the organisational power of Catholicism, he had utter contempt for its central teachings which he said, if taken to their conclusion, "would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure."Richard J. Evans wrote that Hitler believed that in the long run National Socialism and religion would not be able to co-exist, and stressed repeatedly that Nazism was a secular ideology, founded on modern science: "Science, he declared, would easily destroy the last remaining vestiges of superstition." Germany could not tolerate the intervention of foreign influences such as the Pope, and "priests, he said, were 'black bugs', 'abortions in black cassocks.'"
Although the broader membership of the Nazi Party after 1933 came to include many Catholics, aggressive anti-Church radicals like Goebbels, Martin Bormann, and Himmler saw the kirchenkampf campaign against the Churches as a priority concern, and anti-church and anticlerical sentiments were strong among grassroots party activists.
The Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels wrote that on the "Church Question... after the war it has to be generally solved.... There is, namely, an insoluble opposition between the Christian and a heroic-German world view."Hitler's chosen deputy and private secretary from 1941, Martin Bormann, said publicly in 1941 that "National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable." In 1937, Himmler wrote: "We live in an era of the ultimate conflict with Christianity. It is part of the mission of the SS to give the German people in the next half century the non-Christian ideological foundations on which to lead and shape their lives."
According to the Jesuit historian Lapomarda, the Jesuits "resisted the evil policies of the Third Reich, and, as a consequence, suffered very much for such opposition to the Nazis in Europe."Jesuit journalists were critical of the Nazi takeover in Stimmen der Zeit , and the Nazis had the journal closed. Jesuits Jakob Notges and Anton Koch wrote firmly against the anti-Christian sentiments of the official Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg.
According to Lapomarda, there was "no doubt" about the Jesuit Superior General Ledochowski's concern to thwart the Germans in Europe once they had invaded Poland, "Even if he had at one time entertained, as alleged by one historian, the conception of a union of a Catholic bloc in Europe against the Communists in the East and the Protestants in the West, events had dramatically altered that vision." Wlodimir Ledóchowski accurately surmised Hitler's perfidious nature, and predicted the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and he used the Jesuit-run Vatican Radio service to broadcast condemnations of Nazi crimes in Poland, that led to German Government protests and assisted underground resistance movements in occupied Europe.
The Nazis disliked the Catholic and Protestant churches.Prosecutors at the Nuremberg Trials submitted that Hitler and his inner circle engaged in a criminal conspiracy and slow and cautious policy to eliminate Christianity. The Church suffered Persecution in Nazi Germany and some 152 Jesuits were killed under the reign of the Nazis – 27 died in captivity (or its results) and 43 died in the concentration camps.
Jesuit journals were raided, closed and suspended.The Nazis cracked down on Jesuit schools, which were gradually closed under Nazi pressure.
The Jesuit-educated Bishop Clemens August von Galen's famous 1941 denunciations of Nazi euthanasia were partly motivated by the seizure of Jesuit properties by the Gestapo in his home city of Münster.
In Dachau: The Official History 1933–1945, Paul Berben wrote that under the reign of the Nazis, clergy were watched closely, and frequently denounced, arrested and sent to concentration camps.The Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration Camp (in German Pfarrerblock, or Priesterblock) incarcerated clergy who had opposed the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler.
Of a total of 2,720 clergy recorded as imprisoned at Dachau, the overwhelming majority, some 2,579 (or 94.88%) were Catholic. Berben noted that R. Schnabel's 1966 investigation Die Frommen in der Hölle found an alternative total of 2,771 and included the fate all the clergy listed, with 692 noted as deceased and 336 sent out on "invalid trainloads" and therefore presumed dead.Members of the Jesuit order were the largest group among the incarcerated clergy at Dachau. Around 400 German priests were sent to Dachau, though Polish priests made up the greatest contingent. Lapomarda lists some 30 Jesuits as having died at Dachau (of a total of 43 Jesuits who died in the concentration camps). Among the Jesuits to survive Dachau was Adam Kozłowiecki (who later served as a Cardinal).
The Blessed Rupert Mayer, a Bavarian Jesuit and World War I army chaplain, had clashed with the National Socialists as early as 1923. Continuing his critique following Hitler's rise to power, Mayer was imprisoned in 1939 and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. As his health declined, the Nazis feared the creation of a martyr and sent him to Ettal Abbey, but Meyer died in 1945.
With Poland overrun in 1939 but France and the Low Countries yet to be attacked, the small German Resistance wanted the Pope's assistance in preparations for a coup to oust Hitler.The Pope's Private Secretary, the German Jesuit Fr. Robert Leiber, acted as the intermediary between Pius XII and the German Resistance. He met with Abwehr officer Josef Müller, who visited Rome in 1939 and 1940.
The Vatican agreed to offer the machinery for mediation between the German military resistance and the Allies.On May 3, Müller told Fr Leiber that invasion of the Netherlands and Belgium was imminent. The Vatican advised the Netherlands envoy to the Vatican that the Germans planned to invade France through the Netherlands and Belgium on May 10. The Vatican also sent a coded radio message to its nuncios in Brussels and The Hague.
Alfred Jodl noted in his diary that the Germans knew the Belgian envoy to the Vatican had been tipped off, and the Führer was greatly agitated by the danger of treachery.The German invasion of the Low Countries followed on May 10 and Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were quickly overwhelmed. In 1943, Müller was arrested. Müller spent the rest of the war in concentration camps, ending up at Dachau. Lieber was under the surveillance of the Gestapo. Hans Bernd Gisevius was sent in place of Müller to advise of the developments and met with Leiber.
Religious motivations were particularly strong in the Kreisau Circle of the Resistance.Formed in 1937, though multi-denominational it had a strongly Christian orientation. Its outlook was rooted both in German romantic and idealist tradition and in the Catholic doctrine of natural law. The Circle pressed for a coup against Hitler, but being unarmed was dependent on persuading military figures to take action.
Among the central membership of the Circle were the Jesuit Fathers Augustin Rösch, Alfred Delp and Lothar König.Bishop von Preysing had contact with the group. The Catholic conservative Karl Ludwig von Guttenberg brought the Jesuit Provincial of Southern Germany Augustin Rösch into the Kreisau Circle, along with Alfred Delp. For figures like Rösch, the Catholic trade unionists Jakob Kaiser and Bernhard Letterhaus, and the July Plot leader Klaus von Stauffenberg, "religious motives and the determination to resist would seem to have developed hand in hand."
According to Gill, "Delp's role was to sound out for [the group's leader] Moltke the possibilities in the Catholic community of support for a new, post-war Germany."Rösch and Delp also explored the possibilities for common ground between Christian and socialist trade unions. Lothar König, S.J., became an important intermediary between the Circle and bishops Gröber of Freiburg and Preysing of Berlin.
The Kreisau group combined conservative notions of reform with socialist strains of thought – a symbiosis expressed by Alfred Delp's notion of "personal socialism".The group rejected Western models, but wanted to "associate conservative and socialist values, aristocracy and workers, in a new democratic synthesis which would include the churches. Delp wrote: "It is time the 20th Century revolution was given a definitive theme, and the opportunity to create new and lasting horizons for humanity" by which he meant, social security and the basics for individual intellectual and religious development. So long as people lacked dignity, they would be incapable of prayer or thought. In Die dritte Idee (The Third Idea), Delp expounded on the notion of a third way, which, as opposed to Communism and capitalism, might restore the unity of the person and society.
Another non-military German Resistance group, dubbed the "Frau Solf Tea Party" by the Gestapo, included the Jesuit Fr Friedrich Erxleben.The purpose of the Solf Circle was to seek out humanitarian ways of countering the Nazi regime. It met at either Frau Solf or Elizabeth von Thadden's home. Von Thadden was a Christian educational reformer and Red Cross worker. Otto Kiep and most of the group were arrested in 1941 and executed.
In his history of the heroes of the Holocaust, the Jewish historian Martin Gilbert notes that priests and nuns of orders like the Jesuits, Franciscans and Benedictines hid Jewish children in monasteries, convents and schools to protect them from the Nazis.Historically, Jesuits had at times used their influence against the Jews in Catholic countries, and, according to Lapomarda, from the 16th century Jewish people and Jesuits had often found themselves in opposition. In the 1930s, the Jesuits still had a rule banning people of Jewish ancestry from joining the Jesuits.
Fourteen Jesuit priests have been formally recognized by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, for risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust of World War II. These are: Roger Braun (1910–1981)of France; Pierre Chaillet (1900–1972) of France; Jean-Baptist De Coster (1896–1968) of Belgium; Jean Fleury (1905–1982) of France; Emile Gessler (1891–1958) of Belgium; Jean-Baptiste Janssens (1889–1964) of Belgium; Alphonse Lambrette (1884–1970) of Belgium; Planckaert Emile (1906–2006) of France; hu:Raile Jakab (1894–1949) of Hungary; Henri Revol (1904–1992) of France; pl:Adam Sztark (1907–1942) of Poland; Henri Van Oostayen (1906–1945) of Belgium; Ioannes Marangos (1901-1989) of Greece; and Raffaele de Chantuz Cube (1904-1983) of Italy. For more information on these Jesuits and others who were involved in helping Jews, see Vincent A. Lapomarda, 100 Heroic Jesuits of the Second World War (2015).
With the Nazi Empire close to its full extent in late 1942, the Nazis sought to extend their roundups of Jews. In Lyon, in Vichy France, Cardinal Gerlier had defiantly refused to hand over Jewish children being sheltered in Catholic homes, and on September 9 it was reported in London that Vichy French authorities had ordered the arrest of all Catholic priests sheltering Jews in the unoccupied zone. Eight Jesuits were arrested for sheltering hundreds of children on Jesuit properties.
Two thirds of the 300,000 Jews living in France at the outbreak of war survived the Nazi Holocaust.The majority of French Jews survived the occupation, in large part thanks to the help received from Catholics and Protestants, who protected them in convents, boarding schools, presbyteries and families. The Amitiés Chrétiennes organisation operated out of Lyon to secure hiding places for Jewish children. Among its members was the Jesuit Pierre Chaillet. The influential French Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac was active in the resistance to Nazism and to antisemitism. He along with Pierre Chaillet assisted in the publication of Témoinage chrétien . He responded to Neo-paganism and antisemitism with clarity, describing the notion of an Aryan New Testament standing in contradiction to a Semitic Old Testament as "blasphemy" and "stupidity."
Dislike of Germans and Nazism was strong in Catholic Belgium.The Belgian Superior General of the Jesuits, Jean-Baptiste Janssens, was later honoured as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem. The Nazis occupied Hungary in 1944, and commenced wide-scale deportations of Jews. Jesuit superior Jakab Raile is credited with saving around 150 Jewish people in the Jesuit residence in Budapest. In Lithuania, priests were active in the rescue of Jews, among them the Jesuit Bronius Paukstis.
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The Superior General of the worldwide Jesuit order at the outbreak of war was Wlodzimierz Ledochowski, a Pole. The Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church in Poland was particularly severe. Vincent Lapomarda wrote that Ledochowski helped "stiffen the general attitude of the Jesuits against the Nazis" and that he permitted Vatican Radio to carry on its campaign against the Nazis in Poland. Vatican Radio was run by the Jesuit Filippo Soccorsi and spoke out against Nazi oppression – particularly with regard to Poland and to Vichy-French antisemitism.
Hitler's plans for the Germanization of the East saw no place for the Christian churches.Nazi policy towards the Church was at its most severe in the territories it annexed to Greater Germany, where the Nazis set about systematically dismantling the Church – arresting its leaders, exiling its clergymen, closing its churches, monasteries and convents. Many clergymen were murdered.
Jesuit-run Vatican Radio reported in November 1940 that religious life for Catholics in Poland had been brutally restricted and that at least 400 clergy had been deported to Germany in the preceding four months.Among the Nazi crimes against Catholics in Poland was the massacre in the Jesuit residence on Rakowiecka Street in Warsaw (1944).
Among the most significant Polish Jesuits to survive the Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration Camp was Adam Kozłowiecki, who later served as a Cardinal. He was arrested as a young priest at the Jesuit College in Kraków in 1939, and remained imprisoned until April 1945. He later wrote his recollections of his time at Dachau, where the highest percentage among incarcerated clergy were Jesuits.
During World War II, some individuals and groups helped Jews and others escape the Holocaust conducted by Nazi Germany. A well-known example is Oskar Schindler, one of thousands who have been so recognized.
Bernhard Lichtenberg was a German Catholic priest who became known for repeatedly speaking out, after the rise of Adolf Hitler and during the Holocaust, against the persecution and deportation of the Jews. After serving a jail sentence, he died in the custody of the Gestapo on his way to Dachau concentration camp. Raul Hilberg wrote: "Thus a solitary figure had made his singular gesture. In the buzz of rumormongers and sensation seekers, Bernhard Lichtenberg fought almost alone."
Very Rev. Włodzimierz Halka Ledóchowski, S.J. was a Polish nobleman who was the twenty-sixth Superior-General of the Society of Jesus from 11 February 1914 until his death. Prior to taking holy orders, he was briefly a page in the Habsburg Court.
A census in May 1939, six years into the Nazi era and after the annexation of mostly Catholic Austria and mostly Catholic Czechoslovakia into Germany, indicates that 54% of the population considered themselves Protestant, 40% Catholic, 3.5% self-identified as Gottgläubig, and 1.5% as "atheist". Protestants voted for the Nazi party substantially more than Catholics did.
German resistance to Nazism included opposition by individuals and groups in Germany to the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945, most of which engaged in active resistance, including attempts to remove Adolf Hitler from power by assassination or by overthrowing his established regime.
Conrad Gröber was a Catholic priest and archbishop of the Archdiocese of Freiburg. Historian of the German Resistance Joachim Fest nominates Gröber, alongside Galen and Preysing as one of the individual senior clerics who came to lead Catholic resistance to Nazism in Germany.
Holocaust victims were people targeted by the government of Nazi Germany based on their ethnicity, religion, political beliefs, or sexual orientation. The institutionalized practice by the Nazis of singling out and persecuting people resulted in the Holocaust, which began with legalized social discrimination against specific groups, involuntary hospitalization, euthanasia, and forced sterilization of persons considered physically or mentally unfit for society. The vast majority of the Nazi regime's victims were Jews, Sinti-Roma peoples, and Slavs but victims also encompassed people identified as social outsiders in the Nazi worldview, such as homosexuals, and political enemies. Nazi persecution escalated during World War II and included: non-judicial incarceration, confiscation of property, forced labor, sexual slavery, death through overwork, human experimentation, undernourishment, and execution through a variety of methods. For specified groups like the Jews, genocide was the Nazis' primary goal.
The start of the pontificate of Pius XII occurred at the time of the Second World War and the Nazi Holocaust, which over the course of the war would see the murder of millions of Jews and others by Adolf Hitler's Germany. Pius employed diplomacy to aid the victims of the Nazis during the war and, through directing his Church to provide discreet aid to Jews and others, saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Pius maintained links to the German Resistance, and shared intelligence with the Allies. His strongest public condemnation of genocide was, however, considered inadequate by the Allied Powers, while the Nazis viewed him as an Allied sympathizer who had dishonoured his policy of Vatican neutrality.
Catholic bishops in Nazi Germany differed in their responses to the rise of Nazi Germany, World War II, and the Holocaust during the years 1933–1945. In the 1930s, the Episcopate of the Catholic Church of Germany comprised 6 Archbishops and 19 bishops while German Catholics comprised around one third of the population of Germany served by 20,000 priests. In the lead up to the 1933 Nazi takeover, German Catholic leaders were outspoken in their criticism of Nazism. Following the Nazi takeover, the Catholic Church sought an accord with the Government, was pressured to conform, and faced persecution. The regime had flagrant disregard for the Reich concordat with the Holy See, and the episcopate had various disagreements with the Nazi government, but it never declared an official sanction of the various attempts to overthrow the Hitler regime. Ian Kershaw wrote that the churches "engaged in a bitter war of attrition with the regime, receiving the demonstrative backing of millions of churchgoers. Applause for Church leaders whenever they appeared in public, swollen attendances at events such as Corpus Christi Day processions, and packed church services were outward signs of the struggle of ... especially of the Catholic Church - against Nazi oppression". While the Church ultimately failed to protect its youth organisations and schools, it did have some successes in mobilizing public opinion to alter government policies.
Popes Pius XI (1922–1939) and Pius XII (1939–1958) led the Catholic Church during the rise and fall of Nazi Germany. Around a third of Germans were Catholic in the 1930s, generally in southern Germany; Protestants dominated the north. Although the German Catholic church had opposed the Nazi Party, the Catholic-aligned Centre Party capitulated in 1933. In the 1933 elections, the percentage of Catholics voting for the Nazi Party was lower than the national average. Adolf Hitler and several other key Nazis had been raised Catholic, but became hostile to the church in adulthood; Article 24 of the NSDAP party platform called for conditional toleration of Christian denominations and the 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty with the Vatican purportedly guaranteed religious freedom for Catholics, but the Nazis were essentially hostile to Catholicism. Catholic press, schools, and youth organizations were closed, property was confiscated, and about one-third of its clergy faced reprisals from authorities; Catholic lay leaders were targeted during the Night of the Long Knives. The Church hierarchy tried to cooperate with the new government, but Pius XI's 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge accused the government of hostility to the church.
The Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration incarcerated clergy who had opposed the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. From December 1940, Berlin ordered the transfer of clerical prisoners held at other camps, and Dachau became the centre for imprisonment of clergymen. Of a total of 2,720 clerics recorded as imprisoned at Dachau some 2,579 were Roman Catholics. Among the other denominations, there were 109 Protestants, 22 Orthodox, 8 Old Catholics and Mariavites and 2 Muslims. Members of the Catholic Society of Jesus (Jesuits) were the largest group among the incarcerated clergy at Dachau.
During the German Occupation of Poland (1939–1945), the Nazis brutally suppressed the Catholic Church in Poland, most severely in German-occupied areas of Poland. Thousands of churches and monasteries were systematically closed, seized or destroyed. As a result, many works of religious art and objects were permanently lost.
Monsignor Gabriel Piguet was the Roman Catholic Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand, France. Involved in Catholic resistance to Nazism, he was imprisoned in the Priest Barracks of Dachau Concentration Camp in 1944. He has been honoured as a Righteous Gentile by Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Memorial.
During the Second World War, Pope Pius XII maintained links to the German resistance to Nazism against Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. Although remaining publicly neutral, Pius advised the British in 1940 of the readiness of certain German generals to overthrow Hitler if they could be assured of an honourable peace, offered assistance to the German resistance in the event of a coup and warned the Allies of the planned German invasion of the Low Countries in 1940. The Nazis considered that the Pope had engaged in acts equivalent to espionage.
Catholic resistance to Nazi Germany was a component of German resistance to Nazism and of Resistance during World War II. The role of the Church during the Nazi years was always, and remains however, a matter of much contention. Many writers, echoing Klaus Scholder, have concluded, "There was no Catholic resistance in Germany, there were only Catholics who resisted." The Vatican policy meant that the Pope never challenged Catholics to side either with National Socialism or with Catholic morality, and Pius XII was so adamant that Bolshevism represented the most terrible threat to the world that he remarked, 'Germany are a great nation who, in their fight against Bolshevism, are bleeding not only for their friends but also for the sake of their present enemies'. In a letter of autumn 1941 Pius XII wrote to Bishop Preysing, "We emphasise that, because the Church in Germany is dependent upon your public behaviour...in public declarations you are duty bound to exercise restraint" and "requires(d) you and your colleagues not to protest."
During the Second World War, the Roman Catholic Church protested against Aktion T4, the Nazi involuntary euthanasia programme under which the mentally ill, physically deformed, and incurably sick were to be killed. The protests formed one of the most significant public acts of Catholic resistance to Nazism undertaken within Germany. The euthanasia programme began in 1939, and ultimately resulted in the murder of more than 70,000 people who were senile, mentally handicapped, mentally ill, epileptics, cripples, children with Down's Syndrome, or people with similar afflictions. The murders involved interference in Church welfare institutions, and awareness of the murderous programme became widespread. Church leaders who opposed it – chiefly the Catholic Bishop Clemens August von Galen of Münster and Protestant Bishop Theophil Wurm – were therefore able to rouse widespread public opposition.
The Roman Catholic Church suffered persecution in Nazi Germany. The Nazis claimed jurisdiction over all collective and social activity and the party leadership hoped to dechristianize Germany in the long term. Clergy were watched closely, and frequently denounced, arrested and sent to Nazi concentration camps. Welfare institutions were interfered with or transferred to state control. Catholic schools, press, trade unions, political parties and youth leagues were eradicated. Anti-Catholic propaganda and "morality" trials were staged. Monasteries and convents were targeted for expropriation. Prominent Catholic lay leaders were murdered, and thousands of Catholic activists were arrested.
Several Catholic countries and populations fell under Nazi domination during the period of the Second World War (1939–1945), and ordinary Catholics fought on both sides of the conflict. Despite efforts to protect its rights within Germany under a 1933 Reichskonkordat treaty, the Church in Germany had faced persecution in the years since Adolf Hitler had seized power, and Pope Pius XI accused the Nazi government of sowing 'fundamental hostility to Christ and his Church'. The concordat has been described by some as giving moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime soon after Hitler had acquired quasi-dictatorial powers through the Enabling Act of 1933, an Act itself facilitated through the support of the Catholic Centre Party. Pius XII became Pope on the eve of war and lobbied world leaders to prevent the outbreak of conflict. His first encyclical, Summi Pontificatus, called the invasion of Poland an "hour of darkness". He affirmed the policy of Vatican neutrality, but maintained links to the German Resistance. Despite being the only world leader to publicly and specifically denounce Nazi crimes against Jews in his 1942 Christmas Address, controversy surrounding his apparent reluctance to speak frequently and in even more explicit terms about Nazi crimes continues. He used diplomacy to aid war victims, lobbied for peace, shared intelligence with the Allies, and employed Vatican Radio and other media to speak out against atrocities like race murders. In Mystici corporis Christi (1943) he denounced the murder of the handicapped. A denunciation from German bishops of the murder of the "innocent and defenceless", including "people of a foreign race or descent", followed.
During the Holocaust, the Catholic Church played a role in the rescue of hundreds of thousands of Jews from being murdered by the Nazis. Members of the Church, through lobbying of Axis officials, provision of false documents, and the hiding of people in monasteries, convents, schools, among families and the institutions of the Vatican itself, saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. The Israeli diplomat and historian Pinchas Lapide estimated the figure at between 700,000 and 860,000, although the figure is contested.
Pierre Chaillet (1900–1972) was a French Catholic priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), who was recognised as Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem for his work to protect Jews from the Nazi Holocaust.