My Dad would have been worked to death as a slave.
If Hitler had won the war my Dad would have been shipped to Europe and starved and worked to death as a slave. Hitler was so sure he would defeat Britain in 1940 he had already appointed a gauleiter called, as if he were a villain in a Bond film, Dr Six. According to John Cornwell’s book Hitler’s Pope, Hitler may not have come to power at all but for the interference of the Vatican in German politics. David Yallop had written a book called In God’s Name, claiming that the Vatican had murdered John Paul 1. In response, Cornwell wrote a persuasive rebuttal A Thief in the Night. But Cornwell’s condemnation of the Vatican was even more lethal than Yallop’s. Cornwell produced plenty of evidence to show that JP 1 could not have been murdered, but he also wrote that this already very ill little parish priest from Venice who was despised and ignored by the Vatican, even to the point of failing to call him a doctor, was killed “…by lack of love as surely as if they had put arsenic in his coffee”. But the Vatican wasn’t interested in love, they were so delighted that Cornwell had answered Yallop, they invited him to write another book exonerating Pius XII from the charge that he had failed to help the Jews in WW2, and, most unusually, threw open the Vatican archives. But when Cornwell read them he was horrified and wrote a book very different from the one the Vatican had expected.
Eugenio Pacelli, who later became Pius XII, had been papal nuncio in Germany between the two world wars. According to Cornwell, his over-riding interest was to ensure that the Canon Law Code that had been re-written in 1917 and claimed the Vatican’s right to appoint bishops everywhere in the world was accepted by all Catholics, but it was stoutly resisted in Austria where bishops had been elected by the canons of cathedral chapters for over a thousand years. Hitler – who was going to crush the Catholic Church anyway next on the list after the Jews, though he didn’t tell Pacelli that – was willing to ensure that the code was accepted, and for that reason Pacelli wanted Hitler to win the election of 1933. In that election, the main opposition to Hitler was going to come from the Catholic Centre Party, but Pacelli engineered the appointment as its head of a priest loyal to himself with secret instructions to ensure that the Catholic Centre lost the election. In Hitler’s Pope, Cornwell pays little attention to Pius XII and the Jews and what he does write is favourable to the Pope. This is not his main concern. His interest is to expose the part the Vatican played in helping Hitler win in 1933, with all the tragic consequences that followed from that.
I regard myself as a loyal even fervent Catholic but I find it hard to forgive Pius XII, if I have understood Cornwell correctly and if any of this is remotely true – and the evidence Cornwell presents is extremely impressive. But then I don’t suppose the Vatican was any more bothered about my Dad being starved and worked to death as a slave, any more than it was by John Paul 1 being killed by lack of love.