Vatican contests charges against WWII Italian official praised for saving Jews

June 24, 2013

(A street named in honour of Giovanni Palatucci in Caggiano, Italy, 23 Oct 2006/Viaggiatore)

The Vatican newspaper said on Saturday a decision by scholars to brand a wartime Italian previously praised for saving Jews as a Nazi collaborator was part of an attempt to smear the Catholic Church during the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

An article, titled “To Strike at the Church of Pius XII” and written by historian Anna Foa, said the decision to re-classify Giovanni Palatucci, a Catholic, as a collaborator was at best hasty and more study was needed.

Palatucci had been previously credited with saving around 5,000 Jews while he was police official in the city of Fiume, now part of Croatia. He died in the Dachau concentration camp in Germany in 1945 at the age of 35.

In 1990, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial honored Palatucci as a Righteous Among the Nations, the highest recognition for those who helped Jews during World War Two.

But earlier this week The New York Times reported that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington was removing mention of his exploits from an exhibition after officials learned of new evidence that purports to show he was a Nazi collaborator.

Read the full story here.

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