Jews sheltered from Nazis by Rome Catholics

jews rome catholics

Newly discovered documents at Vatican City’s Pontifical Biblical Institute may shed some light on what happened to many Roman Jews during the Nazi occupation in WW2.

The documents contain the names of 3,200 Jews whose lives Catholics protected during the occupation.

Rome’s Jewish community organisation has verified the listed Jews’ identities.

Researchers from the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Research Institute and Rome’s Jewish community released the findings at an academic workshop on Thursday.

The documents have not yet been made public however.

It seems many Catholic institutions helped their Jewish neighbours.

The new documents provide names and addresses of dozens of Romans sheltered in Catholic institutions.

They list 4,300 people sheltered in the properties of 100 women’s and 55 men’s Catholic religious orders.

Of those, 3,600 are identified by name, with 3,200 identified as Jews.

“Of the latter, it is known where they were hidden and, in certain circumstances, where they lived before the persecution.

“The documentation thus significantly increases the information about the history of the rescue of Jews in the context of the Catholic institutions of Rome.”

Were the sheltered Jews baptised?

Whether any of the Jews on the list were baptised is unclear.

Recently opened Vatican archives suggest the Vatican worked hardest to save Jews who had converted to Catholicism or had Catholic-Jewish parents.

Claudio Procaccia from Rome’s Jewish community says the documentation doesn’t provide any baptismal information.

But he says some people pretended to have Jewish last names in order to find shelter in Catholic convents, even if they weren’t necessarily Jewish.

Jewish research

Procaccia notes the Roman Jewish community published its own research in 2013 about the fate of Jews during the Nazi occupation.

Over 1,000 of Rome’s Jews were rounded up immediately after the Nazi occupation began and deported to Auschwitz.

Yad Vashem’s International Institute for Holocaust Research says the new documentation poses new questions.

One is – why did an Italian Jesuit compile the list at the Pontifical Biblical Institute immediately after the liberation of Rome?

“There are many more questions we ask but, while the document lists thousands of Jews who found refuge in religious institutions, it lacks the names of those who were refused assistance … during the Holocaust.”



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