Wartime Pope Has a Huge Fan: A Jewish Knight (link)
But the more curious and complicated story is the transformation Mr. Krupp has undergone since. With no previous training or special interest in history, he has emerged as the Vatican’s most outspoken Jewish ally in a heated debate at the crux of tensions between Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders and historians: whether Pope Pius XII, the pontiff during World War II, did as much as he could have to save Jews from the Holocaust.
Mr. Krupp, 62, has raised enough money through the Pave the Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization he founded in 2002, to travel the globe, hire researchers to scour historic documents, sponsor a three-day symposium in Rome and publish four editions of a glossy, illustrated volume of evidence supporting his view that Pius XII spared no effort to save the lives of persecuted Jews.
He has pressed his case in a recent op-ed article for The New York Post, and in interviews with conservative Catholic television programs and Web sites, which have cited him as an expert on Pius.
The controversy over Pius’s wartime conduct had stalled his elevation for so many years that Pope Benedict’s action shocked scholars on both sides of the debate. And while agreeing on little else, some in both camps credit Mr. Krupp for breaking the logjam.
In a dispute decades long, the church has maintained that Pius XII supported efforts throughout the war to hide Jews or help them escape, but worked behind the scenes to avoid retaliation from Nazi and Italian Fascist authorities.
Holocaust scholars, who consider Pius, with his worldwide network of diplomats and clergy, to be among the first world leaders to have grasped the scope of the Jewish persecution, have asked why he did not condemn it publicly. But most consider that and other questions unanswerable until the Vatican opens the complete archives of Pius’s papacy. Although a selection of those papers has been published, the Vatican has kept most off limits to outside researchers.
Did you know Pius XII saved more than 860,000 Jews from the death camps? I mean, I never knew that before. It’s character assassination — a shanda — that so many Jews say he was an anti-Semite,” said Mr. Krupp, using a Yiddish word for disgrace.
The assessment of Mr. Krupp’s work among many scholars and leaders of long-established Jewish organizations has been equally harsh.
Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, associate director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr. Krupp’s mission “a campaign of misinformation.”
Professor Dwork said Mr. Krupp’s research was “amateurish, worse than amateurish — risible.” More disturbing, she said, it seems to have emboldened some in the Vatican to push harder for Pius XII’s canonization.
“Listen to me: Pius XII was the greatest hero of World War II,” Mr. Krupp said recently. “He saved more Jews than Roosevelt, Churchill and all the rest of them combined. We should not let him be an issue between Catholics and Jews.”
He added: “And I predict this: Historians are never going to solve this whole problem. There will always be questions.”