Joseph Roth was a famous novelist and Austrian Jewish journalist who produced most of his works in exile due to the Nazi invasion of his country. Days after the inauguration of Pius XII as Pontiff, Roth praised his election and remarked that the new Pope was an “enemy of the pre-apocalyptic beasts” of Nazism that were governing Germany.
On Wednesday, L'Osservatore Romano (LOR) published text by Roth written in March 1939 for the "Österreichische Post," the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s newspaper that was printed in Paris.
The article recounted Roth's experience of being in St. Peter's Square on March 12 for the papal inauguration. “The new Pope has been crowned and thus in the middle of the year, a new year, a new decade begins. Judging by his physical characteristics and posture ... this Pope seems to represent, with a zeal that has self-renunciation as its bastion, and a capacity to renounce what is a given, one of the oldest ideals of the Church, the diplomatic spirit, which can never be abdicated,” Roth wrote.
In the same article, the Jewish writer, who in his younger years signed his work as “Joseph the Red,” for his closeness with Communism said, “The (Nazi) pre-apocalyptic beasts who now dominate politics are already alluding to their true motives for persecuting the Church. He (Pius XII) is the only one who really hurts them. What’s more, those who were not afraid of the Pope before are now afraid of this one.”
The LOR article explained that this writing by Roth constitutes “an unusual apology for Catholicism, from the point of view of someone who is immersed in an endless escape and is seeking the help of the oldest institution.” The article has a few lines “celebrating the diplomacy of the Pope” who was also the Apostolic Nuncio to Germany when he “signed the Concordat and 50 statements of protest sent to the National Socialist government because of its repeated violations.”
Roth also wrote articles for the "Österreichische Post" that were critical of Marxists biases and of the superficiality of several Vatican observers.
Other books by Roth include, “The Flight Without End,” and “The Rebellion.” His most famous work is “The Radetzky March,” which follows a family during the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.