In a recent issue of the National Review Online, Lt. General Ion Mihai Pacepa, who eventually defected from the former Soviet bloc, recounts how the KGB and the Kremlin designed the deliberate campaign to portray the Pius XII “as a coldhearted Nazi sympathizer.”
“In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev approved a super-secret plan for destroying the Vatican’s moral authority in Western Europe,” writes Pacepa. “Eugenio Pacelli, by then Pope Pius XII, was selected as the KGB’s main target, its incarnation of evil, because he had departed this world in 1958. ‘Dead men cannot defend themselves’ was the KGB’s latest slogan.”
The code name for this operation against Pope Pius XII was “Seat-12.”
The KGB used the fact that Archbishop Pacelli had served as the papal nuncio in Munich and Berlin when the Nazis were beginning their bid for power against him. “The KGB wanted to depict him as an anti-Semite who had encouraged Hitler’s Holocaust,” says Pacepa.
To do this, the KGB wanted some original Vatican documents to “slightly modify”. So they called in Pacepa, who was working for the Romanian intelligence service.
Pacepa says he became the Romanian point man. He was authorized to falsely inform the Vatican that Romania was ready to restore its broken relations with the Holy See, in exchange for access to its archives — in order to find historical roots that would help the Romanian government publicly justify its change of heart toward the Holy See — and a one-billion-dollar, interest-free loan for 25 years.
Between 1960 and 1962, the Romanian spy sent hundreds of archival documents connected in any way with Pope Pius XII to the KGB. Pacepa says none of the documents were incriminating in themselves, but they were sent to the KGB in any case.
The KGB used these documents to produce a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII, entitled The Deputy. It eventually saw the stage in Germany in 1963, under the title The Deputy, a Christian Tragedy. It proposed that Pius XII had supported Hitler and encouraged him to go ahead with the Jewish Holocaust. The German director claimed to have 40 pages of documentation attached to the script that would support the thesis of the play.
The play ran in New York in 1964 and was translated into 20 languages. The play then led to a flurry of books and articles, some accusing and some defending the pontiff.
“Today, many people who have never heard of The Deputy are sincerely convinced that Pius XII was a cold and evil man who hated the Jews and helped Hitler do away with them,” Pacepa writes in the National Review Online. “As KGB chairman Yury Andropov, the unparalleled master of Soviet deception, used to tell me, people are more ready to believe smut than holiness.”
Pacepa says the truth has finally begun to emerge with the canonization process of Pius XII, which was opened by Pope John Paul II.
“Witnesses from all over the world have compellingly proved that Pius XII was an enemy, not a friend, of Hitler,” says Pacepa.
He also refers to the book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: How Pope Pius XII Rescued Jews From the Nazis, by David G. Dalin, which has compiled further proof of Archbishop Pacelli’s friendship for the Jews.
“At the start of World War II, Pope Pius XII’s first encyclical was so anti-Hitler that the Royal Air Force and the French air force dropped 88,000 copies of it over Germany,” he concludes.
A former high-ranking officer with the KGB claims that the Kremlin and the Russian intelligence agency in the 1960s were set on executing a smear campaign against the Catholic Church, and the main target was Pope Pius XII.