Why I stand by my book Hitler’s Pope

SIR – In his article on Pius XII (Cover story, March 10), Fr Leo Chamberlain comments that my book Hitler’s Pope received warm reviews in the “liberal press”, as opposed to harsh reviews from knowledgeable experts. In fact, the book received much praise from academic specialists on the period, including Professor Owen Chadwick, Professor Paul Preston, Professor Denis Mack Smith and Professor Saul Friedländer.

He alleges that I translated inaccurately from a “long letter” written by the then Pacelli in 1919. The translation of the text of the letter was made by a professional translator, later double-checked by two more professionals – and found to be accurate.

Fr Chamberlain is of the opinion that the Reichskonkordat – the international treaty negotiated by Pacelli and Hitler in the summer of 1933 – was simply an attempt to protect the Church from the Nazi regime. Yet the terms agreed to the withdrawal of German Catholics from all social and political action. It depended on the abolition of the Catholic Centre Party, the last democratic party left in Germany; but only after the party had voted for the Enabling Act that gave Hitler his dictatorship.

The consequences of the concordat were the demoralisation of Catholic opposition in Germany; the scandalising of German youth; and the crediting of the Nazi regime in the eyes of the world. For this reason, and no other, I felt, and still feel, that the title of the book is justified.

Yours faithfully,

John Cornwell

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