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The War And Papal Intrigue
How The New Pope Talked Peace And Worked For War
by Joseph McCabe
Edited by E. Haldeman-Julius
The Black International No. 6
- Chapter I – The Church Crowns The Papal Policy
- Chapter II – The Pope’s Peace Efforts
- Chapter III – Poland Pays For Its Piety
- Chapter IV – The German Church And The War
THE CHURCH CROWNS THE PAPAL POLICY At the close of the book on the monstrous perfidy of the Black International in Czecho-Slovakia I asked: What did Pius XII, the new Pope, and his local hierarchies do when the hellish bugles sounded and the black flag was unfurled?
In our day-to-day reading of the crowded events of our time, under the changing strain of feelings which one day are warmed with stories of heroism and next day are chilled with despair, we naturally lose sight of whatever continuity there is in the bewildering procession. We could not readily answer such questions as this, although it refers to only two years ago. But I have prepared the reader for the answer. The Black International has pursued a consistent policy during the last ten years, to say nothing of earlier times. It has fawned upon the three Powers which had already by 1930 openly exhibited such shameless programs of greed and barbaric violence that the war was inevitable. I have proved that. So the answer to our question also is inevitable. The Black International clung still to the arch-enemies of the human race through all their crimes and atrocities as long as they had a confident prosPect of victory.
Will it change its policy when that prospect changes to one of defeat and dire punishment? I write with the hum of war-planes overhead, the slender fingers of the searchlights probing for the enemy that would make a shuddering pulp of us. Round me are the horrid gaps in the rows of little peaceful homes from which I have seen the men — the garbage-men of a “New Order” — bring out the shrouded, crumpled forms of the dead. In the press daily are the rumble of a struggle in Russia that surpasses everything in the calendar of human folly and perversity and the tremulous foreshadowing of an agony that the winter may bring upon 200,000,000 broken-hearted folk. The end is not in sight, and I have no gift of prophecy. But should, as I confidently expect, the heroism of the Russian people hurl back the advancing wave of savagery and give us an unwavering hope of victory the Papacy will change its policy.
Remember the last war. The Papacy supported Germany, which had promised it the usual reward — more power and wealth to the Church — even against Italy, but as soon as America entered the arena and the defeat of Germany seemed probable, it recollected that the Pope is the Great Neutral. The signs of change already flicker in the press, but notice how feeble, how anonymous, how easily repudiated they are as long as the terrific might of Germany still rears its brutal head! Whatever be the next or the final phase, let the world never forget how the Papacy helped its deadly and unscrupulous enemies during the long years of corrupt preparation and supported them during two years of shuddering criminality. The one virtue which its best apologists claim for it that it preached the virtues of peace, did but help to dope the innocent nations while the crooks armed themselves. At least from 1936 onward war was inevitable because Japan, Germany, and Italy could attain the objects to which they were openly pledged by no other means, and they saw the rest of the world so beguiled with their pipe-dream of peace that it seemed to them safe to open the insidious campaign.
And in case the reader has become to some extent confused by the mass of details and testimonies which it has been necessary to give in support of this indictment let us sum up and formulate very clearly the charges against the Black International. The intimate connection of the Vatican by solemn agreements and the exchange of ambassadors with Japan, Italy, and Germany and with such satellites of theirs as Franco Spain, Vichy, Portugal, Hungary, etc., is a fact of ordinary record. A desperate apologist might say that this has no more significance than the diplomatic relations of other neutral powers with those countries. The Catholic apologist is so accustomed to writing for his own people, who are forbidden under pain of hell to read criticisms of what he says, and treated with such generosity in the general press that there is no limit to his audacity. Listen to this. On the very day on which I write this I receive a letter from a correspondent who tells me that a Catholic to whom he spoke of the infamous agreement of Mussolini and the Pope in 1929 denies that there ever was such a compact and that it is just one of McCabe’s lies! Can you beat that? The Concordat and Treaty were editorially discussed in every paper in the world, especially the Catholic papers, which hailed the agreement as a superb triumph of Papal diplomacy, and it seems impossible that a Catholic should not know that the Vatican City and all its privileges (independence, radio, etc.) only began with and were founded by that treaty.
There is one fundamental difference between the position of secular powers that exchange ambassadors and courtesies with the Vatican and that of the Vatican itself: to say nothing of the fact that these powers make no pretence of moral responsibility and spiritual guidance of the world. They have not in Germany or Italy a black army of 50,000 to 100,000 servants under their control — bishops, priests, monks, nuns, religious brothers, organizers, teachers, journalists, etc. — which professes that it has to build the character of the nation. The Vatican has. It is one of the loudest boasts of the Church of Rome over its rivals that it is international, its various national branches being entirely subject to the Vatican, and that this gives it a unique power to judge events from the universal moral, not the narrow national viewpoint.
What, then, are the vices of this triumvirate of poisoning nations which the Vatican ought, on its own profession, to have denounced to the world instead of protecting them by friendly alliance? It will be enough here to select three.
The first is that the war for which they are responsible is the most bestial in modern history because it is a war of naked greed. Shires tells us in his Berlin Diary that he once said this, in less blunt language, to the Nazi Economic Minister Funk, and the man admitted that the aim of it was to secure “the maximum economic opportunity” for Germany. Notoriously its aim is to concentrate industrial production in Germany or to permit it in subject countries, which are to provide food and raw material — a much less profitable service — only under German control. Japan won over the mass of its workers to the plans of its militarists and capitalists by just the same bait. Even the leaders of the Social Mass (Socialist) Party support the Chinese Incident. They say that the British workers have a good status because the country seized vast colonies overseas and exploits them. I should like to hear them tell an Australian, Canadian, or South African that his country is a “colony” and is exploited by Great Britain. In Italy the original idea was the same. The chief argument of the government during the Abyssinian War was that the country contained at vast amount of undeveloped wealth which would raise the income of every class in Italy. Today, it is true, they complain that the word Axis is heard no longer, and that their German overlords brutally tell them that the destiny of Italy is to be a playground and kitchen-garden for Germans. But a share in the vast spoils of the war was the lure that brought them into it.
It is a much-disputed point whether all modern wars can be brought under an economic formula. In the case of the present war there is no dispute. Mussolini and Hitler may have medieval dreams of conquest and empire, and the Japanese fanatics may talk about the divine mission of the Yamata race to uplift the world, but the real motive is that the division of the earth into two spheres of influence means incalculable wealth for Germany and Japan and huge fortunes for their politicians, bankers, and industrialists.
That is the war the Pope helped to bring on. It promised more wealth and power to the Church. It meant the paralysis of industrial development and its consequences — education, urban life, free discussion and the growth of Socialism and skepticism — in the countries in which the Papacy had lost most heavily. Notice what is happening in France. Petain makes no secret of his design to destroy the old industrial life in the interest of the Church. Even if you think a bunch of Italian clerics hardly capable of a world-plot so subtle as this you have their cry, repeated for years throughout the Church, for the destruction of Bolshevism and Liberalism, the most prolific sources of rebellion against the Papacy. Whichever way you take it the Black International has, for its own profit, lent its aid in preparing the conditions of success of the most sordid war of greed in modern history and has in each country, through the local Church, boisterously supported every step that Was taken in the direction of world-domination.
The second general vice is that the ambition of these Powers has led to a quite repulsive degradation of the standards of public conduct. Here there is no possibility of pleading ignorance on the part of the simple-minded Vatican. The Nazis have lied to and duped the Papacy itself repeatedly since their first bargain with it in 1933, and four-fifths of its complaints about Germany and Italy are grumbles that the Concordats which were solemnly signed have not been observed. Even Japan is now beginning to give it serious concern by its scheme to make Christianity purely national and independent of foreign influence.
Broadly we have seen years of such lying, treachery, and corruption as we thought that we had buried forever. Nearly a hundred pacts, treaties, or international agreements of one kind or other have been signed in the last 20 years and cynically disowned as soon as it was expedient. An Australian paper, The Vigilant, sends me a copy of an issue in which it quotes Hitler’s solemn assurance of non-aggression to every country he has attacked or annexed. “Germany neither intends nor wishes”, he says in 1935, “to interfere in the international affairs of Austria, to annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss.” His books show that he wished and intended it long before that time. “The Sudetenland is the last territorial claim I have to make in Europe,” he said on September 26, 1938. Within a few month’s he took the whole of Czecho-Slovakia and began to prepare for Poland. “Germany has concluded a non-aggression pact with Poland and she will adhere to it unconditionally”, he had told Poland and Europe. So with Holland, Belgium, and Yugo-Slavia. And all Germany Heil Hitlered when on June 22, 1941, he said, with his usual ferocious solemnity: “When the German Reich gives a guarantee, that means that it also abides by it.”
It is not only that the leading statesmen of the aggressor nations have lied so brazenly and cynically for years that the problem of the future historian will not be their psychology but that of the democratic statesmen. No trick has been too dirty to use. The corruptor, or advance-agent, was considered as respectable as the missionary. Japanese young “ladies” prostituted themselves in the good cause in China and Mongolia, and in France dames of the highest elegance used their charms for Germany and the Church. Japanese and German gold corrupted even Russians. Buddhist monks were used in Southern Asia, and women and promises of advancement everywhere to provide the miserable brood of traitors, almost a novelty of our age, whom we call Quislings. In short, the near- success of the trinity in crime was won by as vast and comprehensive a debasement of our standards of honor as had not been known in Europe since those flowers of the Age of Faith — the Age of Chivalry and the Renaissance.
Now not even a Bernard Shaw or an Aldous Huxley will say that this foulness, this reversion to pre-civilized ways of living, is found on all sides. Paradox is amusing but a paradox of that sort would be revolting. Certainly we all have our faults. I write for men and women who discount the utterances of statesmen and bishops and do not see the present struggle as a Miltonian conflict of angels and devils. We are poor enough, heaven knows, and much of the motivation of our conduct even in this war is far from angelic. But that this corruption of the standards of conduct is overwhelmingly on one side will be generally recognized. It is on the side of the Pope’s allies; and it has done incalculable harm to the democracies, for whom he has not a good word.
And the third vice, closely connected with this, is the bestiality with which the friends of the Vatican have conducted the campaign to attain their bestial greeds. A war inspired by such a purpose could not very well be otherwise. It is on the gangster level. Fear of retaliation has restrained that use of poison-gas which we expected but the horrors thicken as I write. We thought that we had reached a stage when soldier’s recognized the rights of man and confined their killing within certain lines. Now some blond beast in Paris or Prague, to get praise or higher profit from his Fuhrer, shoots fifty entirely innocent men for the act of an unknown. Bulgar officers bloodily exterminate whole villages. Russian villagers are shut in their houses and burned alive. The food of children is stolen in Denmark and Holland. Japanese officers indulge themselves or their men in rape and force opium upon the Chinese. Gestapo men, trained in Hitler Colleges to give the rein to sadistic impulses . . . But you have read enough about these things.
What does the Pope say about this conduct of his allies? Nothing. It would be “interference in polities” to notice what the Italians did in Abyssinia or are doing in Greece and Yugo-Slavia, what the Germans — But I beg the Pope’s pardon. He has twice used very eloquent and moving language about outrages. You may not think two protests in five years of bestiality a very high record for a Pope. In fact, if we look into them the protests are not so impressive. On January, 22, 1940 he referred to Poland in a broadcast address and lamented that he heard of “infamy of all kinds” and “horrible and inexcusable excesses.” What did his German allies say to that? Nothing. You see, he was referring to the Russians. He said that he had heard that these outrages were “not confined to districts under Russian occupation.” We must, it is true, make some allowance for the Pope’s ignorance. He evidently imagined that the Russians had taken over some ten million Pole’s and were beating the life out of them, whereas, as the rest of us know, the Russians had taken back only White Russians and Ukrainians and were only too eager to make them feel at home in the Soviet Union. In any case, although the press was still acridly anti-Russian no responsible paper even suggested that they were committing outrages.
A little earlier a censure of the seizure of part of Finland by Russia had shown that the eagle eye of the Vatican ranged even over the frozen north in search of outrages to rebuke — if they were not committed by its allies. There were many of us who did not at that time know what Russia had offered for the territory and how vitally necessary it was in view of the coming war, but we knew that Russians did not behave like the Pope’s friends. The Papal organ, however, the Osservatore Romano, surpassed itself — especially as it had never condemned outrages before. It had such lyrical passages as:
“After twenty years of Bolshevik tyranny it now appears that Communism which had already suppressed political liberty, stilled individuality, reduced work to the status of slavery, and erected violence into, a system, has added a new pearl to its diadem . . .” After hounding men it now hounds nations.
The Papacy complaining that some other institution stifles individuality is rich, and one cannot help reflecting today that for slaves the Russian workers fight with remarkable spirit. But these are incidental trifles such as we pick up in all Papal pronouncements. The broad comment on this Vatican rebuke of aggression is this: by that time Germany had drenched the Jews with horrors, carried out its infamous Blood Purge, and savagely destroyed Czecho-Slovakia. Italy had perpetrated the grossest outrages in Abyssinia and Albania, and Japan had overrun five province’s of China and treated tens of millions of the Chinese with barbarity. The Vatican, which had representatives of the three Powers in the Papal Court, had seen none of this wanton and monstrous aggressiveness and its accompanying savagery. Just as today it knows nothing about the savagery that is being perpetrated on Serbs, Greeks, and other conquered peoples. But the moment Russia enters upon a normal military operation — not after a treacherous pact of friendship, but after an earnest effort to bargain for what it vitally needed — the Pope ceases to be the Great Neutral and discovers that he is the supreme judge of the moral life of the world.
The Russians committed no outrages in either Finland or the provinces they recovered from Poland, although Poland had, as I will show presently, shamefully persecuted those provinces for twenty years. Today the Germans are in Russia and are surpassing their own record of brutality. Mr. Winston Churchill does not love Russia, so when he says that he has, officially, full and solid information about the German atrocities we have to believe him. On August 24 he said, speaking of Germany, in a carefully-prepared broadcast:
“As her armies advance whole districts are being exterminated. Scores of thousands — literally scores of thousands — of executions in cold blood are being perpetrated by the German police-troops. Since the Mogul invasion of Europe in the sixteenth century there has never been methodical, merciless butchery on such a scale or approaching such a scale.”
On September 29 he spoke again about “the absolutely frightful, indescribable atrocities which the German police-troops are inflicting on the Russian population in the rear of the advance of their armored soldiers.”
But the Pope has less to say than ever. One might gather from the Catholic papers that he is so busy praying for peace that he cannot maintain his customary moral survey of the world. Bunk. Not even the banks and exchanges are watching the ebb and flow of the red tide in Russia and calculating the chances of the issue more carefully than the Vatican. He will not utter a word of censure until we know that Germany is beaten. The common decent German soldier is sickened by the infamies committed by the Nazi-trained troops and police under Nazi leaders. A letter to his wife that was found on the body of one ran:
“I hate the day when I was born in Germany. I am shocked by what goes, on in our army in Russia. Vice, loot, violence, murder, murder, and murder. We destroy old men, women, and children and kill simply for the sake of killing . . . If I survive the Russian bullets and shells I will, in my present mood, perish from a German bullet.”
Evidence accumulates daily that the Italian people and soldiers, and most of the officers, are sick of the bestial alliance into which Mussolini, with the cowardly connivance of the King and the blessing of the Vatican, has drawn them. But the Pope says nothing. The German and Italian clergy, 100,000 of them besides paid officials, still cry whoopee.
Will the Catholics of America and Britain try, when the day of human judgment comes, to throw all the blame on Secretary of State Pacelli who is now Pope Pius XII? It would not be surprising. A year or two ago the plea was that the poor, harassed, aged Pope felt that he must in the general interest of the Church let Spanish bishops rejoice over the brutalities in Spain, Italian bishops lead their people in cheering for the “victories” in Abyssinia and Albania, and German bishops rub shoulders with the Nazis. Now they discover that, as we or they knew all along, behind the Pope, issuing orders in his name, was the vigorous Pacelli, Will they, when the war is over or the tide of battle definitely turns, say that the Church was compromised by a man of unfortunate character?
We may have to defend poor Pacelli against the archbishops and cardinals who lifted him to the skies a couple of years ago. He is no more inhuman than my of themselves. He is a man of normal but controlled sentimentality. In more fortunate circumstances he might have been a successful Roman lawyer or banker, kind and generous to his wife or some blonde baby. He is just a stricter churchman, more narrowly concentrated on the interests of the Church, than any of the others, and that is precisely why they made him Pope.
And as far as one can penetrate the august secrets of these proceedings it was not so much the Italian as the foreign, including the British and American cardinals, who turned a wavering scale in his favor. Pius XI, of unhappy memory — no Pope in modern times had been so severely criticized by Catholic writers of several countries — died on February 10, 1940, and the cardinal voters flew to Rome. The world learned how scrupulous is the procedure of the Church, the cardinals are locked in a room where they sleep and eat (and drink) until two-thirds of them agree upon a Pope.
What — incidentally — the world did not learn was the rather amusing meaning of this Conclave (or “‘shut in with a key”). The history of Papal elections for the last sixteen centuries, or since the Papacy became rich, beats the history of presidential elections to a frazzle for bribery, intrigue, and good honest fighting. If you read French and can get it read Petrucelli della Gattina’s Histoire diploinatique des Conclaves (4 vols, 1864-6), though you will find a good deal of the material in Miss V. Pirie’s Triple Crown (1935). However, in 1271 the cardinals who were assembled for an election in the Italian provincial town of Viterbo so disgusted the towns folk by wrangling for three years that the civic authorities locked them in a room and saw that none of them left it or intrigued with outsiders until they elected a Pope. From that date Conclaves began, though it must be confessed that the new institution by no means put an end to bribery, intrigue, and fighting.
On March 2, Pacelli was elected. Unlike profane elections that of a Pope begins with a very solemn invocation of the Holy Ghost — it did even in the days when the bribery ran to a million dollars and the murders to 200 — and then there are grave deliberations, and the cardinals visit each other in their cells (the cubicles into which part of the room is divided). After each vote the papers are burned and the smoke is conducted out by a pipe so that the Romans shall see. We thus know that there were three “scrutinies”, or examinations of votes, so that it took a considerable time for Pacelli to get the necessary two-thirds of the votes. In other words, although he was certainly the ablest candidate, the best expert on international affairs, and the best linguist, more than half the cardinals were at first opposed to him. It is useless to speculate on the reasons, but we receive with skepticism the report that German and Italian cardinals tried to prevent his election at the bidding of Hitler and Mussolini. Had Pacelli as Secretary of State not done enough for them? The best authority, the Pope’s biographer Rankin, says that the non-Italian cardinals carried the day for him.
The final vote is said to have been unanimous, as was very apt to happen when it was seen that other candidates had no chance. In other words — this is why I enter into detail — the Church put a crown not merely on the head of Eugenio Pacelli, but on the policy he had pursued for ten years. We will remember that if a day comes when American and British prelates try to disavow that policy. It is probably true that he fooled them by his suave assurances when he visited England and America that he was a friend of democracy and peace. But it would be juster to say that they fooled themselves. The Catholic Teeling, a layman, was fully aware and gave it as a fact of common Catholic knowledge, that the Vatican had for years been making every effort to counteract western [democratic] influence, which is not considered very good for the Church (The Pope in Politics, p. 3). The American cardinals and prelates who reported after his visit to the United States in 1936 that he was “a great friend of democracy” knew that his visit to South America in 1934 had been followed by the truculent suppression of democracy, in which the Church cordially helped, in nearly the whole of that half of the continent. Cardinal Hinsley, who stressed above all others that they had elected a Pope of Peace — even making absurd play of the fact that pace is the Italian for peace — knew just as well that for three years he had urged an attack on Bolshevism that would involve Italy, Germany, Japan, and the United States in war, and that he had given his support to Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan. Whoever was fooled, we will not be. The princes of the Church set the seal of his most solemn approval on Pacelli’s policy by electing him King.
THE POPE’S PEACE EFFORTS
Many will remember the note of synthetic admiration and rejoicing that was struck in the entire press of the world when Pacelli was elected on March 12. His biographer observes that while for some obscure reasons the Italian papers grumbled those of America and Great Britain glowed with satisfaction. The Archbishop of Canterbury talked like an elderly virgin in the House of Lords at Westminster, and his promise that if the new Pope would lead the world into paths of peace and justice he would follow and support him was hailed as a new and most promising religious phenomenon. Ransom sums up the general enthusiasm by pointing out that upon a world in flames there came at last a Pope with the inflexible motto: Peace, Truth, and Charity.
We skeptics are accused of stirring up sectarian strife in a world that needs cooperative action, of indulging in destructive criticism when what the race wants is constructive idealism. Who, in the light of recent events, was right? Four years before the election of Pius XII I wrote, in the Appeal to Reason Library, every word that I say in these booklets about the tendencies in life and about all events and developments to 1935. My work was neither destructive nor constructive. It was realistic: a statement of facts. And it differed from the statements of fact of these spiritual people and the newspapers which broadcast everything they said and ignored everything we said in that it was a full and truthful statement of facts. If all those facts which I gave — the programs of Hitler and Mussolini, the origin and trend of Nazism and Fascism, the situation in Spain and Austria and Poland, and so on — had been put squarely before the public in 1938 or 1939 there would have been much less school-girlish rejoicing because a new Pope spoke prettily about Peace, Truth, and Charity and much more demand for a realistic analysis of what was wrong and for appropriate action.
The world was not in flames at the beginning of 1939. It had accepted Mussolini’s assurance that with the annexation of Abyssinia for his surplus population he was now content; Hitler’s assurance that with his annexation of the German fringe of Czecho- Slovakia he had reached the limit of his ambition; Japan’s assurance that it did not now covet a single additional square mile of Chinese or other Asiatic territory.
But every man who saw the broad truth about the world- situation, that the race had entered upon a titanic conflict between privilege — wealth, Churches, all vested authority — and a new spirit that was reviled as Bolshevism, and that the utterly corrupt and dangerous forces of Nazism, Fascism, and Japanese Imperialism had been enlisted on the side of privilege, knew that, while the world was not yet in flames, a sinister fire shouldered underground, and it was no time for pretty talk about Peace and Charity. Sluggish as British statesmen were, we now know that they were preparing for the conflict that broke out later in the year, though they protested that the risks of disturbing the peace of the world by overt action (raising vast monition-plant’s) restricted them to such matters as secretly hiring premises for ministries in the country, drafting schemes, and organizing medical and undertaking services for vast numbers of wounded and dead civilians.
I must confine myself to these matters in so far as they involve the Church of Rome. The idea that the new Pope entered a world of danger and confusion for which others were responsible brought to it a new and beautiful gospel is, we now understand, tripe. He had had as Secretary of State at least for the preceding five years the same power which he would now wield as Pope, and he had deliberately used it to help the work of the forces of evil because, he believed, it was to the interest of the Church. It was nothing new for him to talk about peace. As the inspirer of Pius XI he had put the praise of peace on his lips or in his fountain-pen twice a year for years. In the intervals he had called through the Pope’s mouth for the extinction of Bolshevism and upon that cry only one possible interpretation can be put — war. We saw that Papal policy after 1919 was bound to seek this end above all others. Socialism and Communism were running the Church. And the only possible explanation of the Vatican entering into and in spite of every rebuff clinging to the alliance with the corrupt forces of Nazism, Fascism, and Japan is that they promised to accomplish that. It was the reason, also, why Pacelli, in the name of Pius XI, wrote an encyclical enjoining every Catholic state to become a Fascist Corporative State, and practically all the South American Republics as well as Portugal and Hungary, and later Spain, France, and Belgium complied. Coercion alone brought apostates to heel.
I made short reference in one booklet to — as far as I can discover — the first public declaration by the Papacy — except that the Pope began to lash out with his hatred of Russia in 1926 — of the sentiment that had long been forced upon it: that Socialism and Communism must be destroyed and that, since argument about the beauty of the Catholic faith ran off Socialists and Communists (who knew its history too well) like water off a duck’s back, they must be destroyed by violence. As the point is fundamental let us return to it for a moment. The occasion was a reception at the Vatican of Spanish refugees on September 14, 1936. The Pope’s speech to them, which is published in English by the Catholic Truth Society — I do not know if by this time they realized their blunder and suppressed it — with the title The Spanish Terror is no rambling talk of an aged and agitated priest. It is a polished rhetorical address, prepared in the Secretariat of State. It represents the rebellion of Catholic Fascist generals in Spain as a “satanic” attack on the established order by the very men who had established it, and it says that this is the work of “those forces which have already given proof and estimate of their quality in the attempt to subvert established order of every kind from Russia to China, from Mexico to South America”. As Chiang Kai- Chek had already, under the treacherous guidance of his earlier associates in Japan, destroyed Communism in China (and prepared the way for Japan), the Pope’s allies were destroying it in Spain, and the Fascist governments of South America had destroyed it there at Pacelli’s request, the meaning is clear. The Pope invited Germany (with the aid of rugged divisions from Catholic countries) and Japan to attack Russia and the United States to attack and annex Mexico. From that date the cry for the extinction of Bolshevism in Russia and Mexico echoed every month through the Catholic world.
It is plain that this sentiment of the Pope is not merely inconsistent with his gospel of peace, but it shaped a policy which was the very worst possible for the world and for the real prospect of peace at that time. I do not suggest that the Pope was either muddle-headed or hypocritical. He had made his position clear a score of times: peace — when Communism was extinct by the conquest of Russia and Mexico and his Nazi and Fascist allies had received, as a gift, what the Pope thought they wanted. It was the Pope’s admirers who were muddle-headed or — when they told the world that Pacelli was going to work for peace without qualification — hypocritical.
Recent events have now shown that the peace of the world and the removal of the corruption that threatened civilization depended above all upon the democracies and (in some form or other) the United States allying themselves closely with Russia. I may be pardoned for explaining that this is not on my own part a case of being wise after the event. In the A. B. C. Library of Living Knowledge (No. 3, Economic Gains of the Soviet Union, 1937) I fully vindicated that great civilization against calumnies that were current in nearly the whole press and showed how peace was the first condition it required for the completion of its splendid work. I pointed out that whatever dreams Russians may have had at an earlier date of inspiring revolution in other countries had been long abandoned, and they were content to let the peoples of the world judge for themselves between the civilizations of the west and that of the Soviet Union. I warned the reader that it was just because the Russians were so successful in creating a civilization without private capital and without religion that the combined influence of capitalism and the Churches used almost the entire press to libel them. “This generation,” I said (p. 29), “is the most heavily duped and doped in all recent history, and its blunder may prove the most costly in history to the workers of the world.”. I insisted that a great war of aggression was, on the open professions of Hitler and Mussolini and because of this criminal aloofness from Russia, certain to come and said:
“If this war of aggression, which, if it were successful, would be a signal to Mussolini to take up — at the deadly expense of France and England — his dream of an eastern empire, is averted, the world will have to thank the Soviet Union (p. 29).”
I have knowledge of even Rationalists who had long read my books but refused to read another line of mine because of that little book on Russia. They preferred the superficial gush and treacherous optimism of accepted writers and journalists who fooled them about the new Papal era of Peace and Charity.
Since this is the one defence of the action of the Black International, that the Pope used his world-prestige to issue one fervent appeal after another for peace, we must make a decisive reply to it. We are concerned with the action of the Church and will not be diverted by this trick of distinguishing between local hierarchies, as if they had a remarkable degree of independence of the Vatican, and the Pope. We shall see, indeed everybody knows, that the German Church loudly supported Hitler, as usual, when he launched the world-war and all its horrors, the Italian Church fully supported Mussolini in his miserable entrance into the war as soon as he felt that victory was certain, and the Spanish, Irish, Hungarian, and Portuguese Churches — and when the time came the Belgian and French Churches — supported their governments in assisting and fawning on the aggressors.
But for the moment we must clearly understand the action of the Pope himself. Chanting the virtues of peace is as idle as preaching justice in the abstract and is often far more dangerous. The only occasion on which I ever addressed a meeting of a Peace Society was in 1938. I at first declined the invitation and consented only on the understanding that I would tell them truths which they would not like. The bulk of the members refused to attend — the local Churches had been busy — and to the few who did I presented a realistic analysis of the state of the world, which the chief officials described as masterly and worthy of their deepest consideration, and a solemn warning of what was coming. I was not further invited to address one of the hundreds of Peace Societies in Great Britain, and a few months later they were all enthusiastic over the new Pope’s beautiful sentiments! These people flatter themselves that they have superior sentiments to the rest of us when they really differ from us in flabbiness of intellect or, in the better cases, in lack of realism.
The plain truth is that the Pope talked peace and worked for war. He had a very large share in the libel and hatred of Russia which prevented the one combination of sound forces that could ensure peace. France had entered into an alliance of mutual defense with Russia, but the Pope openly condemned it, and the Catholic military chiefs robbed it of reality and effectiveness. On the other hand the Pope clung to the alliances with the corrupt forces which he had cemented. It required very little intelligence and study of world-affairs at that time to perceive that the only possible danger to the peace of the world lay in Germany, Italy, and Japan. A closer student, as the Pope was supposed to be, could go further. He would know that those three Powers, his friends, were determined to start an aggressive war. What, in such circumstances, was the value of his appeals to the world at large to see the beauty of peace?
Well, says the apologist, wearily, at least he soon perceived his error and entered upon a series of practical proposals for ensuring peace. Did he? He was crowned Pope on March 12. I said in an earlier essay that it detracts somewhat from the beauty of his words about Charity that on the very day of his coronation the Jews were, with terrible injustice and suffering, turned out of Italy, and he said nothing. Again I beg his pardon. He protected some of the Jews. In October (1941) the Italian paper La Vita Italiana sourly complained that not only were there still Jews in Italy but some of them were millionaires and occupied very high positions in the state-service. One of these, a Signor Sacerdoti, had just been appointed Director General of all the shipyards of Italy. The paper went on to say:
“The appointment again confirms the general conviction that Italian Jews are strongly favored and protected by the Catholic Church and that wealthy Jews in Italy are still very influential.”
I always acknowledge without a qualm these little injustices to the clergy into which incomplete knowledge betrays me at rare intervals. At the same time I must point out, in case you do not know, Italian, that “Sacerdoti” means “Priests”, so that this one protected Jew of whom I have heard was obviously a Roman Catholic as well as a millionaire, and therefore a fit person, to come under the Pope’s mantle of Charity: which did not cover the 69,999 Jews who were robbed and cast out.
March 12 was not merely a real Yom Kippur for the Jews of Italy. It was the day on which, as I have elsewhere stated, the sleek and treacherous priest, Msgr. Tiszo, went from Slovakia to see Hitler and arrange with him for the final betrayal, or sale, of Czecho-Slovakia. That foul deed was certainly done with the agreement of the Vatican. It made a final end of the Liberalism, which the Pope hated, of the Czechs, and it made solidly Catholic Slovakia an independent state, another member of the Pope’s new dream of a Catholic bloc and abjectly submissive to the Vatican. As I said, you can believe if you like that Tiszo accomplished this without consulting Rome. But the step meant far more. It finally remained the great obstacle to Hitler’s march to Russia and the Balkans. How did the Pope of Peace regard that? It is well known that even Chamberlain was now convinced that war was absolutely inevitable. The whole world saw it. Are we to suppose that the new Pope in the weeks, intense brooding and praying, with three hours’ sleep a night, that followed his coronation (his biographer, says) did not see what every statesman and editor in the world saw?
Well, says the apologist, still more wearily, Pacelli girded his thin loins and settled down to six months’ fighting to avert the great calamity. Let me say at once that Pacelli was not such a fool as one might be tempted to think when one reflects how he had prepared the irresistible conditions of a great war. He is a man of considerable ability and I suggest the alternative view that he knew well that war was inevitable, was convinced that Germany, Italy, and Japan — we shall see later that he was aware of the joint plan — would win, and was equally convinced that this would prove to be to the advantage of the Church. The known facts permit us to make only one concession to the claim that after all he was human as well as ecclesiastical: he would work sincerely for peace in the sense of appeasement or granting Hitler, Mussolini, and Japan what they quite obviously wanted, and he probably did not realize how much they wanted that they did not make obvious.
In this light we may review his peace-efforts in the fateful summer of 1939. The first was unfortunate. He was crowned on March 12 and he emerged from his week of Yogi meditation on the “9th. Easter Sunday was to fall on April 9, and he had to have a particularly fervent appeal to the world for peace ready for that date. But on Good Friday Mussolini took the second step in his war by invading Albania! The Pope’s biographer tells us that he was annoyed, in so far as consecrated persons can be, both by the desecration of the holy day and the need to rewrite some passages of his appeal for peace. To what extent he was really duped we do not know. Catholics say that he wrote a letter to the King of Italy to prevent the invasion. It would be as futile as writing to the king of toyland, but there is no evidence that such a letter was ever written. Everybody in Italy knew — was bound to know — that a large Italian force was concentrating at the Adriatic ports for the invasion of Albania; and every thoughtful Italian must have known that Albania was for Mussolini just the same stage in a journey to the East as Czecho-Slovakia had been for Hitler. But whether or no it is true that Mussolini double-crossed his partner in crime by taking the step, in order to make sure that he got the southern half of the Balkans for Italy, need not be discussed here, and the desecration of Good Friday does not interest us. We will examine the eastern expansion as a whole and the Vatican’s relation to it in a separate essay.
The upshot was that, while nice-minded people all over the world read the Pope’s appeal with the usual moist eyes and muddled brains, for serious folk it was at the best a damp squib, at the worst a mockery. And the Pope soon knew it. Many believe that, while Hitler has certainly not the vast planning and organizing intelligence with which Nazis credit him, he probably does throw off the general plans or imaginative scheme’s which the massive military and economic brain behind him then works out in detail. However that may be, we see a steady and very able method in the great plot: a step, very carefully prepared (the Saar, the Rhineland, Austria, etc.) every six months or so, then six months of covert preparation for and open lying about the next step. After Czecho-Slovakia the lying became useless. Only Dutchmen and Belgians were duped by it. Poland was to be the next stage; and the next stage meant war on a European scale.
There is evidence, which we will see later, that, as we should assume, the Vatican knew this as well as the French and British Foreign Offices. A fortnight after Easter the Pope, his biographer tells us, received so secret a message from his Nuncio in Berlin that he opened the letter with his own hands and kept the contents secret. Only his Secretary of State, Maglione, knew what reply he made to it. Is it fanciful to suppose that it apprised him of the next step that Hitler meditated? It was followed, the biographer says, by “feverish activity” at the Vatican, the Pope consulting his Nuncios from Berlin and Warsaw and seeing numbers of bishops from France, Germany, and Poland. As the quarrel about Dantzig, the unmistakable herald of Hitler’s next step, soon broke out, the Vatican could not even pretend to be taken by surprise.
What, then, were all these efforts to secure peace of which the Catholic apologist speaks? We ignore the Easter lyric. It reminds us of one gangster sending a wreath to the funeral of another. In May he suggested — so unobtrusively that it could be denied when the plan failed — a Five Power Conference over the German-Polish dispute. The five Powers were to be Poland, Germany, Great Britain, France, and Italy. You may think him either unpractical or insincere but the fact is that he wanted Russia, which was deeply interested, excluded, on his usual assumption that it was not a respectable Power, and Italy, which was not interested and would intervene only to support Hitler, included. France, which was now, to the Pope’s annoyance, allied with Russia, and Great Britain refused. The Conference would certainly not have checked Hitler.
It is said — and, of course, denied — that the Pope then suggested a Conference on the economic grounds of the world-unrest. Mussolini had been complaining for some time that Great Britain and France were trying to starve the Axis economically, and that Tunis, Jibute, and a share in the control of the Suez were vital economic requirements of Italy and would entirely satisfy it; while his troops were trying to cross Albania to Greece and his Fascist toughs were encouraged to bawl in the streets and theaters that Italy must have Savoy, Corsica, Malta, etc. Hitler was pleading that once the question of Dantzig and the Corridor was settled he would lay aside his armor forever. Any man who wishes may assume that the Pope really believed them. His economic peace plan was an attempt to get Great Britain and a France that was already weakened by treason to give them what they wanted. In any case his suggestion was rejected as amateurish.
These various proposals are interesting only in connection with the belief of many that the Vatican has as fine an intelligence-service as any Chancellory in Europe. If that were so, the Pope would know that these pretended economic grievances of Germany, Italy, and Japan were dishonest pretexts for crime. They were based upon two lies: over-population and a disadvantage in getting supplies from parts of the world which were included in the empires of Great Britain and France.
The grievance about over-population is nauseous when we recall how Hitler for six years and Mussolini for fifteen years had been whipping up the birth rate by every means in their power; and in this their action coincided with that of the Catholic clergy. Neither in Italy nor Germany was there the least reticence about the reasons for demanding early marriages and giving special prizes to parents of large families. They wanted soldiers. “We were born to die for Germany” was painted up in boys schools in that country, and leading statesmen urged mothers to look anxiously for the first mystic flicker of the “starlight of battle” in a baby boy’s eyes. The Italians were less absurd but equally frank. The men who will be called to account in future history are the states-men and writers of other countries who saw year by year this frenzied and artificial attempt to increase the population, accompanied by hypocritical pleas that the countries were already so overpopulated, that they must have more territory. The Catholic clergy were the worst offenders. They pretended to discover that birth control was immoral. Their real purpose in their ban on it was to secure an increase of the Catholic population while the non- Catholic practiced birth control.
In point of fact, Germany was very far from overpopulated, and Italy was by no mean’s one of the most densely populated countries. England has about 800 people to the square mile, while Italy has only 350 and Germany 322. Belgium, Holland, and other countries annexed by Germany on the plea of wanting more “living room” for its distressed population are twice as densely populated as it is. The whole economic plea of Germany, which the Pope wanted gravely discussed, stank with mendacity. Sir Norman Angell, one of the most anxious of men to remove grounds of war, proved years ago in a special study “that England had very little economic advantage from its empire.” You can trust the Canadians and Australians to see that any advantage is mutual. Hitler says repeatedly and emphatically in Mein Kampf that Germany does not want colonies: in which he includes dominions of the British type. It wants land in Europe, he insists, and we now see it clearly. He wants to reduce Europe to economic servitude to the Nazis.
The Pope’s biographer complains that after a time both Great Britain and Germany refused to take the Pope further into their confidence. We do not wonder. But, whether you prefer to believe that he was not willing to be pushed out of the spotlight or that he really thought he could help the interest of peace, he tried again. He issued a very pretentious document in which he stated the conditions of peace, and half the world began again to discuss the marvelous sagacity and moral serenity of his famous “Five Points”.
It was, in point of fact, his worst effort. The material part of his first and most important point was: “A fundamental postulate of an honorable and just peace is that of the right to life and freedom of all nations, big and small, powerful and weak.” It is exasperating that most papers, in their eagerness to please Catholic readers and advertisers, promised this as a very clear- headed piece of moral guidance in a world of confusion. Such a right has been a platitude in political theory for more than half a century. One is tempted to say ever since the ropes were compelled by the Italian armies to let the inhabitants of Central Italy decide by plebiscite how they preferred to live. But for Pacelli-Pius to formulate this principle solemnly to the world in the year 1939 was a breath-taking piece of audacity.
As I showed in an earlier booklet, four-fifths of the Catholics of the world live under a Fascist regime, and they are assured by their priests that this is in accordance with the Pope’s teaching! What is worse, most of them have had this despotic regime imposed upon them under Pacelli and at his direct instigation. I have shown how freedom disappeared almost whenever he visited a country or it came under Catholic authorities: in 20 Republics of Central and South America, Portugal, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, and in the end France and Belgium. The Black International was solely responsible for robbing the people of Vienna of their right to choose their mode of life and cordially cooperated in depriving the Spaniards of that right. The Papacy had been an intimate ally of the Fascists for ten years in refusing the Italians the means of expressing their wishes and of the Nazis for six years. It had consented by silence to the theft of that right from the people of Abyssinia, Bohemia, Moravia, and Albania. It demanded almost every month that the people of Russia and Mexico should be violently deprived of that right. And the Pope crowns this formidable list of encroachments on the liberty of peoples which he inspired or blessed by assuring the world that to respect the right of self- determination is the first condition of the peace it ardently desires! I need not go on to ask what serious prospect he thought there was of Germany, Italy, and Japan, the only three powers to whom it was necessary to preach, agreeing to it.
The least that the world could do, since the press is not open for candid reflections on the Pope’s actions, was to ignore him and his Five Points. The other points were platitudes. The second condition of peace was disarmament: a very practical thing to say in 1939. Then we get counsels to learn from the past, to consider the demands of racial minorities, and to cultivate mutual goodwill and a sense of justice. It was like proposing to sell a man asbestos paint when his house was burning furiously. If the Pope, had framed these points in the office of the Secretariat of State in 1929 and had broadcast them sternly whenever a violation of them seemed imminent he might not have averted the coming tragedy but he would have saved the honor of the Papacy. He could not. Authority is the first principle and coercion the indispensable instrument of the Church. Some Protestant bishops applauded the Pope’s Five Points. Others asked what freedom, good-will, and justice non- Catholics had in Poland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Hungary, and a score of other Catholic states.
POLAND PAYS FOR ITS PIETY
What passed between the Vatican and the Nazis before the invasion of Poland and the opening of the European War only the Pope and a very small number of his collaborators know. On April 24, as I said, the question of Slovakia being now settled and Hitler in possession of the bridge to the Ukraine and the Balkans, the Pope got a letter from his Berlin representative in a secrecy that surprises and puzzles his biographer, it took two days of solitary reflection for him to decide upon the answer, and only he and Cardinal Maglione know to this day what the answer was. Then there were visits to the Vatican of the Rumanian and French ambassadors and various German and Polish bishops, and there was a brisk secret correspondence with the Nuncios at Berlin, Warsaw, and Paris.
Clearly the new Pope was confronted with a terrible dilemma and he was anxious to keep secret even from the Church what decision he took. Rome is one of the busiest sounding boardes of rumors in Europe and the Vatican press bureau is as Pegler has shown, one of the leakiest or most venal, but at this stage the secret was guarded with unprecedented rigor. If you will next notice the significant fact that the Pope refrained from an explicit condemnation of the invasion of Poland as carefully as in the case of Abyssinia and Albania — he certainly never used a word to compare with his language about the Russians when they simply took back Rusalan provinces which Germany would have annexed — you will hardly hesitate in your guess what the secret was. The Pope was informed of the plan to invade Poland and was induced to assent on certain conditions: probably that the occupation of Poland would be temporary and was indispensable for the attack on Russia, that religion would be respected in Poland, and that the Church would get concessions in Germany and great opportunities in Russia. The idea seems to have been that the Pope would persuade the very docile Poles to submit on these conditions and would continue to inflame them against Russia, the only Power that could save them.
In refraining from condemning the invasion of Poland — I do not count later protests when the Catholic, body was threatened with annihilation — the Pope could not plead, as he did in the case of Norway, that the Catholic body was small and he must think of his German Church and not offend the Nazis. Whether or no that is a respectable ground of action in a Pope, the fact is that there were twice as many sincere Catholics in Poland as in the Reich. A cynic would add that, though it had more adherents and of a more passionate loyalty, the Polish Church was not a quarter as rich as the German Church. We will, of course, not admit that the Vatican was moved by so profane a consideration, but the numbers are indisputable. We have seen that by 1939 there were not 12,000,000 Catholics left in Germany: probably not more than 10,000,000. No one disputes that of the 33,000,000 people of Poland more than 20,000,000 were sincere Catholics and several further million were compulsory members of the Church: a type of Catholic of which the Vatican seems to be equally proud.
This strange situation requires an historical explanation, but for even a short summary of the history of Catholicism in Poland I must refer to my Appeal to Reason Library (No. 5., “Roman Catholicism in Poland and Russia”) and confine myself here to a few points which are essential to understand what follows. There is, as I have often pointed out, a close parallel between Poland and Ireland, especially if you think of Catholic Ireland before British Liberalism relieved many of its grievances. Both countries suffered from their geographical position, on the outskirts of civilization, and in both cases this gave the priests a rich opportunity to exploit the poor and very backward population. And just as the earlier tyranny of Protestant England had hardened the faith in Ireland and brought priests and people closer together, so had the long tyranny of Orthodox Catholic Russia in Poland. While, however, Britain had very materially modified its treatment of the Irish more than half a century ago, Russian tyranny had continued until 1917.
We thus recognize a very serious traditional ground for that hostility to Russia which prevented Poland from entering into alliance with the one Power that could protect it, but it is due mainly to the Black International that hostility became worse after 1918 and completely destroyed the chances of checking Nazism on that side.
At Versailles, to which the Poles sent Paderewski to lull the ears of statesmen with his music, a Republic of 30,000,000 inhabitants was set up. Not much more than half of these were Poles, so that there were few parts of Europe in which the Conference of Versailles sowed the seeds of a future war so recklessly as in Poland. In particular the Poles claimed Russian territory (White Russia and the Galician Ukraine) containing seven or eight million people of alien race and generally alien religion, and, to the disgust of the British representatives, the French bulldozed Wilson, who reeled under the shower of weird geographical names (and lies) into consenting. The Poles also claimed Silesia from Germany, but it was so obviously far more German than Polish that the League of Nations was directed to take a plebiscite.
The time came when the French were disgusted with their Polish pet — they had supported it as a bulwark against Bolshevism — and they gave away the fact that the plebiscite was corrupt. See the Catholic Rene Martel’s La France et la Pologne (1931). The Poles had formed a special organization for corrupting and intimidating voters and officials, and one of the three directors of it was Msgr, Adamski, Catholic Bishop of Posen. The Black International had begun its record in Poland, and there is no other part of the world in which it has proceeded with such gross inhumanity, as we shall see presently. The vote was still 700,000 for Germany and 400,000 for Poland, and the Commissioners decided to divide the province. This division was, carried out with the same corruption, the richest districts going to Poland even when the great majority of the inhabitants were found to be Germans. They had to sell out to Poles, at a heavy loss, and transfer to Germany. Still the Poles were not content. The League of Nations permitted them to take advantage of Russia’s distress and seize Vilna and part of Lithuania. Ever since that period of grab and corruption there has been a monument on German soil facing Poland with the inscription: “Germans, never forget of what blind hatred has robbed you.”
How in spite of all this greed and the large loans extended by France and Britain, Poland sank to the position of the poorest country in Europe — read Spivak’s Europe Under the Terror if you want to know what exploitation really is — cannot be discussed here. The point of interest to us is that the country no sooner rid itself of the tyranny of Czarist Russia than it set up a still more galling tyranny over its own minorities, and in this the Black International worked in intimate cooperation with the Dictator Pilsudski. Marshal Pilsudski, over whose death in 1935 we shed tears as we read the record of his virtues in all our papers, was, not to put too fine a point on it, a brute and a crook. He had led the Poles who fought for Germany against us in the 1914-1918 war, and they had not thought it discreet to send him to Versailles. He had joined the White War against Russia, which he hated with all the bitterness of (like Mussolini) a renegade Socialist, and only the French had saved him from losing Poland to them. He disgusted every group of politicians, and the Socialists saved him from ruin and he then sent their leaders to a fortress and tortured them exactly (even to the guards putting excrement in their food) as Nazis later tortured Jews in Germany.
As far as I can discover Pilsudski never became a sincere Catholic — again like his friend Mussolini — but he acted with and on behalf of the Church, which is more powerful than in Ireland or Peru. Let me explain at once that the appalling persecution that lasted twenty years in Poland was a joint affair of Church and state and aimed equally at destroying the nationality and the religion of the immense non-Polish minorities. In the Galician Ukraine alone there were 1,000,000 Catholic Poles, 1,250,000 Jews, 4,000,000 Greek Uniates (acknowledging the Pope but with a Greek liturgy), and 4,000,000 Orthodox or Greek Catholics. In the west were about 1,000,000 German Protestants; and there were, of course, representatives of all minorities and not a few skeptics in the cities. For twenty years every device of persecution and brutality was used to destroy the religious liberty and the national tongues and customs of these minorities, although the Poles had given Versailles a solemn engagement to respect them. I am concerned only with the coercion in religious matters, and the reason for recalling it here is obvious. During all the years when the Vatican and the Black International in every country, but especially in the United States and Canada, was inspiring, on the ground of its “persecution of religion”, that hatred of Russia which has been of incalculable service to the Nazis, this same Black International not only knew that there was no persecution of religion in Russia — it was Polish conspiracy that brought punishment on the Catholics there but was conducting a quite fiendish persecution of religion in Poland and preventing the press in other countries, with only four exception’s amongst all the dailies of Canada, the United States, and Great Britain, from publishing the facts. The honorable exceptions were the Toronto Evening Telegram, the Chicago Daily News, the New York Herald-Tribune, and the Manchester Guardian (England); and the persecutions had been in progress for eleven years when they discovered it.
The Ukrainians of Galicia had sent a deputation to Versailles to protest against incorporation in Poland and claim independence. The French had got the petition dismissed, and the Poles had promised to respect their minority-rights. Six months later they addressed to the French a memoir (Les atrocites polonaises en Galicie Ukrainienne) which showed a very brutal persecution, political and religious raging over the whole vast area. In one overcrowded and filthy jail 200 of the 2000 prisoners were Orthodox priests. More than 1000 priests had been arrested and Polish Roman priests stalked like ghouls in the rear of the police and soldiers taking over the schools and chapels of the dispossessed Greek priests. The soldiers were instructed to subject the Greek priests to every kind of humiliation and mockery so as to break the attachment of the people. But the peasants and farmers reacted with the fiery protests that might have been expected, and “whole villages were depopulated by massacre.” The women were raped and beaten, the men shot by the thousand. In other words, the Catholic Poles were perpetrating in Poland twenty years ago just those atrocities which are now exercised upon themselves by the Germans, and, except for this authoritative account in French, which was not translated into any other language, the world was not permitted to know anything about it.
It is an important secondary aim of these booklets to warn the reader of the extraordinary extent and pernicious nature of the Catholic censorship of the press and of publicity generally. Just about that time, twenty years ago, I spent six months in New York and when I suggested to a well-known publisher, who asked me for a book, that I should write on the Catholic Church, he refused and assured me that I would not find a publisher for such work in New York. Few publishers have any sympathy with the Church — the only one I found with such personal admiration of it was, curiously, my Rationalist friend G.H. Putnam — but the press would not bring to the notice of the public, in the usual way, books that were (offensive to Catholics”, and they submitted that it was useless to publish them. Libraries were often intimidated from buying them and booksellers from exposing them for sale. Haldeman-Julius is the only publisher in America during the last ten years who has enabled me to tell truths of the kind I tell here, yet it will be evident that the world would have been far better equipped to meet the darkening future if the whole truth had been put before it year after year.
I have devoted a paragraph to events of twenty year’s ago because they were but the first page in a chapter of persecution which covers the whole intervening period and is very material from several angles to my present theme. The matter not only affords a very striking illustration of the suppression of truth which it is important to know. It shows that the worst blunders of Versailles, which we blamed so fluently, were enormously aggravated by the conduct of the Catholic Poles. It explains that bitter hostility of the Poles to the Russians which caused them to lend a hand in every conspiracy against the Soviet government since 1919 and brought upon the Catholic priests in Russia, most of whom were Poles, the legitimate legal proceedings which the Vatican and the American bishops represented as persecution of religion. It shows that outrages as vile as any committed by the Japs in China and now by Nazis in many lands were being perpetrated by the most profoundly Catholic state in the world for twenty years while nice-minded folk everywhere were wondering whether the new barbarism was not due to a decay of religion. And it puts in a strange light that standing excuse of the Vatican for its conduct, that the extension of its rule over further millions of men or the maintenance of that rule over million’s who seem to be rejecting it is so important for the moral and social good of men that we must be lenient in regard to the crookedness of its policy.
If ever this appalling record of persecution in Poland by the Catholic Poles is forced upon general public notice we shall probably hear the usual distinction between the action of a local hierarchy and the action of the Vatican, I need not repeat that we are here considering the conduct of the Black International as a whole not simply of the Popes, and we are not embarrassed by being unable to trace in every case the instructions of the Vatican to national Churches. But this distinction is not even plausible in the case of Poland. The present Pope Pius XII, has, we saw, an intimate knowledge of German affairs, and no plea of ignorance or misinformation can be made in connection with any of his relations to that country. But the late, Pope Plus XI, had the same personal interest in Poland, his pontificate (1922-1939) exactly coincides with the Catholic Reign of Terror in that country.
Any writer must dwell with reluctance on the misconduct of a people which bore, and with great heroism, the first brutal onset of the European War and suffers so bitterly for it today. It is, however, necessary to tell the whole truth if we are to appreciate the insincerity of the pretensions of the Black International, the truth about its conduct, and the mendacity with which a good deal of that conduct is concealed. It is fortunately easier in America than elsewhere to learn the truth. When the Chicago Daily News and the Herald-Tribune disturbed the clerical folk who were raving about persecution in Russia — Jewish rabbis joining in processions with bishops in New York while financiers applauded from the windows — by showing that the real persecution was in Poland, officials in Washington answered inquirers with the suave assurances of the Polish Catholic representatives that it was “all lies.” But there is a large body of Ukrainians in the United States, and in 1931 they collected and published a large volume of testimony (letters, reports, journalistic accounts, etc.) of the outrages.
No impartial person who reads this (Atrocities in the Ukraine, 1931, edited by Emil Revyuk) can for a moment doubt the truth of the statements. The authority is absolute. The details are revolting. The defense urged by some is that, the Ukrainians had rebelled against their Polish masters. Yes, after years of brutal treatment in violation of the promise’s made by Poland when it received the province. But a nation of 30,000,000, spending a very high proportion of its revenue on an army which could stand up to Germany for three weeks hardly needed torture and brutality to suppress any revolt in a province. Flogging, with whips loaded with wire or iron, was a daily occurrence. Pregnant women and girls were beaten. Heated irons were applied to the feet. Water, sometimes mixed with oil, was forced down their nostrils. Men — not merely peasants but professional men and scholars — were deprived of sleep until they became half-insane. There were 200,000 in jail in 1930 and torture was used lavishly on them to make them betray others. The brutality was even worse in 1934 and 1935, though it seems to have relented a little after the death of Pilsudski in the latter year.
The first encyclical that the Pope issued in 1939 deplored that the root of all evil in the world was the decay of religion. One wonders how many sage editorials took up and confirmed that text; and not one in a hundred of these papers had informed its readers that bestiality of the kind that will make sociologists of the future hesitate to call our social order a civilization had been going on for twenty years in the most religious country in Europe. Poland was to 1939 far more Catholic than Eire or Peru. A French Catholic visited it in 1932 and wrote an article on it in the Catholic Revue des Deux Mondes (February 1, 1933). He describes exhibitions of piety in public to which you will find no parallel in any other country. American Catholics were, at the time, telling non-Catholic neighbors that if they could only see religious life in a solidly Catholic country they would perceive the beauty of the Church. Well, Poland was the most solidly Catholic country in the world, and its priests and bishops were equally behind this persecution, which extended also to German Protestants and Polish Freethinkers, with the politicians of the Pilsudski school, They were just as eager to destroy the Uniate, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches as the politicians were to make everybody thoroughly Polish. That is abundantly shown in Revyuk’s book.
It is hardly necessary to point out how these facts make a mockery of the Vatican’s assurance to the world that when the Russian troops entered this Galician Ukraine in 1939 they committed outrages as the German troops did in Posen. Roman Catholic Poles and the few other Roman Catholics in the province fought against the Russians, but what was likely to be the mutual attitude of the Ukrainians and the Russian’s after 20 years of this agony? The Ukrainians hated the Poles mortally. The Russians were an army of liberation. The jails were opened. The farms were restored to their owners. But the Papal lie was reproduced respectfully in the world- press. I remember very few papers which even troubled to explain that the two provinces taken over by Russia, palpably to anticipate a German annexation of them, were Russian provinces wantonly torn from their natural unity by Versailles, but I do not remember a single paper that explained what grounds the Ukrainians had for relief and how bitterly they hated the Poles.
Another reason why I enlarge on this painful chapter of Polish history just before the war is because it has a vital bearing on one of the grossest blunders of the democracies and greatest advantages of the Nazis, the estrangement from Russia. Since I cannot put before the reader any correspondence of the Vatican with the Polish hierarchy he must decide on a general knowledge of Church methods how far the Vatican knew and approved of the brutal persecution I fancy he will not have much difficulty — but that the Papacy inflamed the Catholic Poles against Russia is patent. The Poles had, we saw, very strong traditional grounds to hate Tsarist Russia, and Pilsudski had carried his hatred over to Soviet Russia and had gravely implicated the Roman Catholics in Russia in the White War and subsequent conspiracies. Grave difficulties were bound to arise when there was a common frontier between the most religious and the most irreligious country in Europe. It will, however, not be questioned that these difficulties were immensely aggravated by the appeals to the Catholic world of the Papacy to work for the extinction of Bolshevism after 1926. It was in large part owing to this that the democracies lost the last opportunity of either preventing the war or making it short and restricted.
Poland had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1934, and there cannot be the least doubt that, imbued as it was with the Pope’s idea of a crusade against Russia, in which Germany must play at least the leading part, Poland regarded this as a preparatory condition for the eventual attack on Russia. When Hitler and Mussolini had hamstrung Czecho-Slovakia, Catholic Poland and Catholic Hungary had, like wolves waiting until a buffalo is wounded, bitten large pieces of territory out of its flanks. On January 25, 1939, Hitler had sent Ribbentrop, the vilest agent of his more treacherous moves, to Warsaw to represent Germany at the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the non-aggression pact. It was, he said in his speech, “one of the firmest bases of European peace.” What children these Europeans were the historian will one day reflect! Germany was then, he knew, plotting the destruction of Poland and a world war.
Ribbentrop returned to Germany to join in the plot against Czecho-Slovakia in which, as I have elsewhere explained, it received most valuable help from the Black International. The Germans entered Prague on March 15 (1939), while the new Pope was preparing his moving address on peace and charity; and the world began to prepare for what seemed to be the inevitable war. Most of my neighbors in London had gas-masks by that date and looked forward with amazing apathy — or was it lack of imagination? — to the horrors that were predicted. The French signed a mutual defensive alliance with Poland. In fact, in the course of the next few months France and Great Britain had such alliances also with Rumania, Greece, and Turkey.
We can imagine some imperfectly informed reader of the next generation exclaiming impatiently: But why string together these small, scattered, and not wholly reliable nations and omit the one great power, Soviet Russia, which was Germany’s natural enemy and was worth all the others put together? We did not ask the question at the time because we knew the answer. These Catholic countries and even Great Britain regarded an approach to Russia much as a Baptist mothers meeting would regard a suggestion, in case of need, to call in the aid of a gunman to protect their virtue. For that the Pope had a very large part of the responsibility.
Naturally there were approaches, of a sort. The French signed a pact with Russia, almost useless because it did not include a military alliance, in April. The Vatican promptly condemned it. The British asked Russia to promise military aid to Poland and Rumania, but only in such form and measure as those powers decided, and they would not promise British aid to Russia if it was attacked. Russia, sore about the insulting exclusion from Munich, rightly distrusting a Britain which, it knew, regarded it as an outlaw, refused. Poland refused to have adequate Russian armies in it, and the little Baltic states, prizes set up by Versailles for the first grabber, also refused. Great Britain half-heatedly pushed on. It sent a diplomatic mission, of a character it would not send to any other country, to Moscow, then a military mission of the same inferior quality. Russia did not need to read how one of the Blimps of a London club had said: “We may, of course, have to get Russia to help, but, please God it will not come to that.” It, in August 23, sent the old women of the clubs into hysterics by announcing that it had signed a non-aggression pact with Germany. A few weeks later it sent the Nazis into what we might call a subdued hysteria by snatching the Galician Ukraine — for reasons which I have surely fully explained — from under their guns.
We quite understand Russia. We also now understand Poland, which entered upon its three-years war-agony on September 1st, and its three-years peace-agony a few weeks later. Only one feature in that year of tragic blunders concerns us here. Poland, which thought it had been following the luminous lead of the Church for so many years, had been led by the nose. The brave, exploited, perversely educated people had been cursed with blundering leaders who were in closer alliance with the Church than leaders were in any other Catholic country. They had brought upon the land the contempt of Europe and had made it refuse the aid of the big brother who, with real aid from the British and French fleets, Rumania, Yugoslavia, and Greece might have averted its tragic fate. The poles paid for their piety. Little did the French dream that they also, the least religious people in Europe after the Russians, Would soon be led by the Black International, and without the redeeming trait of honor and bravery which we accord to the Poles, into same black pit. Never was there before such lack of foresight in an age of mortal danger. We know why the statesmen and churchmen of democratic countries were reluctant to face realities. Hitler and Mussolini and their satellite promised to kill Socialism. Would the catastrophe have been as grave if the peoples of the world had had all the facts candidly before them?
THE GERMAN CHURCH AND THE WAR
On September 1st, 1939, began, with the invasion of Poland, the greatest war, it maybe the most terrible and tragic three-year period, in the whole of history. The aggression-mongers, the Pope’s biographer affirms, thrust him aside and excluded him from their counsels. “When the swords flash let the lawyers be silent” said an old Roman proverb. The new Roman applied it to churchmen: Mussolini assured the Pope that he would see that Rome was respected as a sacred city, and, although Italian planes have taken part in the foul bombing of London, Rome has never been bombed. Churchill persistently refuses to tell why. Perhaps the Catholic authorities of the United States and the British Empire could tell us. The Pope, to make doubly sure that he would remain out of heaven some years longer, had a luxurious shelter prepared under an ancient tower with walls fifteen feet thick. Germany would not require his services again until the attack on Belgium and France.
A pathetic spectacle for the moral ruler of the world! If he had been the austere world-figure that Catholic literature represents him — nay, if he had been a man — what would he have done? He would certainly not have been content, as he was to ask the nations of the world, as if they were equally guilty, to make peace: certainly not have proposed economic conferences, as he did, to make the aggressive powers still stronger by conceding territory for which they need not expend any of their forces. Indeed, the whole world knew at that time that only one nation threatened its peace, Germany. The Italian and Japanese jackals would not move until the lion had scattered a few corpses about the landscape. So the Pope’s function, unless America apologetic literature is admitted to be insincere, was clear. He ought to have branded as criminal in the highest degree the ambition to annex and exploit other countries, one by one, of which Germany had given ample proof. He ought to have condemned in the most explicit and severest terms the glorification of war by the German and Italian leaders, the lies they put forward about encirclement and over-population, the racial arrogance with which they were poisoning their people, the murderous outrages with which they had begun to say to all the little nations of Europe: See what you will get if you resist us.
It is hardly worthwhile discussing the immediate pretexts of the opening of hostilities. For my part — I have never hesitated to say that Dantzig was a German city and ought never to have been taken from it, and that to take from it a slice of East Prussia measuring 260 miles by 80 to give the Poles — Polish capitalists and French bond-holders, that is to say — a “Corridor” to the sea was little less monstrous. But no one in Europe expected Germany to be satisfied with these. The situation was as clear as the Eiffel Tower at Paris. Germany meant to take Poland, and England and France were sworn to regard such a step as proof of a large aggressive design and declare war. Those of us who knew the facts reflected, sadly, that the democracies could hardly choose a weaker case to champion than that of the synthetic Poland they had set up at Versailles, the Fascist state which had bludgeoned its minorities for twenty years. It was all the worse that, as was soon proved, they could give no help to Poland and were not even able to help themselves.
The very difficult and still obscure question of France require’s a separate book but I can speak for England. About mid- day on that fateful Sunday the news was broadcast that Chamberlain had declared war on Germany. By an extraordinary blunder the sirens wailed within half an hour and, to make matters worse in my own street, a stupid warden gave the signal to prepare for gas. I will not describe the panic — which does not detract from the fine courage of most Londoners when the blow fell later — but it reminded us of one thing: we had no armament whatever for the war we had declared. It has since transpired that England then had only 18 good fighter planes. Germany had thousands. Nine months preparation had done little more than give most of us gas-masks — I had none — accommodations for a million or so in the hospitals and coffins for hundreds of thousands. Yet for once Englishmen might be proud of the folly of their government. It cried a halt to brutality and criminal greed.
And the Pope had nothing to say. Someone ought to collect a bouquet, or encyclopedia, of all the impressive assurances of American Catholic apologists that their Pope is the ideal inflexible, international and irrepressible arbiter of right and wrong, justice and injustice. Of all the excuses that they bleat today the funniest — and even bishop’s mumble it — is that he is the Father of All Peoples and must not take sides! We had been told that it was just that position of cosmopolitan and international judge which made him a unique and incorruptible tribunal. Was there some doubt from the moral point of view on which side the guilt lay? Can one even imagine Britain and France, with their miserable armament, having any other aim than to cheek a brutal aggressiveness? In plain English, and in the light of the Pope’s own words, this plea means that he would not denounce a wrong if his interests and those of his Black International were to suffer for it in any country. And that is the gist of our accusation. The Black International pursues its own interests though it be through the ruin of civilization and of all human idealism.
As I have repeatedly pointed out, it is rather this Black International than the Pope that interests us. We must not allow ourselves to be distracted when the end comes by Catholic or any other criticisms of Eugenio Pacelli. Any Pope would have acted as he did. No Pope ever acted otherwise. The great French scholar, A. Loisy, scourged the Pope during the last war for exactly the same conduct. And the apologist has not simply to explain way his “neutrality,” though that is a vice in a moralist in face of a grave crime. He had helped bring on the war. He had made it easy for Hitler the annexation of Austria. He had cooperated with him still more closely in the destruction of Czecho-Slovakia. He had turned a blind eye to his vile conduct in Germany and helped to protect his intervention in Spain. He had been in large part responsible for the weakness and incoherence of the world- opposition to him by his preaching of hatred of Russia — and — not to speak of matters which will be discussed in later booklets — he had encouraged his monstrous plans by allying himself with the two other powers which had similar plans.
But when we say that the Pope was silent we mean only that no clear messages were printed in the Osservatore or broadcast from the Vatican Radio or sent out to the world in encyclicals. His one encyclical at this time, when the flames of war were lit from Poland to England, was, as we saw, a plea that the world, not one or two nations, was evil because it was losing religion, and Catholic Action must come to the rescue. Catholic Action! It had been busy in the Polish Ukraine for twenty years, in Spain for Several years, in Hungary and Portugal, in Austria and South America. No one took any notice.
Was the Pope acting through the German hierarchy? We do not care two pins whether this can or cannot be proved. One thing we do know as we have already seen. The summer had seen “feverish activity” at the Vatican, and an outstanding part of this was correspondence with the Nuncios at Berlin, Warsaw, and Paris and the reception of German and Polish bishops. As the whole world was now discussing the chances of preparing for an invasion of Poland and a general war we shall hardly be accused of undue suspiciousness’s if we suggest that this was the chief topic of the very busy correspondence and interviews. What was decided we do not know. The most sensible theory in view of the facts is that Hitler informed the Vatican that he was taking over Poland, peacefully, as the first step in a campaign against Russia, promised to turn over a new leaf in Germany, and wanted the Pope to keep France out of it; and that the Poles, not being as trustful as the Pope rejected his advice to submit.
However that may be, he must have had an understanding with the German hierarchy, and we know how it behaved. lt was as Hitlerite as the Hitler youth. Edith Moore quotes a number of the pronouncements of the German bishops in her No Friend of Democracy (1941). The very sound and impartial Manchester Guardian (May 24, 1940) thus stated the position:
“Among the higher ranks of the Catholic clergy a decisive majority desire to see the victory of the Reich or at least a peace that will leave Germany’s political and military strength unimpaired. At the same time they still look to an eventual Catholic-Conservative restoration. The National Socialist State has, it seems, been able to reach an understanding with the Catholic leaders. Assurances have been given as to the status of the Church in the Bohemian-Moravian Protectorate and in Germany itself. The special position of the Catholic Church in Poland is also to receive due recognition. In spite of the persecution of laymen and priests by the Nazis, in spite of all the attacks upon the Christian religion now hopes have been raised among the German Catholics as a result of these negotiations.”
As I suggested, the hierarchy — and the references to Bohemia and Poland seem to bring in the Vatican — was soothed with promises of greater advantages to the Church and in view of these saw nothing of the enormity of the annexation of Norway, Denmark, and Holland which had then taken place. On August 22 the bishops held their annual meeting at Fulda, a national shrine from which they were accustomed to give guidance to their Church. Usually only a score of bishops attended, but this year the whole 45 were present, and, according to the German press, the advice they gave to the faithful was a very emphatic “Heil Hitler.” By this time, I may recall, the German army had swept over Holland, Belgium, and France and, exasperated by the opposition of those countries, had stooped to outrages and infamies which shocked the world. Yet the German papers revealed that the bishops decided that “after the completion of the final German victory special ceremonies of gratitude to the German troops and of loyalty to Hitler will be announced.” It was said that the bishops submitted their proposals to the Vatican and that the Pope who was at the time bargaining once more with Hitler (Catholic Herald, August 9, 1940, and Catholic Tablet, September 21, 1940), forbade them to publish their resolutions: clearly to avoid scandal in Britain and America.
The Tablet found a significance in the fact the final address at the Fulda Conference was given by the bishop of Osnabruck, who was appointed by Goering the representative of the Catholic Church in the Prussian State Council, and the New York Times reported that “the leaders of the Catholics in Germany . . . exhort their believer’s in and outside the Reich to do their utmost in the righteous cause of the German nation under the leadership of Chancellor Hitler.” The hierarchy, in other words, did not merely urge Catholics to support Hitler, but went out of their way to affirm that the miserable bandit had “a righteous cause.” A British Catholic paper, the Herald (October 18, 1940) quoted a passage from a Pastoral Letter which the chief Catholic chaplain, Bishop Garkowsky, addressed to all Catholics in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. He said:
“The German people have a clear conscience and are aware which people will have to bear the responsibility before God and history for the gigantic struggle that is now going on. The German people know who primarily started this war. Just as certainly as God is the Father of all Peoples, He is also the judge of right and wrong, of honor and deceit.”
Those who find it possible to imagine that these German bishops honestly blamed Britain and France for the war because, after a reiterated solemn warning, they had declared that they would oppose further aggression may do so. I would not argue the matter. Most of us can see nothing but nauseous hypocrisy in German prelates who invoke God as a witness to the righteousness of the Nazi cause and program.
We have already seen that the new Pope had, a year before, issued an Encyclical, Summi Potitificatus, on the state of the world it was very wicked because the nations had lost the Christian sense of brotherhood — so conspicuous, of course, in the nineteenth century and earlier — and had adopted theories of racial superiority. Even Catholics in England and France were very uneasy in commenting on this. Could the Pope possibly mean that the democracies were at least so close to the dictatorships in these respects that he was not called upon to draw any distinction? And why did he not say that he meant Germany, Italy, and Japan? One French Catholic writer evaded the difficulty by saying that “in time of war the Church of Rome has to observe an impartial reserve.” The same writer said, incidently, that in no other war in history was good so clearly on one side and evil on the other. The Pope was just a moral coward, and a consequence of his cowardice is seen in these quotations from the German bishops. Their stern inexorable moral guide left them free to tell people that the vilest campaign in modern history, both in its aim and in its procedure, had the full approval of the Black International and their God.
But the cordiality between the butchers and the black-cassocks was never long maintained in its purity. Hitler, who seems to have regarded the complaisance of the hierarchy and the Vatican with complete cynicism, threatened a new blow at the Church in the Spring of 1941. He returned to the ideas of Mein Kampf and said that both Protestant and Catholic Churches must be blended in one Christian body which must be strictly “national” or independent of Roman authority and adapted in its moral teaching to Nazi ideas. The Pope’s spokesman on the Vatican Radio now discovered some moral courage — not in excess, it is true — and summoned German Catholics to “wake up and see clearly the pagan tendencies which were spreading everywhere.” The sordid behavior of the Gestapo and the soldiers in half of Europe — in the concentration camp’s of Germany itself, in Austria and Bohemia, and now in Norway, Holland, Belgium, and Occupied France must not be censured except where Russia can be made to bear the greater part of the censure. The bloody ruling of this intoxicated blonde beast over Europe must be viewed with “impartial reserve.” But to tamper with the Church and the interest of the Vatican . . . And still the hierarchy supported the war. The Archbishop of Freiburg, who had denounced the plot to the Vatican, added:
“Far be it from me in this terrible struggle to say anything that would turn aside the energies of the people or prejudice their devotion to their country. Everyone who thinks as a German desires to secure for his country a lasting peace with honor.”
With honor! There’s the rub. It was left to Hitler, Goering, Goebbel’s, Ribbentrop, and Himmler to interpret the phrase. They smiled and pushed ahead, and we shall later find them again courting the Vatican.
When Eugenio Pacelli became Pope in 1939 he had to choose a coat of arms and a motto. He chose a dove with an olive-branch in its beak and the words “Peace in Justice”! He had by his ten years of inflaming passion against and libelling Russia, to his unctious benediction of corruption in Spain and Austria, by his intrigues in Czecho-Slovakia, and especially by standing out before the world as the friend of Germany, Italy, and Japan, helped to make the world war inevitable. He dare not, even when the raw greed of Hitler and Mussolini was flaunted before his eyes, say one word in condemnation of it; and the local regiments of the Black International which he controlled sanctified every outrage and egged on the German people in the most criminal aggression and most savage behavior that the world had seen for many centuries. And his supreme word of guidance was that the world was very wicked because it would not listen to religious oracles.