Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pope's secret role in saving Transnistria Jews

~from Tiraspol Times

After World War II, Nazi war criminals used so-called "rat lines" to escape to safe havens outside of Europe. Catholic priests played a large role in helping Nazis get false papers and prepare for their escape.

What is less widely known is that Catholic church leaders also helped Jews escape from Nazi persecution and near-certain death ... and that this work started well before the Nazi rat lines were established.

During the Holocaust, when the Apostolic Delegate Monsignor Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (later Pope John XXIII) was stationed in Istanbul, he ran a "Ratline in Reverse." Quietly cooperating with Chaim Barlas, head of the rescue delegation of the Hebrew community in what would become the state of Israel, the Catholic leader worked hard to save as many Jews as possible.

Professor Dina Porat of Tel Aviv University, a historian who has written extensively on the Holocaust, gained access to the private papers of Chaim Barlas, who together with the future Pope devised a network of escape routes and tactics to rescue thousands of endangered Jews from Eastern Europe.

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