The Secret Negotiations between Hitler and the Pope

Few topics are as hotly contested, David Kertzer argues, as Pope Pius XII’s “decision to avoid direct public criticism of Hitler or his regime, and to remain publicly silent in the face of the Holocaust.” With the 2020 opening of Pius XII’s archives, scholars have been granted access to new information about his thinking and actions, which have again become the subject of intense scrutiny. No finding, Kertzer argues in an excerpt from his new book on the subject, has been as dramatic as the discovery of lengthy, secret negotiations between Pius XII and Hitler. They reflect, among other things, the pope’s apparent indifference to the fate of the Jews.

Pius XII and Adolf Hitler had no affection for each other. Yet each man had his own reasons for initiating these talks. The pope placed the highest priority on reaching a deal with the Nazi regime to end the persecution of the Roman Catholic Church in the Third Reich and in the lands that it conquered. For his part, Hitler saw an opportunity to end the papal criticism that had become such an irritant under the previous pope. As [the Nazi emissary Prince Philipp] von Hessen had told the pope, Hitler saw only two potential impediments to reaching an understanding: “the [Jewish] question” and the involvement of Catholic clergy in German politics. Priests and bishops should not be permitted to utter any criticism of Nazi policies.

There is no indication that the pope ever brought up the Nazis’ campaign against Europe’s Jews as an issue. (Nor, for that matter, was the pope then expressing any opposition to Mussolini’s own “racial laws” as long as they affected only Italy’s Jews.) As for Hitler’s second concern, the pope repeatedly denied that the Catholic clergy was involved in the political realm. If the pope in fact thought it proper for the Catholic clergy to criticize any of the Nazi regime’s policies other than those that directly affected the Church, he did not insist on the matter.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Adolf Hitler, Catholic Church, Holocaust

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy