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Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy [Hardcover]

By Dr. Susan Zuccotti (Author)
Our Price $ 34.00  
Retail Value $ 40.00  
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Item Number 159449  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   420
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.57" Width: 6.52" Height: 1.31"
Weight:   1.66 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 11, 2000
Publisher   Yale University Press
ISBN  0300084870  
EAN  9780300084870  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
What did Pius XII do to aid Jews during World War II? This meticulously researched and balanced book examines efforts on behalf of Jews in Italy, the country where the pope was in a position to be most helpful. It finds that despite a persistent myth to the contrary, Pius XII and his assistants at the Vatican did very little.

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More About Dr. Susan Zuccotti

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Susan Zuccotti is author of The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival; The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews; Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy; and Holocaust Odysseys: The Jews of Saint-Martin-Vesubie and Their Flight through France and Italy. She has taught Holocaust history at Barnard College in New York and Trinity College in Hartford.


Susan Zuccotti was born in 1940.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy > General   [2677  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Italy   [86  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Vatican   [168  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > General   [1821  similar products]
5Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > Holocaust   [738  similar products]
6Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II > General   [4698  similar products]
7Books > Subjects > History > Military > World War II   [156  similar products]
8Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [35342  similar products]
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General   [5549  similar products]
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism   [2524  similar products]
11Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Catholic   [1161  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Worse Than Hitler's Pope!  Aug 13, 2005
I read this book as part of my Honours research project into the Vatican's diplomacy with Nazi Germany. I was told that John Cornwell's "Hitler's Pope", despite the accolades and the best seller status, was a poor piece of academic work, a thesis which Cornwell himself eventually recanted (See the reference in The Economist,
Indeed it was so poorly researched that even critics of Pius XII did not take the book seriously.

Zucotti's work, the other hand, is a somewhat more valuable resource, as she has rather detailed references to primary documents in her endnotes. Indeed some have their contents spelled out quite extensively in the body.

However, such referencing, buttressed by her award winning status as a holocaust author, creates a veneer of credibility, a smokescreen behind which Zucotti expresses her obvious contempt for Pius XII. This is largely done through her highly selective use of quotes from the primary sources.

Zucotti commits the Cardinal (no pun intended) sin for all historians, begin with a conclusion, use the documents that prove that conclusion right, and either ignore or dismiss the rest. Such an approach runs right through the book.

Where a quote is used that is or can be construed to be critical of Pius XII, she would quote it to the fullest. Where primary documents mention the opposite (and my research showed there were plenty of them), she automatically dismisses the authors of said documents, many of which were eyewitnesses to the things that Zucotti keeps asserting Pius XII did not do, without any justification whatsoever. She uses absolute pearlers in dismissing those authors, such as the classic "He (the eyewitness) should have known better".

Zucotti also uses an artifically narrow criteria to determine the credibility of certain hypotheses put forward by defenders. She demands that documentary evidence be availabe, otherwise it did not happen. Normally it would be a fair criterion, but in the context of an occupation by the most deadly war-machine in the world, the existence of such documents would have placed the possessor and/or author of those documents, and anyone associated with them, in grave danger.

Does Zucotti accept this? Instead she demands that someone with the intelligence to forsee that decades ahead, someone would question the reputation of Pius XII, and accordingly safekeep any written instructions from him. This retrospective projection is by far, the most unreasonable claim for any Historian to make.

In sum, I would say, use Zucotti for her references (for they are quite good), but never subscribe to her silly dismissals, her retrospection and outrageous thesis. For something more balanced on the critical side of this debate see Guenter Lewy's "The Catholic Church and the Holocaust". For the contra, see Ronald Rychlak's "Hitler, the War and the Pope".

Read this book first: best review of the subject so far!  Aug 22, 2001
Having read several recent books on this subject, I find that an author's bias is reflected in his/her writing more on this issue than perhaps on any other. This is particularly striking in the recent Rychlak book ("Hitler, the War, and the Pope") which is unabashed propaganda, veiled thinly or not at all. Even the more objective Cornwell book ("Hitler's Pope"), although it supports the opposite side of the debate, has occasional undertones of prejudice.

In contrast to these and some other authors, Zuccotti presents her arguments by giving fair consideration to both sides of the issue. Her fine scholarship is evident throughout this entire study, which is meticulously annotated and documented, but her writing is directed to general readers of history, rather than to her professional peers. The book makes for very enjoyable reading on this painfully tragic subject.

Anyone who is interested in reading about Eugenio Pacelli (Pope Pius XII) and his efforts--or lack thereof--to reduce or even address the persecution of European Jews before and during World War II should begin with this book.

sheltered  Apr 26, 2001
The author must be a young person, who has led a relatively sheltered life. Anyone who was there knows that the Resistance, by its very nature, worked in secret. For example, the author failed to thoroughly research the Asissi Underground. Under the Pope's order to the bishop, Jews arrived there from Rome, were sheltered in convents and monasteries, provided with false identities, and smuggled to Genoa for passage on neutral ships. In the RC church of those days, obedience was paramount. Orders always came from above. No one would lift the cloister without Papal permission, even to shelter Jews. Ms. Zuccotti ignores the tragedy of Hitler's predictable reprisals. Whenever church leaders spoke publicly against persecution of Jews, as in the Netherlands, more Jews were rounded up and sent to extermination camps. The Pope did speak out as much as possible, as documented by the New York Times, noting his was "the only voice." At the time, few countries, including the USA, would accept Jewish refugees. All U.S. ports refused to let the St. Louis dock here, sending Jewish passengers back to Europe and death. Only false identity papers and Catholic baptismal certificates, provided by the Church at the Pope's order, allowed Jews to sail to neutral countries. The author fails to explain why the ranks of the Swiss Guard in the Vatican suddenly swelled, or why so many Jews were camped out in the subterranean depths of the Pope's summer residence at Castelgandolfo. These numbers are all documented. She also ignores the testimony of the Chief Rabbi of Rome concerning the Pope's help. When Hitler demanded gold from the Jewish Community in exchange for their lives, it was the Pope who offered to make up the shortage. Has she actually read Rabbi Zolli's book "Before the Dawn"? The wisdom of experience with the true evil of the powerful Nazi regime is missing from this book, and renders it rather sophomoric.
Not so very complicated  Apr 12, 2001
Everything that needs to be understood about the issues involved were summed up in the actions of the Chief Rabbi of Rome in the aftermath of the war. I found no discussion of same here. Perhaps recent generations don't understand that Italy was allied to Germany; the Vatican contribution, given this, was astonishing in its quiet - but determined - humanitarian integrity. The Nazis, too, had a church. The church in Germany had windows under which Ms Zucotti might more profitably gaze.
A meticulously-researched and balanced account  Apr 11, 2001
Pope Pius XII has often been criticized for his silence during the extermination of European Jewry during World War II. In his defense, some have alleged that the pope was doing a great deal to help the Jews but that his efforts were necessarily behind the scenes. This meticulously researched and balanced book examines exactly what the pope, his advisers, and his assistants at the Vatican Secretariat of State did to help the Jews of Italy. It finds that they did very little.The book begins by discussing prewar Vatican and Jesuit publications, in which Zuccotti uncovers a hitherto little-known prevalence of anti-Jewish sentiment. These publications, along with archival documents, indicate that Vatican protests against Italian anti-Jewish laws were limited to measures affecting converts and Jews in mixed marriages with Catholics, as was help with emigration; the papal nuncio's visits to foreign Jews in Italian internment camps did not differ from those to non-Jews and in no way eased their material discomfort; and interventions by diplomats of the Holy See for Jews threatened with deportation were rare, always polite, and seldom decisive. Above all, Zuccotti finds no evidence of a papal directive to church institutions to shelter Jews and much evidence to suggest that the pope remained uninvolved. The notion that Pius XII was outstandingly benevolent and helpful to Jews behind the scenes proves to be a myth.

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