Catholic institutions offered shelter to Jews during the Second World War

Discovered recently in the archives of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome was important historical documentation that includes lists of people who were secretly sheltered by Catholic institutions during the Second World War. All these people were fleeing Nazi persecution, and the vast majority of them Jews.

Among the most striking discoveries was the fact that some 100 women’s religious congregations and 55 men’s congregations took part in this hospitality operation. The number of people saved from the Nazis is also impressive: some 4,300 people are mentioned, 3,600 of whom can be identified by name. More than 3,200 of them were certainly Jews. This documentation substantially increases the amount of information about the history of the protection of Jews by Catholic institutions in Rome. For reasons of privacy, access to the lists is restricted.

These historical advances are the fruit of the work of several institutions, in particular the Pontifical Biblical Institute, the Cultural Department of the Jewish Community of Rome and the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem. Jesuit Dominik Markl, from the Province of Central Europe, coordinated the work in conjunction with the rector of the Biblical Institute, Canadian Jesuit Michael Kolarcik.

The heart of the discoveries is found in the documentation compiled by the Italian Jesuit Gozzolino Birolo. He drew the lists up between June 1944 and spring 1945, immediately after the liberation of Rome by the Allies; he was at that time the bursar of the Biblical Institute, and his superior was Fr Augustin Bea, a German Jesuit who was later made a cardinal and became known for his commitment to dialogue between Christians and Jews.

The photo shows the historians who gave presentations during a workshop on the “Salvati” (the saved) at the Shoah Museum Foundation in Rome. To the right is the Jesuit Dominik Markl, of the Pontifical Biblical Institute.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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