Cover image for Under his very windows : the Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy
Under his very windows : the Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy
Zuccotti, Susan, 1940-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven [Conn.] : Yale University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
408 pages, 12 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS135.I8 Z87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
DS135.I8 Z87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Susan Zuccotti won the National Jewish Book Award for Holocaust Studies for her first book, The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival. She is also the author of The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews. She received a Ph.D. in modern European history from Columbia University and has taught Holocaust history at Barnard College in New York and Trinity College in Hartford

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Much has been written chronicling the pernicious role of Pope Pius XII regarding the Jews during the Holocaust, most notably Walter Laqueuer's book The Terrible Secret (1980) and John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope (1999). In Zuccotti's devastating indictment of Pius, who was elected pope in March 1939, she draws on a wealth of documents, archival material, published memoirs, and personal interviews to explore such themes as the history of the Vatican and anti-Semitism, Italian anti-Jewish laws during the papacy of Pius XII, and the pope's personal knowledge of the treatment of the Jews. Zuccotti insists that the pope knew enough about the Jewish genocide to believe and understand that it was a disaster of immense, unprecedented proportions and should have acted vigorously. Her previous books include The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival (1987) and The Holocaust, the French, and the Jews (1993); and like her other books, this one is meticulously researched, balanced, and free of bias. --George Cohen

Publisher's Weekly Review

Even before WWII ended in Europe, defenders of Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli), according to the author, were busy manufacturing a myth that the Holy Father directly and indirectly was responsible for saving the lives of "hundreds of thousands" of Jews. Coming both from Jews and Christians, these testimonials seemed to be proof that Pius XII personally intervened in the rescue of Jews from the Shoah, a view supported by the Jesuit Robert Graham, Sister Margherita Marchione, the Catholic League and the current pope, John Paul II. However, a recent spate of books, including John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope and Michael Phayer's The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, have severely damaged the claims of papal intervention. To definitively separate myth from reality, historian Zuccotti's new book, while hindered somewhat by the partial accessibility of Vatican archives to scholars, is an authoritative, balanced and, in the end, devastating indictment of moral failure on the part of the Church as an institution, despite the heroic acts of some of its members. Indeed, Zuccotti clearly delineates a history of anti-Semitism in Italy and the Vatican, including the policies of Pacelli's immediate predecessor, Pope Pius XI, who, despite his "hidden encyclical" denouncing racism, was, she says, publicly timid in the face of fascism and Nazism. Moreover, she maintains that her primary source, the 11-volume Actes et documents du Saint Sige relatifs la seconde guerre mondiale, a collection selectively put together after the war by the handpicked representatives of the Vatican, is "more than adequate" to determine what the Vatican "actually did to help Jews in Italy, the country where they enjoyed the greatest opportunity to be useful." What emerges is a complex picture: According to this account, Pius XII was informed early on about the massacres taking place on the eastern front, but he publicly condemned neither Nazism nor the persecution of the Jews, nor did he provide refuge. Until scholars are permitted full and unfettered access to the archives, the story of the Vatican's actions during the Holocaust must remain incomplete. And until then, Zuccotti's treatise will stand for many as the the greatest access to the truth available. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Since the publication of John Cornwell's Hitler's Pope (LJ 5/15/99) and various Church rebuttals, Pope Pius's activities before and during World War II have been placed under a magnifying glass. The discussion becomes more relevant as the Church contemplates giving Pius sainthood. In this scholarly contribution to the controversy, Zuccotti (Barnard Coll.; The Italians and the Holocaust), a 1988 winner of the National Jewish Book Award, argues that one can judge Pius's attitude by examining his public actionDor lack thereofDregarding Italian and especially Roman Jews. She shows how reprehensible it was that nothing was done to help the Jews between Mussolini's fall and the German occupation of Italy in 1943 and that during the roundup of Roman Jews, Pius missed another opportunity to offer Jews refuge. Zuccotti compellingly makes the case that Pius's great fear of communism drove him into the arms of the Nazis and that he had developed a misplaced sympathy for the Germans following his appointment as nuncio to Bavaria. The book suffers from repetitive examples taken from every section of Italy, and the tone seems strident for a scholarly workDthough it is hardly surprising, given the passion this topic generates. This important book is recommended for all academic libraries and for public libraries interested in World War II and Roman Catholic history.DRandall L. Schroeder, Wartburg Coll. Lib., Waverly, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Using the archival resources and secondary analyses available, Zuccotti has produced a lucid and definitive account of the actions of Popes Pius XI and Pius XII to help the Jews in Italy, where they had the greatest opportunity to be useful. Assiduously separating fact from myth, she concludes that these two men did little to help the Jews in Italy before and during the war, revealing their anti-Judaic leanings and illuminating their psychodynamics as they confronted Nazism and Fascism. Pius XII never spoke out against the Holocaust, apparently not wanting to challenge or antagonize Hitler, since he hoped to negotiate a peace between the Western Allies and the Reich at the expense of the Bolsheviks and was convinced that the Vatican itself was endangered. The personality of the diplomatic Pius XII, who was not oriented to the pastoral dimension of his office, also lacked enthusiasm when it came to protecting the human rights of the Jews in Italy as well as in Europe as a whole. This book will not be superseded soon. Academic collections. D. J. Dietrich; Boston College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
Chapter 1 The Vatican and Anti-Semitismp. 8
Chapter 2 The Vatican and Anti-Semitism in Italyp. 27
Chapter 3 Italian Anti-Jewish Laws During the Papacy of Pius XIp. 42
Chapter 4 Italian Anti-Jewish Laws During the Papacy of Pius XIIp. 58
Chapter 5 Refugees and Emigration, 1939-1942p. 70
Chapter 6 Foreign Jews in Italian Internment Camps, 1940-1943p. 82
Chapter 7 What the Pope Knew About the Holocaustp. 93
Chapter 8 Italian-Occupied Croatia, April 1941-July 1943p. 113
Chapter 9 Italy and Italian-Occupied France, November 1942-July 1943p. 127
Chapter 10 The Forty-Five Days: The Vatican, Badoglio, and the Jewsp. 137
Chapter 11 Under the Pope's Very Windows: The Rome Roundup, October 16, 1943p. 150
Chapter 12 Hiding Before the Roundup, September 8-October 16, 1943p. 171
Chapter 13 Hiding After the Roundup: Roman Convents, Monasteries, Catholic Hospitals and Schools, October 16-December 1943p. 189
Chapter 14 Hiding After the Roundup: Vatican Properties, October 16-December 1943p. 202
Chapter 15 Raids and Reconsideration, December 1943-June 1944p. 215
Chapter 16 The Vatican and Rescue in the North: Genoa, Turin, and Milanp. 233
Chapter 17 The Vatican and Rescue in Central Italy: Florence and Assisip. 251
Chapter 18 The Vatican, the Patriarch, and the Jews in Venicep. 265
Chapter 19 The Vatican, the Bishop, and the Jews in Triestep. 277
Chapter 20 The Vatican and Jews Arrested in Italy, December 1943-May 1945p. 291
Conclusionp. 300
Abbreviationsp. 327
Notesp. 329
Indexp. 397