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Vatican to release Nazi files on 15 February

The Vatican is to open up its archives documenting relations with Nazi Germany, potentially lifting the lid on a controversial and secretive era in the Church's history.

Announcing plans to declassify the archives, officials said they hoped the move would end speculation that the Roman Catholic Church failed to speak out against the Holocaust.

The archive contains documents relating to the years leading up to World War II. During that period, the Vatican's ambassador to Berlin was the man who later went on to be pope during the war.

Pope Pius XII, who led the Church from 1939 to 1958, has long been accused by Jewish groups of turning a blind eye as many Jews were marched off to concentration camps.

The archive will be open from 15 February next year but only to scholars by special appointment.

The Vatican has admitted, however, that files dating from 1931 to 1934 were "nearly completely destroyed or dispersed" during the bombing of Berlin and by a fire, Reuters news agency reported.


30 Dec 2002