He Went There

He was not a refugee, not an immigrant, not a displaced person. Or, rather: yes and no. When he and I became close friends, he once said to me: “Sometimes Americans ask, ‘When did you come to this country?’ I did not come to America; I went there.” And if he was asked . . . . Continue Reading »

Pius XII’s Duel with Hitler

Pope vs. Hitler opens by asking whether Pius XII really was “Hitler’s Pope,” as John Cornwell notoriously alleged, or rather, as Riebling’s book maintains, Hitler’s implacable enemy. Cassel includes critics, and not just supporters, of Pius XII. But his film makes clear where the hard evidence lies. Continue Reading »

Hans Friedrich Grohs: From Bereavement to Benediction

He was born four years after Kaiser Wilhelm II ascended the German imperial throne; he died nearly a century later, in the same decade that witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany. He was drafted as a soldier in both world wars and experienced firsthand the Nazi reign of terror in between. Few artists have lived so fully, or recorded so faithfully, such a vast sweep of human history. Continue Reading »

​Rome’s Resistance

Church of Spies: The Pope’s Secret War Against Hitlerby mark rieblingbasic, 375 pages, $29.99 During the Second World War, the Third Reich was opposed by local partisans and ad hoc military and civilian organizations. The Nazi authorities disseminated so-called anti-terrorism propaganda, referring . . . . Continue Reading »

Bonhoeffer's Last Advent

One year before Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed by the Nazis on the morning of April 9, 1945, he wrote from prison to his friend Eberhard Bethge: “What keeps gnawing at me is the question, ‘What is Christianity, or who is Christ actually for us today?’” To that question we must now pose . . . . Continue Reading »

European Reconciliation

Currently, visitors to the Vatican Museums in Rome have the opportunity to visit an exhibition devoted to Cardinal Bolesław Kominek (1903-1974), aptly titled “Europe’s Forgotten Founding Father.” The author of the “Pastoral Letter of the Polish Bishops to Their German Brothers,” sent . . . . Continue Reading »