Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Yours Is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy

Article excerpt

Yours Is a Precious Witness:Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy. By Margherita Marchione. (Mahwah, New Jersey: Paulist Press. 1997. Pp. x, 260. $14.95.)

Margherita Marchione, a Filippini Sister, has written an engaging book focusing on Catholics and the Holocaust. She has appropriately dedicated it to the late Jesuit historian, Robert A. Graham, who did much to correct the false interpretation of the Vatican's role with respect to the Jews during World War II (see "Epilogue"). Quite rightly, she notes (p. 57) the failure of those, including John P Morley in his study, Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews During the Holocaust (1980), to make use of all four volumes of the Holy See's documents relating to its humanitarian efforts in World War II.

The book is divided into three parts. After introducing the story of the Holocaust in Italy, Marchione reviews its major developments. Then she focuses on Italian Jews and what was done for them in Rome, Milan, Ferrara, Assisi, Genoa, Florence, and Venice. At the same time, she surveys the work of the Filippini Sisters, the Redemptorists, the Fatebenefratelli, the Salesians, and the Sisters of Zion, and reviews the policies of the Vatican and the actions of Pope Pius XII. Lastly, the author deals with the aftermath of the Holocaust in the testimonials from Jews about the role of the Catholic Church and Pius XII, in the relations between Catholics and Jews, and in the documentation relating to what is covered in the text.

Marchione's study reveals some interesting details: the various ways in which Italians risked their lives (and institutions) to save Jews; the view that San Saba in Trieste had the only operational gas chamber in a concentration camp outside of Poland (pp. …

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