Anti-Catholic Bias at the United States Holocaust Museum

US_Holocaust_Memorial_Museum_-_BoxcarThe following is a message I submitted this week to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

I want to register a strong complaint about false or misleading information on your website, in the section “Some Were Neighbors.”  Of the six web pages in this section that directly mention the Catholic Church or Catholic clergy, five are openly accusatory.  All five of them, every single one, contains significant omissions and distortions. If you do not accept the accuracy of the citations I provide, then I insist that you check the underlying sources.  If you are going to present information in an official site, you have an ethical obligation to ensure that it is scrupulously accurate.  The information you currently are providing is not.

The first false statement is at this location: http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions/religious-leaders/un2929/description

The false and misleading information is that the Jasenovac prison camp was “Overseen by an ordained Catholic priest.”  The heading on this page reads, “A Fascist Priest.”  The actual facts are that the commander of the camp, Miroslav Filopovic, was a FORMER priest and military chaplain who was expelled from the Franciscan Order.

A similarly misleading omission occurs on the following page:  http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions/religious-leaders/un2952

Again, you describe Andras Kun as “Father Kun” and “a Catholic Minorite monk.”  Kun was neither at the time he committed the acts described.  He left the priestly order in 1943, before arriving in Budapest.  A forthcoming article on Wikipedia, with citations, can be found at http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/András_Kun

The next example is on the following page:  http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions/religious-leaders/un2960

The heading states, “Nuns Aid in ‘Racial Research’ and goes on to accuse the nuns being “aware of” the Nazi program for which the children were being used, and of “facilitate[ing]” their later deportation.  The clear implication is that the nuns were pleased with or neutral about the matter.  That is a blatant infusion of motives and attitudes where the historical record is entirely silent.  I take it you do not expect these women to have offered armed resistance.  They are nuns, after all.  But do you know whether they complained, protested, risked their lives to offer comfort and security to children who tragically were caught up by a terrible and implacable evil?  You have no idea what these women attempted, or suffered, during this time.  Nor do I.  The difference is, you are injecting a completely unsupported viewpoint, based on an arbitrary and biased choice.

The next example is on the following page:  http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions/religious-leaders/un2973/description

The heading is “German Clergy Align With Nazis.”  Again, the omission of information is significant:  You should at least mention that Dr. Erich Klausener was murdered by the Nazis June 30, 1934, during the Night of the Long Knives and has been honored by Germany as a martyr.  It also would be appropriate to note that Erich Klawitter was prosecuted for refusing to follow the Nazi’s Pulpit Law.  The historical record is silent as to any of the other men’s involvement with the Nazi Party, and there certainly is no evidence that they participated in the Holocaust.  To claim that “German Clergy Align With Nazis” based on nothing but a 1933 photograph, is a gross misstatement.  It represents a fine example of the use of an image for propaganda purposes, which is an incredible irony on a website supposed to contain information about Nazi Germany.

Your distorted account continues with the following page:  http://somewereneighbors.ushmm.org/#/exhibitions/religious-leaders/un2956/description

Your text clearly implies that Andrej Hjinka was an anti-Semite.   He was not.  Yad Vashem, the World Center for Holocaust Research, Education, Documentation and Commemoration, states that he denounced anti-Semitism and resisted members of the Slovak People’s Party who called for attacks on Jews.  http://www.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf/Microsoft%20Word%20-%206417.pdf

By promoting the content described above, your website creates the impression that the Catholic Church as an official policy tolerated the Holocaust. This is entirely false.  The historical record is full of evidence that the leadership of the Catholic Church opposed Nazism and publicized the plight of the Jews and non-Jews who were being murdered throughout Europe.  Pope Pius XII’s famous Christmas address of 1942, which he ordered read from pulpits throughout Europe, condemned the Nazi agenda in clear terms.  He spoke of the need for mankind to make “a solemn vow never to rest until valiant souls of every people and every nation of the earth arise in their legions, resolved to bring society and to devote themselves to the services of the human person and of a divinely ennobled human society.” He said that mankind owed this vow to all victims of the war, including “the hundreds of thousands who, through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nation or race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction” (emphasis added).  I commend to your attention the article at http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0015.html for many other examples of the stand Pope Pius and the Vatican took against the Nazis.

It is telling that, despite decades of scholarship, still no author can identify any clear statement in an official document in support of the Nazi regimes, the Holocaust, or anti-Semitism.  The most these scholars can say is that the Church “should have done more.”  This is a far cry from support, and it begs the question what religious leaders and clerics were expected to do against the most evil and powerful military dictatorship in world history.

Your article is being used in high schools to distort the ideas and opinions of students who have almost no information about the Church’s opposition to the Holocaust.  You absolutely can point out that persons who professed to be members of various religions nonetheless supported the Nazis.  But it is irresponsible and academically dishonest to do so, without noting that these people are neither official spokespersons nor representative examples.

I will be happy to discuss these matters with you directly.  I do expect the courtesy of a personal reply.

Advertisements