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Church of Spies: The Pope's Secret War against Hitler (2015)

– tekijä: Mark Riebling

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
1383154,428 (4.58)8
The Vatican's silence in the face of Nazi atrocities remains one of the great controversies of our time. History has accused wartime pontiff Pius the Twelfth of complicity in the Holocaust and dubbed him "Hitler's Pope." But a key part of the story has remained untold.Pius ran the world's largest church, smallest state, and oldest spy service. Saintly but secretive, he skimmed from church charities to pay covert couriers, and surreptitiously tape-recorded his meetings with top Nazis. When he learned of the Holocaust, Pius played his cards close to his chest. He sent birthday cards to Hitler-while secretly plotting to kill him. Church of Spies documents this cloak and dagger intrigue in shocking detail. Gun-toting Jesuits stole blueprints to Hitler's homes. A Catholic book publisher flew a sports plane over the Alps with secrets filched from the head of Hitler's bodyguard. The keeper of the Vatican crypt ran a spy ring that betrayed German war plans and wounded Hitler in a briefcase bombing.The plotters made history in ways they hardly expected. They inspired European unification, forged a U.S.-Vatican alliance that spanned the Cold War, and challenged Church teachings on Jews. Yet Pius'secret war muted his public response to Nazi crimes. Fearing that overt protest would impede his covert actions, he never spoke the "fiery words" he wanted.Told with heart-pounding suspense, based on secret transcripts and unsealed files, Church of Spies throws open the Vatican's doors to reveal some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy. The result is an unprecedented book that will change perceptions of how the world's greatest moral institution met the greatest moral crisis in history.… (lisätietoja)
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näyttää 3/3
We are all familiar with the cliché that a given book was so riveting that I couldn't put it down. Mark Riebling has authored a book that was so riveting I forced myself to put it down. I didn't want to come to the end too quickly. Church of Spies is an outstanding contribution to the literature on the German resistance to Hitler as well as the resistance by elements of the Catholic Church at the center of which was Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII, a much maligned figure in the eyes of many historians. Riebling's work should put to rest conclusively any allegations that the Pope was sympathetic to, indifferent to, or so fearful of National Socialism that he holed up for the duration in the Vatican and tried to stay above the fray.

As Riebling relates the story, in fact, not only was Pius XII an advocate of resistance, he was an active participant at the heart of plans and schemes to assassinate Hitler. His would be executioners were members of the German military, particularly members of the Abwehr, German military intelligence. A lay German Catholic lawyer, Joseph Muller was the main link between the German plotters and the Papacy. A Jesuit priest, Robert Leiber who resided in the Vatican, although he had no title or official position, would be briefed by Muller and in turn brief the Pope. The Pope authorized the German Church to participate actively in this attempted tyrannicide. He also employed one Monsignor Ludwig Kass to act as his cutout to the Allies leveraging their various diplomatic missions in the Vatican up until the entry of Italy in the war after which the Vatican gave sanctuary to the diplomats of Allied countries.

The point at issue in the ongoing efforts to engage the Allies was the desire on the part of the internal German plotters to secure reasonable peace terms from the Allies that would not be based on unconditional surrender, dismemberment of Germany or a punitive treaty that would put the rebels in a position similar to the leaders of the Weimar republic who signed the armistice and the Treaty of Versailles thereby becoming leads in the legend that Germany was stabbed in the back and not defeated in 1918.

In the meantime the military plotters planned multiple attempts which obviously failed to take out the Fuhrer. The first attempt occurred in Munich On November 8th, 1939 on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler was scheduled to deliver a speech as he had done every year on the anniversary date at the Burgerbraukeller. Another attempt was designed to blow up Hitler's plane on a return fight from Smolensk in 1943 with explosives packaged in such a way to appear to be two bottles of cognac. Finally there was the failed assassination and coup on the part of Claus von Stauffenberg, Operation Valykyrie.

In the aftermath of the last failure the SS rolled up the resistance in the Abwehr and discovered a cache of documents that the German military failed to destroy that implicated the Vatican, Jospeh Muller, Jesuit priest Alfred Delp, Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Admiral Canaris, head of the Abwehr, and his subordinates Hans Oster and Helmuth James von Moltke. All of the above paid with their lives except for Muller who narrowly escaped the hangman when the SS evacuated their remaining political prisoners from Dachau and was subsequently liberated first by the Wehrmacht and finally by the American Army,

There are too many heroes to recognize in this brief essay but I would like to single out one of the villains of the piece, one Alfred Hartl, a defrocked priest who had offered his services to the SS to conduct surveillance operations against anti-Nazi German Catholics; In fact he identified Muller early on in the history of the conspiracy to kill Hitler but was thwarted by the Abwehr who provided the necessary cover for Muller's frequent trips to the Vatican before and during the war. He was arrested by American troops in Austria on May 26, 1945 and became a witness against his erstwhile colleagues in the SS who were being investigated for their crimes. He produced a report on the Vatican Intelligence Service documenting the contacts among the Pope, Admiral Canaris and Joseph Muller. He then offered his services to the Americans to spy on the Vatican. All he required was staff, a budget and a multi-year contract. He was neither hired not prosecuted. Riebling reports that he "soon became an apostle of yoga, environmentalism, and whole foods". ( )
  citizencane | Aug 11, 2018 |
Still stuck in WW2, but this story wasn’t gripping by any definition. Riebling seems to want to place more credit and intrigue where little is due. There is little substance to the book, though 1/3rd is composed of historical notations.
  2wonderY | Apr 11, 2017 |
Church of Spies is the thrilling story of how Pope Pius XII joined with the Admiral Canaris and his circle in the plot to assassinate Hitler. The go-between was a Munich lawyer named Joseph Müller. Since the Pope felt it was too risky to speak out against Hitler (who had a nasty habit of arresting, torturing, and killing Catholics in revenge), he turned to espionage. Naturally, Hitler had spies in the Vatican too, and the two sides would play a game of cat and mouse until the plot was uncovered in 1944 and the German participants arrested. The events are so fantastic it reads like a novel. Once the plot is broken up, the book turns into a gripping and inspiring testimony of what political prisoners endured in Nazi Germany, as many are hung and a few lucky prisoners manage to survive to the end of the war.

In a time, when we seem to have lost sight of what suffering and being willing to die for a cause truly means, Church of Spies offers a reminder that sometimes the things you think are worth dying for may in fact require you to die for them. A compelling account of a dark chapter of European history, perfect for those who interested in Pius XII, German history, plots to assassinate Hitler, or real life spy stories. Highly recommended. ( )
  inge87 | Oct 24, 2015 |
näyttää 3/3
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In April 1945, the Nazis tried to break the man they called "the best agent of the Vatican Intelligence in Germany."
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Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (1)

The Vatican's silence in the face of Nazi atrocities remains one of the great controversies of our time. History has accused wartime pontiff Pius the Twelfth of complicity in the Holocaust and dubbed him "Hitler's Pope." But a key part of the story has remained untold.Pius ran the world's largest church, smallest state, and oldest spy service. Saintly but secretive, he skimmed from church charities to pay covert couriers, and surreptitiously tape-recorded his meetings with top Nazis. When he learned of the Holocaust, Pius played his cards close to his chest. He sent birthday cards to Hitler-while secretly plotting to kill him. Church of Spies documents this cloak and dagger intrigue in shocking detail. Gun-toting Jesuits stole blueprints to Hitler's homes. A Catholic book publisher flew a sports plane over the Alps with secrets filched from the head of Hitler's bodyguard. The keeper of the Vatican crypt ran a spy ring that betrayed German war plans and wounded Hitler in a briefcase bombing.The plotters made history in ways they hardly expected. They inspired European unification, forged a U.S.-Vatican alliance that spanned the Cold War, and challenged Church teachings on Jews. Yet Pius'secret war muted his public response to Nazi crimes. Fearing that overt protest would impede his covert actions, he never spoke the "fiery words" he wanted.Told with heart-pounding suspense, based on secret transcripts and unsealed files, Church of Spies throws open the Vatican's doors to reveal some of the most astonishing events in the history of the papacy. The result is an unprecedented book that will change perceptions of how the world's greatest moral institution met the greatest moral crisis in history.

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