A delegation from a Jewish global human-rights organization met with Pope Francis last week to give the Vatican Archives a facsimile of a text authored by Adolf Hitler, in which he calls for the destruction of the Jewish people.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center delegation was led by founder and CEO Rabbi Marvin Hier and SWC chairwoman Dawn Arnall. The Hitler text original, typed and signed by Hitler on Sept. 16, 1919, is on display at the SWC’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Hier presented the pontiff with horrific statistics from both sides of the Atlantic, which confirm surging anti-Semitism, including violent hate crimes. The pope denounced the rise in anti-Semitism and cautioned that the threat of populism continues to be a threat.
Pope Francis noted that Hitler’s 1919 letter showed that he did not care about the German people, but only sought to promote a dangerous ideology.
“Our final aim,” Hitler wrote in the 1919 letter, “must be the uncompromising removal of the Jews altogether. Both are possible only under a government of national strength, never under a government of national impotence.”
Hier called on the pope to remember the 1942 Wannsee Conference, “where 15 Nazi officials, eight of them Ph.D.s from some of the finest universities, made the decision, agreeing with Hitler’s orders, to mass murder all of Europe’s Jews. By May 1945, in addition to six million Jews, millions of non-Jews, including gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and other enemies of the Reich, were also killed.”
Hitler’s letter, Hier said, “is one of the most significant documents in the history of humankind,” as Hitler “openly maps out the need for the final removal of the Jewish people in Europe.”
“What began as one man’s opinion, would become state policy of Nazi Germany 22 years later, which led to the systematic murder of one-third of world Jewry,” Hier said. “This document shows the power of words and is a warning for everyone to take threats of any demagogue seriously.
“As the Psalmist teaches, ‘The Heavens belong to God, but the land was given to man.’ (Psalms 15-16) It is ‘we the people,’ men and women, who must lead the fight against anti-Semitism, bigotry and genocide.”
Hier then spoke about the human-rights organization’s namesake, Holocaust survivor turned Nazi hunter, Simon Wiesenthal, and how he would react to current events.
“Simon would ask, ‘How could it possibly be that the world’s leaders, knowing what’s happening, still want to make a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons when her leaders deny that there ever was an Auschwitz or a Treblinka – who continues to preach that no Jews were ever murdered in gas chambers? How can the United Nations and the world trust a regime, which for the last 43 years, has never deviated from those notorious lies?’”
Hier suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine reflects some of Hitler’s tactics.
“Look at what Putin’s Russia is doing to the people of Ukraine. How can a country, which suffered the wrath of Hitler, turn around and adopt his very same tactics? Slaughtering innocent people, bombing hospitals, orphanages and schools.”
Pope Francis urged the SWC to continue to serve as a bridge between the past and the future, to continue “recalling history so it can be of service to the future.”
He thanked the human-rights group for protecting the memory of the past.
“Your Holiness, our world needs your leadership now more than ever. As Simon Wiesenthal reminded all of us, ‘Freedom is not a gift from Heaven, it is something we have to fight for each and every day.’”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.