The efforts of the Catholic Church were undoubtedly decisive in the escape of most of Rome's Jews during World War II, according to a Jewish historian and columnist of L’Osservatore Romano, reports the Catholic News Agency.
In a recently published book, Portico d'Ottavia, 13, Anna Foa describes the only raid against Jews committed by Nazis in Rome. The book is named for the address of the October 16, 1943 raid.
Foa told CNA that “Nazis entered in the courtyard and knocked on everyone's doors. They captured 30 people, one third of the inhabitants of the house.” She also explained that “Nazis had a list of the Jews living in that courtyard. The list was drafted basing on the census of Jews made in Italy in 1938, and on a list of taxpayers.”
This was “the first and last time the Nazis used a list to capture Jews” in Rome. Afterwards, Jews were apprehended by casual raids on public transport, or by spy reports.
Why did this list disappear? Foa hypothesises that then-Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione, agreed with the German ambassador to the Holy See, Ernst von Weiszaeker, that no “formalized raids would ever take place again in Rome.”
This hypothesis is based on “a letter ambassador Weiszaeker sent to Berlin, writing that ‘here in Rome there will undoubtedly not be carried out actions against the Jews.’”