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EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 683 
This Warsaw memorial plaque--with words in Polish, Yiddish, and Hebrew--commemorates the hundreds of thousands of Jews deported from the Warsaw Ghetto to the Treblinka death camp.
Photo: Beth Hatefutsoth
This is a minute portion of a wall in Prague's Pinkas synagogue. It memorializes the 77,000 Czechoslovakian Jews who perished in the Nazis' concentration and death camps.
Photo: Larry Kane, photographer
At least three other major Holocaust repercussions will affect Jewish-Christian relations in the 21st century. First, in March 1998 the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews released "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah," a document that was widely expected to be the Church's long-awaited statement about the Vatican's posture during the Holocaust. Especially in Jewish circles, it received a lukewarm reception. Two points made the document particularly vulnerable: (1) It unconvincingly separated Nazi antisemitism from Christian anti-Judaism. Differences exist between the two, but "We Remember" stressed them too much while emphasizing their connections too little. (2) "We Remember" acknowledged that Christian conduct during the Holocaust "was not that which might have been expected from Christ's followers" and went on to say that "for Christians, this heavy burden of conscience of their brothers and sisters during the Second World War must be a call to penitence."

Many Jews and Christians felt that such language misplaced responsibility for Christian failure, for "We Remember" had little, if anything, to say--implicitly or explicitly--about the shortcomings of Roman Catholic leadership during the Holocaust. It created the dubious impression that the rank and file, more than its Catholic leaders, were responsible for Christian failings. The Commission for Religious Relations did not improve its credibility by emphasizing that Pope Pius XII, whose highly controversial reign--starting in 1939--covered the crucial Holocaust years, had been thanked by Jewish communities and leaders during and after the war for all that he and his representatives had done "to save hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives."

Fairly or unfairly, Pius XII has become a lightning rod for echoes of the Holocaust. He has been sharply and persistently criticized for failing to do what he could and should have done to intervene on behalf of Jews during the Holocaust. As "We Remember" indicates, his reputation has also been defended--so much so, in fact, that he may be canonized as a saint in the 21st century. In the spring of 1999, Jewish criticism of that possibility included the charge that sainthood for Pius XII would do nothing less than desecrate the memory of the Holocaust.

 March-April 1988: American Fred Leuchter writes a poorly conceived, pseudoscientific paper that will be published by revisionist British historian David Irving as The Leuchter Report. The paper claims that the Auschwitz chambers were never used for gas executions and that the camp crematoria could never have processed the number of bodies generally accepted to have passed through them.
 1990: The Soviet Union collapses and breaks into numerous independent states.
 1990: East and West Germany are reunited, creating one democratic Germany. The former East Germany agrees to the principles of the Luxembourg Treaty of 1952.
 1992: Following the reunification of Germany, the nation is swept by antisemitic violence. At the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a neo-Nazi firebomb attack destroys a major section of preserved barracks buildings.
 1993: French President François Mitterand publicly condemns the French Vichy government of World War II.
EPILOGUE: The Aftermath
 pg. 683 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.