In 1997, the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to a letter to Monaco and several other countries, asking them for access to their official records from the Holocaust era. While some countries, including Russia, reacted positively to the request, others, like Monaco, did not respond. In January, the center again petitioned Monaco to open its archives, this time receiving the positive message that the archives in Monte Carlo would open on 2 March.
Under its current leadership, Monaco has taken steps to publicly recognize its role in the Holocaust. In 2015, during an event unveiling a statue commemorating 92 Jews who were deported to death camps from Monaco, Prince Albert II apologized saying that Monaco “committed the irreparable in handing over to the neighboring authorities women, men and a child who had taken refuge with us.”
On 2 March, the Holy See also opened its Holocaust-era Vatican Apostolic Archives, following years of questions regarding Pope Pius XII’ own actions during World War II.
As the Vatican prepared to unseal the millions of pages representing these archives, the World Jewish Congress celebrates a step forward in transparency of that era’s history.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder released the below statement:
“In inviting historians and scholars in to publicly access the Vatican’s World War II archives, Pope Francis is demonstrating a commitment to learning and airing the truth, as well as to the significance of Holocaust memory…. With the opening of the archives, we may finally learn the truth about what the Vatican knew.
“Due to sustained efforts between the global Jewish community and the Catholic Church in the decades since the war, the Vatican has become a friend and ally to the Jewish people. The opening of the archives represents a pivotal moment in the history of Catholic-Jewish relations and our ongoing interfaith dialogue,” Lauder said.