In August 2021, Deacon Dominiek Oversteyns released a study in which he claimed there were 8,207 Jews in Rome before the Nazi raid on the Jewish ghetto on October 16, 1943, and that 1,323 (16%) found refuge prior to the raid. According to Oversteyns, 18 Jews went to the Vatican extraterritorial properties, 393 to villages in the mountains around Rome, 368 to the private homes of friends, 500 to 49 different Roman convents, and 44 to parishes and pontifical colleges in Rome.
Oversteyns said the day of the raid Pius XII contacted German ambassador Ernst von Weizsäcker asking him to call Berlin and stop the roundup. He also had another German priest contact the head of the German army in Rome who, Oversteyns says, called Heinrich Himmler and convinced him to stop the raid at noon. Separately, SS commander Theodor Dannecker received instructions from Berlin to free all Jews in mixed marriages and in service of “Aryans.”
The day of the raid, 365 Nazi soldiers rounded up 1,351 Jews. Of the Jews taken by the Nazis, 61 were released immediately, and another 258 were released after they were kept in a military college. Two more Jews were released before the train departed from Rome’s Tiburtina Station for Auschwitz. Oversteyns said Pius XII and his collaborators were responsible for the release of 249 Roman Jews on that day, about one-fifth of those apprehended.
Of the 1,030 Jews deported to Auschwitz on October 18, only 16 returned after the war.
Oversteyns said he found testimonies that Pius XII asked at least 49 convents to hide and house Jews, and declared those convents to be extraterritorial areas under the authority of the Vatican. In addition, Pius XII hid 336 Jews in parishes and diocesan hospitals. Another 152 Jews were hidden in private homes under the protection of DELASEM, the Delegation for the Assistance of Jewish Emigrants.
Oversteyns concluded that Pius XII helped 714 Jews.
According to Andrea Gagliarducci, who reported Oversteyns’ findings, only 160 Jews were hidden in the Vatican and its 26 extraterritorial locations. “This is because Pius XII’s strategy was to hide Roman Jews in small groups in convents in Rome,” he said.
“From September 10, 1943, to June 4, 1944,” Gagliarducci added, “Pius XII carried out 236 interventions in favor of Jews arrested in Rome and on their way to deportation. Following his interventions, 42 arrested Jews were released.”
Source: Andrea Gagliarducci, “Expert’s latest investigation dispels myths about Pius XII and Rome’s Jews,” Catholic News Agency, (August 29, 2021).