January 28, 2017
As someone interested in what really happened behind the scenes in World War 2, I found this book riveting and hard to put down. Using records from Germany’s Institute für Zeitgeschichte and from the Vatican Secret Archives, Church of Spies casts light on WWII covert operations and spycraft that remained in the shadows for 75 years. Perhaps most earth shattering and historically game-changing is the proof that a modern Pope, running a vast intelligence network inside Germany, green-lighted Hitler’s assassination, something neither FDR or Churchill, so far as we know, risked their reputations to do.
“Church of Spies” will inspire many Catholics. It brings to life the heroic priests and ordinary faithful who did not sit on their hands, and who shed their own blood in the Pope’s high-stakes espionage to stop the Third Reich.
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This book will also interest students of the Holocaust. It provides a new context for evaluating Pope Pius XII, who opted for quiet clandestine operations instead of loud public speeches. Although not uncritical of Pius – Riebling writes that “he should have spoken out” – the book shows the German resistance itself begged the Pope not to do or say anything publicly that would cause retribution against Catholics in Germany who were concurrently planning assassinations and coups against the Third Reich.
Written with the attention to detail that one finds in Rick Atkinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II books, Church of Spies reads like a thriller. But the nearly 100 pages of source citations remind us that what happened here is true….