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McKelvey School of Engineering

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The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini and Hitler

Monday, March 27 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Graham Chapel
Graham Chapel, St. Louis, MO 63105

Join us for a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Kertzer about his new book The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini, and Hitler

When Pope Pius XII died in 1958, his papers were sealed in the Vatican Secret Archives, leaving unanswered questions about what he knew and did during World War II. Those questions have only grown and festered, making Pius XII one of the most controversial popes in Church history, especially now as the Vatican prepares to canonize him.

In 2020, Pius XII’s archives were finally opened, and David Kertzer—widely recognized as one of the world’s leading Vatican scholars—has been mining this new material ever since, revealing how the pope came to set aside moral leadership in order to preserve his church’s power.

Based on thousands of never-before-seen documents not only from the Vatican, but from archives in Italy, Germany, France, Britain, and the United States, The Pope at War paints a new, dramatic portrait of what the pope did and did not do as war enveloped the continent and as the Nazis began their systematic mass murder of Europe’s Jews. The book clears away the myths and sheer falsehoods surrounding the pope’s actions from 1939 to 1945, showing why the pope repeatedly bent to the wills of Hitler and Mussolini.

Sponsored by the Michael and Barbara Newmark Institute for Human Relations at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. LouisSt. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust MuseumSt. Louis Jewish Book Festival, the Office of Peace & Justice of the Archdiocese of St. LouisSt. Louis County LibrarySt. Louis University Division of Mission and Identity, and the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

Local independent bookseller Left Bank Books will be on site for purchase of Professor Kertzer’s book.

Please register at rap@wustl.edu or 314-935-9345 so we can appropriately plan.

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Society



John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics
Event Contact

Debra Kennard | rap@wustl.edu

Speaker Information

Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Kertzer is the Paul Dupee University Professor of Social Science at Brown University. He is the author of The Pope Who Would be King (Random House, 2018) and The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, (Random House, 2014), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 2015 and the American Historical Association prize for best book in Italian history. Kertzer’s previous books include Amalia’s Tale (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), Prisoner of the Vatican (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), and The Popes Against the Jews (Knopf/Vintage, 2001). Kertzer’s The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (Knopf/Vintage) was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997. Kertzer is an authority on Italian politics, society, and history; political symbolism; and anthropological demography. He is co-founder and served for many years as co-editor of the Journal of Modern Italian Studies. In 2005 Kertzer was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. From 2006 to 2011, he was the Provost of Brown University.

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