On one hand, the Catholic Church receives criticism for its handling of the Holocaust. Various priests, nuns and laity were members of the Nazi Party and many historians charge that Pope Pius XII was complicit in Adolf Hitler’s regime. But on the other hand, many Catholics fought the Nazis and helped Jews escape persecution… and many Catholics were persecuted themselves. Millions of Catholic soldiers died fighting the Third Reich, while others were sent to forced labor camps, and countless cathedrals, churches, convents, monasteries, monuments, and schools were destroyed during World War II.
On Monday, Linna McDonald, a retired teacher of religion, language arts and social studies at Maspeth’s St. Stanislaus Kosta School, will present The Catholic Church and the Jews, as part of an ongoing lecture series at the Central Queens Y. McDonald, who currently mentors and trains Brooklyn-Queens Diocese teachers in Holocaust education, will address everything from the Pope Pius controversy to the priests and nuns who risked their lives helping Jews. She will also address the revolution in Catholic teaching since the 1960s and anti-Semitism in today’s church.
In a 1991 radio interview, author and 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel discussed his rescue from the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945. “I will always remember with love a big black soldier. He was crying like a child–tears of all the pain in the world and all the rage. Everyone who was there that day will forever feel a sentiment of gratitude to the American soldiers who liberated us.” This Sunday, The Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives will unveil a new photo exhibit on the soldiers — mostly aged 19 to 25 — who saved Jews and others from the Holocaust. The opening event will feature speeches from Irving Roth, who survived Dachau, and Rick Carrier, who helped liberate Buchenwald.
We heard about this story on the NY Daily News – Morris Sorid, aged 102 and a Holocaust and cancer survivor, also made it through Hurricane Sandy in one piece. He was living in an assisted living facility in Atlantic Beach, just over the Atlantic Beach Bridge from Far Rockaway, Queens, and was evacuated as part of a “mass emergency exodus” as the storm approached. He is currently residing in the basement library of the New Hempstead retirement home in Kew Gardens, Queens.