...has been cruelly and shockingly maligned over his wartime role. But the truth is steadily emerging, and no serious historian would now give credence to the lies circulated by the old East German regime.
I spent a good deal of time researching the story of one particular family of Jewish refugees in Rome, and the results are in my new book Courage and Conviction describing how the Brigettine sisters successfully hid this group and thus saved their lives.
Sitting in the parlour of the Brigettine sisters, and talking to the elderly Jewish gentleman who had lived there as a teenage boy, and hearing him describe what it was all like, is something I will remember for always...the stories of the atmosphere in the house, of the kindness of the nuns, of listening in secret to the BBC, of the tension of the final days of the war... and it was rather touching to see how the friendship with the sisters had continued down the years, as we sat chatting over drinks and little cakes with the Italian sunshine pouring in, and later joined the sisters and some other guests out in the courtyard...
Incidentally, one aspect of the wider story of how Jewish lives were saved in Rome during those ghastly years is the role of Mgr Montini, later Paul VI. He worked with zeal and courage to find hiding-places for Jewish families, facing personal danger in doing so.
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