By a Special Correspondent WASHINGTON RECENTLY published U.S. State Department papers may throw new light on Pope Pius XI l's reasons for not specifically condemning Nazi atrocities in 1943. They include details of a conversation between the Pope and Mr. Harold Tittmann, assistant to President Roosevelt's personal representative at the Vatican.
Pope Pius appears to have said that, if he condemned Nazi atrocities in specific terms at that stage, he would be forced to condemn Communist atrocities simultaneously.
The likelihood that this would severely rock the wartime alliance between Russia and the Western Powers seems to have plunged him into a fresh dilemma. (He was already afraid that a statement would do more harm than good and reap a fresh harvest of German atrocities).
In his Christmas Message of 1942, in fact, the Pope had deplored and condemned the fact that hundreds and thousands of persons, without any fault of their own, and sometimes only because of their race or nationality, had been "consigned to death or to a slow decline".
After a talk with the Pope on January 5, 1943, Mr. Tittman took the view that the Pontiff sincerely belieeed that he had spoken clearly enough at Christmas to satisfy all who had been calling on him for a statement. He thought it was plain to everyone that he was referring to "the Poles, the Jews and the hostages". He was surprised to hear that some might feel otherwise.
Mr. Tiltman reported "He (the Pope) explained that, when talking of atrocities, he could not name the Nazis without at the same time mentioning the Bolsheviks, and this he thought might not be wholly pleasing to the Allies.
'He states that he 'feared' that there was foundation for the atrocity report of the Allies, but led me to believe that he felt that there had been some exaggeration for the purpose of propaganda. Taken as a whole. he thought his Message should be Welcomed by the American people, and I agreed with him."
The documents also show that the Vatican warned the U.S. government "of the grave peril that Europe will find itself overrun with Communism immediately on tha Datcsatillal of hostilities".