Text size

In January 1942, Chaim Barlas, the Jewish Agency emissary in Istanbul, turned to Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, the pope's representative in the city, and asked that Radio Vatican encourage Catholics to do whatever they could to save Jews. Roncalli, who eventually became Pope John XXIII, conveyed the request to the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Maglione, who ignored it. Rafaella Perin, of the University of Padua, whose research focuses on "the voice of the Vatican" during World War II, believes there were two reasons why Maglione did this: He was afraid of the reaction of Nazi Germany, and he didn't like Jews.

Radio Vatican was one of the many wartime media outlets examined at the first international workshop of its kind, held at Yad Vashem this year. Studies conducted at the initiative of David Bankier, head of the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, were also published in conjunction with the workshop, and focused on newsreels and radio broadcasts. Like print journalism, including the Hebrew papers in Palestine, the world media apparently knew much more about the destruction of the Jews than what it published. That was the biggest missed journalistic opportunity of the 20th century, and maybe of all times.