We are a group of historians analyzing newly available sources on Pope Pius XII in the Vatican Archives. Our team unites scholars from the German Historical Institutes in Rome and Warsaw, Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the University of Oxford, KU Leuven, Fribourg University, and Collegium Carolinum Munich.

While the opening of the Apostolic Archive in 2020 has been accompanied by strong media attention and many questions about the Church’s actions during the Second World War, this group will focus on the post-war period and the Vatican’s role in globalization. How did it react to the Cold War, to decolonization, the historical memory of the Holocaust, and to the democratization of the Western world?

These are the questions that the scholars in this group will be researching not only in the Vatican, but also in archives in Europe, Israel, Africa, and Latin America. Ultimately, our project aims to transcend classical thematic labels such as ‘church history’ or ‘religious history’. Instead, it engages with newer approaches of global, transnational and postcolonial history. Thereby, this research will re-introduce questions about religion into the modern post-war historiography. It will demonstrate that an adequate understanding of the Vatican’s political and cultural role is crucial to explain the great transformative processes of the twentieth century.

The Election of Pope Pius XII, Licence: British Pathé Ltd / Reuters‘ historical collection (not to be available to buy, rent, or download to visitors of the site).
Pope Pius XII at a general audience in Rome, 1950
Pope Pius XII greets Pilgrims, 1950, Wikimedia Commons
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