World War II

The Mindless Iconoclasm of Our Age

Galla Placida, the regent for her young son, the emperor Theodosius III, was shocked when Saint Augustine died in 430 on August 28, three months into the siege of his city Hippo by the Vandals. He may have died of malnutrition, if not stress, because the wheat crop had not been harvested. As destroyers go, [...]

Combatants, Non-Combatants, and Double Effect

I write this essay on my birthday, August 7. I mention this only because my birthday happens to fall between the anniversaries of the August 6 Hiroshima and August 9 Nagasaki nuclear bombings. August is therefore the month in which some Catholics are sure to excoriate other Catholics because these “other” Catholics do not automatically [...]

We Are All Poles Now: The Battle is for Western Civilization

While some frenzied protestors call Trump “illiterate,” Polish crowds were impressed at the American president’s depth of historical understanding in the recent speech delivered in Warsaw’s Krasiński Square (July 6, 2017). The place chosen for the speech was remarkable in itself and holds great significance for Poles. Trump chose to speak at the memorial to [...]

Remembering Monte Cassino

February 15 marks the date of one of the most regrettable episodes in the history of World War II, the bombing and destruction of the abbey of Monte Cassino in Italy in 1944. The Battle of Monte Cassino has been described as one of the longest and bloodiest engagements in the war, and the destruction [...]

Reminiscences of a Catholic Girl in Wartime Holland

In honor of Thanksgiving and in anticipation of the Christmas season, I offer this story of gratitude and faith concerning the experiences of a Catholic girl in Amsterdam during World War II. The girl, now enjoying her golden age ensconced on a quiet suburban street in northern Virginia, is my neighbor Mrs. Stien van Egmond. [...]

An Afternoon at Auschwitz

“On the face of every human being, especially when marked by tears and sufferings, we can and must see the face of Christ.”  ∼ Blessed Paul VI We reached Poland early that morning, the long bus drive through the night bringing us first to Czestochowa, where the Black Madonna, Poland’s most sacred icon, has for more than [...]

On Seeing Omaha Beach

General Mark W. Clark, whose Fifth Army led the capture of Rome in June of 1944, was the last of the fighting World War II field commanders to die (at age 87 in 1984). He never doubted the importance of the role America played in the liberation of Europe.  Nor the idealism that moved so [...]

The Plot to Kill Hitler and the Vindication of Pius XII

During the debates leading up to the 1983 pastoral letter of the bishops of the United States on nuclear weapons, “The Challenge of Peace,” the great churchman Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans said that many of the bishops were uninformed. I paraphrase, because the archbishop himself used much more colorful language, honed by years of [...]

Remembering Polish Catholic Heroes of WWII

Although even secularist historians admit that Pope St. John Paul II inspired the rise of Solidarity and dealt a death blow to the Soviet Empire, the pivotal role Polish Catholicism played in anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet resistance is less well-known. The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II this year is a fitting time to [...]

Benedict XVI: Pope as Prophet

There is a warm spot in my heart for Sir Cecil Spring-Rice because he loved Theodore Roosevelt and disdained Woodrow Wilson.  He also wrote the hymn  “I Vow to Thee My Country” which some progressivists have forbidden their shrunken congregations to sing because it speaks of a real heaven, and a life of sacrifice. He said affectionately of Teddy: [...]

Timely Film Rome, Open City is Re-released

London just witnessed the release of a newly restored version of Rome, Open City (Roma città aperta). Roberto Rossellini's Italian Neo-Realist classic emerged from the smashed debris of what was left of the Eternal City as the German armies retreated and the Allies slowly crept towards it. Watching the movie today it lacks none of [...]

Catholic Heroism and Villainy in Wartime

Arthur Cardinal Hinsley, Archbishop of Westminster, was such a strong voice against the Axis that when he died in 1943, King George VI expressed frustration that protocol prevented his attendance at the Requiem. When King George V and Queen Mary had attended the Requiem for the exiled Empress Eugenie at the Benedictine abbey in Farnborough in 1920, a [...]

The Tragic Heroism of Pope Pius XII

There are commentators on the sports channels whose numbing dialogues would never be confused with the Algonquin Round Table.  These are the so-called Monday Morning Quarterbacks. Some historians quarterback that way.  Pope Pius XII, hailed in his lifetime as a protector of persecuted people, has suffered  in reputation from lax minds who never exercised themselves [...]

1943: The Health and Happiness of Baby

In the Teutonic gloom spreading from Tunisia to Stalingrad, the Luftwaffe engineered a glimmer of fresh resiliency with the inaugural test flight of a Messerschmitt Me 262 jet that reached 520 mph on May 22. In those same hours, Stalin was dissolving the Third international, or Comintern, on the first anniversary of the formal Soviet [...]

1943: A Time For Spies

May was flush with the most colorfully camouflaged spy networks in every government, and the Allied bombing of Sicily and Sardinia on May 19 and 20, as prelude to the invasion of Italy, punctuated one of the most celebrated espionage tricks of the war: Operation Mincemeat. As the brainchild of Admiral John Godfrey, director of [...]

1943: The Soul Means Nothing

Benedetto Croce died in 1952, the same year in which Albert Einstein had to protest to his friend Maurice Solovine, "lest you think that weakened by age I have fallen into the hands of priests." In 1943, Croce had to do something similar, as his essays on philosophic idealism increasingly gave the impression that he [...]

MENU