Vatican to open archives on controversial war-time Pope

Vatican City, Feb 21
The Vatican is set to open archives on controversial Pope Pius XII, who been accused of not doing enough to protect Jews during the rise of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.

More than 150 researchers and historians have signed up to gain access to the Vatican's apostolic library, which is due to be unsealed on March 2, reports Efe news.

The Vatican's chief librarian and archivist said on Thursday that researchers of many different nationalities had requested access to the files.

The move has been welcomed by historians and Jewish organisations, over accusations that Pius XII, originally named Eugenio Pacelli who was Pope from 1939 and 1958, turned a blind eye when German soldiers captured 1,022 Jews, including 200 children, just a few metres from the Vatican on October 16, 1943.

Two days later they were sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where all but 17 of their were murdered.

Scholars will have access to 16 million documents and 10,000s of boxes from the Vatican's secret archives and different institutions.

A total of 85 researchers have been authorised to view the material, including experts from the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington as well as Israel, Germany, Italy, Russia, France, Spain and Latin America.

Archivist Alejandro Dieguez told Efe news that researchers had been campaigning for 14 years for the files to be opened.