In his 1942 Christmas statement, broadcast over Vatican Radio, Pius said that the world was “plunged into the gloom of tragic error,” and he spoke of the need for mankind to make “a solemn vow never to rest until valiant souls of every people and every nation of the earth arise in their legions, resolved to bring society, and to devote themselves to the services of the human person and of a divinely ennobled human society.” He said that mankind owed this vow to “the hundreds of thousands who, through no fault of their own, and solely because of their nationality or race, have been condemned to death or progressive extinction.” He urged all Catholics to give shelter wherever they could. In making this statement and others during the war, Pius used the Latin word stirpe, which means race or nationality, but which had been used for centuries as an explicit reference to Jews.

British records reflect the opinion that “the Pope’s condemnation of the treatment of the Jews & the Poles is quite unmistakable, and the message is perhaps more forceful in tone than any of his recent statements.” […]

The Pope’s Christmas message was not hard for the Axis leaders to decipher. The German ambassador to the Vatican complained that Pius had abandoned any pretense at neutrality and was “clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews”. One German report stated:

In a manner never known before, the Pope has repudiated the National Socialist New European Order….[H]is speech is one long attack on everything we stand for…God, he says, regards all people and races as worthy of the same consideration. Here he is clearly speaking on behalf of the Jews…he is virtually accusing the German people of injustice toward the Jews, and makes himself the mouthpiece of the Jewish war criminals.”

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald Rychlak, Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013)


Radio Moscow’s insinuation that Pius XII was “Hitler’s Pope” attracted no attention whatsoever in the West, because the pope’s heroic support of the Allies and generous aid to the Jews during World War II was still fresh in people’s minds. They knew this man too well, based on the word of the highest Western authorities, for the insinuation to take hold.

On August 3, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to the pontiff:

I should like to…take this occasion to express to His Holiness my deeply-felt appreciation of the frequent actions which the Holy See has taken…to render assistance to the victims of racial and religious persecutions.

On September 6, 1944, Winston Churchill announced: “I have spoken today to the greatest man of our time.” Churchill admired Pius XII’s “simplicity, sincerity and power.” Albert Einstein wrote: “Only the Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I felt a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty.” The secular magazine Wisdom editorialized: “Of all the great figures of our time, none is more universally respected by men of all faiths than Pope Pius XII.”

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald Rychlak, Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013)

The June 1944 edition of a bulletin put out by the “Jewish Brigade Group” (US Eighth Army) carried a front-page editorial that completely undermined Radio Moscow’s insinuation: “To the everlasting glory of the people of Rome and the Roman Catholic Church we can state that the fate of the Jews was alleviated by their truly Christian offers of assistance and shelter.” The Israeli Federation of Labor’s daily newspaper, Davar, quoted a Jewish brigade officer shortly after Rome’s liberation: “When we entered Rome, the Jewish survivors told us with a voice filled with deep gratitude and respect: ‘If we have been rescued, if Jews are still alive in Rome, come with us and thank the pope in the Vatican. For in the Vatican proper, in churches, monasteries and private homes, Jews were kept hidden at his personal orders’.”

Another event that took place just weeks earlier made Radio Moscow”s insinuation outright ridiculous. On February 13, 1945, the chief rabbi of Rome and his wife, Israel and Emma Zolli, converted to Catholicism during a widely popularized ceremony. Zolli adopted the Christian Eugenio to honor the man who, according to him, had done so much to protect the Jews during the war: Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Pacelli. In his 1945 memoir, Zolli explained,

No other hero in history has commanded such an army; an army of priests works in cities and small towns to provide bread for the persecuted and passports for the fugitives. Nuns go into canteens to give hospitality to women refugees. Superiors of convents go out into the night to meet German soldiers who look for victims….Pius XII is followed by all with the fervor of that charity that fears no death.

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa and Professor Ronald Rychlak, Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism (2013)

Lewis puts himself into other works as well. He serves as the narrator in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra. Tolkien believed that Mr. Bultitude, the bear in That Hideous Strength, was a portrait of Lewis. […] Lewis denied it, saying, “That is too high a compliment” (Collected Letters 2:682). […]

Another short and humorous poem [by fellow Inkling Nevill Coghill] that features Lewis is this one, which serves as the dedication and epigraph to Owen Barfield on C. S. Lewis:

To C. S. Lewis

My public, though select and small,
Is crammed with taste and knowledge.
It’s somewhat stout and fairly tall
And lives at Magdalen College.

Tolkien wrote clerihews about [fellow Inklings] Williams, Mathew, Barfield, Coghill, and himself, but it seems he did not write one specifically about Lewis. However, he did celebrate Lewis in another short piece, this one gentler in tone and written entirely in Old English. In chapter 1, I discussed the first part of his poem, which begins “Hwæt! we Inclinga.” Following the rousing description of the group as a whole, the poem continues, “Þara wæs Hloðuig sum, hæleða dyrost, / brad ond beorhtword.” Translated, the lines read, “One of them was Hlothwig, dearest of men, broad and bright of word.” Carpenter explains that “‘Hlothwig’ was the Anglo-Saxon form of the Germanic name from which ‘Lewis’ was ultimately derived” (Inklings 176-77).

Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2008)

When C. S. Lewis left home and started his undergraduate studies at Oxford, he gained a reputation as a mysterious figure, “a strange fellow who seemed to live an almost secret life and took no part in the social life of the college” (L. Baker 65). Despite this shadowy reputation, a student named R. M. S. Pasley sought him out. Pasley introduced Lewis to Leo Baker; they were soon joined by Owen Barfield, Cecil Harwood, and W. O. Field. A shared passion for poetry forged the connection, and from the beginning, they read each other’s original work. Baker emphasizes, “Our initial link was, without question, poetry” (67).

During their first term at Oxford, they “planned some afternoon walks together and the exchange of our poems for mutual comment” (L. Baker 66). These evolved into large-scale walking tours – two or more would commit a week or so to walking across the English countryside with pauses at inns and pubs. They adopted the name “The Cretaceous Perambulators.” […]

One of the most unusual collaborations to grow out of these mutual experiences is a booklet titled A Cretaceous Perambulator, published in 1983 in a limited edition by the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society. This little book had its start in April 1936. When Barfield, Harwood, and Lewis scheduled a walking tour. It turned out that Lewis was unable to join them, so, as a joke, Barfield and Harwood conspired to have lewis make it up to them by taking a mock exam. They modeled their test after the School Certificate exam taken by British students at age 16, and they sternly informed Lewis that he would not be permitted to walk with them ever again unless he passed the test and gained readmittance in the “College of Cretaceous Perambulators.” […]

The test itself consists of three parts. Sixty minutes are allowed for Part I, which consists of ten short essay questions. These include, “Why are you the best map reader?” “distinguish carefully between a walking-tour and a walking-race,” and “Give the (long) semantic history of the word ‘Guiting.’” […]

Lewis’s answers to these questions are as light-hearted as the imaginative test deserves, full of schoolboy lapses in taste, imagery, sophistication, and grammar. At one point he deliberately taunts Barfield by indulging in the most blatant form of chronological snobbery. Lewis writes, “It is true that [Aristotle] was not such a good philosopher as Lord Bacon but ought we to laugh at him for that, no We ought to remember that he lived a lot earlier when people were much less civilized.”

Lewis invokes Aristotle again in answering the question, “Why are you the best map reader?” Lewis explains:

Aristotles [sic] astonishing learning enabled him to discover that there were four Causes – formal, efficient, material and final


i The formal reason why I am the best map reader is because I have the best map reading faculty
ii The efficient is because I read it best
iii The material is my brains.
iv The final is that we can find the way

Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2008)

Reports of Inklings meetings describe powerful minds equaling and countering one another in intellectual confrontation. Tolkien, for example, describes one particular meeting that he calls “a great event.” It took place in November 1944. Williams, Havard, Barfield, and Lewis were there, and “C.S.L. was highly flown, but we were also in good fettle.” Lewis and Barfield had at it, and Tolkien writes, “The result was a most amusing and highly contentious evening, on which (had an outside eavesdropped) he would have thought it a meeting of fell enemies hurling deadly insults before drawing their guns.” Their joy in witty repartee is evident here, too. Tolkien continues, “Warnie was in excellent majoral form. On one occasion when the audience had flatly refused to hear Jack discourse on and define ‘Chance,’ Jack said: Very well, some other time, but if you die tonight you’ll be cut off knowing a great deal less about Chance than you might have.’ Warnie: ‘That only illustrates what I’ve always said: every cloud has a silver lining’” (Letters 103).

Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2008)

Although she claimed to be nervous about criticizing Lewis’s poetry, [Ruth] Pitter happily attacked a number of his other works, including The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She explains, “I used sometimes to try and catch Lewis, you know, because his invention, especially in the Narnia stories, is so brilliant and so various” (Oral History Interview with Ruth Pitter, conducted by Lyle W. Dorsett (23 July 1985), page 19.

In C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide, [Walter] Hooper records the details of one of their conversations, including the rousing conclusion by Warren Lewis:

RP:  The Witch makes it always winter and never summer?
CS: (In his reverberating voice) She does.
RP: Does she allow any foreign trade?
CS: She does not.
RP: Am I allowed to postulate a deux ex machina, perhaps on the lines of Santa Claus with the tea-tray? (This is where CS lost the contest. If he had allowed the deus-ex-m., for which Santa gives good precedent, he would have saved himself.)
CS: You are not.
RP: Then how could the Beavers have put on that splendid lunch?
CS: They caught the fish through holes in the ice.
RP: Quite so, but the dripping to fry them? The potatoes – a plant that parishes at a touch of the frost – the oranges and sugar and suet and flour for the lovely surprise Marmalade Roll – the malt and hops for Mr Beaver’s beer – the milk for the children?
CS: (with great presence of mind) I must refer you to a further study of the text.
Warner: Nonsense, Jack; you’re stumped and you know it.

Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2008)

[Lewis and Tolkien] met at a faculty meeting on 11 May 1926. Lewis’s first impression of Tolkien was not favorable. In his diary he describes Tolkien as “a smooth, pale, fluent little chap.” Lewis adds, “No harm in him: he only needs a smack or so” (All My Road 393). […]

Tuesday meetings at the Eagle and Child developed a reputation for being quite boisterous, partly as a result of Lewis’s exuberance, partly the equally dynamic presence of men like Dyson, Coghill, and Williams. James Dundas-Grant, one of the lesser-known members of the Inklings, emphasizes the drama and the energy: “We sat in a small back room with a fine coal fire in winter. Back and forth the conversation would flow. Latin tags flying around. Homer quoted in the original to make a point.” Even Professor Tolkien, often pictured as reserved and reflective, joined in the fray by “jumping up and down, declaiming in Anglo-Saxon” (371). Lewis wondered what other people made of it all, suggesting, “The fun is often so fast and furious that the company probably thinks we’re talking bawdy when in fact we’re v. likely talking Theology” (They Stand 501).

Diana Pavlac Gyler, The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community (2008)

For by the summer of 1929, red-haired Peg Looney was not at all well. The teeth extractions that never healed had only been the start of it; she’d developed anemia and then this pain had settled in her hip so that now she could barely walk…Peg was wasting away, and her family watched in horror as she pulled teeth and parts of her jaw from her mouth. […]

Radium Dial – warned by Kjaer that Peg’s was a special case in which the government was particularly interested – watched her very closely. They knew she had tested positive for radioactivity in 1925 and 1928; they knew from their own medical tests exactly what was wrong with her. And so, when Peg collapsed at work on August 6, 1929, Mr. Reed made arrangements for her to be admitted to the company doctor’s hospital. […]

At 2:10 a.m. on August 14, 1929, Margaret Looney died…It seems the firm was concerned that Peg’s death would be attributed to radium poisoning, which would scare all the girls at the studio and possibly lead to innumerable lawsuits. The executives needed to take control of the situation. What did the family think, they asked, of having Peg autopsied?…They readily agreed, on condition that their own family doctor could be present, because they wanted to find out the truth. Their proviso was all-important: after the firm’s midnight machinations [to steal Peg’s body], they did not trust them. The company doctor agreed easily. Yes, yes, they said, no problem. What time?

When the family doctor arrived at the appointed hour, bag in hand, he found the autopsy had been performed an hour before he got there. He wasn’t there to see the multiple fracture lines on Peg’s ribs, nor the way “the flat bones of [her] skull showed numerous ‘thin’ areas as ‘holes.’” He didn’t examine the radium necrosis that was found “very strongly” in the skull vault, pelvis, and at least sixteen other bones. He did not witness the widespread skeletal changes that were evident throughout Peg’s battered body. He was not there to see as the company doctor “removed by post-mortem resection” the remains of Peg Looney’s jaw.

He took her bones. He took the most compelling evidence.

The family was not sent a copy of the report, but Radium Dial received one…”The teeth are in excellent condition,” read the official autopsy report. “There is no evidence of any destructive bone changes in the upper or lower jaw.” her death certificate was duly signed: diphtheria was the cause of death. […]

In 1978, researchers exhumed Peg’s body from St. Columba Cemetary, where she had been resting alongside her parents. They discovered she had 19,500 microcuries of radium in her bones – one of the highest quantities found. It was more than 1,000 times the amount scientists then considered safe.

Kate Moore, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women (2017)

[T]he firm had in its possession the results of the radioactivity tests of all the women at Radium Dial, taken back in 1928. The results that showed that, of the sixty-seven girls tested that day, thirty-four were suspiciously or positively radioactive. Thirty-four women: more than half the workforce.

The company had said in its press statement at the time; “Nothing even approaching symptoms ]of radium poisoning] has ever been found.” That declaration was not some miscalculation, caused by a misunderstanding of the data. The data was clear: most of the employees were radioactive – a telltale sign of radium poisoning. But though the women’s breath betrayed the truth, the company had deliberately and unashamedly lied.

The company still had the women’s names on its secret list of results, each numbered according to how radioactive she was.

Kate Moore, The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women (2017)