Vatican Knew of Germany's Plans to Attack Soviet Union in 1941, Russian Intelligence Says
© Sputnik / Vladimir AstapkovichA view of St Peter's Cathedral in Vatican.
© Sputnik / Vladimir Astapkovich/
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Pope Pius XII, head of the Catholic Church from 1939-1958, knew about an offensive being prepared by Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union and ordered that Jesuits in the western Soviet territories move closer to the border to be ready to flee, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) said.
"On Wednesday, April 23, a secret meeting took place between 400 Jesuits and the pope, who instructed them to increase their activity in the east. The Jesuits in the Baltic states, Western Ukraine and Belarus were ordered to gradually move to the border because Germany's offensive against the Soviet Union was expected to take place soon after the resolution of the Eastern question," the SVR said in a statement.
The Eastern question was the political and economic instability in the Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries and the subsequent strategic competition of major European powers.
Russia's SVR is celebrating 102 years since its establishment on Tuesday.
The SVR was established in 1920 and has been operating as Russia's external intelligence agency. The service is tasked with intelligence and espionage activities outside the country and is also authorized to negotiate counterterrorist cooperation and intelligence-sharing arrangements with foreign intelligence agencies. The SVR works together with the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate.