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Seat 12 also known as Operation Seat 12 was a disinformation campaign of communist propaganda during the Cold War to discredit the moral authority of the Vatican because of its outspoken anti-communism.[1][2][3] In February 1960, Nikita Khrushchev authorized a covert plan to discredit the Vatican's moral authority in Western Europe with a campaign of disinformation due to its fervent anticommunism, Venerable Pope Pius XII being the prime target.[4][5][6] The motto of Seat 12 was "Dead men cannot defend themselves" since Pius died in 1958.[7]

The plot was revealed by Ion Mihai Pacepa, a Romanian general who headed the secret service before defecting in 1978 (the highest ranking intelligence officer ever to defect from the Warsaw Pact).[8] He reports that General Ivan Agayants, chief of the KGB’s disinformation department, created the outline for what was to become a play mischaracterizing the Pope as a Nazi sympathizer, The Deputy, that the purported research for the play consisted of forgeries[9] and the research was done not by its claimed author Rolf Hochhuth but by KGB agents and that the play's producer, Erwin Piscator, founder of the Proletarian Theater in Berlin who had sought asylum in the USSR during the war, was a devout Communist who had long established ties with the USSR.[10][11][12] The play had its debut at east Berlin's Freie Volksbühne ("Free People's Theater")[13] The play toured the Eastern Bloc and then proceeded to tour the free world.[14]

The KGB employed Romanian spies to feign that Romania was preparing the reestablish dipolmatic relations with the Holy See.[15] Under this ruse, Pacepa obtained entree to Vatican archives from the Church's head of secret discussions with the Warsaw Pact, Monsignor Agostino Casaroli.[16] Three communist spies in the guise of priests over two years secreted materials out of the archives for copying and transfer to the KGB.[17] "In fact," Pacepa reported, "no incriminating material against the pontiff ever turned up."[18] General Ivan Agayants, head of Soviet disinformation, while in Bucharest in 1963, informed Pacepa the disinformation campaign had "materialised into a powerful play attacking Pope Pius XII", Agrayants having authored the outline of The Deputy and overseen KGB's compilation of the "research" which incorporated documents Pacepa's agents had purloined from the Vatican.[19]

The American producer of Seat 12's play was also a communist, many of the press who lauded the play had deep connections to leftist or Communist causes, a highly Communist influenced periodical helped to guarantee the Deputy played on Broadway, and even early reviews had communist links.[20] Pacepa also relates that in 1974 Yuri Andropov admitted that had Soviets known in 1963 what they knew in 1974 (newly released information that Hitler was hostile to and plotted against Pius XII) they would never have gone after him.[21][22]

A declassified British intelligence memorandum, dated January 10, 1969, surmises that Hochhuth may have played a knowing role in spreading communist propaganda, rather than having been a dupe, saying he “might perhaps be an ‘intellectual agent, writing either on behalf of the East Germans or the Soviets” and the British agents declined to “discount the possibility of long-term efforts by the communists to foster Hochhuth’s allegations until they become legend." [23] The memorandum continued: “whether Hochhuth is motivated only by the urge to write historical plays, to rehabilitate the Germans or is up to some more sinister game is difficult to determine at this stage. But the Russians are certainly reaping some of the benefit.”[24]

Writer and law professor, Ronald Rychlak, concluded that Hochhuth might not have been a knowing actor in the propaganda but was a "perfect candidate to be an unknowing dupe."[25] As Rychlak noted: "his ideology was not far removed from Marxism. He also admitted that he was, at least at times, anticlerical. He was particularly opposed to priestly celibacy."[26]

Referring to Pacepa' account, German historian Michael Feldkamp indicates that “Pacepa’s report is wholly credible. It fits like a missing piece in the puzzle of communist propaganda and disinformation aimed at discrediting the Catholic Church and its Pontiff."[27]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Mindell, Cindy, Pope Pius XII: The Case For - and Against -Canonization, The Jewish Ledger, November 25, 2008
  2. Poprzeczny, Joseph, THE COLD WAR: How Moscow framed Pope Pius XII as pro-Nazi, News Weekly, Apr. 28, 2007
  3. Follain, John, KGB and the plot to taint 'Nazi pope', London Times, Feb. 18, 2007
  4. Pacepa, Ion Mihai, Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican: The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority National Review Online Jan. 25, 2007
  5. Mindell, Cindy, Pope Pius XII: The Case For - and Against -Canonization, The Jewish Ledger, November 25, 2008
  6. Follain, John, KGB and the plot to taint 'Nazi pope', London Times, Feb. 18, 2007
  7. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  8. Pacepa, Ion Mihai, Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican: The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority National Review Online Jan. 25, 2007
  9. Kaylan, Melik, Rehabilitating Pope Pius XII, Forbes, Oct. 28, 2008
  10. Pacepa, Ion Mihai, Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican: The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority National Review Online Jan. 25, 2007
  11. Follain, John, KGB and the plot to taint 'Nazi pope', London Times, Feb. 18, 2007
  12. Crowe, David,The Holocaust: roots, history, and aftermath By , p. 371, Westview Press 2008
  13. Whitfield, Stephen, The Deputy: History, Morality, Art, Modern Judaism, Volume 30, Number 2, May 2010, pp. 153-171
  14. Kaylan, Melik, Rehabilitating Pope Pius XII, Forbes, Oct. 28, 2008
  15. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  16. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  17. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  18. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  19. Follain, John,KGB bid to depict pope as anti-Jew, The Australian, Feb. 19, 2007
  20. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 25, Pave the Way Foundation
  21. Pacepa, Ion Mihai, Moscow’s Assault on the Vatican: The KGB made corrupting the Church a priority National Review Online Jan. 25, 2007
  22. Follain, John, KGB and the plot to taint 'Nazi pope', London Times, Feb. 18, 2007
  23. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 24, Pave the Way Foundation
  24. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 24, Pave the Way Foundation
  25. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 25, Pave the Way Foundation
  26. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 25, Pave the Way Foundation
  27. Rychlak, Ronald, The Play and the Plot to Denigrate the Pope, p. 25, Pave the Way Foundation

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