Secret Operation Pontifex - The Vatican in the Cold War

The documentary "Secret Operation Pontifex" relates the as yet untold story of Eastern Bloc espionage in the Vatican during the Cold War - and the Pope's ultimately successful resistance strategy of infiltrating his opponents.

Also available as 2 x 52 min. version

Nowhere else in the world were there as many spies from all camps in as small an area as in the Vatican. Even the East German Stasi sent their top agents to keep an eye on the pope. The election of the Polish Pope John Paul II put the Vatican right in the middle of the dispute between the Eastern Bloc and the Western world. On the one hand, Pope John Paul II was an ardent supporter of the Polish opposition movement, and on the other a frequent critic of capitalism. The almost successful attempt on his life in May 1981 was a key moment in a dispute which years later would end in the collapse of the Soviet Bloc.

"Secret Operation Pontifex" sheds light on this little known chapter in the story of the Cold War. Investigative research, rare archive footage and extensive new footage shot in Italy, Poland, the USA and Germany make for an exciting documentary film with surprising insights. High-profile interviewees include the Polish secret service officer Tomasz Turowski, who was stationed in Rome to spy on John Paul II for the Eastern Bloc, Richard V. Allen, the US national security advisor at the time of the attempted assassination of the pope, influential Vatican officials and Italian investigating judges. Some of these, like the head of a covert Stasi operation in Warsaw or Reagans' most important consultant on Soviet affairs John Lenczowski, have never spoken about these events before on camera. Viewing this time through the lens of the world's smallest state reveals a unique portrait of the dramatic battle between two world systems.