Pope Benedict XVI, who was forced to join the Hitler Youth as a child, has made a rare mention of life in Germany under the Nazis, calling it a "dark time."
The 84-year-old, German-born pontiff turned his thoughts to 70 years ago, a time "already marked by war" and in which Adolf Hitler "had already subjugated" one country after another, including Poland, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France.
Benedict said "it looked like the continent was in the hands of this power, which put the future on Christianity in doubt."
Benedict was speaking during an audience Saturday at the Vatican with members of a German Catholic group in Regensburg, which he entered as a 14-year-old boy.
The pope's off-the-cuff remarks were reported by Vatican Radio.