Thursday, July 8, 2010

Population figures on "non-Aryan" Christians.

I did some reading through material I have collected over the years on the so-called "non-Aryan" Catholics and Protestants and decided to summarise some of the information.

Exact numbers are almost impossible to determine because of the cross-overs between self-identification (particularly for converts), family tradition (most children of converts did not regard themselves as Jewish) and communal identity (Jewish community groups did not regard converts as Jews) and the various legal formulations constructed between 1933 and 1935.

Firstly, some historical context is necessary.


April 7: The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service.
This was the first time where a "non-Aryan" was legally defined.  The classification depended on the number of "non-Aryan" grandparents a person had.  While the term could be used to describe a number of so-called "racial" groups, it was only ever applied to Jews.  Therefore, according to the law, a "non-Aryan" was a person with three or four "full" "non-Aryan" grandparents.

Exemptions were made for veterans of WWI, civil servants who had been employed before or since 1914, and anyone whose father or son had died at the front.  These exemptions lasted until the death of President Paul von Hindenburg on 2 August 1934.

20 July Foundation of "Reich League of Christian-German State Citizens of non-Aryan or not Completely Aryan Origins, Inc." It was renamed the Paulus Bund in September 1936 and survived in various forms until the government dissolved it in August 1939.  The membership was Protestant.

15 September: Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour.
Jews were stripped of their Reich citizenship and made "guests" with limited civil rights.  They were forbidden to marry or have any sexual relationship with non-Jews, fly German flags or insignia, employ female domestic servants under the age of 45. 

The illustration shows in a very basic table the definitions Jews, mischlinge and Aryans.

German Catholic bishops make the St Raphael's Association (predecessor of Caritas in Germany) the official assistance group for "Non-Aryan" Catholics.  Between 1937 and the end of 1938 the helped 1,000 Catholics of Jewish ancestry leave Germany.  The figure is small because of the extremely limited resources at their disposal.

To try and solve the "problem" of part-Jews, ie people with some Jewish ancestry, the category of mischlinge was introduced.  The term literally means "mongrel" or "mixed breed".

Statistics - these are estimates only based on census data between 1933 and 1939.  Because of the growing discrimination against German, and later Austrian Jews, the numbers were never entirely accurate.  Despite heavy penalties for attempting to try and hide Jewish identity after 1935, some people still lied on census forms. The figures also do not take into account Jews who left Germany after 1933 but who returned before the war.

1933 - the Jewish population was around 566,000. 

Since the census did not ask for ancestry there is no exact way of determining the number of Germans with Jewish ancestry.  Attempts have been made based on calculations of Jews who converted to Christianity from the 19th century, but these are estimates only.

1933 - estimated German population with Jewish ancestry, ie at least one Jewish grandparent - close to 500,000.

1939 - Jewish population according to Nuremberg Law definition.  Note that this last pre-war census, conducted in May 1939, included those places annexed to the Reich since 1933 - Saar 1935, Austria and Sudetenland 1938, Memel 1939.  Jews - 259,000.

Non-Aryan Christians - 138,500 - which included both "full Jews" and mischlinge.

Total number of Jews (full and mischlinge) defined as such by the Nuremberg Laws: 330,539.
Religion was irrelevant in the Nazi definition of Jews.


Werner Cohn, Bearers of a Common Fate ? The "Non-Aryan Christian Fate-Comrades" of the Paulus Bund, 1933-1939, Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook, vol. XXXIII, 1988, pp. 327-366

Paul O'Shea, A Cross Too Heavy, p 253.

Pius XII saved 200,000 Jews after the 1938 Pogrom? No.

I was more than a little surprised when google updates on Pius began arriving in my email this afternoon.  My surprised turned to something quite different when I began reading the lead article "Hitler's Pope saved thousands of Jewish lives". 

Frankly, the article is a collection of half-baked assertions, backed with no credible documentation - or if there is documentation, I am curious why it has not been revealed in a more scholarly manner with direct quotes from the text. 

I find it amazing that it was even published - but I guess sensationalism sells.  This version of the article comes from the online edition of the UK Telegraph. 

I hope Pave The Way is prepared to qualify the article or withdraw Hesemann's claims.  And Simon Caldwell, the journalist who wrote this piece, should have at least consulted scholars who have an expertise in the field.

My comments are in red type.

'Hitler's Pope' saved thousands of Jewish lives"

Pope Pius XII, the controversial wartime pontiff, may have saved thousands of Jews by secretly securing visas so they could escape Nazi Germany, a historian has claimed.

By Simon Caldwell

Published: 10:00PM BST 06 Jul 2010

Pope Pius XII: The claim was made by Dr Michael Hesemann, an academic carrying out research in the Vatican Archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a US-based interfaith group.

Pope Pius, who was labelled “Hitler’s Pope” because of his silence during the Holocaust, may have arranged the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany just three weeks after Kristallnacht, when thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

Jewish Population statistics:

1933 Jews in Germany c566,000

Jews in Austria c192,000.

Jewish Population change between 1933-1939 – due to emigration:

Germany c282,000;

Austria (only after the Anchluss in March 1938) c117,000.

Total Jewish population change in the Greater German Reich 1933-1939:

Decrease of c399,000

Factors to include: 1935 Nuremberg Laws defined a “full” Jew as a person with four “full” Jewish grandparents; a person with three “full” Jewish grandparents; a “mixed race person” (mischlinge) a person with at least one “full” Jewish parent. Religious practice was irrelevant. Jewish converts to Christianity were regarded as racial Jews. Christians of Jewish descent were regarded as racial Jews. The Nuremberg Laws were applied to Austria after the Anchluss. Some Jews returned to Germany between 1934 and 1938 when it appeared the regime had “settled” the “Jewish question”.

Austrian Jewish population figures 1938:

Number of Jews according to Jewish communal census (did not include Jews who had converted to Christianity) 181,778

Number of Jews according to Himmler’s statistics using the Nuremberg Laws: 220,000

Estimated number of Catholics of Jewish descent in Greater German Reich 1938 – estimated at around 180,000 – figures compiled by the Raphaelsverein (German Catholic assistance for Non-Aryans)

Jewish men and boys arrested in the wake of the Pogrom 8/9 November 1938

Approximately 30,000.  Most were released with several weeks and months usually on condition that they left the Reich.

Emigration in the aftermath of the Pogrom 8/9 November 1938

Germany – 36,000

Austria – 77,000

Jewish Population 1939

Germany: c202,000

Austria: c57,000

The claim was made by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian carrying out research in the Vatican archives for the Pave the Way Foundation, a US-based inter-faith group.

He said that Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli – the future Pius XII – wrote to Catholic archbishops around the world to urge them to apply for visas for “non-Aryan Catholics” and Jewish converts to Christianity who wanted to leave Germany.

It would be helpful to know more about these documents. They sound very much like two documents that are found in Volume 6 of Actes et Documents du Sainte Siege relatifs a la Seconde Guerre Mondiale. These documents have been available since 1972.

ADSS 6, pp 48-49: 9 January 1939: Cardinal Pacelli wrote in the name of Pope Pius XI asking for assistance for the formation of assistance committees to help non-Aryan Catholics.

ADSS 6, pp 49-50: 30 November 1938: Cardinal Pacelli wrote in the name of Pope Pius XI to the Nuncios in Ireland, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Costa Rica, the Apostolic Delegates in the USA, Australia, Lebanon, Egypt, French Indo-China, Belgian Congo and Turkey, asking them to do all they can to help converted Jews forced to leave Germany and Italy.

Based on the population statistics the figure 200,000 seems improbable in part because the total number of Jews who left Germany and Austria in November-December 1938 (and probably before the last pre-war census conducted in May 1939) amounted to c113,000. Even if these were all non-Aryan Christians, the figure falls well below 200,000.

Elliot Hershberg, the chairman of the Pave the Way Foundation, said:“ We believe that many Jews who were successful in leaving Europe may not have had any idea that their visas and travel documents were obtained through these Vatican efforts.

This is still far too vague. If the claim is true, why has it not been mentioned before? It seems very strange to me that no historical specialist has found anything connected with Hesemann’s claim.  And there are more than a few of them working in the ASV in Rome.  Hubert Wolf makes no mention of anything along these lines in his recent book Pope and Devil (2010). 

“Everything we have found thus far seems to indicate the known negative perception of Pope Pius XII is wrong.”

Pius XII was criticised for failing to denounce explicitly the Holocaust, the Nazi regime or to excommunicate Hitler.

Dr Hesemann says that additional evidence suggests that the visas would have been given to ordinary Jews desperate to escape persecution.

What and where is the "additional evidence"?

“The fact that this letter speaks of 'converted Jews’ and 'non-Aryan’ Catholics indeed seems to be a cover,” said Dr Hesemann.

The language of “converted Jews” and “non-Aryan” is perfectly consistent with records from many sources (such as the Akten Deutsche Bischöfe über die Lage der Kirche) and the language of ADSS. The Vatican used the legal terminology employed by the German government when dealing with Reich agencies or German Catholic groups. Reich Jews also used the language of “non-Aryan” when referring to themselves. The legal formula was used by the Prioress of Cologne Carmel to explain why one of the nuns - Edith Stein - did not vote in the 1938 plebiscite – she was no longer a citizen of the Reich according to the Nuremberg Laws.

“You couldn’t be sure that Nazi agents wouldn’t learn about this initiative,” he said.

This statement makes no historical sense.  The “Nazi agents” actively encouraged Jewish emigration until 1941. It was Reich policy!

“Pacelli had to make sure they didn’t misuse it for their propaganda, that they could not claim that the Church is an ally of the Jews.”

Again, this statement does not make sense. Pius XI and Pacelli were pilloried in sections of the Nazi media as “Jew-lovers”.

The appeal from Cardinal Pacelli, then the Vatican’s Secretary of State, was dated Nov 30, 1938 – 20 days after Kristallnacht, the “night of broken glass”.

ADSS 6, pp 49-50: 30 November 1938 - see reference above.  This has been well known for over 35 years.

The appeal came from the Pope, Pius XI. Pacelli was acting on instructions given by the Pope. And while there is no evidence to suggest that Pacelli would have opposed the instructions, it must be kept clear that the order did not originate with him.

Cardinal Pacelli was able to ask for the visas because the 1933 concordat he signed with the Nazis specifically provided protection for Jews who converted to Christianity.

This is news to me. Please show me where this occurs in the Concordat. I have re-read the text and I find no mention of Jews, converted or not.

Dr Ed Kessler, the director of the Cambridge-based Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, said: “It is clear that Pius XII facilitated the saving of Roman Jews.”

Something of a red herring in this article. What is the connection?

In December, Pope Benedict XVI placed Pius one step closer to sainthood when he declared him “Venerable”, meaning that the Church believes he lived a life of “heroic virtue”.

Two miracles are needed to canonise him as a saint and the Vatican is investigating at least one apparently inexplicable healing.

Some Jewish groups want the process frozen until the Vatican is ready to open its secret wartime archives in 2014. As do more than a few Catholic and other historians!

Sir Martin Gilbert, a British historian and the world’s leading expert on the Holocaust, has said that Pope Pius XII should be considered as a “Righteous Gentile” by Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust remembrance authority. Sir Martin is entitled to his opinion, but his views on this matter are not shared by most mainstream historians.


This is not history; this is polemic and propaganda.  It has no place in any discussion on Pius XII.  It disturbs me greatly that such inaccurate and misleading material is posted.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hubert Wolf and the ASV

In my earlier post on Wolf's book - Pope and Devil - I made mention of the review that spent most of the time analysing Bishop von Galen of Munster.  I've had the opportunity to read Wolf's book.  It is one of those "Wow" books that keep you riveted from beginning to end.  Wolf's research is meticulous and his conclusions compelling.  He has spent considerable time looking at the material available in the ASV and putting Pacelli's story together from his days in Germany through his time as Secretary of State.

Among the very interesting points Wolf makes in the book are:

1. Pacelli's reports to Rome on the German bishops from the early 1920s.  He is not particularly kind when it comes to Cardinal Adolf Bertram, Prince-Bishop of Breslau.  Pacelli considered Bertram a "typical" Prussian state bishop, namely, one who would avoid conflict with the state at all costs and whose reliability could never be counted on 100%.  On Bishop von Preysing, first in Eichstatt and then Berlin, Pacelli pushed his candidacy because he saw a "Roman party man".  Von Preysing was not highly regarded by some of the episcopal electors, and remained something of an outsider until his move to Berlin and his confrontational stand against the Nazis.  Von Galen was thought to be a bit limited.  Of course once the war started and Pacelli was now Pope, he found among his greatest supports in Germany to be these two men whose careers he had such an influential role.

Bertram above

von Preysing below

2. As Secretary of State from 1930 Pacelli and Pius XI operated virtually as a "two man show".  Wolf went looking for discussion and "sessioni" from the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, Pacelli's department, and found very little.  The robust and lively arguments that marked much of the 19th century and early 20th century sessioni disappear from the succession of Pius XI.  Pius and his Secretary tended to work on major Vatican policy without much consultation.  The Pope would discuss things with Pacelli, make decisions and leave it to his Cardinal Secretary to issue instructions to ensure things happened.  When he looked for sessioni on the major events in Germany in 1933 Wolf found nothing.  This gives us a very important insight into how the future Pius XII viewed governance, especially when it came to Germany - it was his affair. 

3.  Throughout the 1930s as the persecution of German Jewry grew more oppressive, there is very little comment from the Pope or Pacelli.  Nuncio Orsenigo reported regularly and reliably to Rome but there appears to have been little response from the two men "at the top".  It took the violence of the November 1938 pogrom to shake Pius XI into a more vigorous action.

  Nuncio Cesare Orsenigo and  Foreign Minister Ribbentrop
4. The 1928 condemnation of Antisemitism.  Until the archives were opened, the dissolution of the Amici Israel was considered an odd footnote in the history of the period, except for the very clear condemnation of antisemitism.  Wolf's study of the inter-congregational documents surrounding this episode show that the original intentions of the Amici - to reform the Good Friday liturgy and have the adjective "perfidis" dropped from the prayer for the Jews; renounce the charge of deicide and the theology of supercessionism - were seen by the Holy Office to be an accusation that the Church was herself antisemitic, or if not deliberately,her liturgy could give that impression.  This challenge to authority was not to be taken lightly.  The Prefect of the Holy Office, Merry del Val, rushed an investigation of the Amici and their petition in comparative haste recommending Pius ban the group altogether.  Pius accepted Merry del Val's recommendation, showed his displeasure at Abbot Schuster, the Benedictine liturgical expert who said the Amici's requests were liturgically legitimate, and issued the ban.  He couched the ban in terms of dissolving the Amici because they had strayed from orthodoxy, and then issued a loud condemnation of antisemitism asserting that the Church had always defended the rights of the oppressed.  In the light of the archival material, the whole three month affair (January to March 1928) is rather shabby.  Yes, it was good antisemitism was denounced, but it was not good that the very group who urged its denunciation was itself denounced as unorthodox!

4. Interpreting "silence".  Here is where von Galen enters the picture.  It was, as I have argued in my book, Pius XII's hope that the bishops of Germany would take up the fight.  This also follows a well-established pattern.  In April 1933, Giuseppe Pizzardo, in the Secretariat of State, was ruminating on how to respond to letters from Jewish community leaders in Europe and the USA who appealed to the Holy See for the Pope to condemn German antisemitism.  Pizzardo posed the question - "would it not be better for the German bishops to take such a step (ie do something)?  Or "Perhaps, later, indirectly, via the nunciature??"  This remained the pattern for the rest of the 1930s - Jewish matters were to be handled by the local bishops.  It was part of the tragedy of the German episcopate that this largely did not happen.  Remember that von Galen preached fierce and very direct sermons against euthanasia. He did not preach against the transports heading East.

       The Lion of Munster 1946

This is a book I recommend very heartily.  It is a timely reminder of the value of studying the pre-war years with rigour and thoroughness.  There are patterns emerging that will, undoubtedly, continue into the war years.