Sunday, September 4, 2011

ADSS 8.139 Cardinal Maglione to Abbot Giuseppe Marcone

This is my translation of the letter of instructions sent to the Apostolic Visitor to Croatia, Abbot Giuseppe Marcone by the papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Luigi Maglione on 3 September 1941. Marcone had written to Maglione on 23 August 1941 about the marking of the Jews with a metal disc that was to be worn on the sleeve of their coats.  Maglione's response is very interesting for gauging something of the atmosphere in the Vatican's understanding of what was now happening to the Jews.  The invasion of the Soviet Union was still in its early stages, but reports of terrible killings were reaching centres of government in the "free world", and in all likelihood, rumours may have even reached Rome.

The Jewish badge worn in Croatia and the former Yugoslavia.

Marcone's August note is found in the first footnote.  I apologise in advance for the quality of the translation.  If a reader finds a serious error, please let me know.

Volume and Document Number: ADSS 8.139

Reference: AES 6660/41 minute
Location and date: Vatican City, 03.09.1941

Summary statement: Instructions from the Sec State, Cardinal Maglione, for the charitable work of the Apostolic visitor to Croatia, Giuseppe Marcone, OSB.

Language: Italian


I received the report of 23.08.1941(1) where your reverence reported his first impressions of the religious and political situation in Croatia.

I thank your reverence warmly for providing information for the Holy See, and I hope that communication with other countries becoming more difficult, you will be able to keep me regularly informed of the progress of the mission entrusted to you. I would be grateful if you would, in future, report on individual arguments with separate reports.

I gladly express to your reverence, my appreciation for your kindness working in favour of the Serbian people, and which I am sure will continue with prudence and tact required by the circumstances, to develop your charitable work with the intention to prevent the spread of these lamentable facts. (Possible reference to the forced conversion program undertaken by the Ustasha)

I noted with satisfaction how much His Excellency, the Archbishop of Zagreb (2) has done, as much as he can, to alleviate, the suffering of the Slovenian priests and exiled Catholics. In encouraging your paternity to continue to be more effectively involved, I am pleased to inform you that the Holy Father himself has deigned to favourably grant your request and advance a subsidy to provide for the most urgent needs. (3)

In this regard, however, as to the use of the money, I intend to send you instructions as soon as possible.

Given the opportunity, your paternity is to procure, confidentially and always ensuring in every case that your acts do not have an official character, to recommend proper restraint concerning the treatment of Jews living in Croatian territory.

As for the attitude of the clergy, both secular and religious, towards political issues, your paternity is to continue the ensure that they remain outside and above all party contests, while giving the civil authority their loyal and disinterested collaboration.

I have noted that your paternity reported of the real possibility for the Archbishop of Zagreb to continue to assist the faithful of the territory of Murakös. (4) I do not need to add that, in the current circumstances which may possibly persist, the Holy See does not intend to take away those faithful from their current jurisdiction to which they are subject.

I have the honour, finally, to inform your paternity that the Holy Father, with regard to the current difficulties communicating with the Holy See, has deigned to concede to you the use of faculties which are usually granted to Papal representative.


1. Marcone had written this report on 23.08.1941:

The Jews of Croatia are required to wear on their sleeves, a yellow metal disc, ten centimetres wide, with the letter “Z” (Zidov = Jew) written in the centre. This evil badge is tolerated, the hatred of the Croats and the economic disadvantages towards the Jews, often results in the souls of the Jews the desire to go to the Catholic Church. Do not exclude this a priori supernatural reasons and the silent work of divine grace. Our clergy facilitates their conversion, thinking that at least their children will be educated in Catholic schools and then will be more sincere Christians. (AES 4951/41)

There are several notes from Tardini:
This badge has been worn by the Archbishop of Zagreb. It is the same as those created for the Jews of Croatia. They [Croatian gov’t] also wanted to impose them [the badges] on converted Jews. The Archbishop was unable to prevent it. (I have not been able to verify this statement. I think it would be highly unlikely that Stepinac would have worn the Jewish badge.)

2. Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac (1898-1960).

3. A note from Cardinal Maglione – 25.07.1941 (AES 5795/41) said: The Holy Father has deigned to distribute:

1. for the 8 seminarians from Maribor at Propaganda College, as indicated by Cardinal Pietro Fumasoni (1872-1960; Prefect of Propaganda)

2. and for the other Maribor seminarians, for whom he [Fumasoni] asked for a subsidy, you are given 50,000 lire.

3. for the priests of Maribor and Ljubljana driven from their homes, you are given a subsidy of 150,000 lire (75,000 for the diocese).

The total sum could be sent to the bishop of Ljubljana [Gregorio Rožman, 1883-1959] with the request that he send to his colleague in Maribor [Ivan Josef Tomazic, 1876-1949), the amount indicated.

All these amounts are to be taken from the US$200,000 recently placed at the disposal of the Holy Father by the American bishops.

4. A territory in neighbouring Hungary. Under canon law no change to a diocese was made during a time of war or before formal international recognition of a new country’s borders.

Croatian Jewish children wearing a form of the badge.

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