Saturday, October 29, 2011

ADSS 8.368 Notes from the Italian Embassy on Slovakia

As the deportation of the Slovak Jews continued to create unpleasant reactions for the government, Prime Minister, Alexander Mach, called a press conference in late March to explain the government's decision.  The secretary of the Italian embassy to the Holy See, Francesco Babuscio Rizzo recorded notes from the meeting and forwarded them to the Vatican Secretariat of State.  There was some confusion over the dating of the memo.  Babuscio Rizzo dated his notes "7 May 1942" which was the day he wrote the version that was sent to the Vatican.  Babuscio Rizzo had received news of the meeting some time around 16 April, and the press conference itself was convened on or around 27 March.  Whatever the correct day, the content of Mach's "justification" for the race laws is an exercise in self-delusion.  We know that the nunciatures in Switzerland and Hungary had reports that Slovakian Jews were suffering terrible privation and were expected to die shortly after their deportation from Slovakia.

The notes made by Domenico Tardini and, later, the editors of ADSS, show very clearly that Mach's words were not taken seriously and in no manner reflected the truth that was becoming clearer and supported by reports from other parts of German-occupied Europe and Russia.

ADSS 8.368

Reference: No number. (AES 3657/42 original)
Location and date: Rome 07.05.1942 (1)

Summary statement: Declaration of the Slovak government on the race laws.

Language: Italian


At 12 o’clock this morning (2) journalists of allied countries and members of the press were summoned to a meeting by Prime Minister Mach to be briefed on the Jewish question in Slovakia (3) particularly in relation to protests made among the people.

“The Jewish question in Slovakia – began the Minister – must be resolved in a total way and must lead to the exclusion of all the Jews from the life of Slovakia …” (4)

The final decision for the total resolution of the Jewish problem was taken in the Council of State, also I wish to say, against the wishes of some of the Council members who raised objections. I gave assurances that the Jews expelled from Slovakia and sent to preselected places, would be treated humanely. Families will be reunited. I strongly deny the rumours that Jewish women are being sent to “sexual” destinations, as well as inhuman processes that the Jews will be submitted to. They will find in the towns to which they are sent the means to work and live.

I repeat that the women with children left behind, will be reunited as soon as possible.

I have given assurances, to the objections made to me, that the Jews who leave Slovakia, and that will be all of them, will never return. An international agreement guarantees this. The constitutional law permits us to remove citizenship from Jews who will be deported. Those who attempt to escape the action underway, trying to hide, will be liable to arrest. We do not keep any account of all the baptisms performed by certain clerics in recent times. Baptised or not, all the Jews must go … (5)


1. Babuscio Rizzo corrected the date at the time of recording his notes. It should read 16.04.1942. Tardini notes: “Babuscio Rizzo was correct in saying that the information was forwarded to the Italian government on 16 April.”

2. Tardini note: “Which day? 27.03?”

3. Cf ADSS 8.334, 343, 360.

4. The minister explained the reason for the racial legislation and gave false assurances: “… the Jews in Slovakia, up until 14 March, influenced the economic, cultural, political and social life of the country and radical action against them could not be taken without causing damage and serious imbalance …”

5. Frivolous accusations against the Slovak Jews omitted.

Note of Monsignor Tardini: 08.05.1942. From Francesco Babuscio.

ADSS 8.364 Rotta to Maglione: The Pozdech letter

As the Slovak Jews were deported "to Poland" attempts were made by some non-Jews to stop the trains.  We have seen the efforts undertaken by the Vatican's charge d'affaires in Bratislava, Giuseppe Burzio, Cardinal Maglione acting on the instructions of Pius XII and the reports sent by the Hungarian and Swiss nuncios. 

In late April 1942, Angelo Rotta, nuncio to Hungary, received a copy of a letter sent by a Bratislavan parish priest, Augustine Pozdech.  The letter was addressed to the Jewish communal leadership in Budapest and was a wrenching plea from a Catholic priest unable to remain silent in the face of the terrors inflicted on the Jews of Slovakia.  Pozdech wrote to the Budapest community asking them to wake the conscience of the world and so save some of their coreligionists.  Rotta sent the letter to Rome on 1 May 1942.

From the parish website of the Assumption in Bratislava I found these biographical details.  Augustine Pozdech was born in 1895 and ordained priest in 1923.  From 1934 to 1948 he was parish priest of the Assumption parish in Old Bratislava.  In 1931 he was appointed the Vicar General of the diocese.  He was connected with the Slovakian underground during the war.  In early 1945 he was arrested by the Gestapo but was saved by the swift approach of the Red Army.  Having fought against the fascists Pozdech soon found himself the target of the anti-Catholic persecution of the new Czechoslovak communists.  He was arrested in 1949 and sentenced to twelve years in prison.  Pozdech was released in 1957 and died in 1961.

There is no indication in ADSS if a response was made to Fr Pozdech's letter.

ADSS 8.364

Reference: Rap n 7298 / 42 (N. Pr. 573) AES 3619 / 42

Location and date: Budapest 01.05.1942

Summary statement: Nuncio sends a letter from Augustine Pozdech, PP in Bratislava, appealing for the Jews of Slovakia.

Language: Italian and French


Angelo Rotta to Maglione.

Further to my report, number 7220/42, 17 April 1942 (Doc 352) about the plight of Slovakian Jews deported from their homeland, I have the honour to forward to Your Eminence this one page letter, translated into French, received at the nunciature.

It is a latter from a Slovakian Catholic priest sent to the Jewish community of Budapest which asks them to intervene for the Jews of Slovakia. The person who brought it to me asked me to send it to the Secretariat of State. It will have to serve as is, for there is no other documentation.

Letter of Fr Augustin Pozdech to the President of the Jewish Community of Budapest.

Presbourg (Bratislava) 20.04.1942

You may find it strange that a Catholic priest addressed you about this subject. I decided upon this action because it is impossible for me to remain a silent witness of the horrible sufferings that afflicts my Jewish neighbours. I am appalled to the bottom of my heart as human beings, who have no fault other than being born Jews, have their property stolen from them, forced onto trains with the remnant of their personal freedom, and sent to a foreign country as slaves.

I wish to awaken the conscience of the world against this persecution. But alas, I am not able to make my words heard beyond this narrow circle. It is you, to whom I urge, to wake up and shake the conscience of the world, so that the atrocious suffering of the Jews in Slovakia be relieved. However, it is impossible that the world witnesses this and remains inactive, while little children, the mortally ill elderly, young girls torn from their families and young people are deported like cattle: transports of livestock wagons going to an unknown place, to an uncertain future.

Act, before it is too late, act quickly, and it may still be possible to save some of Slovakian Jewry.

I hope my words will be heard, I hope you will do everything possible for the sake of your poor, unfortunate coreligionists.

Dave Masko: Holocaust's final solution now viewed as a "European Project" from HULIQ

Dave Masko's thought provoking piece was published on HULIQ, an independent news media based in North Carolina.  Much of the article is not unfamiliar to historians of the Holocaust, but I was "hooked" by the references to Slovakia and Priest-President Tiso, about whom I have posted of late.
The editor, Armen Hareyan, kindly gave permission for me to publish the opening paragraphs of the article here.  I am more than happy to support independent media and encourage readers to do the same.   Masko's comments about Tiso are drawn from Dan Stone's book Histories of the Holocaust. - which is now added to my reading list for the Australian summer.  Stone is Professor of Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

SEAL ROCK, Ore. – Claudia remembers bone-numbing cold and a heaven full of gray scud when “most of the adults were gassed on arrival at the Auschwitz extermination camp;” in turn, the Holocaust’s “final solution” began in earnest 70 years ago this month when the Auschwitz gas chambers became fully operational.

The preliminary stage of the “Final Solution” began in October and November 1941 when the gas chambers became operational at Auschwitz.” Also, on “October 23, 1941 – some 70 years ago – Catholic priest Jozef Tiso visited Hitler’s headquarters and requested Himmler’s assistance in deporting the Jews from Slovakia to concentration camps,” states a recent history of the Holocaust, while also noting that Father Tiso “justified his regime’s actions to the Holy See (the Pope) until the very end of the war – ‘Holy Father, we shall remain faithful to our program’ – it is clear that the Holocaust in Slovakia was far more than a German project, even if it was carried out in the context of a ‘puppet’ state,” writes author Dan Stone in the new book “Histories of the Holocaust” that’s an Oxford University Press publication recently sent out to colleges, universities and libraries worldwide.

To read the rest of the article and support independent news media, click here.

Dan Stone

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ADSS 8.360 Burzio to Maglione. The Slovak bishops' statement

In ADSS 8.343, Giuseppe Burzio informed Cardinal Maglione that the Slovak Catholic bishops were preparing a joint statement as a response to the deportation of the Slovak Jews.  A statement by the bishops was published on 26 April 1942, and a copy sent to Rome the following day.  Burzio informed Maglione that the bishops had some difficulty getting their statement approved by the Government.  It took the personal intervention of priest-president Tiso to get the bishops' letter executed.  The Interior Minister, Alexander Mach wanted the bishops to align their statement with government policy, becoming an endorsement of the regime's policy.  This the bishops refused to do. 

Reading the statement would have been cold comfort for Jews who had not converted to Catholicism.  There is barely a word of consolation.  Rather there is a regurgitation of traditional Catholic anti-Judaism based on the ancient teaching of contempt and supercessionism mixed with an acceptance of late-nineteenth century pseudo-racial theories of Jewish proclivities to domination in economics and their negative impact on the public life of a Christian state.  At no point do the bishops condemn deportation as a way of solving "the Jewish Question".

My reading of the statement leads me to suggest that it was a case of an episcopate that was concerned to exercise some pastoral care for converted Jews, but were not passionate about helping the vast majority of Slovakian Jewry.

This document makes for heavy and hard reading.  What Pius XII thought of it when Maglione most assuredly passed it on can only be imagined.  From what we know of the man, it would have likely been a sense of great disappointment.

ADSS 8.360

Reference: Report number 890 (AES 3617/42, original)

Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava) 27.04.1942

Summary statement: Joint letter of the Slovak bishops against the race laws and indicates two sections deleted by the government.

Language: Italian


With respect to my report number 862 of 9 March 1942 (1) I have the honour to report to Your Eminence that Their Excellencies, the bishops of Slovakia have prepared a joint letter to illuminate the faithful on the attitude of ecclesiastical authorities towards the Jewish question and the measures taken by the government against the Jews.

This letter, or rather statement, appeared in the newspaper “Katolicke Noviny” of 26 April 1942, and I have attached a translation. (2)

At first, permission to publish the letter was refused, but following an intervention by the President of the Republic, the Minister of the Interior, Alexander Mach, informed the bishops that the prohibition to publish had been withdrawn provided that they made some changes to the text of the statement. (See Attachment 2 at the dotted spaces) “… and we will not cease to insist that because they are dispensed from the requirements of the Jewish Code they are not deported from Slovakia” (3) and “it is therefore, not possible to approve, so we have raised a warning voice against those who violate the provisions of private property honestly acquired and who violently destroy the relationships of the family” (4) or to follow on with the following conclusion: “This is not to say that we will not affirm that existing laws do not violate natural or divine law. Likewise we do not intend to assert that we have violated the private property of the Jews honestly acquired, since it is well known that Jews are rich. Since the bonds of family are not broken indefinitely, there is nothing to object in the measures which have arisen in the Jewish question among us”.

This statement is so blatantly contrary to the truth that the bishops could not accept it as an alternative, and preferred to publish their statements, by removing the text of the two phrases highlighted. (5)

References for the first part:
(1) ADSS 8.343
(2) Follows the cover note from Burzio.
(3) The original place in the attached statement is marked “A”
(4) This passage was inserted into the original text at “B”
(5) Burzio added to his report two letters to representatives of the Holy See, Spain and Italy in Bratislava. The letters contained detailed information on the persecution of the Jews and urged a collective approach.

Attachment: The Bishops of Slovakia to the Catholic Faithful 26.04.1942

In recent times, the attitude of Catholic ecclesiastical authority to the anti-Jewish measures has been noted in newspapers, on radio and in public opinion.

There have been attacks on church authorities with accusations that they have allowed Jews to be baptised and have intervened with the government for the Jews themselves. On the other hand, instead, it was stated that the attitude of Catholic circles was identified with the action of the government and supported the elimination of Jews from public life and their expulsion from Slovakia. When the Government began transporting the Jews, and as the improbable news spread widely, people wondered who the bishops and priests could allow the carrying out of such barbaric acts.

These various and conflicting voices have prompted the Catholic authorities to calm Catholic public opinion and declare the following:

1. Jews were not baptised en masse by Catholic priests. Some Jews, under the influence of contingencies, have asked for acceptance into the Church, renouncing what they had been before, to them were given precise explanations and the imposition of conditions for their acceptance in the Church itself.

The Church, in principle, can not refuse anyone, when baptism is honestly required. Christ founded the Church for all nations and all peoples. The Church of Christ is catholic and universal and it is therefore necessary to preach to all the truth of Christ. Of course the sacrament of baptism can only be granted to those with sinless thought and the inner conviction to become a member of the Church. To have the opportunity to obtain this conviction, a long period of preparation, called the catechumenate, which under the usual arrangements should last several months (3-10), according to the intelligence and religiosity of the catechumens. After this preparation the Church can administer baptism, but always with the special permission of the bishop. The bishops always remind the clergy, who request permission to administer baptism to Jews, fulfilling their responsibility before God, if indeed the Jew is perfectly prepared, if he has the appropriate religious disposition and he is not acting to acquire temporary political or material benefit.

We must emphasise that only the Church is authorised to decide whether or not to grant the administration of the sacrament of baptism. This exclusive right of the Church has been defended in difficult times in the past and does not allow limitations even in the future.

When the Catholic Church welcomes anyone into its ranks, it signals not only all the duties of a Catholic-Christian, but guarantees that they enjoy the same rights as other members of the Church, simultaneously requesting that these rights be recognised by all.

2. This is our opinion and understanding of the baptism of the Jews.

Some Jews when they were baptised drew no advantage, but were persecuted from other Jews, often with excommunication and expulsion. These baptised Jews, sever all ties with an ancient tradition and intended to become a genuine part of the Christian community. They live a Christian life and fulfil their religious duties.

These Jews are regarded by us as believers, like all others, and it is our duty to take up their defence. It is in the interests of those baptised, who have taken up their religious duties, we have intervened. [A] (6)

3. Our attitude towards the other Jews and the measures taken against them is summed up on these principles:

The tragedy of the Jewish nation is that of not recognising the Redeemer and of having prepared a terrible and infamous death on the cross. The Redeemer himself, shedding tears at the lack of faith of the Jewish people, predicted as punishment their dispersal throughout the world. After the fall of Jerusalem, the prediction of Christ came to pass. For nearly two millennia the Jews have lived in larger of smaller groups among the nations of the world. In all this time never, never have they merged with other nations, living as a foreign element. Their attitude of hatred of Christianity did not change, and lately in the bloody persecution of Christians in Russia and in Spain, the Jews had an important part. Add to this that nations sometimes showed their discontent and their anger against the Jews in a too harsh and brutal way, that conflicted with Christian principles.

Even we have witnessed the pernicious influence of the Jews. In a short time they have controlled almost all the economic and financial life of the country to the detriment of our people. Not only economically, but also in the cultural and moral fields, they have damaged our people. The Church cannot be opposed if the state with its legal provisions impedes the harmful influence of the Jews.

In old Hungary, in the years 1848 to 1896, the laws dealing with political ecclesiastical matters also accepted the law on hospitality to Jews. Ecclesiastical groups protested against the law, since they feared the harmful influences of the Jews on public life. Government circles at the time and a greater part of public opinion accused the Church of being backward. The facts, however, have proved the Church right.

In resolving this difficult issue it can not be forgotten that Jews are men, and that they must be treated humanely. Care must be taken firstly that the legal order is not violated nor the laws of God. It is the natural right of every individual to be formed with honest work, to use private property according to Christian teaching. It is also the right of everyone to have their own family. If one decides for family life they must fulfil all their duties arising from this state and enjoy all the rights according to Christian principles. [B]

We have considered it necessary to declare the above so that the Catholic public was aware of the point of view of Catholic circles and so that our believers have a clear view of the attitude of the Catholic Church on the Jewish question, after the various, and not always beneficial, voices that have been heard.

References for the second part:
(6) Refer to note 4.
(7) Refer to note 5.

Deportation of Slovak Jews (from Yad Vashem)

ADSS 8.352 Rotta to Maglione on Slovak Jews

By mid-April 1942 news of the deportation of the Slovak Jews had elicited responses and protests from Bratislava, London, Budapest and Rome.  The documents I have posted from late January 1942 show the progression from rumour and denial, to evidence and qualification to condemnation and attempts at justification on the part of the Slovakian government.  In the documents that follow the Vatican continued to press for a halt to the deportation.  In ADSS 8.352 Angelo Rotta, Nuncio to Hungary relayed a message he had received through Anna Vegh (1914-1945) who worked in an Hungarian relief group.

Rumours had reached Hungary that the health of priest-president Tiso of Slovakia was suffering because of the papal protest against the deportation of the Jews.  Rotta adds towards the end that Guiseppe Burzio, the papal charge d'affaires in Bratislava is isolated because of fear of the Slovak police.  Rumours, however tenuous, were as much a part of the picture that reached Rome as were verifiable pieces of evidence.

ADSS 8.352

Reference: Report no: 7220/42 (N. Pr 563) (AES 3041/42 original)
Location and date: Budapest, 17.04.1942

Summary statement: Information on the situation of the Slovak Jews,

Language: Italian


A good Hungarian lady, Anna Végh (1914-1945), who is a member of a Relief Committee, and who had already provided information about the treatment of the Jews in Slovakia, brought me the enclosed aide memoire (1) which shows that the intervention of the Holy See was highly appreciated and greatly effective. It is also hoped that the Holy See will continue to exercise its influence for further good. (2)

Madame Végh told me that she had heard that Monsignor Tiso, greatly impressed by the intervention of the Holy Father, has suffered setbacks in his health. But I have not included this in the aide memoire because I am not absolutely certain. She added that Monsignor Burzio [charge d’affaires for the Holy See in Bratislava] is a little isolated, because nobody has the courage to go to the office of the papal representative, for fear of being reported to the police.

(1) Not published.
(2) See ADSS 8.360, 382.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

ADSS 8.346: Notes of Maglione's formal protest to the Slovak government

Following the documentation set out in ADSS it is not difficult to put together the chronology of how the Vatican responded to the deportation of the Slovak Jews.  The tone of Maglione's notes describing his meeting with the Slovak Minister to the Holy See, Karel Sidor, is unambiguous. 

The Vatican, and that includes without any doubt, the Pope, understood very clearly what was happening in Slovakia.   Making the point twice, Maglione wrote that Sidor passed on the justification for the deportation without conviction.  At the end the Cardinal simply said that the explanation offered by the Slovak government that the young Jewish women had been sent to work "elsewhere" was not supported by what the Holy See had been told from other reports. What exactly the Vatican knew about the fate of the women is not clear from this document, but it is safe to assume that the knowledge was not positive.  And then he asked Sidor to let the Slovak government know of the conversation.  In other words, Sidor was to tell his masters that the Vatican knew what was really happening.

Can one deduce knowledge of a coherent program of mass murder?  Not at this stage from what I can see in the material available.  However, the knowledge that Jews were being murdered in huge numbers in Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic States and that large numbers were suffering horrific deprivation in ghettos and camps would have made hope for the deported Slovak Jews difficult.  Within a few months the scale of the killings would make it impossible to imagine that an organised program to murder every Jew in Europe was not, in fact, underway.

Certainly, by the time this protest was made, the first transports of Jewish women from Slovakia had been gassed and cremated in Auschwitz.

ADSS 8.346

Reference: AES 2615/42 autograph
Location and date: Vatican 11.04.1942

Summary statement: Protest against the measures taken against the Slovak Jews.

Language: Italian


The Slovak Minister (1) told me that he had been in Bratislava to discuss the measures adopted towards the Jews with the President of the Republic [Jozef Tiso] and the President of the Council [Vojtech Tuka]. (2) The President of the Republic has assured me that he has intervened to soften the measures mentioned above and has granted to several baptised Jews the exemption or dispensation, which is in his power to grant.

The Prime Minister informed Minister Sidor that he has not yet responded to the grievances of the Holy See, because he, himself intended to give to the Holy Father and me the appropriate explanations.

Minister Sidor tried (with no conviction) to give me a justification for the mass deportation of the Jews.

I took the opportunity to reiterate again, with even greater force, expressing the thinking of the Holy See against the recent treatment meted out against hundreds of young girls torn from their families to be sent to … their destruction. I told him that such acts are a disgrace, especially for a Catholic country.

The Minister has always tried to say – always without conviction – that those poor girls are only sent to honest work somewhere else.

I replied that, if this was the case, it would always be deplorable, and always inhuman to separate young girls from their families and send young women, against their will and inclination to work where, deprived of any assistance, they are exposed to serious dangers. On the other hand, from what has been reported, there is no question of this: the destination of these poor women is very different!

I asked the Minister let his government know of our conversation. (3)

(1) Karel Sidor
(2) See ADSS 8.298, 303, 305, 334
(3) See ADSS 8.354

ADSS 8.345 Notes of Cardinal Maglione on the Slovak Jews

As news of the deportation of the Jews of Slovakia spread, Maglione received more appeals from Jewish leaders and communities for the Holy See to intervene.  Understandably they would not know of the efforts undertaken by the Vatican to intervene with the Slovak government.  There is an element of frustration in Maglione's notes that the efforts of the Holy See appear to have little effect - which is how I read the footnotes of this document.

ADSS 8.345

Reference: (AES 2733/42, autograph)
Location and date: Vatican, 11.04.1942

Summary statement: Protest of the Holy See against the Slovak measures against the Jews.

Language: Italian


The English minister [D’Arcy Osborne] (1) asked whether the Holy See has intervened in favour of the Jews of Slovakia. (2)

I responded “Yes”. He, moreover, had already been informed by me of steps taken before Easter. This morning, I added, I have protested to the Slovak Minister [Karel Sidor].

Cross references:
(1) William Godfrey, Apostolic Delegate in the United Kingdom, informed the Vatican of the persecution of the Jews in Slovakia: “The Chief Rabbi of the Jews in Britain, asked me to recommend to the Holy See the sad plight of the Jews of Romania and Hungary. The entire Jewish population of Czechoslovakia, numbering 90,000, is condemned to concentration near the Polish border. He begs for the gracious intervention of the Holy See against the new wave of anti-Jewish persecution”. (Telegram no. 41, 01.04.1942, AES 2764/42) Maglione replied on 11.04.1942: “ … that the Holy See has repeatedly shown its concern to improve the situation of the non-Aryans. The English minister to the Holy See was informed of steps taken for the Jewish population of Slovakia.” (Telegram no. 206, AES 2764/42)
(2) See ADSS 8.328 (ADSS has 234 which does not make sense)
(3) See ADSS 8.346.

ADSS 8.343 Burzio to Maglione: deportation of the Slovak Jews continues.

In his second report on the deportation of the Slovak Jews, Giuseppe Burzio reports that the manner of the raids on Jews across the country is brutal and carried out by extremist elements in the Hlinka Guards who must be acting on orders from the government.  Jews who could were fleeing Slovakia for the relative safety of Hungary.  Others applied for the government-issued exemption from the anti-Jewish laws that could be granted by Tiso's office.

He goes on to report that the Slovak bishops were preparing a joint statement against the deportations, but would be prevented from publishing it by the government censor.  It would be up to parish priests to read the statement from the pulpit. 

ADSS 8.343
Reference: Report No: 14689 (AES 2731/42 orig)

Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava), 09.04.1942

Summary statement: The deportation of the Jews continues in a brutal manner; the bishops are preparing a joint statement.

Language: Italian


This is a continuation of what I reported to Your Eminence in Report no. 848 of 31 March 1942. (1) I am at pains to inform Your Eminence that the measures enacted against the Jews continue to be applied in all their rigour.

Every day we hear news of raids made in this or that provincial town, and all bear the mark of violence and brutality. A plan of deportation so vast and as unjust as this would require at least a certain order in its implementation and some control by the authorities. Instead, the execution is often entrusted to the most extreme elements of the Hlinka Guard, who, confident of impunity, commit all sorts of atrocities. (See Attachment) (2)

To escape persecution, many Jews are seeking refuge in Hungary; there is talk that about several thousand people have left Slovakia and crossed the border illegally.

The only hope that remains for Jews is to obtain from the President of the Republic the “discrimination” (i.e. exemption). Thousands and thousands of appeals are now under consideration by the Secretary of the President. In the first instance these are primarily appeals of Jews who have converted to Christianity. I have been told that a large number have already been granted.

I know that Their Excellencies the bishops are preparing a joint letter on this issue, but they are still unsure on how to publish it. (3) It is anticipated that the censor will not permit the letter to be distributed and it is therefore it is likely that it will be brought to the attention of the faithful from the pulpit. [ …] (4)

(1) ADSS 8.334
(2) Not published
(3) See ADSS 8.360
(4) Remainder of the document is omitted. It contained personal details about two individual cases.

Monday, October 10, 2011

ADSS 8.342 Bernardini to Maglione: Jewish thanks for papal intervention.

The expression of thanks from the World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Agency for Palestine based in Switzerland demonstrated the firm belief in the perception of papal powers of intervention and persuasion. In the Slovakian case thus far, papal protests made life for the Slovak government increasingly uncomfortable.  This was in no small measure due to the pressure applied through the Slovak bishops.  The deportation of the Jews was not halted until October 1942 when the government succumbed to pressure applied through the Catholic Church and Jewish community agencies in Slovakia and Hungary.

ADSS 8.342

Reference: Report number 14689, (AES 2731/42, orig)
Location and date: Berne, 09.04.1942

Summary statement: Recognition of Jewish authorities for the steps of the Holy See for the Slovak Jews.

Language: Italian


With reference to the dispatch No. 2327/42 of 27 March 1942, I hasten to inform Your Eminence that the reverend leaders of the World Jewish Congress and Jewish Agency for Palestine have asked me to convey their deepest expression of gratitude for the authoritative intervention of the Holy See to the Slovak Government in favour of their co-religionists.

The effectiveness of Your Eminence is demonstrated in the speech delivered on 27 March [1942] by the Deputy Premier and Minister of the Interior, which is attached (1) and in which Mr Mach sought to justify the measures taken against the Jews and to present them as compatible with natural law and religious principles.(2)

The leaders of the Jewish Congress and the Jewish Agency for Palestine are confident that the government will be persuaded by the Holy See to revoke such unjust and inhumane measures.

Cross references:

(1) Not published.

(2) ADSS 8.334

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ADSS 8.334 Burzio to Maglione: deportation report & comments on Tiso

The next document in the story of the Slovak deportations is this lengthy report from Giuseppe Burzio to Cardinal Maglione.  Burzio was in a rush to get the report written and sent to Rome.  At the end he says that he has not had time to finish it before he needed to send it.  The report is telling for a number of reasons.  Burzio's information reveals he was well-informed.  His knowledge of the political intrigues of some of Tiso's colleagues, Alexander Mach and Vojtech Tuka, was significant. 

Burzio also had a very clear picture of the first round-ups of young Jewish women and the process they were subject to prior to being herded onto the trains that would take them across the German border.  His final remark also points to a very clear understanding of their possible fate - prostitution or "massacre".  Comments about one of the Slovak bishops in particular, Jan Vojtassek of Spis, were not positive.  He was known for being viciously anti-Polish, even towards fellow Catholic priests, and, given that, not likely to help Slovak Jews.  Another bishop did speak out in favour of stopping the deportations because of the fear that once the Jews had been expelled, what was to stop the expulsion of Catholics?

Throughout the report Burzio commented on the state of intrigues within the Slovak government.  His comments about Alexander Mach, Minister of the Interior and Head of the Hlinka Guard were scathing.  Burzio believed Tiso was being increasingly sidelined by Mach and Tuka, while the Germans watched from the sidelines.  In the end, Tiso held on to his position until the end of the war.  Tiso was tried alongside his former colleagues, Mach and Tuka by the Czechoslovak government in 1947.  For reasons that I don't entirely understand Mach escaped the death penalty and was goaled for 25 years before being released as part of the 1968 Prague Spring amnesty.  Tiso and Tuka were hanged.

ADSS 8.334

Reference: Rap nr 848 (AES 2752/42, orig)

Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava) 31.03.1942

Summary statement: The deportation of the Slovak Jews commenced and was conducted with great brutality. The government refers to an agreement with the Church. The attitude of some clerics is questionable; Tiso grows weaker.

Language: Italian


As mentioned, I had the honour to report to Your Eminence, that the Slovak government decided to deport all Jews (1); operations began on 25 March 1942 and are conducted with great brutality.

The deportation plan was drafted in secret, and in agreement with the German authorities, but it would be impossible to keep the immediate preparations hidden since the beginning of March the government’s intentions were leaked and even the date of the planned deportation was known.

In the face of public reaction and following various actions and appeals, including the Slovak bishops, the government finally felt compelled to make a statement. This came from the mouth of Alexander Mach, Minister of the Interior and Vice-President of the Council, before representatives of the Slovak and foreign press on 27 March 1942. I have enclosed the text of the declaration, which was sent to the Slovak press agency. (2)

With this declaration, the Slovak government assumes before the world, full responsibility for it actions and expressly proclaims that there was no pressure whatsoever on the part of Germany. The Minister of the Interior, with brazen cynicism and contrary to the truth of facts that are known by all, says that the current measures are legitimate, are not carried out in an inhuman manner, and are not contrary to natural law.

With deliberate falsehood, Minister Mach, casting disorientation and confusion in the conscience of the people, and seeking to undermine the Church stated: “At the sitting of the State Council yesterday, I am convinced based on what I have heard from those most responsible in the matter, that Church authorities are in agreement with the processes of the government has undertake on the question of the exclusion of Jews from Slovak life.”

I am not able to say that the attitude of all the bishops was both spontaneous and energetic, but Minister Mach knew that the episcopate had filed an appeal to the government to deplore and condemn the measures planned against the Jews. It seems, however, that the Minister has had, if not a reason, then a pretext for such an announcement, founded on the attitude of Bishop Scepusio [Spis] (Ján Vojtasšak 1877-1965), who, as Your Eminence well knows, is a member, and even a Vice-President of the Council of State. I was told that during the session, when the deportation of the Jews was discussed, Bishop Vojtasšak, rather than protest against the inhuman project, would keep a totally passive position, limiting his objections to minor things. Later, when speaking to another bishop, he let it be understood that, in his opinion, it would be better if Church authorities remained outside this question, so as to not create obstacles for the government and President of the Republic, that the Jews are the worst enemies of Slovakia, and that things were better left to follow their course … and so on.

It is difficult to know the truth about what was said and done at the Council of State; I know that Bishop Vojtasšak is very chauvinistic; for my part I am convinced of this, because once I was speaking with him on behalf of Archbishop [Adam] Sapieha [of Krakow] for some Polish priests whom he had expelled from their parishes, he responded to me: “our humanity (to those priests) is that they are wild beasts”. You can not expect him to have greater concern for the Jews.

The position of Bishop [Jozef] Čárský (3) is clearer and, I would say, prophetic, who wrote to his colleague on the need to take a resolute attitude. He concluded: “if we remain passive now that they abduct the daughters of the Jews, what we will do when they take the daughters of our own people?” The fact is that Catholics are waiting for a clear word from their pastors, especially after the statement of Minister Mach.

Meanwhile, it is clear that the position of Dr Tiso, head of state, the bishop of Scepusio [Spis] and other clerics and members of the Council of State and the parliament, is beginning to be a cause for serious concern for the Church. Recent events shows President Tiso put in a corner, and the true masters of Slovakia, after the Germans, are the Prime Minister, Dr Tuka, and the Minister of the Interior, Mach. The first is called “man-sphinx”, since no one knows what exactly his purposes are; the men of the Hlinka Party and particularly Tiso accuse him of scheming, especially after Colonel [Anton] Snacký (until recently, military attaché at the Slovak Legation to the Quirinale, Italy), a friend and prison companion of Dr Tuka, who has fled to Budapest and put himself at the disposal of the Hungarian government.

Mach is a man full of ambition, willing to do anything for the Germans. He aspires to the Presidency of the Council with Dr Tuka as well as aspirations to become President of the Republic. Both are opposed to Tiso and are trying to make his position untenable. This also serves to explain their persistence in bring the ultimate persecution of the Jews. The Germans are delighted: they leave Tiso in place for his popularity and for their propaganda purposes abroad and at the same time give all their support to Tuka and Mach hoping their zealots will execute their orders.

From the evidence I have, I am inclined to believe that Dr Tiso would like to get out of this thankless situation, perhaps with a dramatic gesture, to save his honour as well as that of the Hlinka Party and Slovakia. But his supporters and friends distract him and say that the slogan should be “do not be provoked”. But perhaps they do not understand that, with this behaviour, they favour the opponent’s strategy, which being unscrupulous, will equally lead to the fulfilment of their ambitions and will, at the opportune moment, do away with Tiso and his friends.

I said earlier that the measures carried out against the Jews are done most brutally. As regards the treatment meted out to the Jewish girls, I have from reliable information told that they are forcibly torn from their families – (the raids, which commenced on the 25 March and continue every night, are carried out by the police and militia of the Hlinka Guard) – and held in a local building called “Patronka”, which is on the outskirts of Bratislava. Here they are subjected to searches. They are stripped of each object they carry with them (suitcases, bags, rings, earrings, pens, food, in short, everything), their private and personal documents are marked by a simple serial number. If any of them protest, complain or ask to keep some small family heirloom, they were brutally beaten and kicked. All this must be done by wicked men of the lowest character, under the direction of an inspector who has come from the Reich.

The unfortunates are then forced into the building, thrown on little straw mattresses, receive nothing to eat, and wait their turn to be loaded onto cattle cars that will carry them to the German border. Several trains have already left. This is what happens in Bratislava; news from the provinces is different, and you already know of Catholic girls who have suffered the same fate.

All this indicates that you must take into account the statements made by Minister Mach. The rest no one pays any attention to and believes that those poor girls are destined for prostitution or simply to be massacred.

Minister Sidor returns to Rome tomorrow, and I have to leave this report incomplete in order to make time to send it.

Note by Tardini: 10.04.1943. Seen by the Holy Father.

Cross references:

(1) ADSS 8.298, 326.

(2) Not published.

(3) Jozef Čárský, 1886-1962, Auxiliary Bishop of Košice 1925-1962.

Ján Vojtasšak 1877-1965 

Jozef Čárský, 1886-1962

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Catholic in America" video - viewer beware!

I came across this video in one of the news services I subscribe to.  It's headline title catches the attention - The Church vs The Nazis.  However, that's about it. 

The organisation Catholic Tube defines itself thus:

Catholic Answers is an apostolate dedicated to serving Christ by bringing the fullness of Catholic truth to the world. We help good Catholics become better Catholics, bring former Catholics "home," and lead non-Catholics into the fullness of the faith.

As I watched I found myself growing more and more unhappy with the "stuff" being pedalled.  The two speakers and priest host (all unnamed, so no idea of qualifications etc) make so many half-baked assertions, use mismatched images and quotes and seem to be blissfully unaware of the decades of solid historical work done by historians and researchers over the years, that it is truly worth watching if only to see how history is not done.

The first speaker talks of a written order from Pius XII to the bishops (of Italy?) ordering them to open the convents - where is this text and why has it not been published?

The image that follows has a cover with a quote from Cardinal Pacelli but the photo is of the nuncio to Germany, Cesare Orsenigo meeting Hitler at a reception (no date given). As doyen of the Diplomatic Corps it was Orsenigo's duty to greet the head of state in the name of the all the diplomats. His address was vetted by Pacelli and Pius XI well in advance. Nonetheless, the image could be misleading - it is not Pacelli.

Next - the Swiss Guard story - evidence please. I have read numerous primary and secondary sources and this is news to me.

Next: Image of Pius XII over "wrote 1937 encyclical" - he co-edited it with the German cardinals - Faulhaber of Munich, Bertram of Breslau and Schulte of Cologne. The pope had the final word. Of course, Pacelli was not elected pope until 3 March 1939, so the problem with a misunderstanding over the image and quote could arise again.

Forging documents: the illustration used is the Vatican passport for Enrico Galeazzi who was sent on a personal mission by Pius XII to FDR to plead for the City of Rome. The great irony is, if the pope could send a representative during war time across German-occupied Europe to plead for Rome, could he have not done the same for the Jews of Europe who were dying in their hundreds of thousands? Galeazzi's trip is published in Actes et Documents Volume 7 -

Again - evidence of the forgeries please.

The use of Einstein's 1940 quote is fine, except it must be placed in context. It was made before the mass killing of Europe's Jews had started and made by a man who spoke of what he had witnessed in Germany up until his departure in 1933. Using Rabbi Zolli is something of a "red herring" because his abandonment of the Jewish community in Rome still leaves a host of unanswered questions. To suggest that he would not have become a Catholic if he had seen "moral flaws" in the Church is a nonsense. Clearly the priest commentator does not know his history either.

In summary - no evidence, no references, no context, disjointed timelines and images ... Not a very helpful video on the subject of the role of the Church during the Holocaust.

ADSS 8.332 Maglione to Burzio: Go to Tiso

This was Cardinal Maglione's direction to Giuseppe Burzio.  He wanted Burzio to go directly to see Tiso and appeal to his priestly sentiments and stop the deportations.  It must have pained both men that their efforts were without success.  Nonetheless, at this stage, the Holy See still believed the best way to move was within the patterns of traditional diplomacy.  Ministers were invited in for discussions, Vatican diplomats made carefully worded statements of concern. What was increasingly obvious by this stage - spring 1942 - was the impotency of the Vatican in the face of an ever-escalating pattern of violence and murder of Europe's Jews.

It is Maglione's last phrase that hints at the desperation felt by more and more of the "old school" of Vatican diplomacy - an appeal to priestly feeling.

ADSS 8.332

Reference: Tel nr 21 (AES 2555/42)
Location and date: Vatican, 27.03.1942
Summary statement: Steps to take for the Slovak Jews threatened with deportation.
Language: Italian


Just received your telegrams, numbers 21 and 22, (1) I called the Slovak minister and asked him to intervene immediately with his government to stop the implementation of this deplorable measure. (2) Your reverence is to personally carry out the same representation to the President of the Republic with an appeal to his priestly sentiments.

Cross references:

(1) ADSS 8.324, 326.

(2) ADSS 8.332.


ADSS 8.328 The British Minister appeals for help for Slovakia's Jews

Sir D'Arcy Osborne (1884-1964), British Minister to the Holy See (1936-1947), made an appeal on behalf of the British government to the Holy See asking the Vatican to intervene with President Tiso to stop the deportation of the Jews.  What this document clearly reveals is the extent to which the anti-Jewish policies and actions of Germany and its satellite countries were known outside of the Nazi orbits.  Osborne's memo was accurate in numbers, date and destination.

ADSS 8.328
Reference: Nr 39/2/42 (AES 2554/2 orig)
Location and date: Vatican, 25.03.1942

Summary statement: Request for intervention of Holy See with President Tiso in favour of the Jews of Slovakia.

Language: French


It has been learned in London of a Decree of the Government of Slovakia dated 7 March has ordered the entire Jewish population of Slovakia, numbering around 90,000, to leave the country from 23 March to ghettos in the vicinity of the Polish border. (1) It has been suggested that an appeal to Monsignor Tiso from the Vatican could have the effect of tempering the measure of persecution and I have been instructed by my Government to prevail upon Your Eminence if the Holy See believed it had some way of mitigating this German-inspired inhumanity.

Cross references:

(1) ADSS 8.298, 300, 326

(2) Cf ADSS 8.332

Sir D'Arcy Osborne 1943

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

ADSS 8.326 Burzio to Maglione: deportations will proceed

At some point in the afternoon of 25 March 1942, Giuseppe Burzio received news from the Ministry of the Interior telling him that the rumours of a suspension of the planned deportation were false.  Burzio did not reveal his source at the Ministry, only that he received the news from it.  There is an urgency in this telegram that reflected the growing unease among Vatican diplomats in Bratislava, Budapest and Rome.  While controlling Hitler or Mussolini was beyond the realms of possibility for the Vatican, the idea that a priest, Jozef Tiso, would ignore direct requests from the Pope, seemed unbelievable.

It is in the note written by Domenico Tardini on 27 March that the impotence of the Holy See is felt most keenly.  Instructed by Cardinal Maglione, Tardini telegrammed Burzio and told him to go and see Tiso personally and plead with him to halt the trains.  Maglione sent his own telegram shortly afterwards setting out very clearly what Burzio was to do and say to the Priest-President. (ADSS 8.332)

ADSS 8.326
Reference: Tel nr 22 (AES 2388/42)
Location and date: Pressburg (Bratislava) 25.03.1942 @ 1810
(Arrived Rome 0930 26.03.1942)

Summary statement: Information sent yesterday that the government had suspended the deportation of the Slovak Jews was false.

Language: Italian


Contrary to yesterday’s rumour (1), the Government has not given up its inhuman proposition and is at present concentrating 10,000 men and an equal number of women as the first contingent. Afterwards, there will be more transports until all are deported. I was told the above (?) by the Ministry.

Note of Monsignor Tardini on a separate page:

27.03.1942. Eae (Ex audientia Eminentissimi – After meeting with Sec State)

Telegraph Mons Burzio – in response to his telegram – telling him the steps he is to take and instructing him to go personally to see Tiso. (2)

(I do not know if this will fail to stop … the madness! And the two madmen: Tuka who acts and Tiso – a priest – who lets him do it!)


(1) ADSS 8.324

(2) Cf ADSS 8.332

ADSS 8.324 Burzio to Maglione: deportation suspended

In his telegram to Rome mid-evening on 24 March, Giuseppe Burzio announced that there was a rumour that the deportation of the Slovak Jews had been suspended.  He does not provide any evidence for the rumour.  He went on to say that a round up of Jewish women between 16 and 25 had taken place. 

Three days earlier an announcement had been made that all Jewish women born before 1925 to report to the railway station by 24 March for "work".  999 Jewish girls and young women were rounded up and taken for deportation.  They were put on a train that was sent to Auschwitz were all of them were gassed upon arrival. 

Among them was Judith Rosenburger (1925-1942).  Her parents, Hugo and Piroska believed that Judith's forced deportation was only the beginning.  Fearing the worst, they decided to take their other daughter, Olga (b 1926) and without waiting to see if their fears were realistic or not, the family fled Bratislava and made their way to Hungary where they lived in relative safety for the better part of two years.  The family returned to Bratislava in mid-1944 when the Arrow Cross fascists took power in Hungary and initiated the "final solution".  Olga and her parents and other family members were denounced to the police, arrested and sent to Auschwitz in the autumn of 1944 along with many of the surviving Slovakian Jews.  Hugo Rosenburger died in Birkenau.  Piroska and Olga were "selected" for work and spent the rest of the war moving from camp to camp until they were finally dumped in Belsen.  Piroska died within minutes of her liberation by the British in April 1945.  Olga was the only survivor of her family.  She wrote her autobiography in 2000, From Auschwitz to Australia.  I had the honour to be her consultant editor.

The second part of Burzio's telegram repeated the rumour that was articulated in Rabbi Steif's concern, namely that Jewish women were being sent to German military brothels on the Russian front.  While I have found no evidence to suggest that any Slovakian Jewish women were prostituted, there is evidence that some Jewish women were sexually assaulted before they were murdered, or kept in brothels at some of the larger concentration camps. (See
Sonja Hegepath & Rochelle Saidel (eds), (2010 ) Sexual Violence against Jewish Women during the Holocaust, Brandeis, Boston.)

ADSS 8.324

Reference: Tel nr 21 (AES 2553/42)
Location and date: Pressurg

Summary statement: Deportation of Slovak Jews is suspended. Many Jews are forced into prostitution.
Language: Italian


Rumour has it that the Government has suspended the plan to deport the Jews because of the intervention of the Holy See. (1) Last night, however, many Jewish women aged 16 to 25 years were torn from their families, and it is thought they are to be sent as prostitutes behind German lines on the Russian front. (2)

Cross references:

(1) Cf ADSS 8.298, 300, 303, 322.

(2) See also ADSS 8.326.

ADSS 8.317 Rotta to Maglione: new request for Slovak Jews

Angelo Rotta 1872-1965
As the deportation date for the Slovakian Jews drew nearer, the level of diplomatic activity increased.  The Hungarian nuncio, Angelo Rotta, who was a major rescuer of Jews later in the war, continued to pass information he received to the Vatican.  In this case a Jewish community leader, whom the nuncio calls the "Chief Rabbi of Budapest" appeals to Rotta to ask the Pope to intervene.  Rotta promises to pass on the request but adds that he will not offer false hopes to the rabbi given the nature of the Slovak government, not the good will of the Pope.

Rabbi Yonasan Steif 1877-1958

Curiously, the rabbi is not named.  I researched the title "chief rabbi" in relation to Budapest and eventually found that the position had been vacant since 1929. The Nuncio’s reference to the Chief Rabbi is incorrect.  The last person to hold the title was Rabbi Koppel Reich (1838-1929).  It is possible that Rotta met with Rabbi Yonasan Steif (1877 – 1958) who was the head of the Budapest Beth Din and well-known posek and halachic authority.  He was sometimes mistakenly referred to as “chief rabbi”. 

ADSS 8.317

Reference: Rap nr 7056/42 (N Pr 543) (AES 2328/42, orig)
Location and date: Budapest, 20.03.1942
Summary statement: New request for intervention for the Slovak Jews.
Language: Italian

In my report of 13.03.1942 (no. 7021/42) to Your Eminence in sent a report of the Vicar General of Budapest [Endre Hamvas] in which he pointed out the sad fate of the Jews of Slovakia threatened with deportation to Galicia. (1)

At the same time, the Chief Rabbi of Budapest who also spoke to me of the plight of these same Jews, brought me a memorandum which I attach to this report. (2) He recommended that I strongly implore the Holy Father that he kindly intervene on the behalf of the Jews to the Slovak government, at least to alleviate if at all possible, the sad fate of those unfortunates, including many women and children, destined for the most part to a certain death.

I told the Chief rabbi that the Holy See had already been informed about the case and that I would pass on the memorandum. However, I did not hold out any false hopes, not for lack of goodwill on the part of the Holy Father, but because of local [ie Slovakian] conditions that are well known to all.


(1) ADSS 8.303

(2) Not published.

(3) Nuncio added to his report on 24.03.1942: “Referring to my report number 7056, the Chief Rabbi came to the Nunciature today. He assured me that assured several thousand Jewish girls from Slovakia will be sent to the front to be abused [prostituted] by the German military. He implored me to appeal to the Holy Father to intervene with the Slovakian government”. (Telegram number 88, AES 2434/42)


Monday, October 3, 2011

ADSS 8.314 Bernardini to Maglione: a Jewish request for the Slovak Jews

The next document demonstrates the perception of papal influence and authority.  Gerhart Reigner and Richard Lichtheim of the World Jewish Congress approached Nuncio Filippo Bernardini and asked he send a message from them to Rome requesting a papal intervention to stop the planned deportation of the Slovak Jews. 

Reigner will re-appear later in 1942 with the telegram that was considered so shocking that it defied belief.  While inaccurate in some details, it set out in chilling summary Hitler's intention to murder all Jews under German control.  A copy did make its way to Rome, but is not included in the published documents of ADSS.

News of a temporary suspension of the deportation was reported by Giuseppe Burzio on 24 March 1942 (ADSS 8.324), but was then dismissed as a false rumour the next day. (ADSS 8.326)  Nonetheless, Reigner and Lichtheim expressed their thanks to the Pope for his efforts in early April, (ADSS 8.342), even as the trains left Slovakia for Poland (ADSS 8.334, 343).  Another papal protest to the Slovakian minister, Karel Sidor, met with no success (ADSS 8.346).

(Translations of these documents will follow.)ADSS 8.314
Reference: Rap nr 14511 (AES 2327/42 orig)
Location and date: Berne, 19.03.1942

Summary statement: Bernardini sends a request from the World Jewish Congress asking for the Pope’s intervention in Slovakia.

Language: Italian


I have the honour to send to Your Eminence the enclosed pro-memoria concerning the situation of the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, which was sent to me by representatives of the World Jewish Congress and the Jewish Agency for Palestine which have offices in Geneva. (1)

They insisted that I ask the Holy Father to intervene with the Slovak government to attempt to have the inhumane measures taken by that country against their fellow Jews lifted, and which I reported with the report No. 14416 of 10 March 1942. (2)


(1) The memo was dated 18.03.1942 and detailed antisemitic measures taken by the Germans in Germany and territories under their control. The representatives who presented the memo were Richard Lichtheim (1885-1963) and Gerhart Riegner (1911-2001).

(2) ADSS 8. 300.

Gerhart Riegner c 1942

ADSS 8.305 Secretariat of State communication with the Slovak Legation

This is the next stage of the Slovak deportation documentation.  Once the reports from Berne, Bratislava and Budapest had been digested and discussed, the Secretariat of State called the Slovak minister, Karel Sidor, in order to register its "disbelief" that a state that prided itself on its Catholic principles could allow such a thing as the deportation of at least 80,000 of its citizens.

I must admit that the word "protest" does not seem appropriate here.  Maglione's margin comment that "talk" pointed to a figure of 135,000 (which was close to the pre-war population).  It is safe to presume the Vatican wanted the Slovak government to abandon all deportation plans because of what they knew was happening to Jews "sent East" as well as to Jews living in German-occupied Belarus and Ukraine. (Cf ADSS 8.263, 301)  The close collaboration between the Slovak government and German agencies responsible for the transporting of Jews to the east, suggests that at the least, the Slovaks had a reasonable idea of what awaited the Slovakian Jews. 

It raises the question of why such a "tame" response from the Holy See?  The only conclusion I can reach is the hope, however, faint, that Priest-President Jozef Tiso would be moved by the concern of the Pope and shelve deportation plans.  If this was the case, it was in vain.

ADSS 8.305
Reference: AES 2027/42, minute
Location and date: Vatican 14.03.1942
Summary statement: Steps taken for the Slovakian Jews threatened with deportation.
Language: Italian


On 12 November 1941, the Secretary of State of His Holiness sent Note No 8355/41 (1) to the Slovak Legation regarding the Law issued by the Slovak Government on grounds of race.

The Minister assured that he would immediately send the note to his government and that he would be quick to give a satisfactory response. (2)

According to news received by the Secretariat of State the hour is imminent for the expulsion from the territory of the Slovak Republic of all members of the Jewish race, without distinction of religion, age or sex.

These people (about 80,000) (4) will be deported to Galicia and in the region of Lublin and the deportation will be carried out separately for men, and for women with children.

The Secretary of State hopes that this news does not correspond to the truth, being unable to believe that a country that intends to be guided by Catholic principles, could adopt such severe and painful measures for so many families.

Office Note: Delivered to His Excellency, Minister Sidor from His Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State on 14 March 1942. (5)


(1) ADSS 8.199

(2) Ibid, note 3.

(3) ADSS 8.298, 300, 303

(4) Maglione noted in the margin: “there is also talk of 135,000”

(5) See also ADSS 8.383 (Slovak minister attempts to justify the race laws). A note of 13.03.1942 at 1230: “telephoned the Slovak Legation to the Holy See to invite Minister Sidor to meet with Cardinal Maglione tomorrow, Saturday.”