Saturday, October 1, 2011

ADSS 8.300 Filippo Bernardini to Cardinal Maglione on the Slovak Jews

News of the imminent deportation of the Slovakian Jews had reached Switzerland by the beginning of March 1942 at the latest.  24 hours after the Giuseppe Burzio, charge d'affaires for the Holy See in Bratislava had cabled Rome with news of the planned deportation, the Nuncio in Switzerland, Filippo Bernardini (1884-1954) contacted Cardinal Maglione with an urgent request from the Director of Caritas Switzerland, Monsignor Kissling.

Kissling came to Bernardini on behalf of Robert Guggenheim, president of Agudas Israel, an international Orthodox Jewish association, appealing for papal intervention with the Slovakian government for the Jews threatened with deportation to Poland.

As the events in Slovakia unfolded, the diplomatic efforts to stop the transports from Slovakia to Poland intensified.  What the exchange of cables, telegrams and notes indicates is the inability of the Holy See and the Pope to do more than make appeals to the Slovak government; but in early 1942 the Pope did appeal through his representatives.

ADSS 8.300

Reference: Rap nr 14416 (AES 2142/42, orig)

Location and date: Berne, 10.03.1942

Summary statement: Request intervention of Holy See for Slovakian Jews threatened with deportation to Poland.

Language: Italian


Monsignor W Kissling, [director of Caritas Switzerland] came to see me on behalf of Dr Robert Guggenheim, President of Agudas Israel, the international organisation of Orthodox Jews, to inform the Holy Father that the deportation of 135,000 Jews resident in Slovakia will commence on 23 March [1942].(1)

These unhappy people can not but hope that the Holy Father, who through the Nunciature in Bratislava, can advise the Slovak government to mitigate or postpone the cruel measures taken in their regard.

Dr Guggenheim guarantees that the Jews of England and America are in solidarity with the Swiss Jews, but they can not offer any help of protection. He begs the Holy Father to intervene to save many innocent people from atrocious suffering.

I asked several times if the news of deportation is true, and I have been assured that, unfortunately, there is no doubt about it.

Cross references:

(1) See ADSS 8.298.

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