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

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