Wednesday, April 18, 2012

ADSS 8.438 Nuncio Orsenigo to Montini - the deportees

I have posted several documents on the circumstances surrounding the deportation of the Slovak Jews.  At the same time, deportation of Jews from across the rest of German-occupied Europe had also begun.  From Berlin, the nuncio, Cesare Orsenigo, wrote to Giovanni Batista Montini, in the Secretariat of State, answering questions that had been put to him by Cardinal Maglione earlier in July 1942.  The first document is not published in ADSS, but from what we can construe from Orsenigo's report here, is Maglione's request for news on what was happening to the Non-Aryans who were deported.  Orsenigo says it is impossible to get news of the fate of the deported and with a touch of quite graphic menace, says it is not a good idea to ask a Non-Aryan anywhere where one could be seen - it is too dangerous.

In this case, the news Rome had was probably more accurate than the information Orsenigo came by.  The nuncio's mention of the protest by the Dutch Protestants and the Catholic bishops was incorrect.  The Germans had promised not to take baptised Jews if the church leaders made no outcry when the non-baptised Jews were taken away.  The Dutch church leaders refused and published pastoral letters condemning deportations in April 1942.  In retaliation, the Germans seized all Jews - baptised or not, and sent most of them to their deaths in Auschwitz, including Edith and Rose Stein.

This document helps us establish not only what was known, but also what was not.  Orsenigo's report demonstrates the difficulty the Vatican had in trying to piece together all the information it received in order to come to an understanding of what was happening "beyond the Alps".

Volume and Document Number: 8.438 

Reference: Report number 2091/48379 (AES 7256/42)

Location and date: Berlin 28.07.1942

Summary statement:  We can no longer obtain information on deported Non-Aryans.  The situation for the Jews grows worse.  There is talk of massacres.  The protest by Dutch Catholic and Protestant churches seems to have stopped the deportation of non-Aryan converts.

Language: Italian

Text:  In response to Your Excellency’s dispatch, number 00186562 of 04.07.1942 (1) , referring to the significant amount of research undertaken by German and Austrian refugees about their non-Aryan relatives who are no longer in the territory of the Reich and have probably been deported to Poland, I must reluctantly admit that unfortunately, no one here has been able to obtain reliable information concerning non-Aryans, indeed it is not advisable to show interest because here it seems that with deportations we are required to lose all traces of the deportees; here it is dangerous to stop on the way and speak to a Non-Aryan wearing the distinctive star.

The situation has grown worse in recent times as perhaps Your Excellency has learned from my last correspondence 2080 of 20.07.1942 (2), to His Eminence the Cardinal Secretary of State: now it is impossible to express even a simple request on behalf of Non-Aryans.  In Vienna as well, as I reported, Father [Ludger] Born SJ, (3) who is charged with responsibility for the Jewish Question in the Archbishop’s office, has also noted an increasing inability to prevent deportations, particularly cases of immediate emigrations and there is way of getting news of the deported.

As is easy to understand, this suppression of news gives rise to the most gruesome speculation about the fate of the Non-Aryans.  At the same time, disagreeable rumours, which are difficult to control, of disastrous journeys and even the mass killing of Jews.  All interventions in favour of Non-Aryan Catholics has been rejected with the usual response that the waters of baptism do not change the blood of the Jew and the German Reich will defend itself against the Non-Aryan race, not by the religious confession of baptised Jews.

In amidst the sinister rumours we have not missed some less gloomy news:  for example it is rumoured that in Holland, where deportation of Non-Aryans has begun, a frank protest by Evangelicals, as well as the Catholic Bishops, have managed to exclude baptised Non-Aryans from deportation.(4)  Similarly, it was reported that in the notorious ghetto of Litzmannstadt, in Reichsgau Wartheland, a Polish priest, who in a spirit of apostolic heroism, was given permission to enter and remain in the ghetto for the care of Non-Aryan Catholic souls.(5)

Cross references: 

(1) Not published.  See ADSS 8.329
(2) See ADSS 8.433
(3) See ADSS 8.14, note 4.  Ludger Born (1897-1980), Jesuit, 1940-1945 Head of the Archdiocese of Vienna Office for Assistance to Jewish Catholics.
(4) This information was incorrect.  See ADSS 8.506.  The Dutch Catholic bishops issued their pastoral letter condemning deportation on 19.04.1942.
(5) This priest was not identified.  The Chronicle of the Lodz Ghetto, Volume 1, 26-28.12.1941, p 339 says that there were two Catholic priests who arrived on a transport from Germany.

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