Tuesday, June 26, 2012

ADSS 8.497 Note of Casimir Papee on massacres of Jews Poland


 While most of the posts on the deportation and murder of the Jews so far have focussed on the Slovakian Jews, the Vatican was also aware of the growing scale of murder of Jews across the rest of Europe.  Casimir Papee (1889-1979), the Polish ambassador, incarcerated with other Allied diplomats in Vatican City, received information from varying sources about conditions in German-occupied Poland.  This information was duly passed on to the Secretariat of State and from there it would have almost certainly been passed to Pope Pius XII.  

The Jews of Vilna had lived under the insecurity of German terror since the invasion in June 1941.  Except for a brief period of relative stability between January and March 1942, Vilna's Jews were gradually murdered or worked and starved to death.  By the time the ghetto was liqudated, nearly 40,000 Vilna Jews were dead.

Between 1920 and 1939 Vilnius / Vilna was a part of Poland.  During the war the city was occupied by Soviet forces, September 1939 - June 1941, German troops June 1941-July 1944, and returning Soviet forces in July 1944.  Shortly afterwards Vilna was declared part of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic.

The references to Warsaw confirmed what was known about the deportation of Jews to Treblinka that had commenced on 24 July 1942.  By early October 1942, 310,000 mostly Warsaw Jews had been murdered.  Papee sources were very accurate both in the number of Jews killed and the means of their deaths.

All this was adding to the pressure building up among many of the Allied diplomats who were urging the pope to make an unambiguous statement condemning the mass-murder of European Jewry.



Reference: Nr 49/SA/122 (AES 7258/42, orig)
Title: Note of Casmir Papee, Polish Ambassador to the Holy See
Location and date: Vatican City, 03.10.1942
Summary statement: News concerning the massacre of Jews in Poland.

Language: French

Text:

The massacre of the Jews by the Germans in Poland has attracted public notoriety.[1]  These slaughters are done in large groups, by various means, inter alia, by asphyxiation in buildings especially adapted.

1. According to information from a very reliable source it is confirmed that the ghetto of Vilnius, where there were originally 80,000 Jews, then reduced to 30,000 and finally to 12,000. (This fact was already known.) Around Vilna, Niemencyzn (village of 2,000 inhabitants), 600 Jews were killed; in Nowa Wilejka, 100 killed; in Ejsyzki 200 killed.

2. It is reported from another source the ghetto of Warsaw is methodically emptied. Part of this ghetto, known as “The Little Ghetto” is already empty. Each day groups of more than a thousand Jews are taken along by rail to Lublin, towards the East.  It appears, according to information coming from a citizen of an Axis state who had seen “from the edges”, that the Jews are initially concentrated in a camp, or they are put to death; it is, in any case, established that their families never hear of them again.  One expects that during the next months the entire Jewish population of the ghetto - comprising 300,000 Jews – will be deported, and that their dwelling places in this part of the city will be intended for Aryans.

 [1] Cf ADSS 8.493, 496.

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