Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ADSS 3.1 & 3.2 and the Jews

One of the projects that I have wanted to get started for some time is a systematic reading through of Actes et Documents in order to trace the understanding of the persecution of the Jews, and others, from the beginning of the war until 1945.  To date, I have "dipped" in and out at different points and made reference to documents as I read them or used references to answer particular questions.  I have spent a lot of time on the Slovakian material because of the highly detailed information and its use in tracing the Slovakian government's treatment of the Jews of the Slovakia along with the protests from the Holy See.

I will not look at ADSS 1 (May 1939-August 1940) because it is readily available in English or ADSS 2 (Letters of Pius XII to the German bishops 1939-1945) because of the nature of the letters and the generally circumspect language used.  ADSS 1 also deals mostly with the last-ditched attempts to prevent the war breaking out and then the first twelve months where the focus was principally on Poland and non-Jewish Polish suffering.

Today I wish to begin with Volume 3 - Poland and the Baltic States.  
ADSS 3.1 & 3.2 and the Jews

In this two part volume there are several documents that mention Jews in the context of descriptions of life under both German and Soviet domination. 3.1 covers 1939-1941 and 3.2 1942-1945.  It is essential to keep in mind the vast difference in the application of Nazi policy "in the East" with that of Western Europe.  Not surprisingly, there are few documents that deal specifically with Jewish suffering.  Limited papal representation, poor communication, the threats of constant terror, indiscriminate torture and murder, the presence of the camps and privation of the non-Jewish population as well as the Jews, meant that the vast majority of the documents deal with issues relevant to Catholic survival.  

The documents also reveal the powerful undercurrent of anti-Jewish feeling in some quarters, the persistence of anti-Jewish myths and the pervasive acceptance of "Judeo-Bolshevism" and the myth of a Jewish proclivity to economic avarice and greed.  Reading these texts is sobering; they carry an almost palpable sadness.  Descriptions of life under Soviet and German rule up until June 1941 are similar in many ways, not least of which was the concerted attempt by both sides to obliterate Polish national identity.  Soviet occupation in the Baltic States engaged in a similar policy of "Sovietisation" or what could also be called "Russification".  

Documents that contain direct references to Jews in ADSS 3.1 include: 50; 79; 85; 89; 131; 187; 191; 199.  It is not my intention to post translations of all these texts but to post a summary statement of some of them.  Those documents that are posted entire are done so because of what I believe is there value in contextualizing something of the realities confronting bishops and church leaders.

ADSS 3.1.50: 25 November 1939: Cesare Orsenigo, German Nuncio to Cardinal Luigi Maglione, Secretary of State.  Report on the situation of the Poles under Russian control.  Harassment and fines levied against the clergy.  The Jews are the best able to endure the situation because they have their own school, speak Hebrew and have their own military groups.  (Translation to follow in the next post).

ADSS 3.1.79: 26 December 1939: Andrej Szeptyckyj, Uniate bishop of Lwow, Ukraine to Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Catholic Churches.  Describes the terrible situation in the diocese under the communists.  Catholic institutions are under the total control of the State.  People are threatened with deportation and death.  Many Jews have arrived in the Ukraine escaping the Germans.  Local Jews are very active in the economic life of the country and are characterized by greed.  (Translation to follow)

ADSS 3.1.89: 7 January 1940: August Hlond, exiled archbishop of Gniezno (Poland) to Cardinal Maglione.  After reporting on the situations of several Polish bishops, Hlond makes the statement that on bishop, Charles Niemira is “generous to all and protective against the Jews who are powerful under the Soviet regime”. (Translation to follow)

ADSS 3.1.131: 5 April 1940: Stanislaw Janikowski, charge d’affaires in Poland to Cardinal Maglione: German propaganda in Poland is attempting to set Christians against Jews especially during Holy Week. (Translation to follow)

ADSS 3.1.187: 6 August 1940: Luigi Centoz, Lithuanian Nuncio to Cardinal Maglione.  Writes about the annexation of Lithuania by the USSR.  Centoz wrote that many Jews were celebrating the annexation.
ADSS 3.1.191: 14 August 1940: Centoz to Maglione:  Centoz’s report continued to report on the Soviet annexation.  He wrote of the takeover of the seminary by a communist delegation consisting of four Lithuanians and two Jews.

ADSS 3.1.199: 31 August 1940: Vincent Brizgys, auxiliary bishop of Kaunas to Luigi Centoz now in Rome.  The seminary has been returned to the church.  Brizgys wrote that he was relieved that the new commissar was not a Jew.

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