Wednesday, April 24, 2013

ADSS 3.2.505 Notes of the Secretariat of State on the Church in Poland

By May 1943 the Catholic Church in Poland was in a desperate situation.  Twenty-two of the twenty-five dioceses were without their bishops, although some did have auxiliary bishops still in residence. This wholesale destruction of Polish Catholicism by the German occupation forces is, I believe, a reason for attempting to understand Polish responses to the murder of the Jews, other than the long history of Polish antisemitism.  Many Catholics in Poland believed it was simply too dangerous to reach out to the Jews; their own situation was fraught with peril, even if it was not deadly.

The document compliments much of the substance of the reports sent to Rome by Stanislaw Adamski and contained in ADSS 3.2.413 and ADSS 3.2.472.  

ADSS 3.2.505 Notes of the Secretariat of State

Reference: AES 3170/43

Location and date: Vatican, 19.05.1943

Summary statement: Notes on the Polish bishops.  Measures taken for the vacant sees.

Language: Italian


Czestochowa.  With the death of the Auxiliary bishop of Czestochowa (1) there are now twenty-two fewer Polish bishops (still active) than normal.  In fact:

Since the beginning of the war:

Five dead: His Excellency, Monsignor Gall (2), Auxiliary of Chemlno (3), Auxiliary of Luceoria (Lutsk) (4), Bishop (5) and Auxiliary of Plock (6), Auxilliary of Czestochowa;

Two in Concentration Camps: Auxiliaries of Wloclawek (7) and Lublin (8);

One deported: Archbishop of Vilna (9);

Five in exile: Bishop of Lublin (10), Bishop (11) and Auxiliary of Lodz (12), Bishop (13) and Auxiliary of Katowice (14);

Three outside of Poland: Cardinal Hlond, Bishop of Wloclawek (15), Bishop of Chelmno (16);

Two outside their dioceses: Bishop (17) and Auxiliary of Pinsk (18);

Sees vacant since the beginning of the war: Warsaw, Siedlce, Tarnow and Sandomierz (19).

Poor Poland!

As the Bishop of Czestochowa is not very old (63 years) (20) it could be a prudent measure to start thinking now of thinking of appointing a new auxiliary, who could be named in the event of a vacancy where an Apostolic Administrator is needed.

The diocese of Czestochowa is a suffragan of Krakow.  If necessary the matter could be submitted to the Holy Father and, if he approves, instruct His Excellency, Archbishop Sapieha to conduct the practices (usually the responsibility of the Pontifical Representative) for the appointment of an auxiliary for Czestochowa:  namely that the bishop consider any proposals, put together a list of suitable candidates (under the secrecy mandated by the Holy Office) according to the usual manner and then send that completed information here.

Note of Domenico Tardini:
22.05.1943.  Audience with His Eminence [Maglione]:  All good.

(1) Antoni Zimniak d 26.01.1943 (1878-1943), auxiliary bishop 1936-1943.

(2) Stanislaw Gall d 12.09.1942 (1865-1942), auxiliary bishop 1918-1942.

(3) Constantine Dominik d 07.03.1942 (1870-1942), auxiliary bishop 1928-1942; died while under house arrest.

(4) Stefan Walcyzkiewicz d ? 1940 (1886-1940), auxiliary bishop 1928-1940; died 12.05.1940 after sustained interrogation by the Soviet forces.

(5) Antoni Nowowiejski d 28.03.1941 (1858-1941), bishop 1908-1941; arrested by the Gestapo in 1940; died in KL Soldau; beatified 1999.

(6) Leon Wetmanski d 10.10.1941 (1886-1941), auxiliary bishop 1927-1941; arrested March 1941 and died in KL Soldau.

(7) Michael Kozal (1893-1943), auxiliary bishop 1939-1943; died KL Dachua; beatified 1987.
(8) Vladislaw Goral (1898-1944), auxiliary bishop 1938-1944; died in KL Sachsenhausen. DOD is not known with accuracy. Beatified 1999.

(9) Romuald Jalbrzykowski (1876-1955), archbishop 1926-1955. Spent 1942-44 in the Marianist Monastery, Mariampol.

(10) Marian Fulman (1866-1945), bishop 1918-1945; imprisoned in KL Sachsenhausen 1939-40 and KL Nowy Sasz 1940-45.

(11) Wlodzimierz Jasinski (1873-1965), bishop 1934-1946. Expelled from the diocese for the duration of the war. Lived in the Franciscan Friary in Biecz.

(12) Kasimiriz Tomczak (1883-1967), auxiliary bishop 1927-1967. Expelled from the diocese along with Jasinski for the duration of the war.

(13) Stanislaw Adamski (1875-1967), bishop 1930-1967.  Expelled from his diocese in February 1941, he spent the remainder of the war in Warsaw.

(14) Juliusz Bieniek (1895-1978), auxiliary bishop 1937-1978. Expelled from his diocese in February 1941, he spent the remainder of the war in Krakow.

(15) Karol Radonski (1883-1951), bishop 1929-1951.  Left his diocese at the beginning of the war and lived in London for the duration.  He was very critical of the lack of a public papal condemnation of war crimes against Poland.

(16) Stanislaw Okoniewski (1870-1964), bishop 1926-1944. Left his diocese at the beginning of the war and lived in Portugal until his death.

(17) Kasimir Bukraba (1885-1946), bishop 1932-1946. Expelled from Pinsk by the Soviets, he moved first to Lvov in 1939, then Warsaw 1942 and finally Lodz in 1944. He died in Lodz.

(18) Karol Niemira (1883-1965), auxiliary bishop 1933-1946. Deported by the Soviets to Warsaw in 1939.  All attempts to return to Pinsk were refused by the Germans.  He died in exile in Warsaw.

(19) Warsaw was vacant from 1938-1946; Siedlce 1939-1946; Tarnow 1939-1946; Sandomierz 1934-1946.

(20) Teodoro Kubina (1880-1951), bishop 1925-1951.  Two auxiliary bishops were appointed in 1944 – Stefan Barela (1916-1984) and Stanislaw Czajka (1897-1965).

ADSS 3.2.497 Casimir Papee to Maglione: Polish priests in KL Dachau

Looking at the documents from ADSS concerning Poland it is very clear that the predominant issue was the survival of the Catholic Church.  German attacks on the church was levelled primarily at the bishops, the higher clergy and the religious orders.  The bishops were the visible leaders of the church, the higher clergy often the best educated and in positions of considerable influence, and the religious orders provided a nation-wide system of education institutes, health and welfare programs, and direct work with the poor.  The German program, such as it was, was pragmatic: cut off the head and the body will die.  By the middle of 1942 twenty-two Polish bishops were no longer active either through death, imprisonment, internal exile, deportation of exile outside of Poland.  This will be presented in the next post.

In this document the Polish Ambassador to the Holy See, Casimir Papee wrote to Cardinal Maglione passing on information about Bishop Michael Kozal, the auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek.  Kozal had been arrested by the Gestapo and was eventually sent to KL Dachau were he died in January 1943.  Papee sent a copy of 20 April 1943 edition of the Swiss Jesuit newspaper Apologetische Blätter where an article about priests incarcerated in Dachau had been published.  Bishop Kozal's name was mentioned.  Papee asked Maglione what response the Holy See would make.  Of course, by the time Papee received the article and passed it on, Kozal had been dead for over three months.

ADSS 3.2.497 Casimir Papee to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: AES 2726/43

Location and date: Vatican, 28.04.1943

Summary statement: Extract from the Zurich Apologetische Blätter which describes the martyrdom of many priests interned in KL Dachau.

Language: French


Your Eminence is aware of the sentiments aroused in all civilised nations because of the cruelties committed by the German in the occupied countries; my colleagues and I have not failed to bring these painful facts to Your Eminence’s attention.

In my letter dated 12.11.1942, number 122/SA/264 on the whereabouts of His Excellency, Monsignor Kozal, auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek, I spoke of the anxiety experienced by all Poles for the fate of the bishop, held by the Germans in the concentration camp at Dachau.  At the same time I expressed the hope that I would be informed of the steps taken by the Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin would surely have made for his release. 

I have no news since then on the fate of Bishop Kozal.

The Zurich Apologetische Blätter of 20 April 1943 has just published striking details relating to the martyrdom of many Polish and other priests, including Monsignor Kozal in Dachau concentration camp.  Permit me to make this text available to Your Eminence (number 122/SA/72, 26.04.1943). (1) 

I realise the impression these acts of refined and unforgivable cruelty are sure to have on the Christian world, but I have the honour to address Your Eminence once again, asking again what results the Holy See has obtained to save these precious lives of the Church, and what steps the Holy See proposes to take in the presence of so much evil if these efforts are without plausible results.

(1) Michael Kozal (1893-1943), auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek 1939-1943.  Arrested in 1940 and placed under house arrest, he was later sent to a forced labour camp at Inowroclaw between January and April 1941 after which he was sent to Dachau.  He was murdered by lethal injection after contracting typhus in late 1942.  He was beatified as a martyr on 14.06.1987.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

ADSS 3.2.477 Karol Radonski (in UK) to Maglione: the papal silence

This document comes as something of a shock.  Karol Radonski (1883-1951) bishop of Włocławek had left Poland at the beginning of the war and eventually made his way to the United Kingdom where he spent his time publicising the horrors of life under German Occupation.  

In early 1943 he wrote to Rome appealing for a public word from Pius XII condemning German atrocities in Poland.  His language is clear and specific: by failing to not speak out the pope was sending the message, intentionally or not, that he did not care about Poland.  The bishop further argued that papal silence, for whatever reason, was harming the well-being of Polish soldiers in Scotland even though they remained for the most part, loyal and faithful Catholics.  Finally, Radonski wrote that he could not understand any bishops who would argue that silence was appropriate in the face of the terrible crimes committed in Poland day after day.  His style is florid at time but the sharpness of his criticism of papal policy remains poignant even today.

This document is important for several reasons:

1.  The author was a Catholic bishop, not a diplomat or politician.  This was an internal Catholic voice.
2.  The document is another reminder that accusations of papal silence began during the war and not after.
3.  The information contained in Radonski's letter, explicit and implied, point to a significant amount of generally available material that was accurate in its content.
4.  Radonski's comments about American Protestants gives some indication that he believed that the war would be won by the Western Alliance and not necessarily with the Soviets.  the Red Army had taken Stalingrad less than three weeks before this letter was written and while it pointed to a major set back for the Germans, it did not as yet, portend a German defeat or a Red Army sweep across Poland and Eastern Europe. 
5.  Radonski was not to know that German attitudes towards the Poles were beginning to change.  Most of the Jews under German control were now dead and the Reich needed to secure more labour.  It made economic sense to ease the restrictions on some parts of Occupied Poland.  While conditions were never good under the Germans, they did become a little less murderous.
6.  Finally, Radonski's letter was written three months before the revelation of the massacre of Polish officers by the Soviets in the woods of Katyn.  As far as the Poles in exile in London were concerned, this gave them the first cause for serious concern at the possibility of a Soviet victory "in the East".

The document can be found in the pages section. 

Karol Radonski

Monday, April 22, 2013

Robert Ventresca's "Soldier of Christ"

I finished reading Robert Ventresca's "Soldier of Christ" a few weeks ago and was asked recently to write a review of the book for an academic journal.  I was very happy to do so.  If you have not read the book - do so.  I believe it will be the standard general biography of Pope Pius XII for some time.  Even when the ASV files for Pacelli's papacy are made available Ventresca's book will still be the most helpful English-language guide.  Coupled with Frank Coppa's slimmer, but equally well-written "The Life and Pontificate of Pope Pius XII: Between History and Controversy", historians, students and the general reader, have at their disposal an excellent resource.  

But!  Reader beware.  Ventresca treats his audience as adults and expects them to use their minds to make their own judgements.  

ADSS 3.2.472 Report from Bishop Stanislaw Adamski of Katowice, Poland: persecution and papal silence

In September 1942 and January 1943 Bishop Stanislaw Adamski of Katowice in Poland wrote reports on the situation of the Polish Catholic Church.  In the second and longer report, several notes were collated and formed into one document when the various sections arrived in Rome.  The process of delivery from Warsaw to Rome is not made clear, but the information contained is identical in many respects to the September report.  Does this mean that Adamski was not sure if the first letter had reached Rome?  At this point I am not sure.  What can be stated with certainty is that the Polish church was undergoing terrible privation and suffering.  Adamski broaches the issue of Pius XII's "silence" in terms of an anti-papal propaganda campaign put about by the enemies of the church.  He alleges it has not succeeded.

The whole document needs to be read and not only the paragraph dealing with the alleged "silence" of the pope.  

At the time of writing, January 1943, news was reaching German-occupied Europe of the encirclement of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad. Perhaps Adamski felt the first glimmers of hope that the war might end before the Germans had destroyed the Polish church entirely. 

ADSS 3.2.472 Report of Stanislaw Adamski (Katowice)

Reference: AES 2029/43

Location and date: Warsaw, end of January 1943

Summary statement: Overview of the clerical situation in Poland; economic situation and morale of the clergy in the General Government.  Status of the bishops. Propaganda suggesting the Pope has forgotten Poland and steps taken to counter it.  Diocese of Warsaw and the imprisonment of the Rector of the Seminary.

Language: German


The situation (1) as reported from other parts of the country that form the Government General, has identified many of the priests who were forced to leave.  As far as can be ascertained, and with few exceptions, they have through the help of Mass stipends (2), assistance from friends and relatives and their own income through civilian activities, been able to make themselves secure.   Since all these priests are unable to be sufficiently engaged in pastoral work, they have taken on other work as officials etc.  This activity not only gives them a necessary contribution to their income, but is necessary to avoid being sent away for forced labour.

Many priests have not yet recovered from the hardship caused by the war and are suffering from nervous shock. Many also suffer from excessive anxiety.  It is natural to expect that some may be “derailed”.  Creating organised spiritual direction is not possible at present partly because many priests are in hiding, the danger of having meetings which is particularly dangerous for these men.

Bishop Bukraba of Pinsk (3), now lives in Warsaw at the St Joseph Sanitarium, 18 Emilii Plater Street.  His health is normal, although he suffers from high blood pressure.  Auxiliary bishop Niemira (4) also lives in Warsaw and is in good health.  Their applications to return to Pinsk have been refused.

The diocese of Pinsk is divided into three parts between East Prussia, Ostland and Ukraine.  The boundaries may be crossed only upon specific authorisation.  For each part of the diocese the bishop has appointed a Vicar General and they have taken office.  The diocese is organised sufficiently and the bishop is in contact with them.

The Vicar General of Pinsk, Monsignor Iwicki and the Vicar General in Novogrodek, Dean Daleki were shot (5) Recently another 35 priests, after a short imprisonment, were also shot.  The reasons are unknown.

Bishop Lukomski (6) resides freely in his home in Lomza.  His auxiliary bishop, Zakrzewski (7) lives in Ostrow Mazowiecka and is Apostolic Administrator of diocese of Lomza that is within the Government General (about 5 parishes).  He cannot go to Lomza but is in contact with the bishop.

The Archbishop of Vilna (8) is outside his diocese interned in the Marian monastery Mariampol in Lithuania.  He is in good health and has some contact with Vilna.  The current administrator of the Vilna archdiocese seems to have done nothing about the messages reporting the poor material circumstances of the re-settled archbishop.

Archbishop Sapieha (9) in Krakow is in good health and very active in spite of many difficulties.  He was made it clear to the Leader of the Government General in spoken word and in writing, making it very clear that existing abuses are uncovered.  His approach has given him widespread acclaim.

Bishop Szlagowski (10) in Warsaw has received his faculties as a residential bishop with the greatest gratitude.  He is active and working.

The rector of the seminary in Warsaw, Archutovski (11), was arrested suddenly a month ago.  The reason is unknown.  So far, attempts to secure his release have been unsuccessful.

There are no changes in Lvov, Przemysl, Tarnow and Krakow.  Bishops and auxiliaries are in good health and about their normal work.  The same is true for Krakow [sic] and Luck (Luceoria), as well as in Sandomierz, Lielce and Czestochowa. 

The Vicar General of Poznan, auxiliary bishop Dymek (12) has been ordered to leave the Chancery building and his apartment on the second floor of the parish house of The Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Mr Wolf, the Head of the Gestapo department for Church Affairs lives on the first floor (13).  The Vicar General of the archdiocese of Gniezno, Canon van Blericq  (14) was ordered to leave Gniezno and go to Hohensalza (within the diocese).  He exercised his ministry there along with Vicar General Dymek from Poznan, but only for Polish Catholics according to the limits set by the police.

The auxiliary bishop Kozal of Wloclawek was sent to a concentration camp for several weeks.  He died in KZ Dachau (15).  Bishop Nowowiejski of Plock died in KZ Soldau over eighteen months ago (16).

Auxiliary bishop Wetmanski of Plock (17) has not been heard from in over eighteen months. 

Both bishops of Lodz are living as internees in Biecz monastery near Krosno (Galicia).  Bishop Fulman of Lublin (18) is interned in the parish house in Neu-Sandez (Galicia).  His auxiliary bishop, Goral (19) is in a concentration camp.

There is an organised anti-papal propaganda campaign among various elements of the Polish population, which asserts that the Holy Father, as an Italian, does not care about the Polish people, nor does he care about their fate etc.

This propaganda was, as has been determined, organised by old opponents of the Church.  Knowing the situation of the Polish nation cut off from reliable sources of information, and with no independent public papers, these enemies went “fishing” in trouble waters, and on the one hand attempted to exploit the possibility the Church and Pope could counter these charges and consolidate their position after the war, but on the other hand, they could also steer Catholics away from the Church and the Pope.

Thanks to the reports of the activities of the Holy Father in favour of Poland, as well as the intense reaction of good Catholics, this propaganda is on the wane and continues to loose support.  The efforts have proven the absolute groundlessness of the anti-papal propaganda have encouraged all, in deepest gratitude to listen again to the Holy Father, in order to have a lot more of the truth.

(1) This document was compiled from fragments that were written out on plain paper with no signature or date.  It arrived at the Vatican in March 1943.  Some information provided by various dioceses was cut and corrections made.  The document here is therefore a reconstruction of two letter, and may not contain all the notes of the original.  See Maglione’s response, ADSS 3.2.502.  The dating of the letter was construed from the news of the imprisonment of the Seminary Rector, Archutovski “a month ago”.  The arrest occurred in November 1942 and the conjecture was made that part of the letter was written towards the end of December 1942.

(2) Mass stipends refer to money given by a person to a priest asking for the Mass to be offered for a particular intention.  This is a common Catholic custom. The money is a gift acknowledging the work of the priest.

(3) Kasimiriz Bukraba (1885-1946) bishop of Pinsk (1932-1946).

(4) Karol Niemira (1883-1965) auxiliary bishop of Pinsk (1933-1946).

(5) Witold Iwicki (1884-1943), was arrested and shot during a reprisal action by the Germans.  It is believed Iwicki was active in hiding Jews.  Michael Dalecki (1884-1942) was murdered during a German action against Polish intelligentsia on 31.07.1942.  On the anti-intelligentsia action see (Polish website)

(6) Stanislas Lukomski (1874-1948), bishop of Lomza 1926-1948.

(7) Tadeusz Zakrzewski (1883-1961), auxiliary bishop of Lomza 1938-1946.

(8) Romuald Jalbrzykowski (1876-1955), archbishop of Vilnius 1926-1955.  He was a deeply unpopular bishop among Lithuanian Catholics.

(9) Adam Sapieha (1867-1951), archbishop of Krakow 1911-1951.

(10) Antoni Wladyslaw Szlagowski (1864-1956), auxiliary bishop of Warsaw 1928-1956.

(11) Roman Archutowski (1882-1943), rector of the Warsaw diocesan seminary 1940-1942.  He was arrested in November 1942 and sent to KL Majdanek where he died on Palm Sunday, 23.03.1943.  He was beatified as a martyr by John Paul II on 13.06.1999.

(12) Walenty Dymek (1888-1956), auxiliary bishop of Poznan 1929-1945.  He succeeded as archbishop in 1946.

(13) Franz Wolf (1895- ) and his family lived on the ground floor of the parish house; the remaining clergy were permitted to live on the second floor.

(14) Edward van Blericq (1895-1946), vicar general of Poznan 1939-1946.  Expelled form Poznan by the Gestapo in July 1941 and spent the rest of the war in Inowroclaw, southern Poland.

(15) Michael Kozal (1893-1943), auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek 1939-1943.  Died in KZ Dachau.  Beatified as a martyr on 14.06.1987.

(16) Anthony Julian Nowowiejski (1858-1941), bishop of Plock 1908-1941.  Arrested by the Gestapo in 1940 he was later sent to KL Sodau where he died on 28.05.1941.  He was beatified as a martyr on 13.06.1999.

(17) Leon Wetmanski (1886-1941), auxiliary bishop of Plock 1927-1941.  Arrested 06-07.03.1941 he was sent to KL Soldau where he died around the beginning of October.

(18) Marian Fulman (1866-1945), bishop of Lublin 1918-1945.  Imprisoned in KL Sachsenhausen 1939-1940 and KL Nowy Sasz 1940-1945.

(19) Vladislaw Goral (1898-1944), auxiliary bishop of Lublin 1938-1944.  Imprisoned and died in KL Sachsenhausen. Beatified as a martyr 13.06.1999.