Saturday, April 20, 2013

ADSS 3.2.448 Springovics to Pius XII

In late November 1942 the archbishop of Riga, Antonijs Springovics (1876-1958) wrote to the pope.  In his letter he gave a summary account of the situation in Latvia with references to the oppression experience under the Soviet occupation of 1940-1941 and the arrival of the Germans and the imposition of the Nazi "New Order".  

The document describes in considerable detail the persecution of the church, the requisition of church property and the imprisonment of some of the clergy.  

And Springovics also makes mention of the murder of Riga's Jews and Romani people, the murder of the mentally ill and the deportation of young Latvians to Germany as forced labourers.

By comparison to other places studied in Holocaust history Latvia is often subsumed in the history of the three Baltic States, but the archbishop's letter to the pope sent one  month before the Christmas Address of the same year is telling for the publicly available information at Springovics' disposal and which was then placed at the pope's disposal.  By this stage, late 1942, the information reaching  Rome on the murder of the Jews, Romani and others was consistent in nearly all the details of German occupation and treatment of the local populations.  There was now an abundance of evidence to confirm what the Allied diplomats were also passing onto the Holy See, namely that the Germans were engaged in a continent-wide murder operation to kill every Jew in their sphere of influence.

It was something of a challenge to locate some of the Latvian information for this document.  I spent more than a few hours hunting through Latvian-language sites, tracking spelling of names and places in order to find what I needed to ensure I had "tied up the loose ends".  If I have missed anything, I hope my readers will let me know.

The text can be found in the pages section of the blog.

Antonijs Springovic
Archbishop of Riga

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