Saturday, May 11, 2013

ADSS 3.2.522 Orsenigo to Maglione: KL Ravensbruck

This report sent to Rome by Cesare Orsenigo, is one of the few direct references to concentration camps found in ADSS.  It is also the only reference to medical experiments.  It is another dimension of the range of topics covered in Volume 3 of ADSS that is interesting for its decided lack of documentation regarding the persecution of the Jews.  Also of interest is Orsenigo's comment relaying Cardinal Bertram's belief that too many questions about the goings on in the camp would invite unwanted police attention.

ADSS 3.2.522 Cesare Orsenigo, Germany to Maglione

Reference: Report 2561 (52.748), AES 4076/43.

Location and date: Berlin, 15.06.1943

Summary statement: Sends news received of KL Ravensbrück.  News of Polish women in the KL is true.  Cannot confirm rumours of medical experiments.

Language: Italian


With reference to the dispatch, number 2057/43, of Your Eminence of 2 April last, you instructed me to gather information concerning the treatment, for the purposes of experiments, performed on interned Polish women in Ravensbrück concentration camp in Mecklenburg.

News of the existence of the camp holding Polish women is true.

However it is not possible to confirm information concerning possible treatments contrary to Christian morality. The few trusted Germans with whom I have expressed my doubts very cautiously, given the delicacy of the subject, have concluded that experiments do take place, that they are conducted in an evil manner on the subjects (2).

I was not satisfied, so I cautiously aired a course of enquiry with the episcopate, on the assumption that with a few senior competent people appropriate queries could be made with the Director of the Concentration Camps.  I made my first proposal to his Eminence, Cardinal Adolf Bertram, archbishop of Breslau, but he advised me that such an investigation, even if well presented, would have little chance of success, and would lead the police to conduct a counter-investigation to find out who leaked the news and what documents had been created to make the claims credible.

I will do my best to continue investigating this matter in order to verify the news and then act accordingly.

(1) See ADSS 3.2.492
Ravensbrück was opened in November 1938 as the primary concentration camp for women and children.  About 130,000 women and children passed through the camp.  The number of survivors is estimated from15,000 to 32,000.  The largest group of women were Polish.  Medical experiments were conducted from the summer of 1942 onwards.  The Red Army liberated the camp on 30.04.1945.

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