Thursday, July 4, 2013

ADSS 6.21 Angelo Rotta to Maglione: anti-Jewish law passed.

 ADSS 6.21 Angelo Rotta, Hungary to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: report number 2264/39; AES 2481/39

Location and date: Budapest, 02.05.1939

Summary statement: Continuation of the discussion over the Hungarian anti-Jewish race laws and the attitude of the bishops in the Upper House.

Language: Italian


The now famous project of the laws regarding the Jews, which has dragged on for months in lengthy discussions that were not always serene and with passionate and strong public opinion, has finally arrived in port.

Between the Upper House and the Chamber of Deputies, after long debates between both houses, the respective committees have joined together and agreed to a compromise formula as I wrote in my report Nr. 2242/1939 of 22 April (1).

The modification of Article 1 introduced by the Upper House, the main cause of conflict, was accepted.  However, converted Jews, who are no longer regarded as Jews under the Law, which was discussed in the mentioned modification, are not granted full equality with other Christians.  They will continue with some but not all of the restrictions imposed on Jews, such as the right of ownership, participation in public office and certain careers of a cultural nature, printing etc.

It then made an important addition to the article that, with the limitations set out above, the children, baptized at birth of Jews who had converted before January 1939 will be considered as Christians provided the family has resided in Hungary since at least January 1849.

The House of Deputies rejected the amendment the Upper House had introduced, to the effect that is was necessary to appoint a jury to grant no more than 150 Jews exemptions from the law, if the said jury considered them worthy of exemptions on their own merits or for their activities.  It would authorise a Government or parliamentary hearing in order to grant exemptions in special cases.

The Upper House approved the final text the day before yesterday, and the Chamber of Deputies will in all likelihood to do the same tomorrow because it seems almost certain that the current Chamber will be dissolved on Thursday 4 (May).

In the committee meeting during the lively discussion, his Excellency Bishop Glattfelder of Csanád (2) advocated the amendments strongly and with brilliance, because they represent a tribute, however ever tenuous, of the efficacy of the sacrament of baptism.  His Eminence, the Cardinal Primate (3) with calm but convincing words added the weight of his teaching and authority.  He drew on the principles that had already been presented to the Upper House, and from which nothing had to be removed: if the compromised formula was accepted, it was so as to avoid more trouble and even a possible crisis in the government, and turning his thoughts and words to his brother in faith he said that if he had not gotten more it was not through lack of good will on his part nor of the Upper House, but because of circumstances.

As he then went on to tell me, a government crisis was not a far-fetched danger, but real with the outcome of a more radically anti-Jewish government. (4)  But, he added, the law was flawed for several reasons, and at certain points, illogical:  time will show its deficiencies and the need to correct them.  Now in the present environment at present and with the approaching elections, it was impossible to get more.

One positive outcome I point out to your Eminence is that the other day the newspapers here have reported that Slovak, published in Pressburg [Bratislava], has issued a denial of Monsignor Tiso’s next trip to Rome (5).  It is to be postponed until next September.  I do not know how much is true.

Note of Tardini:

05.05.1939.  With thanks.

(1) See ADSS 6.19.

(2) See ADSS 6.10 n3.

(3) Justinian Seredi

(4) In fact, the Teleki government maintained the laws until 02.04.1941.

(5) The nuncio had written on 27.04.1939 (Nr 2253/39; AES 2455/39) that the press had published news of Tiso’s trip to Rome.

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