Sunday, March 2, 2014

ADSS 8.194 Maglione to Seredi - summary of Vatican re/actions towards Hungary's anti-Jewish laws.

This is the last Roman document that refers directly to the Jews of Hungary before the German occupation in March 1944. (See ADSS 10.117).  Cardinal Seredi replied to Cardinal Maglione three weeks later.  ADSS records interventions made by the nuncio, Angelo Rotta and the Cardinal Secretary of State, Luigi Maglione for Slovakian, Romanian and Polish Jews as well as Italian prisoners of war (after September 1943), but nothing more on the situation for Hungarian Jews.

What this document does is give a summary statement of the position of the Holy See and its satisfaction at the efforts, to date, of the Cardinal Primate, Justinian Seredi.  It is important to keep context  in mind.  Unlike the situation for Jews in German-occupied Europe, especially "in the East", Hungarian Jews were comparatively safe; the situation was not yet lethal.

ADSS 8.194

Reference: AES 8217/41

Location and date: Vatican 02.11.1941

Summary statement: Information on the steps taken by the Holy See against the race laws.

Language: Italian


The Holy See has learned, with great satisfaction, of the public and noble declaration, which Your Eminence, in the name of the Hungarian episcopacy, made last July to the Upper House, during the discussion over the unfortunate race laws. (1)

For its part the Holy See did not neglect to use diplomatic means to make known to the Hungarian government its concerns caused by the aforementioned laws, while expressing confidence that the government would render the application of the laws less harsh with appropriate mitigation. (2)

On 6 September the Hungarian government expressed its regret at the disappointment of the Holy See and gave assurances that, for its part, it would take into account, within the framework of the law, the arguments that had been presented. (3)

The Holy See is fully confident that Your Eminence in your role as Primate, caring for the interests of the Catholic Church, and for the great influence which it enjoys in government circles, will ensure that the assurances given by the Hungarian government to the Holy See are, in all practical matters, fully confirmed.

If what is hoped for does occur, not only will it turn to the praise of the Catholic Church, who, in a time of great physical and moral violence, once again preached the fundamental precept of charity that unites people without distinction of race, but will also reflect the great honour of the Hungarian nation, because it will show the truth that it really is the heir, (as is rightly affirmed) of St Stephen, that Christian prince, whose wisdom and tolerance were the most beautiful ornaments of his reign.

Unfortunately, some of the information received by the Holy See from Hungary, suggests that excessive seal or passion of some subordinate officials, regarding the aforementioned racial laws, have been applied harshly and a great cost so as to arouse grave fears for some lives.(4)

Your Eminence is certainly in a position to judge whether or not to best respond to the memorandum sent to the Holy See concerning the expulsion of Jews from Hungary that I wrote about in the memo. (5) If it is so, the Holy See would very much appreciate if your Eminence would intervene with the relevant offices of the government, so that they are given the necessary orders to mitigate the unhappy fate of the expelled and return much needed calm and confidence to the many Hungarians of the Jews race.

In the hope that your Eminence will be able to provide reassuring news which I will hasten to bring to the Holy Father (6), I offer my thanks for all you do to meet the desires of the Holy See and the advancement … (text ends here).

(1) See ADSS 8.116
(2) See ADSS 8.128
(3) See ADSS 8.141
(4) This may be an oblique referral to the expulsion of about 20,000 non-Hungarian Jews, mostly Poles and Slovakians, who were expelled from Hungarian Western Galicia into German-occupied Eastern Galicia in July 1941.  Most were murdered by the Germans in August 1941 at Kamianets-Podilskyi
(5) Not published in ADSS.  Maglione sent it privately to Seredi.

(6) See ADSS 8.208

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