Saturday, April 5, 2014

ADSS 9.487 Notes of the Secretariat of State on steps taken for Jews

Although many in the Vatican were aware of rescue activities occurring throughout the city, there were varying degrees of anxiety and concern over the nature of the activities and the level of involvement, voluntary or otherwise, that could bring unwanted attention from the Germans.  Padre Benedetto and his colleagues with Delasem, the Italian Jewish aid agency, operated and planned schemes that caused some serious angst in the Vatican.  In this document we see the "angst" along with remarks that point to serious mistrust and suspicion about Jews. 

ADSS 9.487 Notes of the Secretariat of State

Reference:  ASS 1943, Razza 11

Location and date:  Vatican, 29.12.1943

Summary statement: Information concerning steps taken for the Jews.

Language: Italian

 A trustworthy person has learned directly from Israelite elements existing in Rome that there is an organization made up of people of the Jewish faith and individuals “of responsibility in the Vatican” which has as its aims:
1. to issue Vatican City identity cards with false information and bilingual cards (white and yellow) to Jews; (2)

2. to facilitate the admission of members of the Jewish faith to [religious] institutions or communities;

The same person refers to:

a) that some of those elements have been talking to friends and acquaintances and sometimes ostentatiously showing, as proof, the documents referred to above;

b) that people have announced that the son of X has been admitted into the Palatine Guard of Honour;

c) that there are many individuals in Rome who have shown the documents referred to in point 1 to others.(5)

(1) Not identified.
(2) These documents in German and Italian were given to Vatican employees.
(3) See ADSS 9.371
(4) Angelo Dell’Aqua (1903-1972), Secretariat of State, noted: “Several times I have observed that various persons employed at the Vatican or close to Vatican circles interest themselves too much (in a manner that I dare to call almost exaggerated) in the Jews, favouring them, maybe even with elegant schemes … I have always believed … in using the maximum prudence in speaking with Jews, to whom it would be better to speak less … Regarding the bilingual cards … in my opinion it would be opportune to make an inquiry in order to avoid possible trouble …”
(5) The group referred to in this document was the Comitato Assistenza Profughi (Committee for Assitance for Refugees) founded by Padre Benedetto ofm cap in late 1943.  Padre Benedetto’s work created some measure of upset among some in the Vatican.  Susan Zuccotti wrote: “Strangely, when Dell’Acqua’s notes were published in ADSS, Padre Benedetto denied he had ever met or spoken with him.  Perhaps Dell’Acqua had sent an assistant”. Susan Zuccotti (2013) Père Marie-Benoît and Jewish Rescue: How a French priest together with Jewish friends saved thousands during the Holocaust, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, p160 n10.

Angelo Dell'Acqua

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