Friday, July 11, 2014

ADSS 10.227 Angelo Rotta to Luigi Maglione - persecution of Hungarian Jews; Diplomatic Note

No trains left Hungary for Auschwitz on 10 June.

Reference: Report 1260/44, N.Pr 957 (AES 5689/44)

Location and date: Budapest, 10.06.1944

Summary statement: News on the persecution of the Jews of Hungary.

Language: Italian


I consider it useful to send a copy of the Note send by this Nunciature to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in response to the Note of 27 May, which I have already sent to your Eminence with a copy of my report number 19095/44 on 23 May. (1)

Unfortunately there is no improvement:  harassment and deportations continue, and in an inhumane manner, even if it is masked by the title of being sent for compulsory labour.

The campaign that is led against the Jews, which also, unfortunately also includes converts, is not approved by right-minded people, given the way in which it takes place and in contrast with the Christian sense of the Hungarian soul.  But, as is the case elsewhere, force and violence have the upper hand over common sense and he rights of truth and justice.  These directives come from outside Hungary, but regretfully there are fanatical, almost maniacal, executors, in Hungary.  They have done severe damage to the moral sense of the good reputation of the nation.

I also believed it convenient to send to His Serene Highness, the Regent of Hungary, a copy of all correspondence on this matter exchanged between the Nunciature and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His Highness, the Regent, maintains a rather passive attitude.  However, the documents may come in handy so the Regent knows exactly the thoughts of the Holy See, through the action of the Nunciature, in this painful episode.

(1) ADSS 10.207
(2) Regent Admiral Horthy
(3) See the Attachment. See also ADSS 10.243.

Diplomatic Note of the Apostolic Nunciature in Budapest [to the Minister of Foreign Affairs].

Number 1207/44

Budapest, 05.06.1944.


The Apostolic Nunciature has the honour to acknowledge receipt of the Verbal Note form the Royal Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – number 234 / Res. Pol./ 1944 of 27 May (4) in response to the Nunciature’s note Number 1058 dated 15 May (5) on the Jewish Question.  The Apostolic Nunciature has hastened to send the Note of the Royal Ministry to the Holy See and after a full and sympathetic consideration of the same, wishes to point out the following:

The Apostolic Nunciature expresses its deep appreciation and thanks to the Royal Government for the assurances given about the events that occurred on the premises of the Association of the Holy Cross.  But, unfortunately, it cannot show the same satisfaction for the response given to the other points, which formed the subject of the previous Note.  The Nunciature is very painfully surprised by the statement of the Royal Government’s statement wishing to solve the Jewish question solely on the grounds of race and without any consideration of the religion professed by those concerned: this is practically a denial of the positive influence of religion on the human mind and the education work of the Church. Now there is serious harm to the regard of the Church.  And the entire Hungarian people are witness to the efficacy of this action of the Church, who, since her [Hungary’s] arrival in Europe, has welcomed in her motherly arms, deeply transforming and lifting it up, in the space of a few generations, to the same level of civilisation as the Western peoples.  Why would the Church not be able to operate the same profound changes in the soul of the Jews?

They say that their conversion is not sincere.  But nothing justifies a general statement.  While there may be doubts about the sincerity of some conversions, which occurred in recent times (and it must not be forgotten that the Catholic Church, to which they refer, has always been very strict in admitting those who ask for baptism), there are no reasonable grounds for doubting the conversion of the Jews who became Christians before the commencement of the anti-Semitic laws in Hungary.

The Note from the Royal Ministry refers to systems adopted in other countries, which have “solved” the Jewish question solely on the basis of race.  The Hungarian Government knows that the Catholic Church has always rejected the theories and methods founded on the materialistic principle of blood and race, completely neglecting the spiritual element of man, denying the influence of free will, of education and any supernatural means of divine grace in the formation of character and the human person.  However, there are other countries, which, while adopting anti-Semitic measures, have made exemptions – at least partially – for Jewish Christians out of respect for the Sacrament of Baptism, and of the merits of the Church and her work as a complete educator in both the national and patriotic sense.

For it is a fact that when the Jews enter the Church they are beginning to merge strictly national elements, so that after one or two generations they cannot be distinguished from others.

The fact that the Hungarian Government uses the religious element in the pursuit of racial origins (grandfathers had to be Christians) is an admission of that fact.  So if the Royal Government recognises this, why do they not continue to the logical and legitimate consequences?

The Note from the Royal Ministry said that the new provisions are based on the legal concept of a “Jew” as set by Law XV of 1938, IV of 1939 and XV of 1941.  The Apostolic Nunciature noted that even then the Church rejected a purely racial principle and publically voiced its protest:  although these laws did not have serious practical consequences.

The Apostolic Nunciature therefore has the regret of having to declare as totally inadequate the facilities granted to Christians and has listed items from the Note to which it has the honour to answer.

The first is a promise, not yet realised, to correct the very serious wrong committed to the detriment of the baptised, in abandoning them to the mercy of the non-baptised Jews and in this way putting them into the saddest of situations.  The second, which is not even known publicly, is also reparation of a similar nature.  The exceptions contained in numbers three and four can only refer to a very small number of people, and do not resolve the question of principle. (6)

Meanwhile, the greatest regret of the Apostolic Nunciature has been realised.  A reliable source confirmed the resolutions of a recent conference where it was decided that all Hungarian Jews, without distinction of religion, will be deported.  At most about 150,000 to 200,000 souls will be exempted because they are essential to the economic and industrial life of the country or in health care.  According to other reports the exempted are absolutely safe.  The deportation is already underway and is executed with such methods that may people die before reaching the place of deportation. (Inhumane methods are also practiced in the concentration camps, where even the most basic living conditions and hygiene are lacking, and where you prevent priests bringing the comforts of religion to these unfortunate sons of the Church!)

It is said that this is not a deportation but compulsory labour.  One can argue about words; but the reality is undeniable.  When people over 70 and even 80 years of age, elderly women, children, the sick are deported, one wonders what kind of work could these people possibly be doing?  You replied that you gave the Jews the opportunity to bring their families; but then the departure of these people would be voluntary.  And what about cases of the old, sick etc., are the only ones to be deported, or when there are no parents, should they follow?  And when you think only Hungarian workers are required to go to Germany for employment, it is forbidden to deport their families, we are astonished to see that only the Jews are granted this great favour.

For all that the Apostolic Nunciature, the official representative of the Holy Father, who is entrusted with the defence of the divine law – either natural or positive – and the supreme guardian of Christian interests, is forced to protest to the Royal Hungarian Government and ask it to respond to the requests made in it previous Note, namely:

1. that Jewish-Christians are exempt from the anti-Semitic provisions: at least those whose conversions – especially having regard to the period in which it occurred  there is no reasonable cause for suspicion;

2. that all Jews be given human treatment; and that even if necessary measures for the defence of the legitimate interests of the State are required, justice and the fundamental rights of the human person will be respected;

3. that while the Royal Government is working to change the antisemtic decrees in the directions indicated, it will implement the necessary emergency measures to prevent the continued abuses mentioned above and all proper spiritual assistance available for these unfortunate Christians.

The Apostolic Nunciature wishes to emphasise that in making this approach, it has no intention of denying the Royal Government the right to defend the nation from any dangers that may threaten it, but only to ask that the rights of the Church and Christian moral principles be respected.

In its Note the Royal Government expresses the desire that relations with the Holy See should continue with the same cordiality, as has been the case in the past.  It is with great satisfaction that the Apostolic Nunciature noted this declaration, which corresponds to the warmest and sincere wishes of the Holy See.  This statement and the statement of His Excellency the Prime Minister to Parliament that “the new government wants to build Hungary on the rock of Christian morality” gives the Nunciature confidence that these suggestions will be accepted well, and that the Royal Government will want to refrain from acts contrary to the rights and legitimate interest of Christians.  And the Hungarian people, who have justly acquired the title of defender of the faith and civilization, will not want to soil their reputation by following methods that the conscience of the Christian world could not approve, even if they were said to be justified to defend the country against Bolshevism, which would remove much of its moral value in the country even as it continues the Christian defence of civilization.

These actions of the Apostolic Nunciature, are inspired by a feeling of deep and sincere attachment to Hungary, that she would see ever be greater and more prosperous, surrounded by the purest glory, hope they will be well received and with his Eminence the Cardinal Secretary of State of His Holiness, send “best wishes for the noble Hungarian nation that it may at this delicate time find it orientation in the deeply Christian traditions of its ancestors”. (7)

(4) Not published in ADSS. See ADSS 10.207, n5.
(5) See ADSS 10.207, Attachment 1.
(6) It was the exemption for priests, religious and a few others from wearing the Yellow Star.

(7) See ADSS 10.234.  For the response of the Minister on 30.06.1944 see Jeno Levai, The Black Book, pp 29-30.

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