Sunday, August 17, 2014

ADSS 11.330 Giovanni Montini to representatives of the Holy See - death of Cardinal Maglione

Cardinal Maglione had left Rome on 21.07.1944 for some vacation time in his hometown of Casoria, about ten kilometres north of Naples. Luigi Maglione had a heart condition that had gradually worsened over the war years.  The pope had told him to take what ever time he needed to recover (ADSS 11.314).  Ten days later he was admitted to one of the "fixed hospitals" established by the American army after the liberation of Naples in October 1943.  He stayed for just under two weeks before discharging himself and returning home to Casoria.   On 22.08.1944 Maglione suffered a fatal heart attack.  His death came as a shock to his colleagues in the Secretariat of State where Giovanni Battista Montini and Domenico Tardini had assumed Maglione's responsibilities.  Upon Maglione's death, Pius XII subsumed the position of Secretary of State into his own office for the rest of his pontificate.

11.330 Giovanni Battista Montini to representatives of the Holy See.

Reference: Telegram circular. (ASS Maglione file)

Location and date: Vatican, 22.08.1944

Summary statement: News of the death of Cardinal Maglione.

Language: French


It is my sorrowful duty to communicate that today, 22 August, at 04.00 this morning, my dear superior, Cardinal Maglione died of a heart attack in Casoria. (1) I commend him to your prayers.  Would you please inform governments (2) and episcopates.

Montini (3).

(1) See ADSS 11.314.  Cardinal Maglione had voluntarily left the American hospital in Naples on 12.08.1944 and stayed in his home in Casoria.  News of his death was telephoned to Domenico Tardini by Alfonso Castaldo (1890-1966) bishop of Pozzuoli (1935-1950).
(2) The text sent to Apostolic Delegates omitted the word “government”.
(3) The same communication sent to the Curial cardinals and those outside of Rome was signed by both Montini and Tardini.

 Luigi Cardinal Maglione 1877-1944
Secretary of State 1939-1944
Photo taken in 1927 while he was nuncio in France.

ADSS 10.313 Amleto Cicognani to Secretariat of State - Jew in Lithuania, Hungary and Poland

Reference: Telegram 2331 (AES 6521/44)

Location and date: Washington DC, 31.08.1944 @ 06.16 (received Rome 01.09.1944 @ 13.30)

Summary statement: Request intervention for the Jews of Lithuania, Hungary and Poland.

Language: Italian


The Special Committee for Assistance to the Jews appeals for the intervention of the Holy Father to save Jews from persecution and death (as well as provision of food and medicine):
1. Jews transferred from Lithuania to East Prussia (1);
2. Jews in Hungary transported to unknown destinations (2);
3. Jew in Poland are systematically murdered before the Germans abandon the city (3).

(1) The Jewish Telegraph Agency published on 08.08.1944: “with part of Lithuania now liberated by the Russian armies, a picture emerges showing Catholic priests in Lithuanian towns often actively though futilely intervening with the German occupation authorities for the life of Jews and often risking their own lives to hide Jews from Nazi extermination”.  (Article attached to report 1345/44 of 26.08.1944; AES 2769/44).  The Soviet advance into the Baltic States began in the early spring of 1944 and was largely complete by September-October.  Lithuania was occupied throughout July, and the capital, Vilnius, fell to the Red Army on 13.07.1944.
(2) See ADSS 10.321.
(3) On 04.09.1944 Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz (1891-1964) wrote to Cicognani thanking him for his appeal. (Archives Ap Del Washington).  On 03.09.1944 Domenico Tardini sent a telegram to Cesare Orsenigo in Berlin with the contents of Cicognani’s appeal.  In it he wrote “It is the earnest desire of the Holy Father that your Reverence take every measure to come to the aid of all who suffer in this regard”. (Telegram 849, AES 6522/44).  Of course by this stage of the war nearly all the Jews of Lithuania and Poland were dead; the Jews of Budapest - between eighty to ninety thousand - comprised the largest concentration of Jews left alive anywhere in western and central Europe.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

ADSS 10.308 Angelo Rotta to Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs - plea from the neutral powers

By the middle of August the Germans were growing more strident in their demands for the resumption of deportations.    

“The government meeting of August 2 made it clear that the cabinet still wished to continue the deportations.  Andor Jaross (Interior Minister) proposed the transportation of all Budapest Jews with the exception of Jews who had converted to Christianity.  The minister of the interior even considered the technical details.  This was too much for Horthy: he dismissed Jaross and appointed State Secretary Miklos Bonczos of the Ministry of Justice as his replacement.  On August 8, the Baky resigned, and two weeks later Endre was relieved of his post as well. 

The personnel change did not make a substantive difference to the situation.  Sztojay informed Veesenmayer that within a week or two the deportations could resume. At the August 10 government meeting, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mihaly Jungeroth-Arnothy, up until then considered relatively moderate, proposed that in order to satisfy German demands, ’50-60 thousand Jews from Galicia seeping into the country’ should be deported’.  On August 19, Minister of the Interior Bonczos promised Eichmann that the deportations could start on August 25 … The government, with Horthy’s approval, even drafted an agreement with the Germans regarding the resumption of deportations”. The Holocaust in Hungary, pp 141-42.

However, the plans were abandoned because of the worsening conditions on both eastern and western fronts.  Romania deserted the Axis and joined the Allies on 23 August 1944.  Horthy told Veesenmayer that there would be no more deportations, but the Jews in Budapest would be sent to ghettoes and camps outside the capital. Germany also needed to keep Hungary compliant for both defensive and economic reasons; therefore the Jews could wait.  For the remaining Jews of Hungary there was a palpable sense of “the worst was over”; and it was – until October 1944.

The nuncio’s letter indicates, yet again, how well informed the nunciature was on German-Hungarian politics.  And if the nuncio was well informed, the pope was also well informed.

Reference: No number (AES 6397/44)

Location and date: Budapest, 21.08.1944

Summary statement: Petition made to the Hungarian gov’t by the neutral powers – Holy See, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal – for the Jews.

Language: French


The undersigned Representatives of the Neutral Powers accredited to Budapest (1) have learned with painful surprise that the deportation of the Jews of Hungary will recommence soon.  They are also informed – and the sources are absolutely reliable – that deportation is exactly what is meant, even if it is disguised as work abroad.

Leaving aside the unfortunate fact that the new deportations would be for these countries the coup de grace of the good reputation of Hungary, already so seriously affected by the completed deportations.  The Representatives of the Neutral Powers, with a sense of human solidarity and Christian charity, feel obliged to raise an energetic protest against this unjust proposal – because it is absolutely unacceptable for men to be persecuted and put to death by the mere fact of their race – and brutal execution.

They ask the Royal Government of Hungary to kindly put an end to these processes, which should have never started in the first place, for the honour of Humanity.  They express their hope that Hungary, looking towards its ancient traditions, may return to the principles and chivalrous ways and with the fullness of the Christian spirit that has earned it a high place among civilised peoples.

(1) The signatories were: Angelo Rotta (1872-1965), Nuncio; Carl Ivan Danielsson (1880-1963), Swedish minister; Carlos de Liz-Teixeira Branqhuinho (1902-1973), charge d’affaires Portugal; Angel Sanz-Briz (1910-1980), charge d’affaires Spain; Antoine Josef Kilchmann (1902-1961), charge d’affaires Switzerland.  A copy of the note was sent with Report 1919/44, prot. 965, 01.09.1944 (AES 6397/44). Note: The original note records the Spanish charge d’affaires as Miguel Sanz-Briz.  This is incorrect.  Angel Sanz-Briz took over from Miguel Angel de Muguiro in June 1944.

NB: Rotta (1997), Danielsson (1982), Sanz-Briz (1966) were listed among the Righteous of the Nations by Yad Vashem in recognition of their work in saving Jewish lives.

ADSS 10.295 Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate USA to Luigi Maglione - Hungarian Jews

10.295 Amleto Cicognani, Ap Del USA to Cardinal Maglione

Reference: Telegram 2288 (AES 5957/44)

Location and date: Washington DC, 09.08.1944 @ 17.00 (Received Rome 10.08.1944 @ 17.00)

Summary statement: Recognition of the American Jewish Committee of the efforts made by the Holy See for the Hungarian Jews.

Language: Italian


The American Jewish Committee and the Committee for the Salvation of the Jews of Europe have asked me to send to the Holy Father and your Eminence their expression of profound gratitude for the significant improvement in Hungary.  News confirms that the deportation of the Jews has ceased and the committee recognises that this is due to the Holy Father. (1)


(1) On 28.08.1944 Domenico Tardini telegraphed Washington (Telegram 1821, AES 6512/44) to “Representatives of the National Jewish Welfare Board” of New York who had sent their expression of gratitude to the Holy Father for the work done by the Holy See for the non-Aryans in Italy”. (See ADSS 10.272).

ADSS 10.293 Andrea Cassulo, Romania to Luigi Maglione - Transylvanian Jews

Reference: Telegram 187 (AES 6510/44)

Location and date: Timi┼čul de sus, 08.08.1944 @ 09.30 (Received Rome 10.08.1944 @ 10.00)

Summary statement: Request for help for about 2,000 Jewish families, many of whom are Christians, threatened with deportation.  They wish to go to Palestine.

Language: Italian


Ernest Grossmann (1), a delegate for a group of Jews from northern Transylvania, many of whom have relatives who converted to Christianity, are threatened with deportation to Hungary. (2) They earnestly seek to obtain permission from the German authorities to emigrate to Palestine via the Danube which is under German control in Romania.  There are approximately 20,000 families. (3)

(1) In his letter of 1.08.1944, Cassulo added: “I want to emphasise that the emigration of the Jewish element of Europe between the views of the German authorities and all that the Catholic Church has done for them in different countries, I am convinced that in this case also we will have His assistance, especially as it is a work of profound humanity, for which six thousand souls thank God”.
(2) Under the terms of the Second Vienna Award of 1940 most of northern Transylvania was ceded to Hungary.  When the deportation of Hungarian Jews commenced in May 1944 the Jews of Transylvania were included.  Approximately 160,000 from the region were deported and murdered, mostly at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
(3) There was an error in transmission.  Grossmann spoke of “two thousand families who wished to go to Palestine”.  In reply on 21.08.1944 (Telegram 263, AES 6510/44) the Secretariat of State wrote” “The Holy See has not failed to pass on telegram 187 of your Excellency to the Nunciature in Budapest”.