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.

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