Monday, December 15, 2014

ADSS 10.381 Tardini to Bernardini, Switzerland - Hungarian Jews

Reference: Telegram nr 747 (AES 6994/44)

Location and date: Vatican 02.11.1944

Summary statement: Overview of the steps taken by the Holy See for the Jews of Hungary.

Language: Italian


With reference to the report of your Excellency, 23401 of 28.07.1944, I wish to apprise you of the following. (1)

The Holy See has always endeavoured, using every means in its power to alleviate the dreadful pain of those who suffer because of their nationality or race.

As soon as Hungary began to stir the so-called racial question, the Holy See repeatedly made interventions with the Government for those of Jewish ancestry, directing its response with more than a diplomatic note. (2)

Last June (1944), when the situation became worse and severe measures against the Jews were impending, not excluding deportation, the Holy See actively worked for the adoption of less odious measures, encouraging among others, the Hungarian bishops, to get more actively involved. (3)

His Holiness, then, on 25.06.1944 personally sent an open telegram to Regent Horthy (4) asking him to use all his power to save many people from further death and suffering.

It was precisely such action that suspended the deportation of the Jews and mitigated their conditions until a few weeks ago. (5)

Soon further news reached us of the worsening situation following recent political events in Hungary.  The Holy See was quick to once again take interest in this serious problem. (6)

I can assure your Excellency that despite the increasing difficulties of communication, nothing will be left undone to bring relief to such persons.

In this sense the Apostolic Nunciature is working with the Hungarian episcopate who repeatedly send statements and protests to the authorities. (7)

The Holy Father has offered prayer on the occasion of the day announced by Cardinal Seredi for Sunday 29.10.1944 for refugees, and has deigned to send a personal and open telegram (8) to his Eminence where once again his keen interest is manifest for “persons exposed to persecution and violence because of their religion or race or for political reasons”.

I would add that the August Pontiff has just received a telegram from Mr Saly Braunschweig, President of the Swiss Israelite Community, imploring help for the Jews of Hungary. (9) Your Excellency is asked to assure Mr Braunschweig that his telegram arrived and please give him the information above.

(1) See ADSS 10.279.  It appears Bernardini’s report took an exceptionally long time to reach Rome.  This is not altogether surprising.  By early November Allied troops were nearing Bologna and non-essential communication was becoming increasingly difficult.
(2) See ADSS 10.207, attachments, 10.223, 10.227 and attachment, 10.308.
(3) See ADSS 10.216, 242 n2, 370.
(4) ADSS 10.243.
(5) ADSS 10.265
(6) ADSS 10. 370, 371.
(7) ADSS 10.207, 227, 265, 308.
(8) ADSS 10.376.
(9) Saly Braunschwieg (20.07.1891-10.02.1946), President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Switzerland (1942-1946). Telegram sent 28.10.1944 (AES 6994/44).

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