Tuesday, February 17, 2015

ADSS 10.431 Tardini to Orsenigo - Hungarian Jews

Reference: Telegram 1137 (AES 9073/44)

Location and date: Vatican, 05.01.1945

Summary statement: Nuncio must make new interventions for the Hungarian Jews.

Language: Italian


Continue to push appeals (1) from the Holy See pleading for intervention for the Hungarian Jews against whom serious measures continue.

Your Excellency is asked to strive to make efforts for those Jews citing the principles of humanity and justice. (2)

(1)  See ADSS 10.430.
(2) Orsenigo replied on 12.01.1945 (Telegram 408, AES 1065/45): “The Foreign Ministry replied that the Hungarian Government is the competent authority.”

ADSS 10.430 Tardini to Cicognani (USA) - Hungarian Jews

Reference: Telegram 2074 (AES 9072/45)

Location and date: Vatican, 03.01.1945

Summary statement: Holy See is doing everything possible for the Hungarian Jews.

Language: Italian


I received your telegram 2534. (1)

The Holy See has never neglected its serious concern for the Jews of Hungary for whom the Apostolic Nunciature and the Hungarian bishops were constantly labouring. (2)  Indeed, to alleviate the suffering of the Jews, His Holiness has recently made available a generous sum of money to the Apostolic Nunciature. (3) It is now not possible to communicate with Budapest.

The Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin is concerned in this regard. (4)

(1) ADSS 10.426
(2) For the activity of the Nunciature, see 10.321, 371, 408, 415.  For the Hungarian bishops, see 10.223 and 265.
(3) See ADSS 10.412.
(4) See ADSS 10.431.

ADSS 10.429 Cicognani (USA) to Sec State - Hungarian suffering

Reference: Telegram 2544 (AES 190/45)

Location and date: Washington DC, 02.01.1945 @ 18.14 (Rec’d Rome 03.01.1945 @ 13.00)

Summary statement: North American gov’t is doing everything it can to help relieve the suffering of the Hungarians.

Language: Italian


Further to my telegram number 2508 (1), the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (2) has replied to me as follows:

“The Department of State shares with the Holy See the same thoughts towards possible measures taken to reduce the suffering civilians caused by military operations.  Given that the Hungarian theatre of the war is a place where the United States of America does not have a representative, we do not have any means of directly controlling the emerging news.  But I assure your Excellency that the Foreign Ministry and the representatives of this Government abroad will do their best to alleviate the suffering of the civilians in Hungary and in other places.” (3)

(1) ADSS 10.413.

(2) Edward Stettinius (1900-1949), Secretary of State 1944-45.

(3) Cicognani was asked to try again (Telegram 2076 of 03.01.1945, AES 1057/45): “so that every avenue is tried in order to get civilians evacuated out of Budapest”.  Cicognani was responsible for communication “without delay, in the name of the August Pontiff, to ask the President to intervene, if possible, on behalf of the unarmed civilians exposed to the danger of death.” 

Cicognani (Telegram 2544, 04.01.1945, AES 1058/45) replied: “I have made an immediate appeal”. 

A similar telegram was addressed to Cesare Orsenigo, Nuncio in Germany (Telegram 1128, AES 7056/45) on 03.01.1945 that he should propose “with great urgency this humanitarian project to the [German] Government in order that it be investigated and implemented and save many lives.  As is known evacuations in similar situations were implemented in some cities on the French Atlantic coast.” 

Orsenigo replied on 12.01.1945 (Telegram 407, AES 1059/45): “As I reported in Telegram 1128 of 03.1.1945, the Foreign Ministry pointed out that an identical proposal was made by the International Red Cross to which the German Government has already responded.”

Meanwhile President Roosevelt replied to Cicognani with much the same terms already communicated in documents 10.413 and 429.  (Telegram of Cicognani number 2571 of 31.01.1945, AES 1061/45). 

Finally on 26.02.1945 Cicognani (Report 544/45, AES 2126/45) sent this confidential reply of Joseph Clark Grew (1880-1965), acting Secretary of the Department of State:

“The American ambassador in Moscow has reported that Mr Molotov, when presented with the concerns of the Holy See and the President with regard to the civilian population of Budapest, expressed his full sympathy on the issue but noted that the Germans did not want to discuss affairs of the kind. Mr Molotov believed that the fact that Soviet forces were now occupying three quarters of the city, while the Germans were making stubborn efforts to remain in the rest of the city, any agreement along the lines suggested appeared to late, as he would have drawn the attention of his government to the same problem.”

ADSS 10.424 Rotta to Kemeny - Hungarian Jews

Reference: No number. (AES 6452/45)

Location and date: Budapest, 23.12.1944

Summary statement: New joint request for the Jews of Hungary.

Language: French


The undersigned Representatives of the Neutral Powers accredited in Budapest who have already had the honour to address the Royal Hungarian Government twice to intercede on behalf of the Jews who are persecuted and outside the law. (1) Now that the Royal Government believed – for reasons that cannot be discussed here – that they must shut the Jews in the Ghetto, the Representatives of the Neutral Powers take the step of asking that the children be exempt from this provision.

Indeed it would be incomprehensible to chastise the innocents or take defensive measures against beings absolutely incapable of causing harm.  Although it was deemed necessary to guard against the possibility of disorders, it would be inconceivable to have such fears concerning children. We hear that the Jews are the enemies of Hungary; but even in the state of war, law and conscience condemn any act of hostility against children. So why force these innocents to live in a place that is very close to being a prison, where the small poor ones should not have to endure the spectacle of the misery, suffering and despair of old men and women, persecuted only because of their race?

All civilised people had always respected children, and the world would be sadly surprised if Hungary, traditionally Christian and chivalrous would act so severely against the little ones.

The Representatives of the Neutral Powers have confidence that the Royal Government would wish to accommodate this request and allow all children )with mothers if the children are infants) to remain outside the Ghetto in places of refuge and protection provided by the Diplomatic Legations or various institutions of the Red Cross.  In the execution of this action, which has an exclusively humanitarian purpose, they will have to choose the staff very carefully.  They must be impeccable from a political point of view and be able to give the children a proper patriotic education. (2)

(1) See ADSS 10.308 and 409, Appendix.  This time the signatories were:
Angelo Rotta, Apostolic Nuncio; Carl Ivan Danielsson, Swedish minister; Harald Feller, Swiss charge d’affairs; Jorge Perlasca, Spanish charge d’affairs; Comte de Pongrac, Portuguese charge d’affairs.
(2) On the same date, 23.12.1944, the Nuncio protested against the “hostile acts against the Church”, especially the arrest of Mindszenty and other church leaders. (To the Minister of Foreign Affairs, nr 2822/44, AES 6464/45, not published in ADSS).

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ADSS 10.415 Rotta to Sec State - disastrous situation in Hungary

Reference: Telegram 333 (AES 8492/44)

Location and date: Budapest, 11.12.1944 @ 15.00 (Rec’d Rome 12.12.1944 @ 12.45.

Summary statement: Information on the disastrous situation in Hungary, arrest of Josef Mindszenty (Veszprém).  Government has abandoned Budapest.  Occupation of the city is imminent.  Nuncio will remain in the city.

Language: Italian


I received your telegram number 368. (1)

I fulfilled the task entrusted to me; the bishop of Vesprimia (2) is still detained on charges of being in contact with the enemy.  The Minister of Foreign Affairs (3) has promised to reach an agreement with the Cardinal Primate (4) … internment; I told the Minister for Foreign Affairs that given the unsatisfactory response and the increasing number of arrests among priests as well as unfulfilled promises about … Jews, enduring persecution, that it was impossible for the Apostolic Nunciature to follow the Government to Sabaria. (5)  I do not believe that the politico-religious situation has changed; the it is alsmost certain that this Apostolic Nunciature will remain in Budapest in the hope that with God’s help can exercise, if possible, a positive influence that the Russians will respect and the  allies support … Occupation of Budapest seems imminent if the Germans do make the supreme effort.  The Ministries have almost completely abandoned Budapest; no diplomatic representatives of the Neutral Powers have followed the Government to Sabaria.

(1) 06.12.1944. (AES 8156/44) concerning the arrest of Josef Mindszenty, bishop of Veszprém.
(2) Josef Mindszenty (1891-1975), bishop of Veszprém (1944-45), was arrested by the Arrow Cross on 27.11.1944 and held prisoner in Veszprem, Köhida and Sopron, until the arrival of the Red Army on Easter night (01.04.1945) Cited in Cardinal Mindzsenty Memoires, Paris 1974, pp 38-46. Rotta had informed Rome of the arrest on 30.11.1944 (Telegram 326, AES 8156/44; see ADSS 11). Tardini responded on 06.12.1944 (Telegram 368) instructing Rotta as follows: “If your Excellency’s representations have not yet had any effect, your Excellency is to insist again in the name of the Holy See that charges against the clergy are withdrawn noting that the Holy See could not leave this without protesting similar measures.
(3) Gábor Kemény (1910-1946)
(4) Justinian Cardinal Serédi (1884-1945)

(5) Sabaria is the Latin form of Szombathély, an eastern Hungarian city near the border with Austria.  Szálasi’s government fled Budapest in the first week of December 1944. Rome replied on 14.12.1944 (Telegram 370, AES 8492/44): “Holy Father has learned with pleasure of the dignified decision of your Excellency who presence will be beneficial to the tested population of the city.  His Holiness sends a special Apostolic Blessing. Szombathély fell to the Red Army on 29.03.1945.