Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ADSS 10.386 Cicognani to Secretariat of State - request for Papal intervention

10.386 Amleto Cicognani, Ap Del USA to Secretariat of State

Reference: Telegram 2445 (AES 7184/44)

Location and date: Washington DC, 03.11.1944 @15.28 (Rec’d Rome 04.11.1944 @ 12.00)

Summary statement: Request for papal intervention for Jews in German-occupied territory.

Language: Italian


Jewish committees once again implore the Holy Father to interceded wit the clergy and Catholic people to intervene with the governments of Germany and Slovakia, both directly that … neutral powers, such as Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, in order to save non-Aryans from death, particularly children, women and elderly, in territory occupied by the Germans.  The conditions are worsening everywhere, especially in Hungary and Slovakia, where they are interned in concentration camps in immanent threat of deportation to Poland and extermination. (1)

Particular assistance is required for 16,000 Jews, among them eminent rabbis, deported from Lithuania to Germany: (2) (it) would not like all the others … they were treated as prisoners of war or civilian internees and helped by the International Red Cross above all with food and clothing.   The frequency of my telegrams for the Jews is occasioned by their incessant urgent and desperate appeals.

Note of Montini:
After audience with His Holiness, 05.11.1944. See what you can do.

(1) See ADSS 10.369
(2) See ADSS 10.235. 

The telegrams Cicognani referred to came from Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz (1891-1964) of Brooklyn who had been in contact with the Apostolic Delegate since late March 1943. Kalmanowitz was a major conduit of information on the situation of Eastern European Jews.

The following information is taken from Gershon Greenberg American Catholics During the Holocaust, on the Museum of Tolerance website.

On 23.10.1944 Kalmanowitz cabled Cicognani:

“Respectfully call your attention following cable received. Quote: Germans leaving Kaunas took to Germany 16,000 Jews among them Grand Rabbis Eichmnan Wasserman and Abraham Grodzenski implore to do all efforts to save them. Unquote.  We respectfully appeal for intercession of Vatican rescue of these persons doomed to certain death.  Grateful for any information received in matter”. 

Unbeknown to any of those involved in this correspondence Rabbi Wasserman had been murdered on 06.1941 and Rabbi Grodzenski on 13.07.1944.

On 27.10.1944 Kalmanowitz wrote again and added that the group of 16,000 Lithuanian Jews included “the greatest Rabbis and Jewish spiritual and religious leaders”.

Quote latest reliable report from Kaunas following Rabbis living when Germans evacuated city stop were taken by them to unknown destination. Rabbis Abraham Grodzenski [head of Slobodka Yeshivah], Shabsai Wernikowski [Mashgiach of Lomza Yeshivah], Zalman Permut (1890-1943) [leader of Kovno Kollel], Moshe Skaruto [of Slobodka], David Perlman [of Aleksot], Shmuel Aba. Snieg [rabbi with Lithuania's military], Shimon Dubiansky [head of Kaidan Yeshivah], Mordche Shliapoberski, Benjamin Asinsky. Chief Rabbi Cabled Union Orthodox Rabbis do everything discover whereabouts for rescue. Rest not Unquote ...
The shadow is fast falling and we must again appeal to you, as we have appealed to you before, to urge the intervention of the Vatican and we would respectfully suggest the following possible steps in the rescue of these unfortunates.
1) That the Vatican appeal to the Germans on behalf of these 16,000 persons and to urge their treatment as civilian internees and that the Germans permit the International Red Cross contact with these internees and the transport of food and clothing parcels necessary to keep them alive.
2) As a general measure, the Vatican intercede with all the neutral countries such as Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and others, that they appeal in name of humanity and civilization to the Germans to cease the willful and merciless destruction of the Jews in all the concentration camps and territories under control of the Germans. This unified appeal at this time should be more productive of the desired results than any appeal attempted heretofore.
We shall be grateful for the positive action we feel most certain you will take.

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