Wednesday, February 11, 2015

ADSS 10.408 Rotta to Tardini - request by neutral powers to end persecution

Reference: Report nr 2611/44 (N Pr 972) (AES 1157/45)

Location and date: Budapest, 27.11.1944

Summary statement: Joint request by the neutral powers to end the persecution is not hopeful. (Attached)  Nuncio has issued 13,000 letters of protection.  Fanaticism of Arrow Cross fascists.

Language: Italian and French

I think it appropriate to send a copy of the Memorandum presented on 17.11.1944 to the Head of State, Mr Szalasi, so that there is a record should the archive of the Nunciature be destroyed. (1)

The aforementioned Memorandum, mentioned in my telegram number 324 (2) was presented by the Swedish Minister (3) and I, in the name of the Representatives of the Neutral Nations who had met at the Nunciature twice to discuss the matter.  In summary it is a description of the real state of affairs rather than an exaggeration.  There is no hope for a practical result given the material mentality of religious ignorance and the fanatical hatred against the Jews by the Arrow Cross (4), which in the execution of the orders issued
to them were enacted with a really incredible brutality.  It  [the memorandum] was decided upon to make an act propelled by civil and Christian conscience.

(1) See Appendix.
(2) ADSS 10.407.
(3) Carl Ivan Danielsson (1880-1963), Swedish Minister in Budapest 1942-45.  Danielsson was named “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1982.
(4) See ADSS 10.265 n3.
(5) Ibid n8.

Appendix: (French)

From the Nunciature to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Budapest, 17.11.1944.

The Representatives of the Neutral Powers accredited in Budapest (7) have the honour to address the Royal Government of Hungary with the following:

When, in August, roughly half a million Jews had already been deported outside of Hungary and the governments of the Neutral Countries had positive information on what the deportations really meant, the Representatives of the aforementioned Powers made a collective approach to the Royal Hungarian Government to prevent the resumption of deportation.  The approach was then welcomed, and hundreds of thousands of lives were saved.

In the aftermath of 15 October the new Hungarian Government and His Excellency, Mr Szalasi himself, made categorical and solemn declarations that there would be no deportation or annihilation of the Jews.  Despite this the representatives of the Neutral Powers learned from absolutely reliable sources that the deportation of all Jews was again determined and it is pushed with a fierce energy, while the whole world is witness to the brutalities that accompany its execution (small children are torn from their mothers, the elderly and sick forced to sleep in the rain or in adequate shelter, men and women left for days without food, tens of thousands of people crammed into a single workshops, women violated, shootings etc)

Now, as was the case in summer, it is said that it is no deportation, but compulsory labour abroad.  The Representatives of the Neutral Powers know very well the horrible reality that lies for these unfortunate people and that hides under this name.   Moreover, all it would take would be to see that even small children, the elderly and the sick are also taken, to be convinced that it [“forced labour] is not working, while the atrocities, which accompany the transport well, predict the ending of this tragic exodus.

Faced with the enormities, the Representatives of the Neutral Powers can not evade the duty imposed on the by a sense of humanity and Christian charity, to express their deepest regret with to the Royal Hungarian Government and ask:

1. that the decision to deport the Jews be revoked and that measures be taken to execute an immediate suspension, so that the unfortunate people who have taken far from their homes can return as soon as possible;

2. only people for reasons of employment should be required to reside in concentration camps with suitable and humane treatment (food and adequate shelter, health and religious assistance, respect for their lives etc);

3. full and genuine implementation of the provisions dictated by the Royal Hungarian Government in favour of the Jews who under the protection of the Legations accredited to Budapest. (8) In fact, incidents of violations are increasing, and it is really surprising to see the contempt that junior employees show towards the orders given by higher authorities.

The Representatives of the Neutral Powers hope that the Royal Hungarian Government will understand this approach and return to the declarations and promises of His Excellency Mr Szalasi.  This approach is not only inspired by a sense of compassion for the persecuted Jews, but also by a sentiment of profound commitment to Hungary, that we would like see free from an action that would defile its glorious history forever.  And the government that now bears the heavy responsibility of the people’s future may wish to spare them the calamities to which they would be exposed to reprisals which the Powers at war with Hungary have threatened should the deportation or annihilation of the Jews continue (without saying that the eventual occupiers of Hungary might apply the same methods to the people of Hungary).

For their part, the Representatives of the neutral Powers, have no other purpose than to help relieve human suffering and intensify their efforts to assist victims of the war.  However the response that the Hungarian Government makes to this approach is bound to have great influence on their policies with regard to the Hungarian people; and if they respond favourably it will be a stimulus that will push them to work with greater effort and for the good of the Hungarian people, especially in the painful case of the expansion of foreign occupation.

The Representatives of the Neutral Powers are confident that the noble Hungarian Nation, resuming their ancient Christian traditions, will want, even in this difficult time, to be faithful to the principles and methods that have made Hungary a civilised country, admired by the whole world.

Note of Tardini:
26.02.1945 Seen by the Holy Father.
01.03.1945. Bravo Monsignor Rotta!  Will we share this document with Osborne and Mr Taylor?  What do they say?

(7) The copy of this aide-memoire does not have signatures.
(8) The journal “Uj Magyarsag” on 12.11.1944 published the following:

“In conformity with an agreement concluded by the Government (Hungarian) with the Neutral States, those Jews who are under the protection of the neutral Legations and who can prove this by showing a temporary passport, a letter of protection or a protection passport with a photograph, with the Legation seal, and an authentic signature, are permitted to enter a house marked with the Yellow Star reserved for them, before 15 November.  The Jews protected by the foreign Legations can contact the Association of Hungarian Jews for information about the residences reserved for them.  The authorities do not expect these Jews to move to new residences.  All Jews interested in the residences, can freely chose whether or not they wish to move into the new residences. However, those Jews who do not want to go into the Jewish homes before 15 November, will permanently lose the protections of the neutral Legations, and, consequently, will be subject to the strict measures applied against them by the Government.”

(Communicated to Amleto Cicognani, Apostolic Delegate USA by Kurt R Grossmann (1897-1972), Assistant of the “Rescue Department” of the World Jewish Congress.) 

Grossman added “The report proves that the protection documents granted by the neutral governments have lapsed, at least outwardly, but may have benefited the Hungarian Jews.  I share this news with your Excellency in the hope that the Holy See will continue with its commendable efforts on behalf of the Jews. 

Cicognani in turn sent the text to Tardini on 12.01.1945. (Nr 125/45, AES 1064/45). 

A separate document has a note by Montini:
“12.01.1945. Certificates of protection issued by the Budapest nunciature for the Jews (16,000).  Is this true?  Mons. Verolino?” 

Gennaro Verolino (1906-2005), who had been attaché to the Budapest Nunciature confirmed: “08.12.1945: The Hungarian government had granted the exemptions and facilities to the Jews who held passports or other documents of protection issued by the Foreign Legations.  On the basis of this concession, the Apostolic Nunciature granted over 15,000 letters of protection during the Szalasi regime.” (AES Comm. Socc)

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