Tuesday, April 14, 2015

ADSS 1.6 Maglione to Cortesi: keep Rome informed.

Relations between the Holy See and the Polish Government had undergone some strain through the last years of the 1930s.  Arguments over the placement and adornment of the tomb of Marshal Pilsudski had caused serious ructions between Church and State.  The arrival of the new nuncio Filippo Cortesi in 1936 helped relieve some of the pressure but tensions remained.  The language of Cardinal Maglione's telegram suggests something of the lack of dialogue between the government and the nunciature.  

For an appreciation of something of the context surrounding Vatican-Polish relations I have included an extract from Neal Pease's Rome's Most Faithful Daughter (2009).  The document mentioned in this extract was not included in ADSS.  I have highlighted the relevant section.  I do not know at this stage if Cortesi sent an account of the meeting to Rome, but it would have been unusual if he did not.  Had it been included it would be between ADSS 1.13-17. ADSS does contain significant documentation (ADSS 1 documents up to 170) that supports Pease's theory and I confess to being somewhat disappointed that he did not make mention of it.

ADSS 1.6 Luigi Maglione to Filippo Cortesi, Warsaw

Reference: Telegram 20 (AES 1528/39)

Location and date: Vatican, 01.04.1939

Summary statement: Request that Cortesi keep Rome informed.

Language: Italian

Text:

I have received your Report 202. (1) While I thank your Excellency, I ask that, in the case of other important news, you keep me informed by coded telegram.

Notes: 
(1) See ADSS 1.4.


Filippo Cortesi, nuncio and Alfredo Pacini, secretary, 
at a reception at the Nunciature in Warsaw, 1937.
(Image source: http://www.audiovis.nac.gov.pl/obraz/47697/)

"Pius XII hardly could have been blamed for fearing that the drastic deterioration of the European international order would require him to take on [the duty of peacemaker] sooner rather than later.  Germany had instigated the emergency by demanding that Poland agree to the incorporation of Danzig within the Reich, ominous concessions in the Polish Corridor, and effective relegation to the status of a vassal of Berlin.  Warsaw vowed to resist rather than bow to extortion, and received half-hearted pledges from Britain and France by the end of March 1939.  Hitler responded to this show of defiance by resolving to crush Poland by military force, and began to beat the drums of war as he had done to such unnerving effect in the run-up to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.  In its alarm, the Vatican reacted to the sudden intensification of the crisis in a babel of conflicting voices.  The Secretariat of State sostituto, Fr Montini ... assured a functionary of the Polish embassy that if Poland were to find itself forced to fight to defend its "rights and territory, it would be a just war", leaving the mistaken impression he was stating official policy, not his personal conviction.  His superior, Cardinal Maglione, told the Poles that trying to talk with Hitler was useless, and L'Osservatore Romano warned that if given Danzig, Germany would simply step up its campaign of strong-arming its eastern neighbours.  However, these signs to the contrary, the papal ambassador Archbishop Cortesi gave a more accurate indication of the thinking of theVatican in a gloomy mid-April conversation with Polish deputy foreign minister Szembek.  The nuncio voiced the opinion that a war over Danzig could not be localised, but must widen into a repeat of the calamity of 1914.  Noting that the population of the Free City was predominantly German, he wondered aloud whether "the world would understand why [Poland] would unleash the dogs of war for the sake of this non-Polish object ... and whether the world would stand by [her] side", and asked if Warsaw instead might consider attempting to meet Hitler halfway on Danzig.  Szembek said no, and Cortesi changed the subject, but it has been claimed that the Holy See continued to encourage suggestions along these lines through back channels. In any event, Cortesi had unveiled the idea that became the guiding principle of the counsels and actions Pius XII in the summer of 1939: that general war would be the worst of all outcomes, to be avoided at all costs, and that if necessary, Poland should make any concessions needed to keep the guns silent, both for her own sake that of European civilisation." (pp200-201.)


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