Monday, January 9, 2012

ADSS 8.431 Marcone to Maglione

In this report to Rome, Marcone writes with a bluntness unusual in diplomatic correspondent.  He has spoken with Eugene "Dido" Kvaternik who as head of police in Croatia from 1941-1943 before he had a serious rupture with Pavelic and fled to Slovakia.  The rupture seems to have been caused by the suicide of Kvaternik's Jewish mother, Olga Frank, which makes his antisemitism all the more horrific.

Kvaternik was responsible for enabling the persecution of Croatia's Jews and creating the environment for the reign of terror against them.  From Marcone's tone Kvaternik had no inhibition in telling the Visitor that "two million Jews have been killed" and the same fate seems to lie in store for the Jews of Croatia.  Reports such as this added to the gathering mountain of information Rome possessed by the late summer of 1942.  The murder of the Jews of Europe had passed into a new phenomena - from mass killing "in the East" to a systematic continent-wide extermination campaign.

After the war Kvaternik escaped to Argentina with support from Catholic circles.  He remained an unrepentant Ustasha officer until the end and worked with expatriate Croats against the communist regime of Marshal Tito.  Kvaternik died in a car crash in Argentina in 1962.

A biographical essay on Kvaternik was posted on the Axis History Forum in 2003.

ADSS 8.431

Reference: Report number 417/42 (AES 5766/42, original)

Location and date: Zagreb, 17.07.1942

Summary statement: Germans demand extradition of all Croatian Jews; request for intervention in their favour. Difficulties facing the departure of Jewish children for Turkey.

Language: Italian


I learned the following from the Chief of Police, Dr Eugene Kvaternik [1910-1962], to whom I had complained about the cruelty used against Jews of all ages and conditions.

The German government has demanded the extradition of all Jews residing in Croatia to Germany within six months, where, according to Kvaternik, two million Jews have been killed in recent times. It seems that the same fate awaits the Croatian Jews, especially the old and those unable to work.

Having received this news about the Jews, I am continually seeking to find ways of securing their salvation. The Chief Rabbi of Zagreb [Miroslav Freiberger 1904-1943] visits me often and tells me news of new misfortunes.

I commend the Chief of Police, who, at my suggestion, has delayed as much as possible, the execution of this order. Indeed, he would be pleased if the Holy See could intervene for the withdrawal of the order, (1) or at least to suggest that all Croatian Jews be concentrated on an island or in a zone of Croatia where they could live in peace.

In the meantime, I have learned from the Chief Rabbi that Turkey is willing to accept fifty Croatian Jewish children, but not by way of Serbia, but through Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

While Bulgaria has granted transit permission, Hungary and Romania are opposed.

The Chief Rabbi implores the Holy See to intervene with these two countries in order to obtain the right of passage.

Note of Domenico Tardini 11.08.1942

After audience with Cardinal Maglione.

1. Take the step specified in paragraph 1 in the name of the Holy See. (2)

2. Inform the nuncios in Budapest and Bucharest (we will do this ourselves). (3)


(1) In the margin Tardini wrote: see note at the end of the report.
(2) Cf ADSS 8.502
(3) We wrote to the two nuncios on 14.08.1942 (AES 5767/42) and informed the Visitor [Marcone] in Zagreb on the same day (AES 5766/42): “ … I would ask your paternity to propose such a solution on behalf of the Holy See and that it can be implemented …” The nuncio in Bucharest [Andrea Cassulo] wrote on 05.09.1942 to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: “… because the Turkish government would be willing to receive them [the children], the Holy See would be happy and grateful if the Romanian authorities would grant the necessary permissions”. (Number 9197/42 Archives of the Romanian Nunciature)

Eugen Kvaternik (left)

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