Tuesday, August 7, 2012

ADSS 9.147 Burzio to Maglione on meeting with Tuka

In a rare display of emotion and language bordering on the intemperate, the Vatican's charge d'affaires, Giuseppe Burzio did not hold back in this report from Bratislava.  The early months of 1943 saw an intensification of fears among the remaining Slovakian Jews that deportations were about to recommence.  

On April 10, 1943, Burzio wrote to Cardinal Maglione summarising about three weeks of activities among the Slovakian bishops (See ADSS 9.85) as well as the news of possible deportations.  It is important to note that a close reading of the documents that have been posted on Slovakia there is a pattern emerging.  Vatican protests were having an effect.  Tiso's government did listen, and it seems that once the bishops gauged the seriousness of Rome's determination to try and stop the trains, they too began to become more vocal in their demands for baptised Jews and respect to be shown for the natural law, which I presume would cover all Jews.  I have no doubt that the Slovak bishops took Rome's interventions as stemming directly from the pope which of course they did. Maglione ensured Pius saw the reports from Bratislava and most certainly passed on papal comments and instructions to Burzio, or at the very least interpreted them according to his understanding of the pope's view of the deportations.  The notes made on several of the reports sent from Slovakia indicate that Pius XII was fully informed and endorsed the Cardinal Secretary of State's instructions to Monsignor Burzio.

Most of the report describes in considerable detail Burzio's uncomfortable meeting with the rabidly antisemitic Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adalbert Tuka.

Burzio described his meeting with Tuka as humiliating, being forced to be in the same room with a man the diplomat described as a "sphinx",  "a maniac" and a "cynical Pharisee".  Burzio's discomfort is evident throughout the report. 

Quoting Tuka at length, Burzio virtually recapitulated the entire catalogue of myths and hatreds ascribed to Jews.  Jews are "pests", "gangsters", "Bolsheviks", "criminals", "asocial", "pernicious","pimps", "destitute", wielders of international influence as well as having influence in Slovakia (despite the deportations), masters of propaganda to make themselves appear to be the victim, and equally masters at duping even the Vatican.  Tuka went on to say that he saw future Slovak historians looking back at him as the one patriot who was prepared to do the deed that needed doing - getting rid of the Jews, all of them.

In a moment of excessive self-promotion Tuka described himself as a believing and practicing Catholic, who received Holy Communion regularly and considered himself a friend of the Church.  And because the rumours of the mistreatment of the Jews, which according to Tuka's logic must originate with them, he promised Burzio to send a commission to see if there was any truth in the rumours.  Nonetheless, the Jews had to go, and the minister promised to see that he fulfilled his duty.

At the end of the report Burzio noted that the priest-president, Jozef Tiso had heard of the interview with Tuka and contacted the charge d'affaires to apologise.  The council of ministers also heard of the papal intervention to halt any resumption of deportations and responded favourably according to Burzio.

This lengthy report has been placed on the pages section of the blog.


Adalbert Tuka (1880-1946)

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