Sunday, September 30, 2012

Justus Lawler responds to Kevin Spicer and Co.

Earlier this year I wrote two entries about Kevin Madigan and David Kertzer in response to the attacks made on them and their work by William Doino and George Justus Lawler.  In May 2012, Kevin Spicer wrote a review of Lawler's book "Were the Popes against the Jews?"  

Lawler has recently published a 37 page response to Spicer, Kertzer and others.  It is not easy reading and does nothing to suggest I need to revise my earlier opinion of Lawler's writing.  Simplicity and directness are not part of Lawler's writing style, a point echoed by Paula Kane in her review of Lawler's book (page 13).  Interestingly Kane and others also echo the criticisms of Lawler's scholarship and historical acumen made by Kevin Spicer.

The interested reader can read the article here - Justus Denied in Massachusetts.

My main reason for mentioning Lawler's response to Spicer is to note that "I get a guernsey".

As the "unnamed blogger" discovered by Ursula Zyzik, an associate librarian at St Xavier University, Chicago, I am somewhat honoured to have warranted the space Lawler devotes to me (see pages 19-20).  I only hope that Lawler will revise his text to include my name, which can be found easily enough on the blog - one only has to look at the book cover on the homepage!  I also added my family name to the homepage as well.




Liliana Picciotto, ADSS and persecution of Jews in Italy


I am grateful to Dr Natalia Indrimi for permission to use the opening of Liliana Picciotto's excellent article which places the persecution of the Jews in Italy in the context of Actes et Documents.  The complete article may be found on the Primo Levi Center Website given below.

The Vatican and the Anti-Jewish Persecution in Italy through Diplomatic Documents of the Holy See


Liliana Picciotto

The death of Pius XI and the succession to the papal chair of his Secretary of State Eugenio Pacelli as Pius XII (March 2, 1939), preceded by only few months the outbreak of World War II. 
The pontificate of Pius XII was characterized by a constant quest for neutrality, a goal the new Pope pursued with great determination, as it suited both his personality and his previous role in international diplomacy as the Vatican’s Secretary of State.

For the remainder of the article please go to: CDEC and Centro Primo Levi


Saturday, September 29, 2012

ADSS 9.217 Burzio to Maglione Deportations suspended


Fifteen months after the first deportation train left Slovakia for Auschwitz, the charge d'affaires in Bratislava, Giuseppe Burzio telegrammed the Vatican with the news that the Slovak government had suspended all future deportations.  This was to give the surviving Jews of Slovakia a respite of sorts for several months.  In the footnotes are a succession of references to the failure to get reliable information on the fate of the deportees and a resumption of the Antisemitic campaign in August with a focus on Jews with forged baptismal certificates.  It is worth noting that that the information on baptismal certificates was passed to Burzio by the Italian Embassy.

This is the last significant document in ADSS on Slovakia until February 1944.


ADSS 9.217 

Giuseppe Burzio, charge d’affaires, Bratislava to Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione.
Reference: Telegram 37 (AEE 3460/43)

Location and date:  Presbourg (Bratislava), 04.06.1943 @ 1500; arrived Rome 05.06.1943 @ 1115 hrs.

Summary statement: Information on the situation of Slovak Jews.
Language: Italian


I received your telegram number 37. (1)

The transfer of the Jews is suspended.  The Minister of the Interior informed me that the transfers was only in the planning state (?) and the Government has not yet decided about visas – about 200 or less. (2)

Cross references: 
(1)  See ADSS 9.214, 196.
(2)  A few days later Burzio informed the Secretary of State: “… Except in very exceptional cases, and by clandestine means, there is no way to get information on the fate of the fifty thousand Jews deported from Slovakia”. 11.06.1943, report number 1649, (AES 4269/43).  In late August, it was learned that the Antisemitic campaign had resumed in Slovakia, and Minister Mach declared: “… many baptismal records and other documents of those so-called ‘essential to the national economy’ were found to be false.  In the future there will be strict control of such documents and holders of false documents will be punished by law …”
Information supplied by the Italian Embassy, 29.08.1943 (AES 5656/43).

ADSS 9.206 Karel Sidor to Maglione on Anti-Jewish measures in Slovakia


The Slovak minister, Karel Sidor had returned from a visit to Bratislava for consultation with his government on a suitable response to the insistent interventions of the Holy See.  Pius wanted the deportation of Slovak Jews - converted or not - stopped.  Giuseppe Burzio, the Vatican's charge d'affaires in Slovakia was energetic in visiting bishops and ministers to press for a permanent halt for any deportation plans.

The diplomatic language reveals two important details:  firstly, Slovakia was not going to accede to the demands of the Holy See, it remained the right of the Slovak government to decide on its Jewish policies; and secondly, in an attempt to stem rising concerns as to the fate of the deported Jews, Slovakia would send a commission to visit Slovak Jews in Poland.  Given what Rome already knew of the fate of Jews sent to Poland, there is little doubt that the promised commission was seen for what it was, a feeble attempt at semantics.  If the Jews were dead, it was not the Slovak government's fault.

ADSS 9.206

Karel Sidor, Slovak Minister to the Holy See to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione
Reference: 68/dôv/1943 (AES 3361/43)

Location and date:  Rome, 28.05.1943

Summary statement: Anti-Jewish measures in Slovakia
Language: Italian

The undersigned Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Slovakia to the Holy See has the honour to communicate to his Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State of His Holiness the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovakia in response to the Note of the Secretary of State to His Holiness, number 2.731/43 of 05.05.1943 (1) with his Note of 20.05.1943, number 6.625/1-43 has made known to our Legation the following declaration:

“With reference to the notes, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic is at pains to clarify its point of view as follow:
The statement of the Minister of the Interior, Mach, made in Ružomberok on 07.02.1943 (2) is intended to be understood in the sense of the decree already issued by the Government of the Slovak Republic in regard to the expatriation of the Jews (3), namely:

1. Jews who are a danger to the security of the state will be expatriated from Slovakia.
2. The remaining Jews will be alienated from the economic and cultural life of the nation and will be sent to concentration camps in Slovakia.  The baptised and unbaptised will be sent to separate camps and given the possibility of work.
3.  Jews granted the benefit of exemption by the President of the Slovak Republic are free to exercise their professions and will not be disturbed in their private lives.

Therefore, we authorise you to make our point of view known to the competent agencies of the Secretariat of State of His Holiness with the provision that the Slovak government in agreement with the authorities of the Reich will establish a special Slovak commission comprised of a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a State official and a journalist. (4)  This commission will have the competence to visit Slovak Jews residing in Poland, gathering information about them and to ascertain the condition of their living conditions and, in particular to see if baptised Jews from Slovakia are permitted to practice their Christian faith in the concentration camps.  We will communicate the findings of this commission at a later date”. 

Cross references: 
(1)  See ADSS 9.176
(2)  See ADSS 9.85
(3)  See ADSS 8.334
(4)  See ADSS 9.147, where the same guarantees are listed.

ADSS 9.196 Maglione to Burzio on Slovak Jews


Throughout May 1943 there was still no concrete assurance that the threat of deportations had been lifted.  The Vatican continued to apply pressure on Tiso's government and exploit the divisions within the inner-circle of the cabinet.  What these documents illustrate for us is the extent of activity of the pope's diplomatic teams both in Slovakia and in Rome as the next post will demonstrate.

ADSS 9.196 

Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione to Giuseppe Burzio, charge d’affaires, Bratislava.
Reference:  AES 3084/43

Location and date:  Vatican, 23.05.1943

Summary statement: Situation of the Jews in Slovakia.
Language: Italian


I have received your Excellency’s regular report of 10 April 1943 with the attachments, number 1558 (1) which was entitled “Concerning the deported Jews”.

I have read with interest the comprehensive and detailed information you kindly provided and I am please that your Excellency’s account of your actions in attempting to alleviate the suffering of so many unhappy people in such painful circumstances.

I do not doubt that you will continue to work to try and ensure that the deportation of non-Aryans remains suspended.

Finally, I ask that you continue to keep me informed on the developments on the subject (2) …


Cross references: 
(1)  See ADSS 9.147
(2)  See ADSS 9.217

ADSS 9.176 Sec State to Slovak Legation on Anti-Jewish actions

In the previous post Cardinal Maglione wrote to the Apostolic Delegate in Turkey, Angelo Roncalli with news that Vatican protests were having some effect in Slovakia.  The following day, the Secretariat made a formal protest to the Slovakian Legation in Rome about ongoing anti-Jewish measures.  In many cases the Vatican's interventions were directed at breaches of Catholic teaching, especially in regard to "mixed" marriages and the status of converts to Catholicism.  Here the Secretariat makes the concerns of the Holy See for all Jews - converted or not - very clear.  It is also worth noting that the Vatican took a much stronger and more direct approach with Slovakia than with any other German-allied government.  I believe this was not because of the priest-president, Tiso, but because Rome sensed a significant part of the government, and more importantly, the bishops, were opposed to the deportations.



ADSS 9.176 
Secretariat of State to the Slovak Legation
Reference: AES 2731/43

Location and date:  Vatican, 05.05.1943
Summary statement: Protest of the Holy See against antisemitic measures of the Slovak government

Language: Italian

The Secretary of State of His Holiness believes it is their duty to submit for the consideration of the Legation of the Republic of Slovakia to the Holy See the following:

With reference to note 8355/41 of 12.11.1941 (1), the Secretary of State brought to the attention of the Slovak Legation the deep regret of the Holy See over the publication by the Slovak Government of an “Ordinance” (2) which established a special “racial” law which contains numerous provisions which are in sharp contrast to Catholic principles, and it expressed confidence that as long as the aforementioned Ordinance had not been withdrawn or appropriately altered, the cited rules would be interpreted and applied in such a way to make as little detrimental impact as possible on Catholic consciences.

The Holy See, then, nurtured hopes that the Slovak government would take into account the feeling of its people, who are almost entirely Catholic, and would not have proceeded to expel by force people belonging to the so-called “Jewish race”.

With great sorrow, the Holy See has learned that transfers of this kind have been made from the territory of the Republic.

This sorrow is increasing because, according to news received from various parts, it would seem that the Slovak government intends to proceed with the transfer of all Jews in Slovakia, not excluding women and children, or those who profess the Catholic religion. 

A confirmation of this could be seen in the speech that the Minister of the Interior made on 7 February 1943 in Ruzenberok, where he said that “having proceeded to eliminate 80% of the Jews, the remaining 20,000 Jews in Slovakia must be transferred”. (3)

This is a grave danger that the Secretary of State feels bound to draw to the attention of the Legation of Slovakia considering the matter shown in the previously mentioned note, in which, among other things, it is pointed out that the Catholic Church welcomes people of any race into her womb, such is her maternal solicitude to arouse and develop feelings of brotherhood and love, among all people, according to the teaching of the Gospel.

Therefore the Holy See would fail in its divine mandate if it did not deplore those provisions and measures that seriously affect the natural rights of men, simply because they belonged to a particular race.

Above all, the Catholic Church cannot remain indifferent to the plight of her children who are removed, often violently, from their homes, and placed in particular pitiable circumstances and sometimes even without necessary religious assistance, thus bring some people’s faith into grave danger.

The pain of the Holy See is more acute, when it considers that such measures are implemented in a nation so deeply Catholic in its traditions, and a government that claims to follow and safeguard these traditions. 

Nevertheless, the Holy See does not want to abandon hope that the Slovak government intends to properly review and appropriately amend the “racial” provisions, removing any inconsistencies with natural and divine law, and, in the meantime, suspending the above mentioned transfers. (4)

Note of Cardinal Maglione: (5)

Nota Bene: Last Saturday – 01.03.1943 – I explained verbally to the Slovak Minister (6) the ideas contained in this draft note, and adding that I had also written on the matter.  The Minister said he would discuss this with his government in the next few days, since he was returning home.  Meanwhile, I wanted to make sure that the measures threatened by the Minister of the Interior would not be translated into action. 03.05.1943.

Cross references: 
(1)  See ADSS 8.199
(2)  See ADSS 8.153
(3)  See ADSS 9.85
(4)  See ADSS 9.206
(5)  These notes were included in a separate file.
(6)  Karol Sidor, Slovak minister to the Holy See.

ADSS 9.172 Maglione to Roncalli on Slovak Jews


The active intervention of the Pope through the charge d'affaires, Giuseppe Burzio, in Bratislava was having some effect.  Fears of the resumption of deportations was never far away, but there was hope that continued pressure applied to the Slovak government would give them cause for pausing.  In May 1943 the final outcome of the war was still uncertain, but the set backs on the Eastern Front were dimming hopes for a quick German victory.  Memories of Stalingrad were still very fresh and raw, but the Russian front was a long way from Slovakia.

The divisions within the Slovak government, between Tiso who appeared to have some residual sensitivity towards his priestly state and some sense of obedience to the pope, and his more antisemitic ministers, especially Adalbert Tuka and Alexander Mach, were showing.  Tiso still had sufficient authority and support within the government to exercise influence over the application of the anti-Jewish policies.  This document points to a widespread knowledge of the Slovak situation and an indication that similar strategies would be used with Hungary should a similar need arise.

At the bottom of the document is Maglione's note that Pius had approved the strategy.  The words "Seen / Approved by the Holy Father" appear often.  

ADSS 9.172 
Secretary of State, Cardinal Maglione to Angelo Roncalli, Apostolic Delegate, Turkey

Reference:  Telegram 153 (AES 2794/43)
Location and date:  Vatican, 04.05.1943

Summary statement: Steps taken by the Holy See for Slovakian Jews.
Language: Italian


I refer to your telegram number 99 and report number 4180. (1)

The Holy See has repeatedly made representations to the Slovak Government with special concern for non-Aryan young people. (2)

Because of the interest taken by [the Holy See] all transfer of Jewish residents in Slovakia is suspended.

Concerning the children you reported, the Holy See is prepared to intervene with the Hungarian Government when circumstances so require. (3)

Your Excellency will keep me informed.

Note of Cardinal Maglione:

Approved by the Holy Father.


Cross references: 
(1)  See ADSS 9.95 and 96.
(2)  See ADSS 9.81, 87, 176.

Frank Coppa's biography of Pius XII

Earlier this month I was approached to write a "blurb" for Professor Frank Coppa's new biography on Pope Pius XII.  I was honoured to do so. 

The book will be published by the Catholic University of America Press in February 2013.

I endorse it for several reasons.  Most significantly, this is a work that follows in the manner set out by Jose Maria Sanchez in his important book Pius XII: Understanding the Controversy (2002).  Coppa sets out to produce the life story of Pacelli using the available historical record. He treads a careful line between incorporation of essential material and exclusion of interesting but tangential information.  There is an excellent "setting of the scene" in the opening chapter that makes clear just how important context/s are in order to obtain a valid and historically accurate biography of the man and pope.

Placing the war years into the fuller context of Pius' 82 years, Coppa has helped the general reader and historian alike, gain perspective, something sorely needed, and does much to help ease the tensions surrounding study of Pacelli.  The lessons I learned revolved around two points: firstly, the articulate examination of papal politics including the much misunderstood neutrality; and secondly, the equally articulate presentation of the greater part of Pacelli's pontificate, the post-war and Cold War years 1945-1958.

I enjoyed reading Coppa's book.  I have placed it alongside Sanchez.  It should have a place on the book shelf of anyone seriously interested in a balanced and authoritative biography of Pope Pius XII.

Responding to Gary Krupp - from June 2012


In late June Gary Krupp emailed me.  He emailed me privately because of the restrictions placed on the blog, an necessary evil because of some of the rather inappropriate material that gets sent to me.  I have assumed that the email was, therefore, intended for publication.  I have delayed responding until I had read the email carefully and ensured that I had answered the points Mr Krupp raised.  The email and my responses have been posted under "pages".

Mr Krupp's email was in response to the posting of my article written on the Campgana Files and a number of posts where I set out my reasons for disputing some of the claims made by a number of people who assert that Eugenio Pacelli / Pius XII committed himself to a series of positive actions for Jews before, during and after the Holocaust.  I acknowledge, again, my gratitude to Mr Krupp and Pave The Way for allowing me access to the material.  That we disagree on the interpretation of the documents is now a matter of public record.

My primary concern as a student of history is allowing the record to speak as clearly and unambiguously as possible.  I have never claimed or suggested that there is only way to look at material, nor have I ever claimed that there cannot be more than one interpretation of an event.  I have claimed consistently that context is essential for any serious study of documents and provenance.

To set this latest email from Mr Krupp into its necessary context a few reminders are necessary.

The available primary documentary material on Pope Pius XII consists, in part, of:

a) files and material in the Secret Archives of the Vatican (ASV) – all files up to 1939 are available for public inspection, including all material related to Eugenio Pacelli from the time of his entry into Vatican service in the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs in 1901, his service as nuncio to Bavaria and Germany 1917-1929, and his service as Cardinal Secretary of State 1930-1939;

b) published records of the ASV – including Volume I of Pacelli’s minutes of his audiences with Pius XI (2010), the selected war year documents in Actes et Documents (ADSS 1965-1981), the formal record of the Holy See (i.e. Acta) containing many of the speeches and addresses of Pius XI and Pius XII;

c) The published war-time records of many of the governments of Europe and the United States; the published records of the German bishops;

d) Published and unpublished sources from numerous diocesan and religious order archives (e.g. Campagna, Italy);

e) Newspaper and journals from around the world, e.g. The New York Times reported on many papal speeches throughout the war, including the complete text of the 1942 Christmas Address.

f) Memoirs, diaries, monographs, recordings and interviews of many eye-witnesses, journalists, military personnel, papal collaborators etc.

And for the record I have never claimed that Pope Pius XII was

i)   “silent”
ii)  ”inactive and did nothing”
iii) “Hitler’s Pope”
iv) “Antisemitic”
v)  “indifferent to the fate of the Jews”

I have also expressed my concern at some of the methodologies employed by Pave The Way especially by some of their researchers.  I am not alone in this.

My comments are given in RED in the pages section.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Genocide Perspectives launch in Sydney


It is with pleasure that I announce the official launch of Genocide Perspectives IV.  The invitation below has all the details.  I am coordinating the RSVPs for the launch and can be contacted via the email address below.  

GENOCIDE PERSPECTIVES IV: Essays on Holocaust and Genocide
Editor COLIN TATZ 
To be launched by the Hon. MICHAEL KIRBY AC, CMG
in the New Law School Theatre, Eastern Avenue, University of Sydney
(next door to Fisher Library) 
6.OO to 7.30 pm, WEDNESDAY 17 October 2012
[after hours parking is flat rate $6]
Speakers: KHAJAQUE KORTIAN (MC), 
Professor COLIN TATZ, 
The Hon. MICHAEL KIRBY 
 Tea and Coffee

Essential RSVP before 10 October to:  pauldamianoshea@gmail.com    

The Honourable Michael Kirby

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