Saturday, May 11, 2013

ADSS 3.2.507 Tisserant to Maglione: arrest of Fr Kajetanowicz


 Among the documents detailing the persecution of the church in the German-occupied East,  there are occasional references that hint of some attempts to help Jews.  The savagery meted out by the Germans towards anyone who was caught attempting to give assistance to Jews in eastern Europe was well known.  The penalty was nearly always death.  In this instance the Armenian Catholic Vicar Capitular of Lvov, Fr Dionigi Kajetanowicz had been denounced anonymously to the Gestapo because a Warsaw Jew had written to him asking for help.  The author of the letter that was sent to Cardinal Tisserant, the prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental (Eastern Catholic) Churches made it quite clear that Fr Kajetanowicz had refused the request.  

The Gestapo had indicated that Kajetanowicz could be released if a ransom / bribe was paid.

After the war it became known that Kajetanowicz and his nephew, Fr Romaszkan, the author of the letter to Tisserant, were active in hiding Jews.  Both men were arrested by the Soviet secret police in 1945 and sentenced to the gulags.  Fr Kajetanowicz died in captivity; his nephew was released and spent the remained of his life in Poland.



ADSS 3.2.507 Eugene Tisserant, Prefect Cong Oriental Churches to Maglione

Reference: AES 3817/43

Location and date: Rome, 24.05.1943

Summary statement: Tisserant presents a letter from the secretary of the Armenian Catholic Vicar Capitular of Lvov regarding the arrest of the Vicar Capitular. (1)

Language: Italian

Text:

I have the honour of directing the following document to Your Eminence, which I received on the sixth of this month (06.05.1943) (2).  Army Chaplain Lieutenant Aldo Negri presented it to this Dicastery.  He had not been able to deliver it before for reasons related to his military service.   Fr Kazimierz Romaszkan, secretary of Monsignor Dionigi Kajetanowicz, Vicar Capitular of the Armenian Archdiocese of Lvov, drew up the secret document (3).

The document, directed “To the Holy Apostolic See” and written “Lvov, 28 April 1943” says the following:

“On 13 April at 16.00 the German police (Gestapo) arrested Monsignor.  He was arrested on the basis of an anonymous letter.  It turns out a Jew of Warsaw had written to Monsignor some time ago in order to obtain a baptismal certificate registered in the name of an Armenian of our parish.  Later I went in person to the Gestapo to find out the real reason for the arrest of the Monsignor.  I was told that he was innocent but that they had to make an arrest for reasons of responsibility in these situations.  Monsignor is now in Lacki prison, generally regarded as the worst of all the Lvov prisons for its humidity, absolute lack of hygiene and light.  We tried to secure his release from prison but the Gestapo demanded the sum of 100,000 zlotys (4).  Other than this we do not know any other details.  We trust in the Lord and the help of the Apostolic See.

In addition, Army Chaplain, Aldo Negri, stated that Monsignor Kajetanowicz refused the request of the above-mentioned Jew from Warsaw.

Following standard procedure, Aldo Negri will have to depart shortly for Lvov on Hospital Train Number 7: any communication to him will have to be sent directly to the command post at Porta Nuova train station in Verona.

Note of Cardinal Maglione: 26.05.1943: Monsignor Arata (5) said this letter has information that could be used to get a recommendation from the new German ambassador (6), in favour of the VG – which, as he would understand, is above all quite easy.

Notes:
(1) Vicar Capitular was the title given to the administrator of a vacant diocese. The Armenian Archeparchy had been vacant since the death of Jozef Teodorowicz (1864-1938).  
(2) The Military Bishop of Italy announced to have received the document from Army Chaplain Aldo Negri, on measures taken by the Gestapo against the Armenian Vicar Capitular of Lvov (AES 2970/43).  The bishop had also delivered the news to the Secretariat of State.
(3) Dionigi Kajetanowicz (1878-1954); Kazimierz Romaszkan (1909-1973), nephew of Kajetanowicz.
(4) 100,000 zlotys = approx. US$ 30,000 (2013 – approx. $488,500).  The zloty was pegged at 2zl per Reichsmark.  In 1941 the exchange rate was 2.5 RM to US $1.
(5) Antonino Arata (1882-1948), nuncio to Estonia and Latvia (1935-1948), resident in Rome since 1941.
(6) Ernst von Weizsäcker (1882-1951) presented his credentials as the new German ambassador to the Holy See on 05.07.1943.

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