Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ADSS 4.393 Peter II to Pius XII - plight of the Serbs

From his exile in Jerusalem, King Peter II of Yugoslavia (1923-1970) (reigned 1934-1945) wrote to the pope appealing for his help for the Serbs now under German and Croatian control.  According to the king his countrymen were facing a terrible future.  Anti-Serb laws had been passed in much the same way that anti-Jewish laws had been.  The comparison was telling for its bluntness.  The Croatians and Germans were intent on wiping out Serbs in much the same way they appeared to be eliminating Jews.  Indeed the king used the phrase "systematic extermination" to describe what was happening.

This is yet another indicator of how much news was reaching beyond Europe with details that were more or less accurate.

ADSS 4.393 King Peter II, in exile in Jerusalem to Pope Pius XII.

Reference: AES 4931/41

Location and date: 08.06.1941, Jerusalem

Summary statement:  The King describes the Nazi terror in Yugoslavia; atrocities against the Serbs; Croats ‘systematically exterminating’ Serbs and Jews.  Appeals to Pope

Language: French

Text:

Barely have two months passed since the German armed aggression against Yugoslavia and we have already reached new dimensions inflicted on the Serbian people in the occupied provinces of Yugoslavia that have revolted the civilised world.

In Banat, in the north (1), occupying German troops have hanged and engaged in mass shootings of the Serbian population.

The most atrocious terror has been the forced abandonment of homes and country by tens of thousands of Serbs in the shortest time and in the most complete destitution.

In southern Serbia the Bulgarian occupation forces have massacred many Serbs among them, and without any mercy, are priests and teachers.  Those who escaped the massacres had to leave their homes.

The so-called independent kingdom of Croatia (2) Serbs are doomed to systematic extermination. To make this most brutal act, so odious to the civilised world, more effective and the extermination quicker, the law against the Jews is also applied to the Serbs.  Reduced to the level of a lower race, Serbs are deprived by law of the means for human existence.  The lives of over two million Serbs who have lived in these countries for centuries are imperilled in the most barbarous way.  Never before has a Christian people been reduced and persecuted to this point by an authority that also prides itself in being Christian. (3)

I appeal to Your Holiness that you take my people who suffer such unjust violence, under the goodness of your protection and authority.

Peter II, King of Yugoslavia.


Notes:
(1) The territory of Banat, bordering Romania, was ceded to Serbia but was under German military governorship for the duration of the war.

(2) The proclamation of an independent Croatia took place on 10.04.1941; the proclamation of the Kingdom of Croatia took place on 16-18.05.1941.

(3) Yad Vashem estimates the total number of Serbian dead during the war reached upwards of 500,000.  In addition another 250,000 were expelled from their homes and about 200,000 forcibly converted to Catholicism.
Of 82,500 Jews in Yugoslavia in 1941 only 14,000 (17%) survived the war.




 Peter II of Yugoslavia

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