Sunday, November 16, 2014

ADSS 10.338 Casimir Papee, Poland to Domenico Tardini - Extermination camp KL Birkenau

This was not the first time Papee had written to the Secretariat of State about Auschwitz-Birkenau.  In both cases the Polish ambassador was well informed.  Three days after the document was written the Sonderkommando at Birkenau rose in revolt.

Tardini's response at the end of the document seems surprisingly tame given the amount of information the Vatican had regarding the extermination camps.  News of KL Majdanek had received enormous attention after the Red Army liberated it in late July 1944.  It also seems a rather desperate act on Tardini's part to expect that the nuncio in Germany, Cesare Orsenigo would be able to do much.

Reference: Nr 708/SA/141 (AES 6345/44)

Location and date: Rome, 04.10.1944

Summary statement: Information on the extermination of prisoners in KL Brzezinka (Birkenau)

Language: French

On instruction from my government, and in response to my note of 25 September 1944, number 708/SA/141 (1), I have the honour to send your reverence the following information:

Among the concentration camps in Poland, including prisoners intended by the Germans for extermination is Birkenau, near Oswiecim. 16,725 men and 39,125 women are being held there.  In agreement with the orders he has received, the commander of the camp, like commanders in other camps, has already taken all measures to kill all the prisoners in as short a time as possible.  He has written orders from his superiors to put the execution into action.  Established precedents do not permit us any illusions about the implementation of the monstrous plan.  The Polish underground did not have the means to frustrate this crime the Germans are preparing.  They request the joint action of the governments of Great Britain and the United States of America to make it their business to save thousands of lives. (2)

Tardini note:
In responding you must find a way to say a good word for Poland … the Holy See can not take part in the sorrows and trials etc … (It is good that the battered nation feels that the Holy See is with it.) (3)

Cross references: 

(1) Not published.  See ADSS 10.330, note 1.
(2) Tardini sent the news to Cesare Orsenigo (telegram nr 908 on 06.10.1944, AES 6345/44) hoping that the news was false, and that the Nuncio “act promptly and made enquiries about it”.
(3) See ADSS 10.349.

Ambassador Casimir Papee

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