The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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I pass now to Page 2, fourth paragraph of the English text,
the fifth paragraph of the German text:

   "If the lot of their Excellencies the Bishops has been a
   source of anxiety for the Holy See, the condition of an
   immense number of priests and members of religious
   orders has caused it, and still causes it, no less
   In the territory now called 'Warthegau' more than two
   thousand priests exercised their ministry before the
   war; they are now reduced to a very small number.
   According to accounts received from various quarters by
   the Holy See, in the first months of the military
   occupation not a few members of the secular clergy were
   shot or otherwise put to death, while others-some
   hundreds-were imprisoned or treated in an unseemly
   manner, being forced into employments unbecoming their
   state, and exposed to scorn and derision.
   Then, while numbers of ecclesiastics were exiled or
   constrained in some other way to take refuge in the
   Government General, many others were transferred to
   concentration camps. At the beginning of October, 1941,
   the priests from the dioceses of the 'Warthegau'
   detained in Dachau already numbered several hundreds;
   but their number increased considerably in that month,
   following a sharp intensification of police measures,
   which culminated in the imprisonment and deportation of
   further hundreds
                                                   [Page 50]
   of ecclesiastics. Entire 'Kreise' (districts) remained
   thus completely deprived of clergy. In the city of
   Poznan itself the spiritual care of some 200,000
   Catholics remained in the hands of not more than four
   No less painful was the fate reserved for the regular
   clergy. Many members of religious orders were shot or
   otherwise killed; the great majority of the others were
   imprisoned, deported or expelled.
   In the same way far-reaching measures were taken against
   the institutions preparing candidates for the
   ecclesiastical state. The diocesan seminaries of Gniezno
   and Poznan, of Wladislavia and of Lodz were closed. The
   seminary in Poznan for the training of priests destined
   to work among Polish Catholics was also closed.
   The noviciates and houses of instruction of the
   religious orders and congregations were closed.
   Not even the nuns were able to continue their charitable
   activities without molestation. For them was set up a
   special concentration camp at Bojanowo, where towards
   the middle of 1941 about four hundred sisters were
   interned and employed in manual labour. To a
   representation of the Holy See made through the
   Apostolic Nunciature in Berlin your Reich Ministry for
   Foreign Affairs replied, in the Memorandum Pol. III,
   1886 of 23rd September of the same year, that it was
   only a question of a temporary measure, taken with the
   consent of the Reichstatthalter for Wartheland, in order
   to supply the lack of housing for Polish Catholic
   sisters. In the same memorandum it was admitted that as
   a result of reorganisation of charitable institutions
   many Catholic sisters were without employment.
   But, in spite of the fact that this measure was declared
   to be temporary, it is certain that towards the end of
   1942 some hundreds of nuns were still interned at
   Bojanowo. It is established that for some time the nuns
   were deprived even of spiritual help.
   Likewise in the matter of education and religious
   instruction of youth no attention was paid in the
   'Warthegau' to the rights of the Catholic Church.
   All the Catholic schools were suppressed."

I turn now to Page 4 ...

THE PRESIDENT: Who was the Foreign Minister of the Reich at
the time that document was sent?

COLONEL WHEELER: It was the defendant von Ribbentrop.

I turn to Page 4, the tenth paragraph of the English text,
Page 5, fourth paragraph of the German text:

   "The use of the Polish language in sacred functions, and
   even in the Sacrament of Penance, was forbidden.
   Moreover - and this is a matter worthy of special
   mention and is at variance with the natural law and with
   the dispositions accepted by the legal systems of all
   nations - for the celebration of marriage between Poles
   the minimum age limit was fixed at 28 years for men and
   25 years for women.
   Catholic action was so badly hit as to be completely
   destroyed. The National Institute, which was at the head
   of the whole Catholic Action Movement in Poland, was
   suppressed; as a result all the associations belonging
   to it, which were flourishing, as well as all Catholic
   cultural, charity and social service institutions, were
   In the whole of the 'Warthegau' there is no longer any
   Catholic Press, and not even a Catholic bookshop.
   Grave measures were repeatedly taken with regard to
   ecclesiastical property.
   Many of the churches closed to public worship were
   turned over to profane uses. From such an insult not
   even the cathedrals of Gniezno,

                                                   [Page 51]
   Poznan, Wladislavia and Lodz were spared. Episcopal
   residences were confiscated, the real estate belonging
   to the seminaries, convents, diocesan museums, libraries
   and church funds were confiscated or sequestered."

I pass now to the third full paragraph on Page 5, a two-line

   "Even before ecclesiastical property was affected, the
   allowances to the clergy had been abolished."

Now, reading from Page 6, the fourth full paragraph of the
English text:

   "The administrative regulations published by the
   Statthalter's office for the application of the
   Ordinance of 13th September, 1941, made the situation of
   the Catholics in that region still more difficult.
   For example, on 19th November, 1931, came a decree of
   the Reichs-statthalter by which, among other things, it
   was set forth that, as from the previous 13th September,
   the property of the former juridical persons of the
   Roman Catholic Church should pass over to the 'Romisch-
   Katholische Kirche deutscher Nationalitat im Reichsgau
   Wartheland' in so far as, on the request of the above-
   mentioned 'Religionsgesellschaft' such property shall be
   recognised by the Reichsstatthalter as 'non-Polish
   property.' In virtue of this decree practically all the
   goods of the Catholic Church in the 'Warthegau' were

Now I pass to Page 7, the second full paragraph:-

   "If we pass from the 'Warthegau' to the other
   territories in the East, we unfortunately find there,
   too, acts and measures against the rights of the Church
   and of the Catholic faithful, though they vary in
   gravity and extension from one place to another.
   In the provinces which were declared annexed to the
   German Reich and joined up with the Gaue of East
   Prussia, of Danzig-West Prussia, and of Upper Silesia,
   the situation is very like that described above in
   regard to seminaries, the use of the Polish mother-
   tongue in sacred functions, charitable works,
   associations of Catholic Action, the separation of the
   faithful according to nationality. There, too, one must
   deplore the closing of churches to public worship, the
   exile, deportation, the violent death of not a few of
   the clergy (reduced by two-thirds in the diocese of
   Culma and by at least a third in the diocese of
   Katowice), the suppression of religious instruction in
   the schools, and above all the complete suppression in
   fact of the Episcopate. Actually, after the Bishop of
   Culma, who had left during the military operations, had
   been refused permission to return to his diocese, there
   followed - in February, 1941 - the expulsion of the
   Bishop of Plock and his Auxiliary, who both died later
   in captivity; the Bishop, the venerable octogenarian
   Mgr. Julian Anthony Nowowiejski, died at Dzialdowo on
   28th May, 1941, and the Auxiliary, Mgr. Leo Wetmanski,
   'in a transit camp' on 10th October of the same year.
   In the territory called the Government General, as in
   the Polish provinces which had been occupied by Soviet
   troops in the period between September, 1939, and June,
   1941, the religious situation is such as to cause the
   Holy See lively apprehension and serious preoccupation.
   Without pausing to describe the treatment meted out in
   many cases to the clergy (priests imprisoned, deported
   and even put to death), the confiscation of
   ecclesiastical property, the closing of churches, the
   suppression even of associations and publications of
   simply and exclusively religious character, the closing
   of the Catholic secondary and higher schools and of the
   Catholic University of Lublin, let it suffice to recall
   two series of specially grave measures: those which
   affect the seminaries and those which weigh on the
   When the buildings of the various seminaries had been
   completely or in part occupied, the intention for some
   time (November, 1940-February,

                                                   [Page 52]

   1941) was to reduce these institutions for the training
   of priests to two - those of Cracow and Sandomir; then
   the others were permitted to reopen, but only on
   condition that no new students were admitted, which in
   practice inevitably means that all these institutions
   will soon be closed."

I omit one paragraph here.

   "Mention has several times been made of ecclesiastics
   deported or confined in concentration camps. The
   majority of them were transferred to the Altreich, where
   their number already exceeds a thousand."

THE PRESIDENT: What was the "Altreich"?

COLONEL WHEELER: The Altreich is the Old Reich of Germany.



   "When the Holy See asked that they should be liberated
   and permitted to emigrate to neutral countries of Europe
   or America (1940), the petition was refused; it was only
   promised that they should all be collected in the
   concentration camp at Dachau, that they should be
   excused too hard labour, and that some should be
   permitted to say mass, which the others could hear.
   The treatment of the ecclesiastics interned at Dachau,
   which, for a certain time, in 1941, was, in fact,
   somewhat mitigated, grew worse again at the end of that
   year. Particularly sorrowful were the announcements
   which for many months, in 1942, came from that camp of
   the frequent deaths of priests, even of some young
   priests among them."

I pass by two paragraphs:

   "Polish Catholics are not allowed to contract marriage
   in the territory of the Altreich; just as requests for
   religious instruction or instruction in preparation for
   Confession and Holy Communion for the children of these
   workers are, in principle, not accepted."

What happened to complaints - even from the Vatican - as to
religious affairs in the overrun territories is disclosed in
Document 3266-PS, Exhibit USA 573, which I now offer in
evidence. This is a letter from the Cardinal Archbishop of
Breslau to the Papal Secretary of State, dated 7th December,
1942. It bears a Vatican authentication similar to those
already read.

This letter lays at the door of the Party Chancellery the
responsibility for determining the policy and exercising
final authority on religious questions in the occupied
territories. I quote from Page 1, the first paragraph of
this letter, and remind the Court that the defendant Bormann
was at that time Chief of the Nazi Party Chancellery and
that the defendant Kaltenbrunner was the Chief of the
Reichssicherheitshauptamt, the R.S.H.A. I quote from
Document 3266-PS, beginning with the sixth line:

   "About some of the gravest injuries inflicted on the
   Church I not only protested on each occasion as the
   individual incident occurred, but I also made a most
   formal protest about them in globo in a document which,
   as spokesman of the Hierarchy, I sent to the supreme
   Ruler of the State and to the Ministries of the Reich on
   10th December, 1941. Not a word by way of answer has
   been sent to us.
   Your Eminence knows very well that the greatest
   difficulty in the way of opening negotiations comes from
   the overruling authority which the National Socialist
   Party Chancellery exercises in relation to the
   chancellery of the Reich and to the single Reich
   Ministries. This 'Parteikanzlei' directs the course to
   be followed by the State, whereas the Ministries and the
   Chancellery of the Reich are obliged and compelled to
   adjust their decrees to these directions. Besides, there
   is the fact that the Supreme Office for the Security of
   the Reich, called the 'Reichssicherheitshauptamt' enjoys
   an authority which precludes all legal action and all

                                                   [Page 53]
   Under it are the Secret Offices for Public Security,
   called 'Geheime Staatspolizei' (a title shortened
   usually to 'Gestapo'), of which there is one for each
   province. Against the decrees of this Central Office and
   of the Secret Offices there is no appeal through the
   Courts, and no complaint made to the Ministries has any
   effect. Not infrequently the councillors of the
   ministries suggest that they have not been able to do as
   they would wish to because of the opposition of these
   Party offices. As far as the executive power is
   concerned, the organisation called the S.S., that is,
   'Die Schutzstaffeln der Partei,' is in practice supreme.
   On a number of very grave and fundamental issues we have
   also presented our complaints to the Supreme Leader of
   the Reich, the Fuehrer. Either no answer is given, or it
   is apparently edited by the above-mentioned Party
   Chancellery, which does not consider itself bound by the
   Concordat made with the Holy See."

I now offer in evidence Document number 3279-PS, Exhibit USA
574. This is an excerpt from Charge number 17 against the
defendant Hans Frank, Governor General of Poland, entitled
"Maltreatment and Persecution of the Catholic Clergy in the
Western Provinces," submitted by the Polish Government under
the terms of Article 21 of the Four-Power Agreement of 2nd
August, 1945. This gives further figures indicating the
extent of the persecution of priests. I quote:

   "The extract attached hereto and dealing with the
   'General Conditions and Results of the Persecution' is
   taken from the text of Charge 17, Page 5, paragraph IV,
   of the Polish Government against the defendants named in
   the Indictment before the International Military
   Tribunal, subject: , Maltreatment and Persecution of the
   Catholic Clergy in the Incorporated Western Provinces of
   Poland.' It is a true translation into English of the
   original Polish.
   It is submitted herewith to the International Military
   Tribunal in accordance with Article 21 of the Charter of
   the Court.
   Signed: Dr. Tadeuez Cyprian, Polish Deputy
   Representative on the United Nations War Crimes
   Commission in London, signing on behalf of the Polish
   Government and of the Main Commission for Investigation
   of German War Crimes in Poland, whose seal I hereby

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you need read such
certificates as that.

COLONEL WHEELER: This is the only one, Sir, that I have. I
now read from this extract:

   "General Conditions and Results of the Persecution:
   11. The general situation of the clergy in the
   Archdiocese of Poznan in the beginning
   of April, 1940, is summarised in the following words of
   Cardinal Hlond's second report:
   5 priests shot; 27 priests confined in harsh
   concentration camps at Stutthof and in other camps; 190
   priests in prison or in concentration camps at Bruczkov,
   Chlodowo, Gerusski, Kazimierz, Buskupi, Lad, Lublin and
   Puszczykovo; 35 priests seriously ill in consequence of
   ill treatment; 122 parishes left entirely without
   12. In the diocese of Chelmno, where about 650 priests
   were installed before the War, only 3 per cent. were
   allowed to stay, the other 97 per cent. were imprisoned,
   executed or put into concentration camps.
   13. By January, 1941, about 700 priests were killed,
   3,000 were in prison or concentration camps."

I refer also to Document 3268-A-PS, Exhibit USA 356,
excerpts from the Allocution of Pope Pius XII to the Sacred
College, 2nd June, 1945, which has already been introduced
into evidence and read from extensively. I shall not

                                                   [Page 54]

read from it again. This document gives some very revealing
figures concerning the priests and lay brothers confined in
the concentration camp at Dachau.

The Tribunal will recall, from the previous reading of this
document, the imprisonment of 2,800 priests and lay brothers
in Dachau alone from 1940 to 1945, of whom all but about 800
were dead by April, 1945, including an Auxiliary Bishop.

This document presents a forceful summary of the principal
steps in the struggle of the Nazi conspirators against the
Catholic Church.

To sum up, the Prosecution submits that the evidence
presented to the Court proves that the attempted suppression
of the Christian Churches in Germany, Austria,
Czechoslovakia, and Poland was an integral part of the
defendants' conspiracy to eliminate internal opposition, and
otherwise to prepare for and wage aggressive war and shows
the same conspiratorial pattern as their other War Crimes
and Crimes against Humanity.

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