The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter VII
Means Used by the Nazi Conspiractors in Gaining Control of the German State
(Part 36 of 55)

On 18 November 1942 the Papal Secretary of State requested the Archbishop of Breslau, Cardinal Bertram, to use every effort to assist Polish Catholic workers transferred to Germany, who were being deprived of the consolations of religion. In addition, he again appealed for help for the Polish priests detained in various concentration camps, whose death rate was "still on the increase." (3265-PS). On 7 December 1942 the Cardinal Archbishop of Breslau replied that all possible efforts were being put forward by the German Bishops without success on behalf of the victims of concentration camps and labor battalions, and deplored "the intolerable decrees" against religious ministration to Poles. (3266-PS)

On 2 March 1943, the Cardinal Secretary of State addressed a note to von Ribbentrop, Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs, in which the violations of religious rights and conscience among the civilian population of Poland were set out in detail, and the time, locality, and character of the persecutions were specified. Priests and Ecclesiastics were still being arrested, thrust into concentration camps, and treated with scorn and derision, while many had been summarily executed. Religious instruction was hampered; Catholic schools were closed; the use of the Polish lan-

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guage in sacred functions and even in the Sacrament of Penance was forbidden. Even the natural right of marriage was denied to men of Polish nationality under 28 years of age to women under 25. In the territory called "General Government" similar conditions existed and against these the Holy See vigorously protested. To save the harassed and persecuted leaders of the Catholic Church, the Vatican had petitioned that they be allowed to emigrate to neutral countries of Europe or America. The only concession made was that they would all be collected in one concentration camp Dachau. (3264-PS)

The Nazi conspirators adopted a dilatory and obstructionist policy toward complaints as to religious affairs in the overrun territories, and a decision was "taken by those competent to do so. *** that no further consideration will be taken of proposals or requests concerning the territories which do not belong to the Old Reich." (3262-PS)

"Those competent" to make decisions on complaints as to religious affairs in the overrun territories -- especially the Party Chancery, headed by Bormann -- the methods they used, and the reasons for their attitude are outlined by the Cardinal Archbishop of Breslau, a German living in Germany, in a letter to the Papal Secretary of State on 7 December 1942 as follows:

"Your Eminence knows very well the greatest difficulty in the way of opening negotiations comes from the overruling authority which the "National Socialist Party Chancery" (Kanzlei der Nazion-sozstschen Parez, known as the Partei-Kanzlei) exercises in relation to the Chancery of the Reich (Reichskanzlei) and to the single Reich Ministries. This 'Parteikanzlei' directs the course to be followed by the State, whereas the Ministries and the Chancery 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 'Reichsscherheitshauptamt' enjoys an authority which precludes all legal action and all appeals. 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 (Reichsscherheitshauptamt) and of the Secret Offices (Geheime Staatspolizei) 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

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power is concerned, the organization called the SS, that is Schutzstaffeln der Partei, is in practice supreme.

"This hastily sketched interrelation of authorities is the reason why many of the petitions and protests made by the Bishops to the Ministries have been foiled. Even if we present our complaints to the so-called Supreme Security Office, there is rarely any reply; and when there is, it is negative.

"On a number of very grave and fundamental issues we have also presented our complaints to the Supreme Leader of the Reich (Fuehrer). Either no answer is given, or it is apparently edited by the above-mentioned Party Chancery, which does not consider itself bound by the Concordat made with the Holy See." (3266-PS)

The interchange of correspondence following the transmission of the above-described note of 2 March 1943 on the religious situation in the overrun Polish Provinces illustrates the same evasive tactics. (3269-PS)

In his Allocution to the Sacred College, on 2 June 1945, His Holiness Pope Pius XII recalled, byway of example, "some details from the abundant accounts which have reached us from priests and laymen who were interned in the concentration camp at Dachau":

"In the forefront, for the number and harshness of the treatment meted out to them, are the Polish priests. From 1940 to 1945, 2,800 Polish ecclesiastics and religious were imprisoned in that camp; among them was the Auxiliary bishop of Wloclawek, who died there of typhus. In April last there were left only 816, all the others being dead except for two or three transferred to another camp.

In the summer of 1942, 480 German-speaking ministers of religion were known to be gathered there; of these, 45 were Protestants, all the others Catholic priests. In spite of the continuous inflow of new internees, especially from some dioceses of Bavaria, Rhenania and Westphalia, their number, as a result of the high rate of mortality, at the beginning of this year, did not surpass 350. Nor should we pass over in silence these belonging to occupied territories, Holland, Belgium, France (among whom the Bishop of Clermont), Luxembourg, Slovenia, Italy. Many of those priests and laymen endured indescribable sufferings for their faith and for their vocation. In one case the hatred of the impious against Christ reached the point of parodying on the person of an

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interned priest, with barbed wire, the scourging and the crowning with thorns of our Redeemer." (3268-PS)

Further revealing figure on the persecution of Polish priests are contained in the following extract from Charge No. 17 against Hans Frank, Governor-General of Poland, submitted by the Polish Government, entitled "Maltreatment and Persecution of the Catholic Clergy in the Western Provinces":

The original plaintext version of part one or part two of this file is available via ftp.

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