Records of Jews who sought Vatican help during the Holocaust to be made public


Some of the Jews who wrote asking for Catholic help were baptized Christians, but many were not. Many petitions were written by intermediaries on behalf of Jews.

“Thousands of people persecuted for belonging to the Jewish religion, or simply for having ‘non-Aryan’ ancestry, turned to the Vatican knowing that others had received help,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher’s article in Vatican News recounted the case of Werner Barasch, a 23-year-old German university student of Jewish descent who was baptized in 1938. His historical file contains documents about his efforts to be released from a concentration camp. concentration in Spain. On January 17, 1942, Barasch wrote to an Italian friend and asked her to seek the intervention of Pius XII through the Apostolic Nuncio in Madrid.

Barasch wrote: “with this intervention of Rome, others had been able to leave the

concentration camp.” He said he had hoped to join his mother who had fled to the United States in 1939 “to prepare me for a new life”. He needed help “from someone outside for the authorities to grant his release.

“There is little hope for those without outside help,” Barasch’s letter said.

The Vatican file shows that the Secretariat of State looked into the matter within days and “recently” brought it to the attention of the nuncio in Spain. There is nothing more to the paper trail. Like the majority of cases, the Vatican records say nothing about what happened to Barasch.

“In our hearts we immediately inevitably hope for a positive outcome, the hope that Werner Barasch was then released from the concentration camp and was able to join his mother abroad,” Gallagher said.

This hope has come true. Barasch was a known Holocaust survivor who told his story at age 82 in a video interview now in the US Holocaust Museum’s online collections. He was released from the Spanish camp a year after his appeal to the pope. In 1945, he was able to join his mother in the United States. He studied at the University of California at Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Colorado before working as a chemist in California.

“As with the majority of requests for assistance evidenced by other cases, the outcome of the request has not been reported,” Gallagher said.

About 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

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On June 22, Pope Francis received an international delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group with 400,000 member families in the United States. The delegation presented the pope with a copy of an original report written and signed by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler. in which he calls for the destruction of the Jewish people. The document is dated September 16, 1919, long before the Nazis took power.

“What began as the opinion of one man became the state policy of Nazi Germany 22 years later, leading to the systematic murder of a third of world Jewry,” he said. said Marvin Hier, founder and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, during the meeting. “This document shows the power of words and is a warning for everyone to take seriously the threats of any demagogue.”

Yesterday noted anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic, which the Simon Wiesenthal Center says confirms “the rise of anti-Semitism.”

He also used his remarks to criticize a nuclear arms deal with Iran, which the Vatican has backed. Yesterday also criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, accusing Russia of adopting the same tactics as Hitler’s Germany.

The pope has accepted the donation of the historical document, which will be deposited in the Vatican Archives.

In his address, Pope Francis stressed the importance of “recalling history so that it can be at the service of the future.” He denounced anti-Semitic attacks. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he said Hitler’s 1919 letter showed the Nazi leader did not care about the German people but only about promoting a dangerous ideology.

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