Monday, March 10, 2014

How two Vatican diplomats saved thousands of Jews in Hungary




During World War II, more than 400,000 Jews were murdered by the Nazi regime in Hungary. Back then, the Vatican's nuncio was Angelo Rotta. He along with his secretary, Gennaro Verolino, helped saved roughly 15,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

MATTEO LUIGI
Author 'The Righteous of Budapest'
"They processed passports and left them blank, so that if someone needed to flee, they could do so. They also rented a series of building in Budapest. I think there were about 25 units. They created  fictitious offices and they displayed the Vatican flag as if it was part of the nunciature. There they allowed Jews to hide.”

Back in Rome, the Vatican knew exactly what they were doing, and in fact, those two diplomats weren't the only ones. Back when he was a Vatican diplomat, John XXIII also helped Jews flee from the Nazis when he served as nuncio in Istanbul.

MATTEO LUIGI
Author 'The Righteous of Budapest'
"Verolino's letters clearly state this. He describes that the Pope was well aware of all these actions and all these delicate situations.”

ROCCO PEZZIMENTI
LUMSA University (Rome)
"You can't just rent out 25 homes without informing the Holy See. Msgr. Verolino was directly in contact with other Eastern European nuncios, including Msgr. Roncalli, who later became John XXIII. They prepared passports so that Jews could flee to Palestine. The Holy See knew about this. So they weren't your typical rebels, but rather they were part of a much more strategic and complicated strategy.”

The work carried out by these diplomats has been openly recognized by the Jews. They even honored nuncio Angelo Rotta, by giving him the title 'Righteous Among the Nations,' which acknowledges people from other faiths, who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

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