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Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Roundup, Part Four

       "Rosina Sorani and her brother, Settimio, had spent the day in their apartment wondering what they should do.  She had been on her way to work when she saw the trucks parking on the Via del Portico d'Ottavia.  She had calmly turned round and retraced her steps.  From then on they had taken turns to use the telephone;  Rosina to try and contact Foa, her brother to reach Father Weber and Renzo Levi.  Settimio finally contacted the Pallotine priest late in the afternoon who said he would come at once.  When he arrived he explained he had been in the Vatican all day helping to deal with the situation. 
       Weber said he would take them to where Foa, Almansi, and Levi met after going into hiding.  It was a dairy shop run by a Catholic widow and her daughter.  While she provided them with coffee, the three most powerful men in the Jewish community listened to Weber's news.
       They had discussed how they could save the Jews.  Foa suggested he should write an appeal to the pope to intervene.  Weber said Pius was doing all he could.  Levi proposed a direct approach should be made to either the German embassy or its mission to the Holy See to ask for the freedom for the old and sick and the women and children.  He would personally guarantee to pay any sum of money in exchange for their release.  The money would be raised from America.  Weber had asked how long it would take to find such a sum.  Levi thought it would take 'a few days.'  The Pallotine father had looked at the others and said he feared there were only hours left in which to negotiate any deal.
       Nevertheless Ugo Foa decided he would still write to the pope and Weber said he would bring the letter to the Vatican.  When he gave it to Weber it contained a sentence which caught his attention.  Foa had written there were a number of people in the ghetto who were classified under the racial laws as Mischlinge-- the offspring of parents who were of mixed religion.  Some, Foa wrote, had even been baptized and while they still lived in the ghetto were regarded as Catholics.  They should be allowed to go free.
       Pfeiffer hurried to see Maglione.  After reading the letter the secretary of state produced a copy of the racial laws and found the relevant passage.  He had taken the book and Foa's letter with him to the pope.  Pius told Maglione to inform Weizsacker and asked to intervene to have the Mischinlinge freed and arrange for a senior member of the Vatican  to go to the Collegio Militare, taking with him a copy of the racial laws to show to the officer in charge.  Maglione proposed sending Bishop Hudal, given he was the signatory of the letter to Stahel.
        Hudal's role in the roundup has remained secret until now.  In his own notes of the matter Maglione only referred to him as a 'Vatican official.'
        On Sunday morning, dressed in his bishop's robes, Hudal introduced himself to Dannecker at the entrance to the Collegio Militare as 'the most senior Reverend Alois Hudal, the senior German-speaking bishop abroad.'
       Twenty-one months later he would use similar words to receive Heinrich Mueller in his palatial office in the Pan-Germanic college to discuss with the former German gestapo chief the help Nazi war criminal needed from Hudal to obtain Vatican documents to hide in South America.
       There is no evidence the pope and the Vatican were implicated in the matter-- let alone an organization which became known as ODESSA, which appears to have been the brainchild of Hudal.  In 2011 Mossad files show that figures like Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka;  Klaus Barbie;  Martin Bormann;  and Adolf Eichmann were all assisted with false papers and hiding places provided by Hudal while they were en route to hide in Latin America at the end of the war.
       The details emerged in 1945 when Dannecker was captured and interrogated by American forces.  He had been hiding in Bad Tolz in Bavaria organizing Nazi resistance to the Allied occupation.  He had already instructed his wife to poison their two children;  one died, the other was saved.  Dannecker was found hanging in his cell awaiting trial.
        That Sunday morning at the Collegio Militare what passed between them ended with Dannecker agreeing with Hudal that 274 'non-Jews'--spouses and offspring--caught in the roundup were to be set free.
       They left the barracks soon after the bishop drove back to the Vatican.  In the meantime Weizsacker had told Maglione he was unable to help free the non-Jews."  The Pope's Jews by Gordon Thomas pgs 222-224

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