Theodore Lavi, "The Vatican's Endeavors on Behalf of Rumanian Jewry During the Second World War,' Yad Vashem Studies, vol. 5, European Jewish Catastrophe and Resistance, Nathan Eck and Arieh Leon Kubovy, eds., Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1963, pp. 405-418

Abstract by Jerry Darring


Lavi's article is a commentary on and a critique of a 1961 article by the Jesuit A. Martini in La Civilta Cattolica. Martini's article had focused attention on the Papal Nuncio in Bucharest, Bishop Andreia Cassulo, and Lavi both praises Martini for providing documentation hitherto unavailable and criticizes him for not including complete documents.

Cassulo's efforts began already in 1940, defending the right of converted Jews to attend Catholic schools, and in 1941, defending the right of Jews to convert to the Catholic faith. By October 1941, Cassulo is meeting with the Foreign Minister on behalf of not only Jewish converts but also non-converted Jews. Martini claimed that Cassulo used his influence and intervened whenever he could, but he went into no detail. All during 1942 Cassulo kept fighting the government on the issue of the right of Jews to convert, and in doing so he was resisting the government policy of racial discrimination. That same year, the Jews of Czernowitz, after sending an appeal to the Pope, met with Cassulo on the matter of the deportation. Cassulo intervened with the government on several occasions, and then he brought instructions back from Rome. The interventions were instrumental in cutting down the deportations. Using Cassulo's diary, Martini showed that the Nuncio felt a religious obligation to help the innocent people who were suffering. Cassulo's efforts helped end the deportations, after which he devoted himself to improving the lot of Jewish orphans in Transnistria. As the war neared an end, Cassulo, in constant contact with Jewish leaders, worked to save the orphans and other Jews. Lavi asserts that the Jews of Romania consider Cassulo one of "the righteous of the nations," and he concludes that "the Catholic Church has every right to be proud of its representative's stand on behalf of the Jews of Rumania" (p. 417).