“In 1942, during the mass deportations of Jews to concentration camps, some Jews managed to escape to the Italian Zones of Occupation on the Adriatic. When the Italian authorities realized that so many Jews were flocking to their zone they aimed to deport them back to he Independent State of Croatia ruled by the Ustashe regime controlled by Nazi Germany. When the news reached Archbishop Stepinac of the intention of the Governor of Dalmatia, he wrote to the Holy See requesting to allow the Jewish refugees to remain under the Italian occupation. The Italians did not murder Jewish refugees they protected them. Thus, in fact, Stepinac, was instrumental in saving my mother’s and my life and thousands other lives. I owe him an eternal gratitude because by his conduct, he gave me an opportunity to live and get to know my husband, daughter and my grandchildren. Archbishop Stepinac was honored by the Catholic Historical Review by having his picture posted on the cover. This picture commemorates the time he spent as a prisoner in Communist Yugoslavia. The article is found on pp. 488-529. Thank you!” Said Dr. Esther Gitman, a few days ago
And so, I took delight and pride in translating the posting from the Catholic University of Croatia website that announces Dr. Esther Gitman’s very important achievement – the publication of her article on the work of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac and the rescue and the saving of Jews during WWII Croatia in such a world-renowned and prestigious scholarly journal published in the US. I hope many of you will access the article via the Catholic University of America Press website.
Information for the Media
Catholic University of Croatia
Zagreb 29 August 2015
The American historian of Jewish descent, Dr. Esther Gitman Ph.D., has published in the Summer Edition of the scientific journal The Catholic Historical Review (CHR), third this year (pp. 488-529, vol. 101. n. 3), an article about the blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac, titled “Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac of Zagreb and the Rescue of Jews, 1941-45”.
In the article, the author shows how the Archbishop of Zagreb undertook the action of rescuing several hundred of individuals associated with the Croatian Jewish community, how he saved more than a thousand Jews who were in mixed marriages, as well as many others for whom the Nazi regime posed a danger.
Using evidence from various archives, testimonies of surviving family members and other documents, the author discusses how Stepinac responded to the politics of the Ustasha regime under the Nazi and Fascist patronage, and how he used his position in the Church to promote the rescue of Jews. In the same article, the author talks about the collaboration between Archbishop Stepinac and Msgr. Giuseppe Ramiro Marcone, Pope Pius XII’s apostolic visitor, and how they demanded from the Vatican that the Jews who had arrived into the Italian zone not be deported back to NDH (Independent State of Croatia).
The scientific journal, The Catholic Historical Review, had decided to publish Dr. Gitman’s article only after the article had been subjected to double-verification by two of our professional associates who did not know who the author of the article they were verifying was. The verifying associates were four scientists of high international reputation from Croatia and abroad. Dr. Gitman was able to provide adequate answers to all criticisms and complaints put by the versifier/s and substantiate her claims with evidence from the archives. Some complaints were irrelevant to the subject of the article and, hence, we did not seek any clarification for them. Dr. Gitman’s article contributes significantly to discussions regarding the role of Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac of Zagreb during the difficult years of World War II. The Catholic Historical Review is, therefore, very happy to be in the position of making that article available to the scholarly world. By placing the image of Archbishop Stepinac in prison on the cover of the summer issue we wanted to draw attention to this important person in the history of the Catholic Church in the 20th century – said Professor Nelson H. Minnich, editor of The Catholic Historical Review and a professor at the Department of History, the American Catholic University.
This article is yet another in the list of articles that, based on facts, show how much Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac was engaged in the defense of the dignity of every person during the difficult times of the Second World War.
About the author:
Dr Esther Gitman earned her doctorate at the City University, New York and the findings of her research are summarized in her book “When Courage Prevailed,” translated into the Croatian language and published by Christian Actuality in 2011. The book deals with the topic of the rescue and survival of Jews in NDH (Independent State of Croatia) and one of its chapters is devoted to the role played at the time by the Archbishop of Zagreb, Alojzije Stepinac. The author deals with issues related to Jews in Croatia during World War II and, using scientific evidence and historical facts, she points to the uniqueness and the greatness of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac in all those events.
She was a visiting professor at the Croatian Catholic University during the 2013/2014 academic year 2013/2014. and held a course on rescuing Jews in NDH (Independent State of Croatia).
About the Journal:
The Scientific Journal The Catholic Historical Review, founded by the Catholic University of America, has been published since 1915. That is the only university journal under the Catholic Church’s auspices in the English-speaking world dedicated to the history of the Catholic Church. The journal publishes articles, peer-reviewed articles, as well as review articles, book reviews, and lists of current periodical literature received in all areas of church history. The Journal and the article can be obtained at the following address: The Catholic University of America Press http://cuapress.cua.edu/journals/chr.cfm
Summary of Dr. Gitman’s article:
During World War II, Blessed Alojzije (Aloysius) Stepinac, Archbishop and later Cardinal of Zagreb (1898 – 1960), took action to rescue several hundred individuals associated with Croatia’s Jewish community, more than 1000 Jews in mixed marriages, and a number of others in danger from the Nazis. Using archival evidence, survivor testimonies, and other documentation, the author discusses how Stepinac reacted to the policies of the Nazi-and-fascist-sponsored Ustase regime and used his position in the Church to promote the rescue of Jews, supported by his moral convictions and Giuseppe Ramiro Marcone, Benedictine abbot and Pope Pius XII’s apostolic visitor to Croatia.
Prof. Minnich’s reply as to why he decided to publish Dr. Gitman’s article:
The CHR decided to publish Dr. Gitman’s article after it had gone through our double-blind refereeing process. The four referees are scholars of international standing, from within and outside Croatia. Where referees raised objection and criticisms, Dr. Gitman was able to provide appropriate responses and she backed up her claims with archival evidence. Some of the objections were irrelevant to the topic of the article and did not deserve a response. Her article makes a significant contribution to the debates concerning the role of Archbishop Alojzije Stepinac of Zagreb during the difficult years of World War II. The CHR is thus happy to make it available to the scholarly world. By putting the picture of Archbishop Stepinac in prison on the cover of the Summer issue, the journal wishes to draw attention to this important figure in the history of the Catholic Church in the twentieth century.
Translated from the Croatian language by Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)