Croatia’s Blessed Aloysius Stepinac, WWII Rescue Of Jews and Dr Esther Gitman’s Fact Finding Captivate Pages Of Prestigious US Catholic Historical Review

 

Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Front Cover Catholic Histoprical Review Summer 2015 Edition Catholic University of America Press

Blessed Aloysius Stepinac Front Cover Catholic Historical Review Summer 2015 Edition Catholic University of America Press

Dr Esther Gitman

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
Contact: pr@unicath.hr
http://www.unicath.hr

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).

Excerpt from the article by Dr Esther Gitman published in The Catholic Historical Review Summer 2015

Excerpt from the article by Dr Esther Gitman published in The Catholic Historical Review Summer 2015

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 Delivering a talk on her work at NSW State Library (Mitchell Library) Sydney, Australia February 2014 Photo: Ina Vukic

Dr Esther Gitman Delivering a talk on her work at NSW State Library (Mitchell Library) Sydney, Australia February 2014 Photo: Ina Vukic

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)

First published on 2nd September 2015

 

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‘ How I Got into Debt in My Search for Love ‘

This is my story: ​Simply l start with me and my debt’s that to say the least were massive, caused by wanting some people might say, and they would be right in part.

Though ​I did want not cars, houses and trappings of wealth, but simply to be loved. In fact half a million pounds worth of wanting to be loved. So here is my story …….. well at least part one!!! ​Part will come when l can find the words and the feelings. ​

That’s right just to be loved by someone who thought l was more important than the pound in my pocket.

Maybe l should say a little about that last statement. It all started when l was a child and my parents did not have time for me, in fact they were too busy to care about me, except when they wanted me to be a parent. That is right as a child l needed to do their job for them, and sort out my own problems​,and also my younger brothers problems. When ever he got himself in trouble ,they called on me to get him out of trouble, and l did. Though when it went wrong and he took no notice it was my fault, not my brother’s or my parent’s.

So we move quickly forward to 1984 l was by now just 30 – still a child in many ways and still breaking up the fights over money – sorry forgot mention my parents driving force, it was money or simply pounds, shillings and pence. They argued incessantly over every penny, meanwhile my brother carried on getting into scrap’s and l carried on bailing him out.

It was at this time in April of that year my dad became ill, rushed into hospital and diagnosed with Leukemia and my mother fell back on me to become the father figure, looking after bills and sorting out – well everything. You see my dad was of Victorian upbringing and l was brought up by him as he was, so l knew no different, you became a man at 14 and that was that, well l was 30 and my dad in my eyes was dying.

Though nobody would still talk to me about it, my brother had gone​ off, marrying the first girl who would have him, and l was left sorting everything out.

Well he did die after 9 hard months and l was not there, for the first time in my entire life, l was doing something for me, well someone else really but not my family. I was earning a crust, money – doing a job of insuring another persons home. You see in the morning l phoned the hospital and he was in a coma, no change.

But when l got back the answering machine was flashing, and the words were my uncles – l never forget them: ‘ Come Quick Your Dad’s Dying ‘ l never drove so fast in my life – but it was too late their faces told me it all. He is dead he died 10 minutes ago, you are too late.

So after the funeral and everything was sorted by me, well who else​, and everyone but me had grieved l started trying to get him to love me. You see he never said a word to me about that all my life, l wanted to hear those words so much and to know and feel he really cared.

So l started to build a business and make him proud of me and to do that l borrowed money, something l had never ever done, but all l could remember him saying were these words ‘ People will ​L​ove you if you have MONEY but 6 years later and half a million in debt, all my so-called friends disappeared and all l was left ​with ​
with was debt. I lost everything houses, cars and eventually my health and l had a nervous breakdown.

It was only then my mother who l had taken care of since he died, came to help me and nobody​ else. So this would seem finally l would receive this so-called love at 36. She did what she could but really when l was well enough it was my turn to take over again with the after words still ringing in my ears, l look after you when you were ill, so l need your help now. So l became my so-called brother/mothers keeper, well she had grabbed my arm and said to my brother at the funeral 6 years before, l have got Ian now.

Time moves forward some years l reach 55 left home and numbers of failed relationships looking for love, not a rich man but not what l call poor man. One day l find out after a visit she has not been eating, taking her tablets for thyroid problems and basically not looking after herself. Well being me l started to look after her​ full-time​ ,taking care of everything eventually​,as l tried to get her to care for herself. But she had this problem it was called the truth and my mother could not tell the truth if her life depended on it, and as it turned out it did.

 As the years progressive l looked after her and left my care position after 4 years and became a so-called main carer, with my financial and organised manner l was able to sort-out a basic care package, 2 hours a day, to visit and leave a meal. The problem was my mother wanted her own way, l would say take you​r ​time walking and she would run and when she ended up falling, she became reliant on a walking aid.

It got worst and she feel more often on a number of oc​c​assion​​s cracking her head and being admitted to hospital to be patched up. Finally on the 40th fall – that is right 40 falls she lands on her hip, lucky does not crack it​,but traps a blood vessel and that would eventually become too painful to walk.

 It is now 4 years later and she is housebound, being hoisted chair to bed and chair to commode, l am her fully time slave, now 2 houses full-time cooking cleaning and no real money, savings gone, no job. Nearly lose the roof over my head and bailed out by my mum, but with a proviso or should l say promise never put me in a care home, you look after me here in my home.

No choice agree. ………. so l did as always..!!

It is now 2014 – 30 years since my dad died and l started looking after my mum, her health deteriorates, as she still wants her own way, l am now in debt as l have no real income and suddenly l realise she is dying. It hits me hard, harder than l ever realised l have known nothing first since l became her carer. We struggle through Christmas and Jan​uary arrives nothing changes and mother is now bed ridden, catharised and refusing to take her tablets, drink or even eat.

 On the 15th January she is admitted to hospital and l go back to where 30 years before my dad was dying and now my Mum is dying as well.

We talk about going full circle well l have done just that gone full circle.

I w​as 61 on the 25th January and l was 16 when l started working in a job my dad put into, as his words spoken were ‘ l looked after you for 16 years now you need to get a job and pay your way ‘ after 45 years l am still doing a job l was put into namely nursing my Mum until she died.

 Part Two …………….. in next​ …!!!

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