"... doch hart im Raume stoßen sich die Sachen." Die deutsch-vatikanischen Beziehungen 1939-1942 und die Annexion polnischer Gebiete

Stefan Samerski


Diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Germany underwent their greatest test during the occupation of Poland. The Vatican considered Germany a first-rate source of Information as far as the Situation of the persecuted Catholic Church in Poland was concerned. The Curia therefore extended the powers of the German nuncio over the occupied and annexed areas in Poland, a decision first based on mutual consent. The Nazi regime expected this extension to yield a first international recognition of its annexation through the Holy See; the Vatican, however, was solely interested in the improvement of Poland's pastoral Situation. Accordingly, the bishop of Gdarisk, Carl Maria Splett, was appointed apostolic administrator for the Polish bishopric of Culm (Chelmno) in December 1939. The pastoral Situation in Poland soon improved considerably, while the Holy See's expectations concerning the information Service of the Berlin nuncio remained unfulfilled. The Foreign Office strictly avoided any exchange of information about the Warthegau, and refused the Curia's interventions in favour of the Catholics there. When the Holy See eventually became an embarrassment to the German government, doubts were raised about the validity of the German-Vatican concordat, and the nuncio's activities restricted to the pre-war territory of the Reich.