More Fascist Catholics

    By Rosa Rubicondior | 28 March 2015
    Rosa Rubicondior Blog

    In addition to their close involvement in creating the first fascist state in Europe in Portugal, and their support for Italian and Spanish fascism, the Catholic Church was actively involved in another even more extreme fascist regime in Slovakia.

    Unlike Portugal and Spain which stayed out of World War II and have no history of sending Jews to Hitler’s slave labour and death camps, Slovakia, under the leadership of a Catholic priest and fascist dictator, Fr. Josef Tiso, enthusiastically shipped around 60% of Slovakian Jews (over 52,000 of the population of 89,000) to the death camps, mostly Auschwitz.

    Fr. Tiso had been trained at a Viennese seminary and after spending a period as an assistant priest was appointed Spiritual director of one of Slovakia’s largest seminaries, whereupon he started meddling in Slovak politics, joined the fascist party and took over the role of editor of Slovak newspaper in which he wrote a number of extreme antisemitica articles.

    He quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the leaders of the fascist Slovak People’s Party and set about shifting it even further to the right, bringing it into line with the German Nazi Party, based on clerical nationalism and right-wing, anti-democratic, openly racist and socially stratified Catholicism. When German troops occupied Czechoslovak Sudetenland in 1938 and then the whole of Czechoslovak a short time later, Tiso enthusiastically joined forces with the Nazi Party and was installed as the puppet dictator of Slovakia.

    At this point, 16 of the 63 member Slovak Parliament were Catholic priests. It quickly set about introducing more and more repressive anti-semitic legislation and became the first country to begin exporting Jews to Germany to be used as slave labour before being exterminated in the death camps, effectively starting the Holocaust.

    Officially, Tiso claimed the Jews were being sent to Germany where the kind Fürer was setting them up in a state of their own. He dismissed the letters he received from a Polish priest telling him what was really happening as lies and waved aside the fact that Eichmann had refused to allow a delegation to check on the welfare of exported Jews (because they were nearly all dead).

    Tiso was indiscriminate in who fell victim to his genocide, exporting even neighbours, friends and colleagues, including an early supporter, Fülöp Faith, who had supported and welcomed his 1923 election victory and had written admiringly about him with, “Individual men make not only civic but national history.”

    As the Nazi regime began to disintegrate, with the Red Army steamrollering across the Hungarian Plain towards the Slovak border, the Pope’s Italian fascist friend Mussolini being overthrown and kicked to death in a popular revolt and Allied forces advancing on Rome from the south, the Vatican suddenly announced that Tiso had ‘retired’ from his position as monsignor to the Vatican, just as the Slovak National Uprising against the fascists began.

    Not for the first time was the Vatican to try to distance itself from an especially unpleasant ally as soon as it looked like they had backed a loser, and to begin to position itself to favour the winners with an ingratiating smirk, a welcoming hand and protestations of ignorance, as though the very idea that it had ever supported the other side was ludicrous, and anyway they wouldn’t have done so if they had known what they were up to. Honest, gov! As God is my witness! Would I lie to you?

    After liberation, Tiso went into hiding but was arrested by American forces in June 1945. He was hanged for treason in 1947.

    Throughout his career, Josef Tiso had remained a Catholic priest. At no point did the Catholic Church seek to restrain or sanction him and never was a word spoke against him, at least in public. He was of course, like the entire Catholic German Nazi High Command, the entire Catholic fascist leadership in Portugal and Spain, or the devoutly Catholic leaders of the many odious right-wing regimes in Latin America, the Philippines and elsewhere, never excommunicated by the Vatican for his crimes against humanity, including genocide, which, unlike aborting the results of rape, or getting a divorce, is not considered serious enough.

    File footage Czech newsreel of the Nazis invading Germany and Czechoslovakia. Nazi leader Adolf Hitler features as does Josef Tiso

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