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The Catholic Elites in Brazil and Their Attitude Toward the Jews, 1933–1939*

Graciela Ben-Dror

  1. Boris Fausto, A revolução de 1930 (São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense S. A., 1995, first edition, 1970), pp. 92–114. In this book, one of the most important works on the reasons for the 1930 revolution, Fausto argues that the revolution marked the end of the ruling hegemony of the bourgeoisie at that time. The revolution, prompted by the need to reorganize the country’s economic structure, led to the formation of a regime that arranged compromises among classes and sectors. The military, with its various agencies, became the dominant factor in Brazil’s political development.
  2. Sérgio Miceli, Intelectuais e classe dirigente no Brasil (1920–1945) (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro: DIFEL, 1979), pp. 129–197.
  3. Robert M. Levine, The Vargas Regime: The Critical Years, 1934–1938 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970).
  4. Jeffrey Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” Immigration, Diplomacy, and Prejudice (Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: University Enterprises, 1998), pp. 63–98. See also Alcir Lenharo, Sacralização da Política (Campinhas: Papirus, 1986), pp. 107–139. Lenharo discusses the prevalent racist beliefs and notes that the higher classes subscribed particularly to the idea of whitening the Brazilian race. He also notes the contribution of Catholic intellectuals who, after attaining positions in Vargas’s governing apparatus, created a “sanctification of politics” (sacralização da política).
  5. Hélgio Trindade, Integralismo, o fascismo brasileiro na década de 30 (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro: DIFEL, 1979). This is the most important book about the Brazilian Fascist movement, the Integralists (Acao Integralista Brasileira—AIB). The book also discusses the Integralists’ view of the Jewish question, with strong emphasis on the Catholic Integralist author Gustavo Barroso, the most important personality in Brazilian Fascism. Although a devout Catholic, Barroso was not organically related to the Church establishment.
  6. Stanley Hilton, Swástica sobre o Brasil (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Civilização Brasileira, 1977); Stanley Hilton, Hitler’s Secret War in South America, 1939–1945 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press,1999).
  7. Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, O Anti-Semitismo na Era Vargas (São Paulo: Editorial Brasiliense, 1988), pp. 247–345.
  8. Favio Koifman, “Luis Martins de Souza Dantas, o embaixador brasileiro na Franca durante a 2a. Guerra Mundial e sua atuacao na ajuda a judeus que fugiram do nazismo,” II Encontro Brasileiro de Estudos Judaicos, 23–25 Novembro (Rio de Janeiro: Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 1999). See also Avraham Milgram, “The Jews of Europe from the Perspective of the Brazilian Foreign Service, 1933–1941,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 9, no.1 (Spring 1995), pp. 94–120.
  9. Carneiro, O Anti-Semitismo, pp. 247–345. Carneiro quotes documents that illuminate the pressure that the consul in Berlin, Ciro de Freitas Vale, brought to bear on Foreign Minister Osvaldo Aranha and claims that Aranha acted to prevent Jewish immigration. Jeffrey Lesser, in contrast, includes Aranha among those who facilitated Jewish immigration despite the legal restrictions. See Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” pp. 19–39, 180; see also Appendix 6, p. 197.
  10. Letter from the consul in Berlin, Ciro de Freitas Vale to Brazilian Foreign Minister Osvaldo Aranha, January 26, 1940; see Berlin, Janury 26 1940, Carta a Sua Escelencia o Senhor Ministro Osvaldo Aranha, Palacio Itamaraty, Rio de Janeiro DF. Arquivo Histórico do Itamaraty (AHI), 400105/1, OA, Reservado. I thank Favio Koifman for calling my attention to this document and helping me find it in the Brazilian Foreign Ministry archives in Rio de Janeiro. See also Carneiro, O Antisemitismo, pp. 533–534.
  11. José Oscar Beozzo, “A Igreja entre a Revolução de 1930, O Estado Novo e a Redemocratização,” in Boris Fausto, ed., Historia Geral da Civilização Brasileira, 11 (São Paulo: DIFEL, 1984), pp. 273–341; Roberto Romano, Igreja contra Estado (São Paulo: Kairos, 1979); see also Margaret Todaro, Pastors, Priests and Politicians: A Study of the Brazilian Catholic Church, 1916–1945, Ph.D. dissertation, Columbia University, 1971, pp. 454–486.
  12. Ivan Vallier, “Religious Elites: Differentiations and Developments in Roman Catholicism,” in Seymour M. Lipset and Aldo Solari, eds., Elites in Latin America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. 180–232.
  13. Carta Pastoral do episcopado brasileiro, O Comunismo Ateu, A Ordem, 17 (18) (October 1937).
  14. Dom. Mario Villas-Boas, “As lições dos Nosos Mestres,” Ação Católica, no. 4 (December 1938), pp.115–120; “Crónica estrangeira,” Ação Católica, no.1 (January, 1939), pp. 29–32. It stands to reason that the flow of numerous Catholic activists—including youth, students, and junior clergy—to the Fascist settings of the Brazilian Integralist movement (the AIB) explains why all political parties, including the AIB, were deactivated after Vargas established his autocratic state in late 1937. This had an influence on the Church establishment, which wanted to continue maintaining sound relations with Vargas’s authoritarian regime. For discussion of the allure of the Integralist movement for Catholics and the activity of Catholics in its ranks, see Todaro, Pastors, Priests and Politicians, pp. 346–424.
  15. For example, Leonel Franca, S. J., Catholicismo e Protestantismo (Rio de Janeiro: n.p., 1933). See also the condemnation of Protestantism, Spiritism, and Freemasonism in a joint pastoral letter of the bishops of Belo Horizonte, “Protestantismo e Espiritismo,” “Maçonaria e Rótari Club,” Pastoral Coletiva do Espiscopado da Província Eclesiástica de Belo Horizonte, December 25, 1941, pp. 7–14.
  16. Asociação Beneficiente Israelita to Cardinal Leme, in Sumaré, November 19, 1938.
  17. Notably, the official pastoral letters of Archbishop Leme, the collective pastoral letters signed by all Brazilian bishops, and the individual pastoral letters of many Brazilian bishops made no perceptible reference to the Jewish issue between 1933 and 1945.
  18. See Avraham Milgram, Os Judeus do Vaticano (Rio de Janeiro: Imago, 1994); John Morley, Vatican Diplomacy and the Jews during the Holocaust (New York: Ktav, 1980), pp. 18-22; and Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” pp. 161–182. See also documents of the Vatican, Berning to Pius XII, 31 March 1939, in Actes et documents du Saint Siège relatifs à la Seconde Guerre mondiale (ADSS), Pierre Blet, Robert B. Graham, Angelo Martini e Burkhart Schneider, eds. (Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, vol. VI, 1972), p. 67; Faulhaber to Pius XII, ibid., pp. 62–65.
  19. See report sent by the Catholic Relief Committee for Refugees from Germany and Austria: Memorandum sobre a situação dos refugiados da Allemanha e Austria eo Soccorro Católico aos Refugiados, Arquivo Delegacia de Ordem Política e Social (DOPS), Rio de Janeiro, Seção Policial, August 10, 1938, I thank the historian Henrique Salem of Rio de Janeiro for helping me find this document in the archives of the Brazilian secret police. Importantly, the Bishop of Bragança was one of those interviewed by the Brazilian fascist (“Integralist”) newspaper Ação in São Paulo. The priests who were interviewed were usually supporters of this movement. See, for example, Bispo de Bragança, Ação, no. 29, November 10, 1936, pp.1, 6.
  20. Ibid. The term “Godless Nazism” was a new term, because in Catholic settings the adjective “Godless” was usually coupled with “Communism.”
  21. A collective pastoral letter that called for total obeisance to Vargas’s regime was published over the signatures of Archbishop Leme, Archbishop Becker, and the bishops of three additional large dioceses; see Todaro, Pastors, Priests, and Politicians, pp. 454–486.
  22. Carta Pastoral do Arcebispo de Porto Alegre, João Becker, September 1935, pp. 138, 149– 150, 155–157. Archbishop Becker also seems to be one of the few who wrote on this matter. Becker, of German origin, had immigrated with his family when he was a child to Rio Granada Do Sol in southern Brazil. He embarked on a church career and, as the Archbishop of Porto Alegre and a close associate of President Vargas, he was an intimate associate of Primate Sebastião Leme.
  23. D. João Becker, Pastoral do Obispo de Porto Alegre, A Religião e a Pátria em face das ideologias modernas de D. João Becker, Arcebispo Metropolitano de Porto Alegre, ao Rvmo. clero e a os diletos fieis de sa arquidiocese, Porto Alegre, September 1939. Looking to praise fascist Italy, Becker ignored the fact that Mussolini had passed race laws in 1938.
  24. Ibid., p. 155.
  25. See, for example, D. João Becker, A Sagrada Eucaristia, Trigésima Segunda Carta Pastoral de João Becker, Arcebispo de Porto Alegre, ao Ecmo. clero e aos diletos fieis de sua Arquidiocese, Porto Alegre, 1944, pp. 13–19, 47–54. See also João Becker, Cristo e o mundo atual, Porto Alegre, 1943, p. 127, and D. João Becker, A Igreja catolica e a pacificação mundial, Trigésima Terceira Carta Pastoral de D. João Becker, Arcebispo Metropolitano de Porto Alegre, Porto Alegre, 1945, pp. 64–72. This study examined many pastoral letters from Brazilian bishops in the archives of the Dominican and Salesian orders. However, some letters are missing because the collections are incomplete, and, therefore, further research is needed.
  26. For the full text of Pius XI’s unpublished draft encyclical, Humani Generis Unitas, see Georges Passelecq—Bernard Suchecky, L’Encyclique cachée de Pie XI (Paris: Editions la Decouverte, 1995), pp. 219–310.
  27. Concerning Becker’s pastoral letter, see D. João Becker, A Religião e a Patria em face das ideologias modernas de D. João Becker, Arcebispo Metropolitano de Porto Alegre, ao Rvmo. clero e a os diletos fiéis de sa arquidiocese, Porto Alegre, 1939, pp. 31-34. It is also of interest that, in September 1939, Becker construed Hitler’s policy against the Jews as a wish to “destroy all the Jews.” For discussion of the encyclical and the guidelines against “racism” that were given to Catholic seminaries on April 13, 1938, see Graciela Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church in Argentina and the Problems of the Jewish People During the Holocaust, 1933– 1945 (Hebrew), Ph.D. dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993, pp. 102–103; and Yves Congar, O. P., The Catholic Church and the Race Question (Paris: UNESCO, 1961, 1953), pp. 51–52.
  28. For discussion of Divini Redemptoris, see Graciela Ben-Dror, The Catholic Church and the Jews, Argentina, 1933–1945 (Hebrew) (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 2000), pp. 139– 141; Pio XI, Divini Redemptoris (Sobre o Comunismo Ateu) (São Paulo: Edições Paulinas, 1965, 1st ed. 1937); and also O Comunismo Ateu (Carta pastoral e mandamento do episcopado brasileiro), A Ordem 17 (18), October 1937.
  29. Becker, Pastoral Letter, 1939, pp. 31–34. For discussion of the strengthening of ideological and political relations between the Catholic Church and Vargas’s regime, see Lenharo, Sacralização da Política, pp. 169–205.
  30. Becker, ibid., pp. 112–116, 118–124.
  31. D. João Becker, A decadéncia da civilisação, causas, conseqüéncias e remedios, Vigesima nona Carta Pastoral de D. João Becker, Arcebispo metropolitano de Porto Alegre ao Revmo. Clero e aos diletos fieis de sua arquidiocese, Porto Alegre, September 13, 1940, pp. 15–193.
  32. Bento XV o Papa da Paz, Ação Católica, no. 11 (November 1940), pp. 328–329.
  33. João Becker, A situacao mundial, Diretivas religiosas e sociais, Trigesima Carta Pastoral, Porto Alegre, 1941, pp. 1–226.
  34. Ibid.
  35. See Carta Pastoral da provincia eclesiástica de Belo Horizonte, September 17-20, 1941.
  36. Pastoral coletiva do Episcopado da provincia eclesiástica de São Paulo sobre a defesa da fe, da moral e da família, São Paulo, 1940, pp. 14–16; Pastoral coletiva do Episcopado da provincia eclesiástica de São Paulo sobre alguns erros contra a fé e a moral, São Paulo 1941, pp. 24-26; “Meditação sobre a guerra,” Ação Católica, no. 9 (September, 1941), p. 277.
  37. Pastoral Colectiva do Episcopado da provincia eclesiástica de São Paulo sobre erros contra a fe e a moral, São Paulo, 22 November 22, 1941, p. 25.
  38. Dom Mario Villas-Boãs, “As lições dos nossos mestres,” Ação Católica, no. 4 (December 1938), pp.117–120; “A proposito de Racismo,” ibid., no.1 (January 1939), pp. 29-32; “Mais dos documentos,” ibid., no. 3-4 (March–April 1943), pp. 65–68. On the issue of Communism, see “Varias,” ibid., no.19 (October 1941), pp. 308–310; “Contra o comunismo ateu,” ibid., no. 5-6 (May-June 1943), pp.115–118; “O Brasil e o comunismo,” ibid., no. 6–7–8 (July–August– September 1945), pp. 237–241.
  39. “Pastoral do Arcebispo de Cincinnati, nos Estados Unidos da America do Norte, interpretando as palavras de Pio XI, sobre o comunismo e o nazismo,” Ação Católica, no. 12 (December 1941), pp. 355–361; “Pastoral dos Bispos da Inglaterra e do pais de Gales,” ibid., no. 11 and 12 (November–December 1942), p. 305.
  40. Frei Agnelo Rossi, “Religião e Historia do Brasil,” Vozes (November 1942), pp. 773–774, in Scott Mainwaring, Igreja Católica e política no Brasil 1916–1985 (São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1989), p. 48.
  41. Pe. Agnelo Rossi, “O problema judaico,” de Osório Lopes, REB, vol. 2, no. 2 (June 1942), pp. 289–295.
  42. Osório Lopes, “Purim–dia de alegria,” ibid.,vd XXXIV (April 1940), pp. 238–239.
  43. Rossi, “O problema judaico,” p. 295.
  44. A. C. Pacheco e Silva et alli, Porque ser Anti-Semita? (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, S. A., 1933).
  45. For the continuation of Agnelo Rossi’s critique of Osório Lopes’ book, see “O Problema Judaico,” por Osório Lopes (Petropolis: Vozes, 1942); REB, vol. 2, no. 2 (June 1942), p. 295. Notably, since REB is the official journal of the Catholic Church, the publication of a recommendation for Osório Lopes’s book had the effect of expressing the Church leaders’ legitimization of his views.
  46. Jose Cabral, A questão judaica (Porto Alegre: Livraria Globo, 1937). The foreword was written by the most prominent antisemitic writer in the Integralist movement, the Brazilian Fascist movement. Barroso was also a devout Catholic, an author of antisemitic literature, and the translator into Portuguese of the world’s most widely distributed antisemitic literature, such as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. He attempted to explain why Catholics should join the Brazilian Fascist movement. For more on Barroso, see Todaro, Pastors, Priests and Politicans; Roney Cytrynovicz, Integralismo e anti-Semitismo nos textos de Gustavo Barroso na década de 30,” M.A. thesis, São Paulo, 1992.
  47. Cabral, ibid., pp. 30–43.
  48. See Cabral, ibid., pp. 46, 74, where he quotes Eca de Queiroz, Cartas de Inglaterra, pp. 72-73; Witold Koerski, “Israel sem máscara,” p. 12; Leon de Poncins, As forças secretas da revolução, p. 195; Ford, O judeu intenacional, p. 11; Jose Perez; Questão judaica, questão social (São Paulo: Empresa Gráfica de Revista dos Tribunaes, 1933), p. 61; Mario Saa, A invasão dos judeus, p. 90. In references to these books, the place and year of publication are seldom provided.
  49. Ibid., pp. 74, 77–86, 115–152. For discussion of Napal’s book, see Dionisio Napal, O Império Soviético (Buenos Aires, 1926). In 1934, when the book came out in its ninth printing in Spanish, its distribution climbed to 1,000 copies. Cabral bases himself on Alfonso Arinos de Melo Franco, Preparação ao nacionalismo: Cartas aõs que tem vinte anos (Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1934), p. 46.
  50. Cabral, A questão judaica, pp. 57–66.
  51. Ibid; Anor Butler Maciel, Nacionalismo: O Problema Judaico no mundo e no Brasil: O Nacional-Socialismo (Porto Alegre: Livraria do Globo, 1937); Oliveira Vianna, Raça e assimilação (São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1932); Alfonso Arinos de Mello Franco, Preparação ao nacionalismo. See Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” p. 125.
  52. Osorio Lopes, “Immigração judaica,” A Ordem, vol. X (July–December 1933), pp. 584–587.
  53. Maroquinha Jacobina Rabello, “Carta aberta as mocas da minha terra,” Vozes de Petrópolis, vol. XXVII (June 1933), pp. 371-374.
  54. A. J. Rocha, “Henry Ford, O Judeu Internacional,” Porto Alegre, Edição de Livraria do Globo, Porto Alegre, 1933; ibid., vol. XXVII (September 1933), p. 639.
  55. “Os Protocolos dos Sabios do Sião,” ibid., Ano XXX (November 1936), p. 774.
  56. “Christão e anti-Semita?,” ibid., Ano XXX (February 1936), pp.119–120.
  57. José Cabral, A Questão Judaica (Porto Alegre: Ediciones do Globo, 1937), Vozes de Petropolis, vol. XXXII (July 1938), pp. 456–457.
  58. “A mancha amarella,” ibid., vol. XXX (August 1936), p. 555.
  59. “Idéais e fatos,” ibid., Vol XXXII (December 1938), p. 826
  60. “Einstein e Thomas Mann nos Estados Unidos,” ibid., vol. XXXIII (June 1939), p. 379; “A humildade de Einstein,” ibid., vol. XXXIV (February 1940).
  61. Antao de Mendoça, “Algunas idéias em torno da imigração,” ibid., vol. XXVIII (March 1934), pp. 168–172.
  62. Sylvia Prates, “Israel contra Ismael,” ibid., vol. XXXII (October 1938), pp. 625–627; “A questão da Palestina,” ibid., pp. 382-384.
  63. Idem, “Una situação impossivel,” Vozes de Petropolis, vol. XXXIII (February 1939), pp. 96– 98.
  64. A. J. R., “Lion Feuchtwanger, Flavius Josephus,” Vozes de Petropolis, vol. XXVIII (October 1934), p. 694.
  65. As for why a racist and antisemitic climate took shape in the 1930s, see Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” pp. 19-39, 63-67; and Lenharo, Sacralização da política, pp. 107–128.
  66. Lesser, Brazil and the “Jewish Question,” pp. 107–109; see Appendix 6, p. 197.
  67. See Maria Luiza Tucci Carneiro, Preconceito Racial (São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1988), pp. 231–240. In regard to the “whitening of the race” policy, see Thomas Skidemore, Preto no Branco (Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1976), pp. 219–239.
  68. See Avraham Milgram, “Artur Hehl Neiva e a questão da imigração judaica no Brasil,” in Nachman Falbel, Avraham Milgram, Alberto Dines, eds., Em Nome da Fé, (São Paulo: Editora Perspectiva, S. A., 1999), pp. 145–156.
  69. Becker, Pastoral Letter, 1941. On the attempt to integrate the foreign concentrations, especially the Germans, see Silva Steinfus, O Brasil de Getulio Vargas e a formacao dos blocos: 1930–1942 (São Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1985), pp. 8–86, 424.
  70. “Uma entrevista do Arcebispo de São Paulo,” Ação Católica, nos. 5, 6 (May–June 1945), p. 152.
  71. See Trindade, Integralismo, o fascismo brasileiro, pp. 30–32. For the impact of Figueiredo’s and Franca’s books on their contemporaries, see Jackson de Figueiredo, Pascal e a inquietação moderna; Leonel Franca, A Igreja, a reforma e a civilização.
  72. Alceu Amoroso Lima, Indicacações Políticas (Rio de Janeiro : Civilização Brasileira, 1936), p. 20.
  73. Alceu Amoroso Lima, Política (Rio de Janeiro, 1932).
  74. Todaro, Pastors, Priests and Politicians, p. 242.
  75. Osorio Lopes, “A fisionomia de um povo,” A Ordem (July–December 1931), pp. 49–51.
  76. Osório Lopes, “A Inquisição e os judeus” (I), ibid. (January–February 1930), pp. 12–16.
  77. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, “Os ‘Horrores’ da Inquisição,” ibid. (July–August 1930), pp. 83– 84.
  78. See Carneiro, O Antisemitimo, p. 111. Tucci Carneiro quotes from C. da Cunha, Educação, Autoritarismo no Estado Novo (São Paulo: Cortez, 1981), p. 94.
  79. Simon Schwartzman, et al., Tempos de Capanema (São Paulo: Editora Paz e Terra, 1984), pp. 141–252.
  80. The Church’s stance on Communism received official endorsement after Pope Pius XI issued his encyclical Divini Redemptoris on March 19, 1937. Following the encyclical, the Church leaders in Brazil issued a pastoral letter entitled Episcopado Nacional. Carta pastoral e mandamento do Episcopado sobre o Comunismo Ateo, Rio de Janeiro, 1937. AntiCommunism became an urgent and very troubling issue in the eyes of the Brazilian Church; see, for example, Alceu Amoroso Lima, “A Igreja e o momento político,” A Ordem (July 1935), pp. 9–13. As for Protestantism, see Leonel Franca, S. J., Catolicismo e Protestantismo (Rio de Janeiro: n.p., 1933), p. 268.
  81. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, “A Igreja e o judaismo,” A Ordem (January 1931), p. 46.
  82. Ibid., pp. 556–559; idem, “O verdadero perigo comunista,” ibid. (July–December 1933), p. 555.
  83. Ibid., pp. 556–559.
  84. Correa de Oliveira, “A Igreja,” ibid., p. 47.
  85. Idem, “O verdadero,” ibid., p. 555.
  86. Ibid., pp. 556–557.
  87. Osório Lopes, “Judaismo na Alemanha,” ibid. (May 1932), pp. 413–414. Lopes quotes an article by the Jesuit father J. F. Thorning in his book, The German Bishops and Hitler, but further details about the book are not cited.
  88. Luis Delgado, “Raça e assimilação,” A Ordem (July–December 1933), pp. 540–543. See also João Maria, Bispo de Linz, “Verdadeiro e o falso nacionalismo,” ibid., pp. 549–610.
  89. Pedro E. de Melo, “A sombra da cruz gamada,” ibid. (July–December 1938), pp. 32–44. See also Antonio Osmar Gomes, “O idolo da raça,” ibid., pp. 127–130; “Igreja Católica e racismo,” ibid., pp. 291–292.
  90. Alceu Amoroso Lima, “O nacionalismo cristão,” ibid., pp. 367–391.
  91. Xavier Marques, “Nacionalismo e imperialismo,” ibid. (July–December 1939), pp. 154–158.
  92. Osório Lopes, “O sonho de Theodoro Herzl,” ibid. (May–June 1930), pp. 211–215.
  93. Ibid., pp. 211–212.
  94. Osório Lopes, “O sonho,” ibid., pp. 211–215.
  95. See Sylvia Prates, “Israel contra Ismael,” Vozes (October 1938), pp. 625-627; Sylvia Prates, “A questão de Palestina,” ibid. (July 1938), pp. 382–384.