The Vienna Diocesan Archives will launch a joint project with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., to investigate the role of the controversial figure of Cardinal Theodor Innitzer.
Cooperation agreement to be signed in Vienna
The cooperation agreement will be signed on September 8 at a festivity in Vienna by the museum’s board of management and by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn.
The contents of the archives in Vienna on the so-called “Hilfsstelle für nichtarische Katholiken” (Counseling center for non-Arian Jews), which was set up by Innitzer in 1940, are to be digitalized in order to make them available to the US Holocaust Museum.
According to diocesan archivist Annemarie Fenzl, the goal of this project is to make the archives accessible to a wider community of researchers in order to provide them with the possibility of “analyzing Theodor Innitzer’s role more closely than before.”
Research in the interest of creating a “balanced picture”
According to Kathpress, between 1940 and 1945, the counseling center offered help to many of Vienna’s Catholics of Jewish origin, who had been entirely deprived of their legal rights. Later on, they also offered their services to people of different faiths who had Jewish ancestry.
Fenzl is convinced that this project will help create a “more balanced picture of Innitzer.” Innitzer himself strongly supported this counseling center, and thus helped many people.
Innitzer as Cardinal “Heil Hitler”
Fenzl said that for a long time, Innitzer (1932-1955) had only been known as the Cardinal who had written “Heil Hitler” in a letter. Once the work done by the counseling center became publicly known, however, many people experienced an aha moment. In the spring of 1938, Innitzer had signed an accompanying letter to a call issued by the Catholic Church to vote in favor of the “Anschluss” with the words “Heil Hitler.”
Fenzl said this project was not about “coming to Innitzer’s defense or exonerating him from his acts;” however, at the end of the day, this project will be an “act of justice for Cardinal Innitzer.”
The original article (in German) is available at: http://wien.orf.at/stories/532614/