Red Cross and Vatican Mail Services


Red Cross

    The Red Cross served as a means for people to communicate with relatives living in enemy territories. A Red Cross message form would be prepared and sent from the sender's Red Cross office. This form would then go to the Red Cross office nearest to the addressee. Once received by the addressee, a reply would be filled in on the back of the form and sent through Red Cross channels. As can be imagined, this process could take several months. These messages were limited to 25 words each way.  Examples of these Red Cross messages may be found in this site at Mauritius (see Red Cross Letters); Herzogenbusch (see Red Cross Letter); Amsterdam (see Red Cross Letters); and Great Britain (see Kindertransport).


    The Vatican also had a very limited correspondence plan for family members separated by war.  Below are thumbnails of the front and back of an example of this correspondence.  This printed bilingual form was sent from the Vatican delegation in Jerusalem on August 24, 1942, with a message from Tibor Tannenbaum in Jerusalem to Rabbi Emanuel Tannenbaum in Abauj Torna County in Hungary.  The reply, dated November 15, 1942, came through the Vatican Delegation in Budapest.  The front contains the purple handstamp of the Apsotolic Delegation, Palestine, and the back contains the handstamp of the Apostolic Delegation in Budapest and the handstamp of the State Department of His Holiness Information Office.  The printed instructions in Italian at the bottom of the reverse side state the following:  "Please, transmit the reply via the Vatican Radio to the Apostolic Delegation for Egypt and Palestine."  Also, messages were limited to 25 words and family matters only.  According to the Yad Vashem Central Database of Shoah Victims, Rabbi Tannenbaum perished in 1944 at Auschwitz.  A certificate from philatelic expert George Muentz dated January 15, 1998, states that this item is "... the only example of wartime family correspondence from Palestine via the Vatican to the enemy occupied Europe known to me."  Also below is a thumbnail of an envelope of the British Red Cross/Postal Message Scheme in Palestine postmarked, Jerusalem, July 16, 1942, from Tibor Tannenbaum to a Jewish Organization in Hungary.


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Copyright 2007 Edward Victor