Today the Danish and Norwegian Embassies were trashed in Syria. The police looked on and did nothing. We have been here before. In 1938, Cardinal Innitzer realising his epic mistake in welcoming the Anschluss of Austria, preached a sermon in St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, "There is just one Fuehrer: Jesus Christ." His palace was trashed by the Nazis with the police slow, indifferent or looking on. The scene is dramatised in the famous film "The Shoes of the Fisherman".
A few years ago, I met a member of the Catholic Youth who participated in this Mass. On his way home, he greeted someone with "Long Live Our Archbishop" to show he was not a Nazi but a Christian and in consequence he spent the next six years in a concentration camp.
All the more sad then that the Vatican has followed the British Foreign Secretary in appeasing the critics of the publication of the cartoons.
The following report appeared in Osservatore Romano of October 15th 1938.
On Friday, October 7th, a service for Catholic youth took place in St. Stephen's Cathedral. The Cardinal Archbishop also gave a sermon in which he encouraged the young in their faith and religious activities, and when he left the Cathedral some six thousand of them gave expression to their loyalty and sang the hymn to the Sacred Heart. The Hitler Youth and the SA had gathered there, too, and started counter-shouts and whistling: "Down with Innitzer. Our faith is Germany." The young Catholics were numerically the stronger, but they made no answer and dispersed quite quietly. In spite of that, bands of SA-men gathered together in front of the Bishop's residence and staged noisy demonstrations with the shout that the Cardinal should be taken to Dachau. They next tried to break in the door of the residence, but the police intervened to protect it and it was not until towards eleven o'clock in the evening that the demonstrators, with rowdy threats, left the place.
The next day, Saturday, October 8th, at eight-fifteen in the evening, the demonstrations started again from all sides, including the Rotenturmstrasse, so that the residence was entirely surrounded. Stones came from all directions, and all the windows were broken. Again and again the police were asked for assistance, as the demonstrators were endeavouring to break in, and several police stations promised to give aid. In spite of this, however, the heavy door was broken a quarter of an hour later and a disorderly crowd poured in, destroying everything they came across in the antechambers and on the staircase. The inmates of the residence hurried towards the chapel to the Cardinal's protection. It was feared that the Blessed Sacrament would be the object of a sacrilege and a priest consumed the Sacred Hosts— and indeed it was high time, for the intruders had reached the episcopal chapel, struck a secretary of the Cardinal unconscious, destroyed the statue of a saint and, pursuing their vandalism, stormed the study of the Cardinal, where they broke open a writing table and smashed a crucifix. The purple pectoral cross and ring of the Cardinal were stolen, and everywhere the furniture was smashed, pictures slashed and objects of art demolished. The Archbishop's Master of Ceremonies was hit on the head with a candelabra, and one of the priests was dragged to the window and only just saved from being thrown out. As he pluckily defended the chapel the mob shouted: " Well, was it better under Schuschnigg [ousted Chancellor of Austria]?" and other insults.
At length the rumour spread among them that the police were on their way and that they had better disperse. The withdrawal then began, but not before they had demanded from the inmates of the residence a signed statement never to say a word about what had happened. Not one of the intruders, who left singing Deutschland über Alles, was in any way interfered with on going out, and one solitary arrest was made. (This was the correspondent of The Times [!!]) One of the broken clocks had stopped at five minutes past nine—the police had taken no less than forty minutes to reach the inner region of the town.
The crowd had insulted the Cardinal in a most violent and vulgar way. His life had, indeed, been saved, but in another house of the Cathedral Curia very brutal things had occurred. The house was first thoroughly damaged and then a curate, Fr. Kravarnik, was taken and thrown out of a window. He was seriously injured, and it is said that both his legs were broken so that his life is in danger.
Outside on the square the Cardinal's purple mantle, some articles of personal use, furniture, carpets, etc., were burnt. The outrages were not reported in any of the Vienna newspapers.