Archbishop of Baltimore spoke out against Nazis

This Just In. . .

December 09, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

In November 1938, the Nazi terror of European Jews swelled and exploded with a night of killings, vandalism and lootings. Nov. 9 became known as Crystal Night because of all the broken glass on the streets from attacks on synagogues, Jewish businesses and homes. Berlin's largest synagogue was burned, scores of Jews were killed, thousands more brutalized, arrested and sent on fatal journeys to concentration camps. The Holocaust had begun.

While too many leaders of the Western world (including those in the Vatican) failed to speak against the nightmare, Baltimore's Catholic archbishop, Michael J. Curley, was calling Adolf Hitler a madman. File this under: Something we didn't know until we saw an old newspaper saying so.

"Assails Nazi Persecution Of Jews, Prelate Dares Der Fuhrer To Complain" was the headline that appeared with a two-column portrait of Curley on the front page of The Sun (newsstand price, 2 cents) on Monday, Nov. 14. The copy, given to me by TJI reader Harry Grauel of Towson, has turned brown and brittle, but the long-gone archbishop's message, delivered at Holy Comforter Church in Washington, is still clear and, in the context of its time, remarkable:

"I believe it is the duty of all of us in this civilized country of ours to come to the aid of a people who are homeless and helpless, the Jewish people of Germany, who are the victims of what is perhaps the greatest savagery of all history.

"In the name of all the priests and the 300,000 members of the laity in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, I denounce the madness that has taken possession of the Nazis of Germany in these days of persecution of helpless, innocent Jews whose only offense is that they are members of the race which Jesus, the Founder of the Church and the Saviour of the world, was a member. . . . The mobs in Germany are headed and dominated by a madman, Hitler, who was baptized a Catholic, but who has proven false to all the teachings of that church. . . . He no longer not only rejects God but would make himself divine; such is his madness."

November 1938. How many other men in cassocks dared to say that?

Haunting conversation

Starting in the late summer of 1994, her appealing face showed up on missing-person fliers taped to automated teller machines and stapled to telephone poles, on a large billboard in Timonium, on television screens, in this newspaper. If you've seen those photographs of Susan Hurley Harrison -- and they would have been difficult to miss -- you might feel by now that you knew this woman. (Her remains were discovered more than a week ago in a Frederick County woods.) Strange as it is, eerie as it is, I've felt that way all along. I'll tell you why.

It happened in 1993, but I can't remember exactly how -- either Susan Harrison called me directly at The Sun or a friend of hers called to set up an interview. Either way, I ended up on the phone with Harrison. We had a conversation, perhaps two, in the summer of '93. The subject was spousal abuse. Though Harrison was reluctant at that time to go public with all the details of her experience, she wanted me to know that a story was developing and, down the road, she might be willing to be quoted on the record. She mentioned a divorce proceeding. I told her I was reluctant to write a column on the intricacies of a particular divorce, unless there was an aspect to it -- spousal abuse, for instance -- of public interest. (Susan Harrison was separated from her second husband, Jim Harrison, at the time of her disappearance in August 1994; she filed for divorce in January of that year, citing abandonment and cruelty as grounds.) I told her to think about it and call me back when she was ready to talk. We had no further conversations.

Give it a rest

A TJI reader got a wake-up call, of sorts, at 9: 15 a.m. Saturday from Glen Haven Memorial Park. "I was informed that I had been selected to receive a free burial plot," he says. "The cemetery wakes me up on a weekend! You'd think they'd let me rest in peace!"

Towel tales

A friend in Anne Arundel County had some plumbing work done in his house, so he went over to his mother's apartment for a shower. Mother left out a towel for him -- one from Traymore Hotel.

The huge hotel on Atlantic City's Boardwalk has been dust since 1972, when it was dynamited by Baltimore County-based Controlled Demolition Inc. Mommy dearest, 82 years old, couldn't remember taking the towel -- or, for that matter, the matching Williamsburg Lodge bathmat.

Now he's cooking

WMAR-TV's Jamie Costello gets off a couple of great lines in "A Taste of Catholicism," the new cookbook from Cathedral Foundation Press. Recalling after-Mass breakfast at the Double T diner in Rosedale, Costello writes: "Our waitress was a cross between John Wayne and Sharon Stone."

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Got a comment or story? You can contact Dan Rodricks by voice mail at 332-6166, by electronic mail at TJIDAol.com, or through the World Wide Web at http: //www.sunspot.net.

Pub Date: 12/09/96

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