Minggu, Maret 14, 2010

Bab 21 The Vatican Ratlines

With the collapse of German resistance at the end of World War II, the great fear of the peoples living in Eastern Europe was that the advancing Soviet troops would not liberate but enslave them. Whole countries would become part of the spoils of war with which Roosevelt would reward Stalin. Freedom would be lost and citizens once used to traveling freely from country to country would become virtual prisoners of Communist regimes behind closed borders.

Escape from Communist rule, if it was to occur, had to be effected immediately. With this realization, multitudes of refugees began streaming west ahead of the advancing Red Army. Mingling among those fleeing, and hoping to hide their identity in the confusion, were tens of thousands of war criminals from the Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Germany. Ironically, many of them would receive faster and better aid than the legitimate refugees, some of whom they had imprisoned and tortured.

Pius XII's defenders insist that his wartime silence in the face of the Holocaust was dictated by the necessity for the Church to remain neutral. As the war neared its end, however, the pope was far from neutral. He pleaded with the Allied Forces to go easy on both Mussolini and Hitler.

Their countries had to remain strong as a buffer against Soviet Communism. The Allies, of course, turned a deaf ear to the pope's surprising intercession for mass murderers.

Having failed to do anything on a significant scale to rescue the Jews, the pope would exert great effort to save their murderers. The rationale was that the Fascists who had fought Communism must be rescued from prosecution as war criminals in order to carry on the battle from other Catholic countries. Though unable to rescue Hitler and Mussolini, the pope let it be known in the refugee camps "that the Vatican would shelter Fascist fugitives."3

The Great Escape West

It is almost uncanny how quickly that word reached the "right people" while remaining unknown to the rest. A steady stream of Nazi war criminals began to flow through an underground escape route which was quickly set up by the Vatican. The network would be known as the Ratlines. Investigative reporters Mark Aarons and John Loftus, having sifted through thousands of hitherto secret documents, write in their remarkable book Unholy Trinity:

Under the direction of Pope Pius XII, Vatican officials such as Monsignor Giovanni Montini (later Pope Paul VI) supervised one of the greatest obstructions of justice in modern history ... facilitating] the escape of tens of thousands of Nazi [war criminals] to the West, where they were supposed to be trained as "freedom fighters" .. . [as well as] Central European Fascist [war criminals] from Russia, Byelorussia, and the Ukraine.4

Most Catholics would have been shocked to know what the Vatican was secretly doing-and most of all to know that the escaping war criminals included a large number of clergy, from priests to archbishops. Nor was the Vatican ignorant of their crimes but had actually given them its blessing with full knowledge of the awful facts. How tragic that a similar effort had not been put forth to rescue millions of Jews from the Nazi death machine!

Thousands of the Ustashi retreated with the Nazi troops in face of the Russian advance and attempted to surrender to British forces at the Austrian border but were refused. It was therefore necessary to get past the British lines secretly, and to do so they were aided by fellow Ustasha, Father Vilim Cecelja. A Lieutenant Colonel in the Ustashi militia, he "spoke with pride of his leading role in organising 800 peasants to fight alongside the Nazi invaders" of Yugoslavia. He had been part of Pavelic's entourage when the latter had been blessed by Pius XII in Rome on May 17, 1941.

In anticipation of the Nazi defeat, Cecelja had gone to Vienna in May 1944 "to prepare the Austrian end of the escape network" and to found "the Austrian branch of the Croatian Red Cross, which provided ideal cover for his illegal work."5 As for Pavelic himself, Western intelligence records indicate:

Ante Pavelic clipped his recognizable bushy eyebrows, donned a beard, and, with an Argentine passport, slipped into Austria under the name "Ramirez." He hid in the Convent of St. Gilgin until picked up by British occupation forces. [By arrangement with the Vatican] he was released and surfaced two years later in Italy dressed as a priest and secreted in another convent ... [until] he sailed to Buenos Aires in 1948.6

The Early Ratlines Operation

One of the early key figures directing the escape of Nazi war criminals (and especially Catholic clergy) was Bishop Alois Hudal, rector of a seminary for German priests in Rome and a close associate of both Monsignor Giovanni Montini (later Pope Paul VI) and Alcide de Gasperi (later Italian Premier). Confidant also of Eugenio Pacelli both before and after he became Pius XII, Hudal was as fanatical in his support of Hitler and Nazi policies as he was in his hatred of anything Communist. An unrepentant anti-Semite to his death, Hudal worked closely in Rome with the Holy Office (successor to the Inquisition), watchdog over Catholic doctrine.

Hudal saw no conflict between his beloved Roman Catholicism and his equally beloved Nazism. During the war he proudly drove around Rome displaying a "Greater Germany" flag on his car, until an allied victory was inevitable. Then it was hastily removed.

Hudal's pro-Nazi speeches in Rome, his pro-Nazi book, The Foundations of National Socialism (given the imprimatur by Cardinal Theodore Innitzer, primate of the Austrian Catholic Church, who welcomed Hitler enthusiastically when he invaded Austria), far from being frowned upon by the Vatican, seemed rather to earn its approval. Close associate of the Vatican's Secretary of State, Cardinal Eugenio Maria Pacelli (who became Pope Pius XII on March 2, 1939), Hudal was elevated to Titular Bishop in 1936 in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal Pacelli himself. Equally favored by the Nazis, Hudal held a Golden Nazi Party membership badge.

Among the war criminals that Hudal helped escape were major figures such as Franz Stangl, commandant of the infamous extermination camp at Treblinka; he had presided over the efficient murder of about 900,000 inmates, mostly Jews. After his arranged "escape" from prison camp in Austria, Stangl made his way down the pipeline to Rome along with tens of thousands of others. "Hudal" was the name they all whispered, the password that opened secret sanctuaries. As Stangl told it, shortly after he had arrived at a Vatican property in Rome where he would be sheltered, Bishop Hudal "came into the room where I was waiting and he held out both his hands and said, `You must be Franz Stangl. I was expecting you.' 7

Stangl was finally located and recaptured in Brazil in 1967 by Simon Wiesenthal's Nazi hunters, who learned of the Ratlines. This underground network of Catholic offices, seminaries, monasteries, convents, and residences provided not only shelter on the escape route but false identities and passage to South America and other safe havens. The most infamous mass murderer of them all, Adolf Eichmann, atheistic head of the SS Department for Jewish Affairs and in charge directly under Hitler of the entire Holocaust, was among the tens of thousands who were carefully smuggled by Catholic officials with Vatican blessing down the Ratlines.

Israeli Intelligence eventually tracked down Eichmann in Argentina and kidnapped him. He was tried in Jerusalem and executed in 1962. The Israelis were careful to look upon this remarkable exploit not as revenge but as a triumph for truth and justice. Eichmann could have been murdered in Buenos Aires by Israeli agents. Instead he was, at great risk and effort, brought to trial where his victims could face him in open court and the whole world could hear the evidence of the Holocaust. The "wandering Jews," without a national home, whom Eichmann had systematically put to death by the millions, but now in their own land, heard the testimony. After hearing Eichmann's own admissions (though he justified obedience to his "god" Hitler), the jurists weighed the evidence, rendered the verdict, and hanged him.

Most of the other Nazi war criminals, however, were able to melt into the German communities in Latin America. Having escaped the arm of human justice, they eventually faced a Higher Court-as we all must someday. There perfect justice is meted out in spite of the corruption of those who claim to represent that Court on earth.

An Incredible Obsession

The Ratlines began with diplomatic pressure applied by Pius XII to allow his personal representatives to visit prisonerof-war camps "to minister religiously to Catholics." The real purpose was to identify and smuggle out Nazi war criminals. It can hardly be a coincidence that the man Pius XII chose to head this outrageous obstruction of international justice was his close adviser, Bishop Hudal, whom almost all of Rome knew was a fanatical anti-Semite and pro-Nazi. As Hudal himself later frankly admitted:

I thank God that He [allowed me] to visit ... prisons and concentration camps and [to help prisoners] escape with false identity papers.... I felt duty bound after 1945 to devote my whole charitable work mainly to former National Socialists [Nazis] and Fascists, especially to so called "war criminals."8

What an admission! Do not forget that Hudal was a Roman Catholic bishop, close friend, and confidant of more than one pope. He dedicated his life to serving Holy Mother Church in obedience to its spiritual leader, whom he believed to be the vicar of Christ. He would not have done anything that was contrary to the dictates of the one whom he called Holy Father. And he was rewarded with position and titles for that faithful service.

Remember, the war had ended. Hitler's evil and its horrendous consequences in destroyed cities and millions of lives lost was a matter of undisputed history. The massacre of 6 million Jews was fully documented public record. The criminality of the Hitler regime had so outraged the world that an international tribunal had been assembled in Nuremburg to try those responsible for "war crimes." Yet Bishop Hudal, knowing the facts, declared with the conviction of a man who believes he has served God well that his "charitable work" had mainly consisted in rescuing "war criminals" from the justice the rest of the world wanted to impose upon them!

Did Hudal act alone? Indeed not. He faithfully carried out a secret mission in service of the pope and his beloved Church. After he was replaced, that work continued under Vatican sponsorship. The new men in charge were even more overtly evil than Hudal. Like him, they were Catholic clergy who believed they were serving God and knew they had the pope's blessing. Thus Hudal's incredible words about "charitable work" in rescuing "war criminals" are really the words of the Vatican that was behind the operation.

All to the Glory of God?

Some of the most valuable assistance that Hudal received in setting up his infamous escape routes came from an old friend, Walter Rauff, himself a Nazi war criminal and mass murderer of Jews. The tangled web of evil implicates other powers as well with whom the Vatican covertly worked, including the United States. The OSS (predecessor to the CIA) "borrowed" Rauff from the Vatican long enough to debrief this former SS Intelligence chief of everything he knew about Communist agents operating in the West, then allowed him to return to his apartment in Milan, from which he ran the northern end of the Ratlines.

To help finance the Vatican's escape network, Rauff enlisted a former SS colleague, Frederico Schwendt, one of the most talented counterfeiters of all time. His genius supplemented Vatican funds during the early days of the Ratlines. Later operations were supported in large measure from the sale of some of the Nazis' ill-gotten treasures, including hundreds of pounds of gold smuggled out to the West and laundered by Catholic prelates.

Even the International Red Cross, especially the Rome office, but others as well, was duped into aiding the operation by providing the false identity papers that enabled multitudes of war criminals to board ships in Genoa for South America. That end of the operation was overseen by Croatian Arch bishop Siri, who hid such infamous monsters as Eichmann in a monastery during his flight from justice.9 As for Pavelic's old friend from Intermarium and one of the mass killers of Serbs and Jews in Croatia, Stejpan Hefer, the records indicate:

Stejpan Hefer also escaped into Austria. He was there on August 19, 1946, when the Yugoslav government filed documents asking for his return to Yugoslavia to stand trial for war crimes [but] sailed to join his poglavnik in Argentina.

Hefer was helped out of Europe by the most important Croatian escape route, which operated out of the Instituto de Santa Jeronimus (Institute of St. Jerome) at 132 Tomaselli Street in Rome. This [Vatican-financed] Catholic foundation, run by Fathers Draganovic and Levasic, facilitated the escape of thousands of Ustashi to South America....

In Buenos Aires, the refugees could receive assistance from a group of exiled Croatian Catholic monks. In this way, as many as five hundred Ustashi a month were able to slip away.10

By what rationale could torturers and mass murderers be protected from justice? The accumulated evidence indicates that being pro-Catholic and anti-Communist was all that mattered. Absolution was possible for any crime. Moreover, killing heretics and Jews had been a well-established practice for centuries by the Church and had been confirmed by numerous popes as an act of faith to the glory of God. When one considers the Vatican’s history, the rescue of Nazi war criminals who were Catholics and had faithfully followed the example of Mother Church seems gruesomely understandable.

Supporting the Roman Catholic Church in its struggle against its archenemies (Communism and Protestantism) and propagating the Catholic faith worldwide was seen as doing God's will. It was therefore to be pursued by any means, at any cost, and with any partners of convenience. The Vatican's determination to see Europe become once again a Catholic Federation of States in opposition to Stalin's Communism was the overriding factor, with which all else had to fall in line. The Western Allies were willing to be limited partners in such an enterprise to whatever extent it served their own selfish interests. It was the very unholy alliance ("fornication with kings") all over again, of which the woman whom John had seen astride the beast would be guilty down through history.

Catholic countries were duty-bound to do their part in furthering the Vatican's interests. Part of that duty included providing safe haven for those sons of Mother Church whom she wished to protect in the pursuit of her great mission to create God's kingdom on earth. Those in far-off Latin America were strategically located to best perform that service, and they did so.

A New Director for the Ratlines

Hudal's open espousal of Nazism, his outspoken admiration for Hitler, and his unabashed anti-Semitism continued even after the war ended and the unfathomable evil of the Holocaust had been revealed to a horrified world. As a result, the bishop eventually became an embarrassment to the Vatican. He was drawing public attention which threatened exposure of the Ratlines. Consequently, his superiors brought pressure upon Hudal to step out of the picture. Reluctantly he retired from his ecclesiastical positions and faded into the background.

Thereafter the supervision of the Ratlines fell upon the shoulders of a resourceful Croatian Catholic priest, Father Krunoslav Draganovic. In Croatia he had been a close assistant to Bishop Saric of Sarajevo, a notorious anti-Semite known as the "hangman of the Serbs. Church officials had called Draganovic to Rome in August 1943, where he became Intermarium's most influential contact in the Vatican. That he had also maneuvered himself into becoming the Croatian Red Cross representative in Rome was of invaluable help after the war in obtaining false documents for fugitives.

Draganovic was director of the Croatian Confraternity of San Girolamo, founded in Rome by Pope Nicholas V in 1453. The monastery's labyrinthian interior on Tomaselli Street soon sheltered many a fugitive from international justice. San Girolamo became, in fact, the nerve center for the continued smuggling of Nazi war criminals to South America and elsewhere. Many of Draganovic's former associates in the Ustashi, including a number of Catholic priests such as Father Vilim Cecelja (listed as "war criminal number 7103" by Tito's government and unsuccessfully sought for extradition), were key figures in operating the Ratlines. Cecelja, already referred to as responsible for the Austrian end of the Ratlines, "had served as a military chaplain and performed absolution for Ustashi forces during the height of the massacres of Serbs and Jews."11

Immediately after the war, Father Cecelja, ostensibly for the purest humanitarian reasons but without any affiliation or approval of the International Red Cross, founded the Croatian Red Cross, a strategic move which was to prove extremely useful for the Ratlines.12 Receiving temporary permission to run his "refugee camp" in Austria until the International Red Cross could set up its own authorized affiliate, Cecelja gained access to Red Cross identity cards. He was thereby able to provide false papers certified by the Red Cross13 for his fellow Ustashi as they escaped into Austria and then made their way down the Vatican pipeline through Rome to Genoa and on to freedom in South America. This Catholic Father often boasted of his initiation into the Ustashi in a secret ritual involving candles, a crucifix, and crossed dagger and revolver.

A Staggering Contempt for Truth

When rumors of the smuggling operation began to circulate, both the Vatican and Draganovic disclaimed any involvement in the Ratlines. Such denials by the Roman Catholic hierarchy continue to this day, usually datelined Vatican City and carried in major newspapers around the world. Here is a recent protest of innocence:

Rebutting an old accusation, the Vatican yesterday rejected ... allegations that it aided Nazi war criminals to flee Europe to South America after World War II.

The assertion ... was triggered by reports from Argentina that newly declassified archives there show that Nazi officials arrived in Buenos Aires after the war on passports provided by the Vatican, the Red Cross and Spain....

Vatican archives for the period are closed, despite requests from Jewish groups for access to them....

Vatican press chief Joaquin Navarro, the spokesman for Pope John Paul II ... said, "The idea that the Holy See ... helped Nazi criminals, persecutors of the Jews, to flee from Europe ... is historically false."14

[A later article declares]:

Almost two years after President Carlos Saul Mennen announced that he would open Argentina's "Nazi files," investigators here say they have ... probably gathered one of the most exhaustive archives documenting the movement of Nazis after the war that exists....

The documents show, for example, that Ante Pavelic ... entered Argentina after the war with eight Croatian aides ... but not previously known was the entry of Pavelic associates accused of war crimes, including ... [a list of names follows].15

Such periodic outbursts of self-righteous indignation only betray the Vatican's flagrant disregard for truth. The facts, hidden for decades in secret vaults, can no longer be denied. Some of the records that Aarons and Loftus uncovered, which establish beyond question the Vatican's active involvement, were originally acquired by "a daring burglary of Draganovic's office which obtained photographs of many of Draganovic's top secret records." Those records provide conclusive proof that Girolamo was "the centre of the Vatican's smuggling operation."16

Photocopied documents from the burglary also confirm that Ante Pavelic himself "was living inside the Vatican along with other wanted war criminals."17 In those days the former Croatian Fuehrer was disguised as a Catholic priest. While being hidden at the Vatican, Pavelic became a good friend of Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, the Vatican's under secretary of state. Montini became Pope Paul VI in 1963 in the midst of John XXIII's Vatican Council II. As already mentioned, Paul VI would take control of and impose his will upon Vatican II much as Pius IX had done with Vatican I in 1870.

Vatican sponsorship of the Ratlines was also thoroughly established through constant surveillance by Allied intelligence teams.18 Consider the following brief excerpt from a report by Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Agent Robert Mudd:

These Croats [war criminals] travel back and forth from the Vatican several times a week in a car with a chauffeur whose license plate bears the two initials CD, "Corps Diplomatic." It issues forth from the Vatican and discharges its passengers inside the Monastery of San Geronimo [at San Girolamo]. Subject to diplomatic immunity, it is impossible to stop the car... .

Draganovic's sponsorship of these Croat Quislings definitely links him up with the plans of the Vatican to shield these ex-Ustashi nationalists until such time a, they are able to procure for them the proper document, to enable them to go to South America.19

Western intelligence was spectacularly inept in its opposition to "the very well organized and successful Ratline run by Father Krunoslav Draganovic and an array of Croatian clerics." One of the few moments of triumph came when "the British arranged an ambush at San Girolamo itself, arresting about one hundred men as they left a meeting."20 One reason for the lack of success was the fact that both "Washington and London had entered into arrangements with the Holy See to assist many Nazi collaborators to emigrate via Draganovic's smuggling system."21

American and British Involvement

The frustrated American and British agents who were attempting to capture elusive war criminals were not aware that Draganovic was being tipped off by certain elements within their own agencies. Thus the "good Father" continued to snatch his fellow Ustashi out of refugee camps just before they were about to be arrested. This was the case, for example, with Ljubo Milos, a senior official at the Jasenovac concentration camp where about 300,000 people were killed. Milos had enjoyed the "ritual killing of Jews," slitting throats, sheering ribs, and ripping open bellies with a special knife, or having prisoners thrown alive into the brick factory furnace, or simply having them bludgeoned to death.22 Tipped off that Milos was about to be arrested, Draganovic snatched him out from under the noses of his would-be captors and whisked him away to safety.

Another Catholic priest/Ustashi member and war criminal who worked underground on the Ratlines was Father Draggutin Kamber. A mass murderer, Draggutin had even set up and commanded a concentration camp for Serbs and Jews, whom he declared had to be exterminated because they were harmful to the Ustashi state. Now he worked diligently to help his fellow Ustashi war criminals elude Soviet and Allied intelligence and make their way to freedom, where the Ustashi movement could make a fresh start. The OSS even cooperated in the effort because it was hopeful that these Croatian patriots would become a formidable foe to the Communist Tito, who had become President of Yugoslavia.

The CIC was actually working against itself. While one section, under orders from Washington, was seeking to arrest war criminals, another was under secret orders from Washington to shelter and use Nazi war criminals to its own ends. Take, for example, the infamous Klaus Barbie, the Gestapo chief in Lyons, France. The United States CIC 66th headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, sheltered Barbie and his family for more than five years while it used him as an informer-then helped him escape. While many of the Barbie files have been removed from State Department archives, "it appears that the High Commissioner's Office issued Barbie with Allied Control Board travel documents, and sent him down the Vatican Ratline." Aarons and Loftus continue:

Draganovic promptly shipped him [Barbie and his family] off to South America under the name of Klaus Altmann. In Bolivia, Barbie was received by Draganovic's local representative, Father Rocque Romac, another Fascist Croatian priest and wanted war criminal, whose real identity was Father Stjepan Osvaldi-toth....

A close examination of the badly copied Barbie documents reveals that the State Department co-ordinated his passage down the Ratline. Indeed, almost all of the early passengers on the American Ratlines were handled by the State Department's Office of Policy Co-ordination (OPC) through their contact man in Rome.

In fact, many of Draganovic's phoney exit papers were arranged through Robert Bishop, an American ex-OSS agent who was then in charge of the eligibility office of the International Refugee Organization (IRO) in Rome according to CIC records.23

Thus the Vatican's infamous Ratlines were operated in unholy alliances with Western intelligence agencies-up to a point. At the same time that Allied intelligence was helping Draganovic to smuggle out certain war criminals he was going behind their backs to rescue many thousands more. Recently released secret documents reveal an almost unbelievable web of intrigue and evil-payoffs, doublecross, murder-that eventually implicated CIA chiefs such as Allen Dulles and William Casey as well as United States presidents, and laid the foundation for later scandals such as Watergate and the IranContra affair. Infamous war criminals who should have been tried at Nuremburg were even brought into the Pentagon as special consultants in preparation for what seemed an inevitable war with the Soviet Union. Ironically, the policy opened the door to Soviet agents who infiltrated the entire Ratline system and the related Western intelligence agencies-but that is another story.

The Vatican not only rescued tens of thousands of war criminals from justice but set them up to continue their terrorism anew after the war. It was Intermarium all over again, a fresh start to build a Catholic Europe in opposition to Soviet Communism. For example, Draganovic sheltered within the San Girolamo monastery Vilko Pecnikar, "organiser of Pavelic's pre-war terrorist groups [and] a General in Pavelic's Personal Body Guard," who also commanded "the brutal Gendarmerie, which worked in close collaboration with the Gestapo." Both Britain and America had agreed to hand him over to Tito's Yugoslavian government for prosecution as a major war criminal. But Draganovic rescued Pecnikar and gave him access to "the treasure he had collected for his Ratline" to use "in re-organizing the Ustashi movement [abroad]."24

The Death of Ante Pavelic

In due time, when he had given Vatican and Western intelligence all the information he possessed, Pavelic was passed down the Ratline to safety under the identity of Pablo Aranyos. The Aranyos identity papers were provided by yet another Croatian Catholic Priest, Fr. Josip Buzanovic, himself a wanted war criminal who later escaped to Australia.

Pavelic was welcomed to Argentina by its dictator, Juan Peron, himself a Bailiff Grand Cross of Honor and Devotion of the Roman Catholic secret order, Knights of Malta. It is still required that the head of Argentina be a Roman Catholic. Pavelic was assured that Peron had already approved the continuation of the Ustashi movement from Argentina as its new base. That arrangement had been negotiated by a Vatican representative, Daniel Crljen, another priest who had also played a key role in the slaughter of Serbs.

Waiting for Pavelic in Buenos Aires was a host of his former ministers, police, and military officers, most of them wanted war criminals. Virtually the entire leadership of the Ustashi had escaped intact and had safely preceded their poglavnik down the Ratlines in their flight from justice. His old friend Stejpan Hefer had also joined the Ustashi Fuehrer there to give the movement a fresh start in new locations around the world.25

The exiled Ustashi members managed to portray themselves as victims of Communist terrorism who had fled from persecution brought about because they were Croatian patriots who opposed Tito's Communist regime. Having experienced Communism's evil firsthand, they said, they now wanted to warn the world and were dedicated to fighting this monster and eventually freeing the oppressed. Thus they claimed to merit the backing of freedom-loving people. Anticommunist front groups were set up, such as the Croatian Liberation Movement (HOP), founded by Ante Pavelic and headquartered in Buenos Aires. Stejpan Hefer was named to its supreme council.

But there is no honor among murderers, and it was not long until rival Croatians attempted to assassinate Pavelic, and the poglavnik went into hiding in Spain. He lived quietly and reclusively in Madrid until his death from natural causes in December 1959. On that day, Pope John XXIII pronounced his personal benediction upon that incredibly evil and sadistic mass murderer!

Pavelic is buried in a secret grave outside Madrid. "On Pavelic's death, the leadership of the HOP passed to Stejpan Hefer."26 Archbishop Saric died a year later, in 1960, also in Spain.

The Pitiful Denials

In tracing the history of the Vatican and the popes, we have found a consistent pattern of suppression of the most elementary human rights, a pattern which has included torture and murder on a grand scale. Such behavior, supported by infallible pronouncements and unchangeable dogmas, has not been confined to the Middle Ages but continues to the present as circumstances allow. The operation of the Ratlines, which we have only been able to summarize briefly, provides additional proof that Rome has not changed.

We have also seen a consistent pattern of denial of the facts which betrays a staggering contempt for truth. The irrefutable historic record provides no basis for confidence in the pledges of peace and goodwill either toward Jews or evangelicals which are currently issuing forth from Rome. Recent newspaper articles reveal that there are still Catholic clergy who would support the Holocaust and run Ratlines today:

One of France's most notorious Nazi collaborators was arrested Wednesday [May 24, 19891 at a Roman Catholic priory and charged with crimes against humanity, after spending most of four decades in hiding.

The 74-year-old fugitive, Paul Touvier, was head of intelligence for a pro-Nazi militia in Lyons....

His protection during the early postwar period by senior members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy has been extensively documented ....27

The hierarchy of France's Roman Catholic Church supported the pro-Nazi government of Vichy France.... Despite individual acts of bravery and heroism [by Catholics], much of the church hierarchy collaborated wholeheartedly ... for decades French cardinals, monks and nuns helped ... Paul Touvier elude justice.28

On May 5, 1994, PrimeTime Live with Sam Donaldson presented a television documentary titled "The Last Refuge." The program, shot in both Argentina and Rome, offered some of the same information we have just presented above. The entrance into Argentina of Nazi war criminals coming down the Vatican Ratlines was documented from the recently released archives in Buenos Aires: for example, the recorded entry of Jose Mengele (known as "the Angel of Death" of Auschwitz). It was shown that the Argentine government, which was both pro-Catholic and pro-Nazi, knew Mengele's true identity and whereabouts and protected him in spite of demands for his extradition. He died of natural causes in Brazil in 1979.

The most fascinating part of the film was Sam Donaldson's street encounters with elderly surviving Nazi war criminals interviewed for the first time ever on camera. Initial denials were followed with grudging admissions of identity after Donaldson showed copies of SS membership documents and photos of the individuals in SS uniform. Acknowledgment of involvement in atrocities was also elicited but with the excuse that "I was only following orders." One ex-Nazi acknowledged that he had had an office in the Vatican.

Interviewed also were ex-military intelligence agents who confirmed that the Vatican had run the Ratlines. Donaldson then went to Rome to interview Father Robert Graham, a Church historian who is an authority on the immediate postwar period as reflected in the Vatican archives. In view of the overwhelming hard evidence we now have that the Vatican ran the Ratlines, it was both humorous and maddening to hear the pitiful denials from Graham of any Vatican involvement whatsoever. He did acknowledge that the Vatican facilitated the passage through Italy and into South America of thousands of what he insisted were "simple refugees," with maybe "one or two" war criminals sneaking through unrecognized.

"One or two?" exclaimed Donaldson in surprise. "There were thousands!"

"Oh, please! Please!" returned Graham patronizingly. "Don't be ridiculous. A thousand? That's absurd!"

When Donaldson persisted, giving additional evidence, Graham, now visibly upset, responded, "Please! Are you all so simple and unsophisticated as to believe that stuff? Please! Be more intelligent than that. Give the Pope some credit...."

But the evidence is ironclad, and the Vatican denials only serve to demonstrate once again its contempt for truth. While many individual Catholics showed compassion and concern and even risked their lives to rescue Jews, the Church as an entity did not. It is only fitting that Aarons and Loftus concluded their book with this moving indictment of the Roman Catholic Church at its highest levels:

Instead of smuggling homeless Jews to Argentina, the Ratlines smuggled Eichmann, Pavelic and Stangl, among many others. Instead of denouncing Bishop Hudal, the Vatican replaced him with a less conspicuous but far more efficient and effective operative in the form of Father Draganovic. Instead of international justice, there was Intermarium and a host of emigre Nazi fronts....

What the Vatican did after World War II was a crime. The evidence is unequivocal: the Holy See aided the flight of fugitives from international justice. The Ratlines were intentionally created to aid and abet the escape of wanted Nazi war criminals....

We find no defense of ignorance: Pius XII was fully aware of Ante Pavelic's crimes. Nor was he the only case. The Ratlines operated with reckless disregard for the fugitives' crimes against humanity. If the Pope wanted to know their real names, he had only to ask Father Draganovic. The burglary of his office revealed that he kept lists of the fugitives' true and false identities.

The Pope's diplomatic messages reveal a pattern of protection and intercession for war criminals.... the Vatican knew they were sheltering Nazis.

We find no defense of unauthorised conduct: the Ratlines were an official extension of covert Vatican diplomacy.... There was virtually unanimous agreement among the surviving witnesses that Draganovic operated with the highest official sanction.... The intelligence files of several nations confirm that the Vatican's top leaders authorized and directed the smuggling of fugitive

war criminals.29

No matter how much and how convincing the evidence, however, Rome persists in its denials of culpability. The absolute, infallible, and unchallengeable authority of the Roman Pontiff must be maintained at all cost.

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