The Vatican Ratlines

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Sometimes it’s necessary to go back to the past to understand the present & decode the future. World War-II is infamously remembered for Nazi Germany under Hitler, Jewish Holocaust or Atomic Bombs on Japan but a hidden chapter has been totally forgotten from public memory leave aside any discussion. It is -the role of Vatican in protecting many Nazi War Criminals by allowing them to escape to South America through its “Ratlines” that is slowly being uncovered. After decades of conspicuous silence, Facts are emerging from Investigative Journalists like Gerald Posner’s Book “The God’s Bankers” or various other documentaries which document the role of Vatican in making Nazis escape through the Ratlines. Several Books’ have also been written on this controversial subject like “Hitler’s Pope” that argue about the Eerie Silence of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust of Jews by Nazis in World War-II.
 
Vatican’s backing of Fascism
 
The Vatican Signed the Lateran Pacts with Mussolini’s Italy on 11th February 1929, which recognized Vatican as a Sovereign State. The pope was declared Sacred & Inviolable. The Italian Government recognized validity of Church Marriages & Catholic education was made obligatory. Freemasonry was outlawed & Protestant Bibles forbidden. The pacts compensated the Vatican for Papal States for about 750 Million Lire in Cash, a billion lire in Government Bonds with 5% interest & Tax Exemption Status to Vatican bank or its corporate arms. This treaty of Vatican with Fascist Italy was based on Church’s vehement opposition to Communism in Soviet Union, which it saw as a bigger threat to the Church’s Authority than Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. Vatican feared Godless Bolshevism far more than it detested fascism. The Lateran Pacts got the ball rolling of what we can assume to be Vatican’s complicity of silence during World War-II
 
Eugenio Pacelli (Later became Pope Pius XII) had been the target of unsuccessful assassination attempt by a communist cell when he was Germany’s Nuncio.  In Russia the state waged a bloody war against all faiths, jailing or murdering the clergy, destroying churches turning them into atheist museums and banning any teaching of God to children under the age of 16. A third of the Germans were Catholics and the Church realized that it had to work with the Nazis if it had to protect the Catholics in Germany despite the Godless ideology promoted by Hitler’s National Socialist Party. Eugenio Pacelli as Secretary of State of Vatican in 1933 sent letters to Hitler on his appointment as Chancellor where he endorsed Nazi’s strong anti-communist policies. While Hitler & Pacelli were secretly negotiating that Vatican could sign a Treaty with Nazis & endorse it, simultaneously The Reich retched up its Opposition to Jews by boycotting their businesses, banning Jewish attorneys & passing decrees that Jews by blood were Non Aryans. While these negotiations were on with Nazis, no Vatican Official or German Bishop condemned what was happening to Germany’s Jews. 
 
Later, Vatican & Nazis just like the Lateran Pacts with Mussolini signed an agreement after 3 months of negotiations. The national socialists guaranteed the rights of the Catholics to practice their faith & freedom and to express it publically without fear of retribution. Catholic Schools could be operated and the Government workers were forbidden from criticizing the church. Nazi Germany also agreed to provide a share in tax collection from the Catholics to the Vatican. In Return Vatican gave Hitler formal endorsement. Article 16 of Reichskonkordat required German Bishops & cardinals to swear oath of loyalty to Third Reich. The agreement also decreed that a special prayer for the German Reich be inserted into Every Sunday & Holy Day Mass. While Hitler boasted for the treaty signed with Vatican, privately held: “I shall be one of the few men in history to have deceived the Vatican”.  
 
A Month after the agreement, Pope Pius XI told British Diplomat that he knew about German persecutions of Jews but declined to protest. The Vatican remained indifferent to various Decrees & Laws passed by Nazi Germany against Jews like setting up Concentration Camps, stripping Jews of citizenships etc. A Few weeks after British PM Neville Chamberlain’s Visit to Vatican in January 1939 where German Atrocities were discussed, Pope Pius XI fell ill though he had prepared the Encyclical to Condemn Fascism in his scheduled address on 11th February, the 10th Anniversary of Lateran pacts but he died of a heart attack a day prior & the Encyclical could not be delivered. Secretary of State Pacelli sealed Pope’s all Documents & Drafts of encyclicals in Vatican’s secret archives that were never to be found or discussed again.
Hitler’s Pope – Pope Pius XII
 
Eugenio Pacelli who was Secretary of State and an acknowledged Germanophile & someone who tacitly supported Hitler became the next pope – Pope Pius XII on March 22, 1939. He is also known as Hitler’s pope for his tacit support to Nazi Germany during World War-II. As Papal Nuncio in Germany he gave regular reports to Vatican on Bolshevism. Immediately after becoming pope rather than Condemning Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Pope called on the cardinals to deliver a personal affirmation to Reich where he addressed Hitler as Illustrious Chancellor of the German Reich wishing him the support of Vatican for the welfare of German People under his leadership. Pope Pius XII lifted the ban on French Catholics joining anti-communist Francaise Party that was fiercely anti-Semitic. Pius was willing to ignore its anti-Jewish hatred to fight bolshevism. Similarly in Hungary when Race Laws were passed in 1938, some priests supported the replica of Nazi Party there i.e. ‘Arrow Cross’. The pope not only failed to urge restraint but rather promoted a key ‘arrow cross’ backer to Hungary’s 2nd Ranking Bishop.
 
Even in Czechoslovakia under Nazi German Occupation, the Catholic Clergy were at the forefront of a national effort to bar Jews from country’s business & social life. British & French intelligence suspected Pius to be Mussolini’s agent. Pius’s role to mediate peace failed when Germany & Soviet Union announced Non-Aggression pact, which dealt a catastrophic blow to Vatican’s calculation of backing the Reich against Communist’s Red Army.  After the Nazi Blitzkrieg into Poland the Pius was concerned that any condemnation of Nazi Germany would lead to retribution on the large amount of Catholics living in Poland. Pope even failed to condemn Cardinal August Hlond who contended, “Jews are fighting against Catholic Church persisting in free thinking and are vanguards of Godlessness, Bolshevism and subversion”. Pope received the German Foreign Minister at Vatican on March 11, 1940 months after Nazi Invasion.
 
Monsignor Burzio Nuncio of Slovakia in 1941 sent Pius several reports that Jews were being rounded up & executed. Even after confirmation of grim accounts, Pius only responded in polite dissents in private. Pope met the Croatian leader Pavelic despite him being convicted of murders, assassinations & a request by British to dissuade from doing so. The Church had wanted a Catholic state in Balkans since the crusades so it was difficult for Vatican to turn him away. The pope and the Croatian leader met on 14th May 1941 at Vatican. After Pavelic returned home he soon unleashed the bloodbath on the Country’s Jews & orthodox Christian Serbs. 
After Germany’s invasion of Russia, the belief in the Vatican strengthened that National Socialism could act as bulwark against Godless Bolshevism; it was unlikely that pope would say anything to antagonize the Reich who Vatican considered as instrumental in saving Europe from the most antagonistic philosophy. Pavelic ran the most barbaric campaign in Croatia with Jews, Gypsies & communists being rounded up, burned alive and mutilated. The Vatican faced a challenge in Croatia since the Priests were party to the murder machinery to which it failed to respond adequately. Sarajevo’s Bishop Ivan Saric was later dubbed as “Hangman of Serbs”. Hitler gave his seminal speech on Feb 9, 1942 where approving the Final Plan he stated, “Jews will be liquidated for 1000 years”. Pius chose to ignore the hateful message of Hitler despite western leaders calling upon him to condemn it.
 
Not only that despite British & American resistance, Vatican Opened Diplomatic channels with Japan saying there is no evidence of their atrocities in War. On this the British Foreign Office termed “Papals timidity becomes even more blatantly despicable”. Franklin Roosevelt subsequently dispatched his Personal Envoy Myron Taylor to meet Pius & urge him that policy of silence meant renunciation of moral leadership as the Jewish holocaust was taking place in Poland, Croatia & other parts of Europe. Despite all the efforts for at least a moral denunciation by Pope of Jewish Massacres, the attempts failed to yield anything significant – raising a larger issue of the abdication of Moral Authority of the Catholic Church when humanity faced one of its gravest crises.
 
The Blood Money & the Gold Loot 
 
The Vatican’s silence is not only limited to non-condemnation of the Holocaust by Nazi Germany & the fascist forces but also the usurping the Insurance Amounts of the Jews killed in the War through investments in Italian Insurance Giants like Generali, but also investing in British Insurance Giant  Norwich Union whom Mussolini assigned Fondiaria, Italy’s 04th largest firm. Fondiaria continued to do business with German Insurance Firms in Nazi Occupied territories. In 1943, any investments of the Vatican in Italian insurance companies like Generali developed into stakes that profited from the ongoing Murder of Jews in Europe. German Giant ‘ALLIANZ’ had set the precedent by escheating life insurance policies of Jewish Policy holders and refusing to pay annuities to those alive. As per the US Intelligence estimates of 1946 more than $200 Bn were stolen in Insurance Premiums & unpaid benefits. What is undeniable is that Vatican’s stake in Generali, RAS, Fondiaria & other insurance firms provided a high rate of return in part because of some of the profits were from escheatment & nonpayment of life insurance and annuities to Jewish Policy holders. 
The Gold Reserves of the Nazi Occupied territories were relocated through the Swiss based Bank of International Settlements (BIS). BIS was formed in 1930 by an Intergovernmental agreement between the Rothschild’s & 8 countries. It had both British & German Directors serving together and just like Vatican Bank it had no accountability to any national government. Under the German Directors of BIS from Gestapo to IG Farben, the BIS became the clearing house for emptying gold reserves from countries like Austria, Belgium & Czechoslovakia. The BIS described the process of covertly bringing Bullion into Switzerland & converting it into untraceable cash as ‘Washing Gold’. The BIS purchased 4 bn $ in Gold from Nazis that was looted from national reserves from Belgium & Netherlands. In 1942 it received advanced intelligence of Allied Invasion of North Africa. BIS bet on the Nazi Defeat. Subsequent to the Allied success in North Africa, BIS profited 175 Million owing to the leaked intelligence from the Espionage Unit of the Vatican. The Vatican played the role of intelligence with BIS. The Glue between the two (BIS & Vatican) was Allen Dulles who moved to Switzerland during the war to run the OSS (CIA’s Predecessor in USA).
 
The Ratlines
 
Even before the war ended, the lesser known SS members and hardcore Nazis were fanning out across the world through organized distribution system. These loosely knit collections of escape routes from Europe were called the “RATLINES”. Chief among the Ratlines were Kameradenwerk & ODESSA (the Organization der Ehemaligen SS-Angehorigen) or the Organization of former SS members. ODESSA was created by Bormann & Mueller but later administered by Otto Skorzeny- a war criminal.  The main terminal point for ODESSA was Buenos Aires. Kameradenwerk was the focal point for the escape of Nazis. It was founded by Colonel Hans Rudel. Rudel’s Group had help from many quarters but the biggest help came from the Refugee bureau of the Vatican. Bishop Hudal (protector general of Catholic Order of German Knights) in his last memoir thanked God that he was able to help so many Nazis escape with the help of false identity papers.
 
ODESSA also turned to gun running as means of financing its operations. Rather it was not only intended to be an escape route for Nazis but at Bormann’s instructions it was setup as a profitable business enterprise with plentiful supply of arms into Europe. Along with this outpouring of Nazi assets, scientists & former officials of ODESSA were other more secretive assistance groups such as Die Spinee, Sechsgestirn & Deusstche Hilfsvervin. 
Many of the false documents for travel were issued by Vatican Refugee Organization. Vatican identity papers were used to obtain displaced person passport from the International Red Cross, which in turn was used to gain a visa. The method of aiding escape of the Nazis the one favored by Bishop Hudal came to be known as “Vatican Ratlines”. Ante Pevelic the Croatian Fascist Dictator escaped to South America after the war with a Red Cross passport gained through a Vatican document. Although Nazis Found safe haven in Brazil, Paraguay, Chile & Uruguay, no other South American nation was more accommodating than Argentina courtesy Dictator Juan Peron. Peron was an admirer of Hitler & knew him very well. Rudel who created Kameradenwerk ratline became a trainer for Peron’s Air Force and in process brought 100 wartime staff. Likewise Nazi SS & Gestapo Fugitives served in Argentine Army & Police. 
 
In June 1947, Eva Peron embarked on much publicized tour of Europe where she met with Spain’s Franco & had private audience with Pope Pius XII. Eva also met Bishop Hudal & Draganovic at a reception hosted by the Italian Government at Rome Golf Club. US Intelligence had concluded that the Buenos Aires archbishop Antonio Caggino (close Peron ally) was “a conduit” for the Italian Escape Network & South American Church. During the year of the Peron’s visit, American Counter Intelligence also concluded that Vatican was institutionally (not merely as group of scattered rogue clerics); helping high-ranking Nazis escape justice. The report not only singled out Hudal but named 21 Vatican relief organizations suspected of assisting Nazi fugitives. 
 
American Intelligence Reports suggest Ustasan fugitives had stolen 350 Mn Swiss Francs of Gold mostly in coins. British Troops seized 150 Million at the Swiss-Austrian Border while rest 200 rumored to have entered into Vatican Bank moving ahead to Spain & Argentina through the Vatican Ratlines. US Intelligence reports estimate that German Companies & Vatican bank had moved more than $450 mn to Argentina. 
 
Unknown to the state department, by virtue of the classified reports the people in charge of US & British intelligence had struck a secret deal with the church to share it ratlines. The Americans and the British in a race against the soviets scouted for Nazi Intelligence Officers & Rocket scientists. SS Officer Klaus Barbie nicknamed ‘Butcher of Lyon’ gave British & Americans crucial information’s about occupied territory of France. Once they got the information they needed, they handed over Barbie to Draganovic at Genoa railway Station and paid the Croatian priest to take him to South America. Both British & American intelligence promised to protect the Vatican in case of an Allied Government Investigation. The OSS made sure that the report like the one of State Department was shelved. The CIA picked up the Costs for running Draganovic’s ratline through 1951.  
 
After going through the facts & records, it becomes clear that Vatican was complicit in not only letting Jewish Holocaust take place by not exercising its moral authority but also letting Nazi loot assets & help war criminals escape through the ratlines along with American & British Intelligence officials. During the term of Pope Pius XII, the available record seems to point that the Vatican abdicated its moral responsibility towards universal principles of humanity & rather chose to become a mute spectator when humanity was being rolled over in World War-II. It is quite Ironical that the Powers which created the Rise of Hitler, also made the nucleus of the Reich go underground by time the war ended. Third Reich was never defeated it just disappeared & went underground. Rest as they say History is always written by the Victors & not the vanquished. 

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