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A disturbing account of Vatican aid for fleeing Nazis,
This review is from: Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, The Nazis, and The Swiss Banks (Paperback)First published in Britain under the title Ratlines in 1991, and in the United States the following year under the title Unholy Trinity: the Vatican, the Nazis and Soviet Intellegence, the current revised edition of the book replaces "Soviet Intellegence" in the subtitle with the Swiss Banks." This latest title change reflects the recent direction of the international investigations into the Vatican's role in WWII. The bulk of the book (Chapters 1-12) remains unchanged from earlier editions. The authors have, however, added an introduction and a new chapter of revised conclusions
Using previously classified government documents, the authors give the most detailed account in print of the Catholic Church's collaboration in the smuggling of Fascist and Nazi war criminals out of Europe at the end of the Second World War. Officials at the Vatican who helped these men get false papers and safe passage included then Monsignor Montini (later Paul VI) and Bishop Hudal, author of the clero-fascist Foundations of National Socialism. Among those who thus escaped justice, at least temporarily, were Adolph Eichmann, chief administrator of the holocaust, Walter Rauff, director of the mobile gas truck extermination program, Franz Strangel, Commandant at Treblinka, and Ante Pavelic, fascist Croatian dictator. Many other ex-Nazis were recruited by the church to become "freedom fighters" against the Eastern bloc. Aarons and Loftus argue Vatican's primary motivation throughout this operation was an anti-communism so fanatical that it knew no moral limits. The second half of the book recounts how the church's smuggling operation was infiltrated and turned against the West by the Soviet Union. Although the authors' analysis of the motivations and culpability some of the figures involved can be questioned (most notably their exoneration of Pius XII on charges of complicity with the Nazis in the rise of fascism), this book remains a remarkable history of a little known dark chapter in modern church history.
In their introduction to the new edition, Loftus and Aarons detail how some of their original investigative work led to the capture and arrest of Erich Priebke, the SS officer who directed the infamous massacre at the Ardeantine Caves near Rome. Priebke had escaped through the Vatican Ratlines to Argentina and was sheltered by the church even during his 1997-1998 trials. The authors also point out some of the connections between their investigations and the ongoing highly-publicized attempts to trace the Nazi gold held in Swiss banks. More detail on this is given in their revised conclusion (ch 13) in which they suggest that financial motives may have been as important a motive in the Vatican's decision to establish the Ratlines as anti-communism. The Vatican invested the $29 million cash settlement that it received from Mussolini as part of the deal for the Concordat in Germany. During the 1930s, it attempted to protect that growing investment against the looming international conflict by setting up a money laundering scheme which involved secret exchange protocols between the Vatican Bank and banks in Switzerland. Recognising this, the authors have moved fairly far away from the conclusion of their original edition that the Vatican was not involved on the build up of fascism in Germany. In fact they now even cite a passage from La Popessa which claims that Pacelli (later Pius XII) gave money to Hitler in 1919 to suggest early links between the Nazis and the Vatican.