Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 19:58:08 -0500 (EST)
Vatican may be pressured to reveal role in Nazi gold scandal
AANews, #359, 1 December 1997
When a two day conference opens tomorrow n London to discuss the fate of gold stolen by Nazi Germany, two "observers" from the Vatican may find themselves being asked some provocative and embarrassing questions from historians, human rights activists and other researchers. Jewish groups have already called upon the Roman Catholic city-state to open its secret archives "to see whether it (the Vatican) assisted in the transfer of looted property," according to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.
For years, researchers have known about the Vatican's complicity with the National Socialist state; church officials recently held their own conference where they explored the role played by the papacy in creating an anti-semitic atmosphere throughout Europe, including countries such as Croatia. There, Catholic authorities worked closely with the Ustashe regime; and there are accusations that the Vatican even helped to sequested gold after the war taken from victims of the holocaust.
It has been estimated that billions of dollars, much of it in the form of gold, was seized from Jews, political dissidents and other victims of the Nazis and shipped to Switzerland. After the war, much of the bullion disappeared. Some researchers say that the Swiss and the Vatican may be able to provide information about the missing money and how it was smuggled out of Europe. The involvement of the papacy remains a subject of interest; it is known that in the waning days of World War II and afterwards, church officials operated the infamous "Vatican rat line" which provided funds, hiding places and new passports for Nazi officials and officers of the SS who escaped to Latin America and the Middle East. Some researchers have accused the Vatican of collaborating with shadowy emigre groups, including ODESSA and "Spider" to conceal the whereabouts of wanted war criminals. One beneficiary of Vatican largesse was Ante Pavelic, founder of the Ustashe "Resurrection" organization who escaped to South America using a Red Cross passport obtained with a Vatican voucher certificate.
Originally, the Vatican declined to accept an invitation to the international conference, but changed its mind after the Simon Wiesenthal Centre formally asked the church to open its archives and dispel rumors over its role in the gold scandal. Vatican authorities have made it clear, however, that its delegates will only be in the role of "observers," and will not engage in any of the formal debates and discussions.
The Vatican may also be feeling pressure as the result of an untimely report by the U.S. Treasury accidentally made public. The Telegraph notes that the document "talked of the Vatican receiving and hiding 200 million Swiss francs of gold that the Ustashe regime took from 900,000 Holocaust victims..."
AMERICAN ATHEISTS AANEWS #359 12/1/97