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Date: Sun, 27 Jul 1997 08:43:58 -0700
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Subject: SLS: Holocaust gold taints the Vatican (fwd)

>                          Electronic Telegraph 
>                          Sunday 27 July 1997     Issue 793
>Holocaust gold taints the Vatican
>by Bruce Johnston 
>                 THE Vatican stands accused of using gold plundered
>                  from Holocaust victims in Yugoslavia during the
>                  Second World War to smuggle war criminals into Latin
>                  America and the Middle East.
>                  The allegations, made by an international team of
>                  Holocaust experts, follow last week's publication of
>                  a recently declassified US Treasury document which,
>                  for the first time, drags the Vatican's name into
>                  the Holocaust gold scandal. The document surfaced at
>                  the same time as Swiss banks published names of
>                  holders of unclaimed wartime accounts which they had
>                  concealed for decades.
>                  The allegations relate to a US Treasury memo of
>                  October 1946 by Emerson Bigelow, who worked for the
>                  Treasury's monetary research unit and who received
>                  reliable information from the OSS, precursor of the
>                  CIA, on Nazi wealth held in specific Swiss accounts.
>                  Bigelow's memo claims that the Ustashas, the Nazi
>                  puppet regime of Croatia, used the Vatican to look
>                  after part of the millions of dollars' worth of gold
>                  and jewellery which they plundered from 900,000
>                  Jews, Serbs, Croat moderates and gipsies they had
>                  put to death. The Vatican has denied the allegation.
>                  Citing "reliable sources in Italy" - understood to
>                  mean US intelligence - the memo says that one third
>                  of the estimated 350 million Swiss francs which the
>                  Ustashas tried to remove from Yugoslavia was
>                  impounded by the British at the Austrian-Yugoslav
>                  border. The remaining 200 million "was originally
>                  held in the Vatican for safe-keeping," to keep the
>                  gold from falling into the hands of the Allies.
>                  While stating this as fact, the document also quotes
>                  rumours saying a large portion of the Vatican-held
>                  money was sent through its "pipeline" to Spain and
>                  Argentina. But it adds that this could also be a
>                  "smokescreen to cover the fact that the treasure
>                  remains in its original repository" - namely, the
>                  Vatican.
>                  A number of Ustashas, including the secret armed
>                  organisation's founder Ante Pavelic, found refuge in
>                  Spain and Argentina after the Nazi defeat.
>                  It is well documented that the Ustashas had strong
>                  ties with the Church in Rome. It is also known that
>                  after sending the gold abroad in 48 containers as
>                  Tito's army advanced on Zagreb, Pavelic made his way
>                  to Salzburg, and that in August 1946 he reached
>                  Rome. In 1948, he arrived in Argentina.
>                  The Bigelow memo is being investigated by the US
>                  authorities, who have now promised to comb state
>                  archives for evidence that may cast light on the
>                  claims.
>                  It has also attracted considerable interest at the
>                  Simon Wiesenthal Centre, leading the international
>                  inquiry into Nazi gold. Shimon Samuels, the centre's
>                  director, said last week that the memo supports
>                  claims that Nazi gold received by the Vatican was
>                  later used to pay for war criminals to be smuggled
>                  out of Europe.
>                  According to Mr Samuels, the "gold-line", or
>                  channels that were used to smuggle looted Nazi gold,
>                  was linked to the "rat-line", the mechanism by which
>                  war criminals were spirited out of Europe.
>                  A connection between the Catholic Church and Nazi
>                  gold was very feasible, Mr Samuels said, since he is
>                  convinced that the Vatican played a crucial role in
>                  smuggling war criminals to South America .
>                  "We know that a number of monasteries helped Nazis
>                  to escape to South America," said Mr Samuels. He
>                  said that the monastery south of Rome where Erich
>                  Priebke, the former SS captain, is under house
>                  arrest for his role in Italy's worst wartime
>                  atrocity, had had other war criminals staying there
>                  awaiting escape. "I have been told by two sources
>                  that Adolf Eichmann was among them," Mr Samuels
>                  said.
>                  Mr Samuels said the gold-line and the rat-line often
>                  coincided, and mentioned declassified US documents
>                  which talked of how the late Baron Thyssen "and
>                  other Nazi industrialists" after the war ploughed
>                  huge sums of money into Argentina.
>                  The looted Nazi gold from Yugoslavia could have gone
>                  to the Vatican to finance the rat-line, Mr Samuels
>                  suggested.
>                  Priebke's admission to the Bonaventura monastery in
>                  the Frascati hills of Rome, was arranged by a
>                  Right-wing activist called Paolo Giachini, who
>                  during the trial of the SS captain distributed smear
>                  leaflets against the Simon Wiesenthal Centre.
>                  Priebke, who was Rome SS commandant Herbert
>                  Kappler's deputy, escaped from a British PoW camp
>                  near the Adriatic after the war. Shortly afterwards,
>                  he and his family sailed from Genoa to South
>                  America, travelling on a Red Cross passport. So,
>                  incidentally, did the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic -
>                  disguised as a priest.
>                  Padre Andre, at the Frascati monastery, will not
>                  comment readily on rumours that his institution's
>                  monastic peace is only skin-deep. Having Priebke did
>                  not bother him. "Our policy," he said, "is one of
>                  pardon." What Priebke may have done 50 years ago was
>                  one thing. But in the last 50 years he had done only
>                  good.
>                  The accusations will put added pressure on the
>                  Vatican to open its archives - something so far done
>                  only in part - to give a more detailed account of
>                  its activities during and just after the last war.
>                  In the run-up to the millennium, Vatican officials
>                  have already agreed to undertake an "examination of
>                  conscience".
>                  Vatican officials have already embarked upon a
>                  thorough review of the Church's wartime record. In
>                  particular the Vatican is anxious to avoid becoming
>                  embroiled in the kind of international controversy
>                  that has recently erupted over Switzerland's wartime
>                  record in relation to gold taken from Jews by the
>                  Nazis.
>                  c Copyright Telegraph Group Limited 1997.

Paul Andrew Mitchell                 : Counselor at Law, federal witness
B.A., Political Science, UCLA;  M.S., Public Administration, U.C. Irvine

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