Unholy Trinity: The Vatican, the NAZIs and the Swiss Banks; Mark Aarons, John Loftus; 1991 (rev. 1998); St Martins Griffen; Biblio, notes, index
This is a hard book to read. So much so, I got about 1/2 through and then skipped to the conclusions at the end. It is hard to read because there are so many players and groups involved, from Nazis, war criminals, priests, and spies to shady countries and groups like Germany, Croatia, the OSS, the GKB, and so on. The peoples names are hard to follow as well, in part because there are a lot of them and most have Eastern European names.
The Ratlines got a lot of criminals out of Germany to various countries, especially Argentina, but including Australia, Canada, the US and Britain.
The whole of post-WWII Europe was a mess. Everyone, almost, wanted to see the bad guys get theirs. But who were the bad guys? The Vatican was cozy with the Nazis because they hated the commies and so did the Vatican. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" seemed to rule many decisions. Take the Gallacian SS, for example. It was composed largely of Ukrainians who hated Stalin (see the book Bloodlands). They wanted to fight for Ukraine and fight against Stalin. Some ended up fighting the allies, and not Stalin. Ukraine was part of the USSR. If you sent these SS men home, they would be killed by the Russians. They were essentially freedom fighters from their point of view. But many were also war criminals. How to deal with them? War and religion breed strange bedfellows.
This happened all the time. The British played everyone, and like the Americans after the war, would cut deals with criminals if it served their national interests. The Brits new how to keep their secrets, and they still do. Much of their machinations are still under lock and key.
In the end, I skipped to the "conclusions" chapters. Everyone was bad, so who were the worst guys?
The Vatican: the worst of the worst. Up to their eyeballs in the slime and ooze. They got thousands of criminal refugees out of Europe for money. It was very much a for profit organization and the Nazis refugees had a lot of money. They hated the commies and would tolerate almost anything as long as it was against them. Ironically, the Soviets had moles throughout the Ratline operations. Father Dragonovic was the Pope's master smuggler, who eventually disappeared behind the Iron Curtain. By contrast, the god-loving Pope Pius XII with all his power, managed to save exactly zero Jewish refugees.
Austria: Pretty bad, and wading up to their hips. They gave us a known criminal who went on the head the UN: Kurt Waldheim.
Italy: They sanctioned the Ratlines and gave them political cover. Knee deep in the muck.
France and the US: Complicit in many ways. E.g.: Werner von Braun put a man on the moon. He was also a Nazi war criminal. Knee Deep.
Britain: Up to their armpits. Worst after the Vatican/Holy See. Britain had been playing at European politics so long, they had lost their moral compass. They are still sitting on secrets that would embarrass the hell out of them to this day.
The Swiss Banks: Hand in hand with the Vatican. So also up to their eyeballs in the muck.
The Holy See: There is not much separating the Holy See from the Vatican itself. They are guilty of: Crimes against Peace (cooperated with anyone who was against the commies, including the Nazis); Obstruction of Justice (hiding Nazis); Receiving Stolen Goods (theirs was a for profit business); and Abuse of Diplomatic Privileges (forging documents, etc). The Pope et al knew exactly what they were doing, and they knew it was wrong by any measure.
It is hard to understand why that piss-ant religious hole in the wall and haven for child molesters and Nazi war criminals, called the Vatican, is recognized as a country by anyone after all their crimes. Churches are generally not supposed to dabble in politics, but it is the Vatican's full time preoccupation.
This book tires to tell a story that is frighteningly complex and intertwined. It is hard to follow for those reasons. A good book to have on the book shelf, but a very hard read.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.