Gerald Steinacher shows how the International Red Cross, the Catholic
church, and the CIA helped Nazis escape after WWII.
In NAZIS ON THE RUN Gerald Steinacher answers the question, “How did so many Nazis escape Germany and avoid punishment after World War II?”
On reason was the South Tyrol region of Italy was home to many Germans as the Tyrol region had once been part of Germany, and they were willing to hide the culprits or take money for hiding them. Another was the International Committee of the Red Cross was willing to provide papers for displaced persons. Their reasoning was that they could not let politics interfere in their efforts to help refugees, but there was no denying that hatred for communists was also involved. Then there was the Vatican, particularly two Catholic priests: Alois Hudal and Krunoslav Stejpan Dragnovic were most involved. Hudal seemed to have Nazi sympathies; Dragnovic was a Croat who did all he could to save Croatian partisans who fought against the Russians during the war. Pope Pius XII and Giovanni Montini, Pope Paul VI, who was Under Secretay of Stae for Ordinary Affairs for the Vatican also, come under scrutiny. South American countries, especially Argentina under Juan Peron, accepted visas approved by the ICRC who in turn approved requests from the Vatican without much checking. At first the United States and other Allied countries went after Nazi murderers hard as is evidenced by the Nuremberg trials, but when the communists began to push into Eastern Germany, Hungary, Poland etc., the emphasis was put on which of the former Nazis would be most helpful in providing espionage assistance and scientiests like Werner Von Braun were in great demand, despite the fact that Van Braun used slave labor at his rocket sites. In that manner murderers like Eichmann and Mengele escaped detection. Juan Peron, president of Argentina was actively recruiting scientists, engineers, and business who could help build a more stable Argentina.
Perhaps the worst case of allied bungling when it came to capturing Nazi murderers was that of Franz Stangl, commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka responsible for at least 900,000 murders. Stangl received assistance from Alois Hudal. Bishop Hudal provided Stangl with a job, a Red Cross travel document, a ticket, a visa, and a job at a Volkswagen factory in Brazil. Thanks to Simon Wiesenthal, Stangl was eventually extradited from Brazil, receiving a life sentence for his crimes but he died a year after his sentence began.
According to Steinacher, the United States’ complicity in the escape of many of the Nazis was covered up during the Nuremberg trials (For instance SS General Karl Wolf, Himmler’s deputy until 1943, testified for the prosecution), and the Vatican’s archives have still not been opened to investigative journalists.
According to Steinacher, when it came down to it fear of a Fourth Reich versus fear of the spread of Communism, fear of Communism always won out.
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