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on 25 November 1998
I discovered this book and its authors when researching a TV documentary for Canadian public television's investigative program THE FIFTH ESTATE, about our last WW2 war crimes suspect to face criminal prosecution, in 1993.
The book has since been updated and its conclusions expanded to encompass the amazing---but painstakingly researched and documented---conclusion that billions in Nazi assets were laundered to Argentina and elsewhere via the Vatican bank in 1945/6.
The architect of this scheme, corporate lawyer Allen Dulles, operating as US intelligence's chief spy in wartime Switzerland, would later head the CIA from 1953-1962. Dulles' clients included many German corporations and banks, as well as several Swiss banks and the Vatican itself. He was perfectly placed both to execute and to help his clients profit from the moneylaundering crime of the century.
Aarons and Loftus further detail how the entire Dulles/Swiss banks scheme hinged on the willing participation of the Vatican and its agents to move both Nazi war crimes suspects and the corporate assets of that regime---often part-owned by the giants of American commerce like Standard Oil, Dupont, etc---to Argentina.
The twists and turns of this non-fiction book are breathtaking: there are no heroes, only greed, expedience, and a blind eye turned toward those who perpetrated some of the worst crimes of this century...but who were thought to be useful in the West's fight against Communism.
That the very highest reaches of the Vatican were complicit is crystal-clear, despite recent denials. Even as this book sells, recenlty declassified files in the UK, Argentina, France, Italy, and Switzerland point to the Vatican's role in laundering the proceeds of Nazi criminality---proceeds which dwarf the earthly assets of the millions of Jews killed in the Final Solution now making the headlines.
The scholarship is impeccable and the conclusions inescapable: people are capable of anything in the name of temporal power---even the Pope himself. And in the end, the scheme to use the Ratline escape routes to smuggle Nazis and their loot out of Allied-occupied Europe was all for nought.
Why? Kim Philby had betrayed the entire ploy to Moscow. Stalin and his spies had the last laugh---and the West was seeded with the worst Nazis and their most ardent collaborators for the balance of the century.
This book puts the very best of espionage fiction to shame. Buy it and pass it on. Then read SECRET WAR AGAINST THE JEWS, the sprawling followup, a peek behind the veil---you'll see how the 20th Century really worked...the wars since 1939, secret or otherwise, were all about the struggle, not for peace and justice, but for oil.
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on 7 September 1998
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.
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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2010
The story of the Papacy's role in the Second World War is an important one and deserves to be studied in depth. Unfortunately, the authors of this book are out of their depth in their propositions, narrative and conclusions. Their presentation is strong on condemnation, weak on analysis and, in some cases, subject to so many qualifications as to be as useful as a chocolate fireguard. Their thesis is simple: the Vatican was at the centre of an international conspiracy involving intelligence services in the USA, UK and Soviet Union, all of whom participated in allowing Nazi war criminals escape justice through the Ratlines. The contradicatory nature of their claims, however, undermines their credibility. After boldly stating, "The truth is that the Vatican knew exactly what it was doing at critical points an adopted policies which led to its own disgrace" they qualify it by stating "this is simply the authors' opinion of the international scope of the Ratlines."

Too often the authors rely on an argument from silence rather than an argument based on evidence. Those matters which can be checked such as the claim that Kurt Waldheim was recruited by Soviet intelligence fail to meet the minimum requirement for acceptable evidence. In respect of Italy they claim "The P2 scandal involving an extreme right wing intelligence group that supported neo-Fascist terrorism in an attempted coup, follows the pattern of Soviet agent provocateur successes in otehr Western countries which harboured Fascist cliques." Not only was the P2 scandal separate from the proposed coup by a small number of elderly generals, its support was minimal in Europe. The P2 was a masonic lodge, which had Mafia connections, supported by a number of people of varying influence including the current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who, at that time, was not active in politics. An absence of balance is shown by the lack of reference to the attack on Italian democracy by the Red Brigades.

The authors assert connections without proof. For example, "all German experts on bacteriological and chemical were handed over to British custody. There is some cicumstantial evidence that the British made a deal with Mengele for his nerve gas records" which does not accord with what is known about Mengele's postwar history. The International Rescue Committee, founded in 1933 at the suggestion of Albert Einstein to facilitate the flight of refugees from Nazi Germany, is written off as a front organisation for laundering money to Fascist groups. Its humanitarian assistance to all refugees is overlooked and downgraded without proof.

They accuse Pius X11 and Cardinal Montini (later Paul V1) of activity which favoured Nazi war criminals while admitting, "We do not claim that the evidence is sufficient to convict, only enough to warrant a belief amongst reasonable people that crimes were committed." Amongst the allegations are crimes against peace, obstruction of justice, receiving stolen goods and abuse of diplomatic privileges.
However, having proclaimed the evidence to be insufficient to convict, they claim to have "sufficient evidence to accuse the Vatican of receiving stolen property." The authors also claim Paul Vl was recruited as a secret intelligent source for the CIA. Such a conspiratorial theory of history is reproduced on extremist websites with favourable comment.

It is inevitable when history relies on innuendo and gossip rather than records and facts the intellectual background of the authors is checked out. John Loftus is a former intelligence officer which may account for his inability to distinguish between information and misinformation. In 2005 Loftus misidentified an address as the residence of a terrorist resulting in an innocent family being threatened, harrassed and requiring police protection. In fact, the alleged "terrorist" named was tracked down and cleared of any involvement in terrorism. As a result Fox News sacked Loftus. Loftus's The Intelligence Summit is bankrolled by Michael Cherney who is suspected of money laundering, connections with the Russian Mafia and has been barred from entering the United States. Mark Aarons comes from a long family of Australian Communists which may account for his tendency towards the conspiracy theory of history. Apparently the Reds are no longer under the bed they have expropriated the bedroom.

From a historian's viewpoint this book is an amateurish attempt to explain history in terms of a conspiracy of the powerful against the weak on much the same lines as Mein Kampf blamed society's problems on a worldwide Jewish conspiracy and others allege the existence of the Illuminati. This is a pity because, as stated at the outset of this review, the subject deserves to be studied (objectively) in depth. The cock-up theory of history is far more productive than the conspiracy theory and no book on history deserves to be accorded respectability if it relies on conspiracy as an explanation. Provided one discounts the authors' conclusions there is a useful, if somewhat dated, bibliography and the book is easy to read. Just about worth three stars.
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on 2 May 1999
I read the authors book "The Secret War Against the Jews" and had to have this one. In the controversy of today about whether or not the Vatican really helped jews during the Holocaust, this book should set the record straight. The Vatican has no morals whatsoever. Its nothing but the worlds largest tax exempt business. A few years back the 60 Minutes program did a story on how the CIA helped nazis escape all in the name of stopping communisms spread. Well they did a pretty poor job as all of eastern Europe fell under Soviet domination. this book fills in the the whole story on Vatican/CIA collaboration with Nazis. The worse item i read in this book was about the Croatian Priest Dragonovich. He and the Utashe were brutal. They murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies in the most horrific way. This priest was then honored by the Vatican. The Vaticans now infamous "Ratline" helped thousands of Nazis escape to South America. To this day, the Vatican will not release their records from WW2. Could it be that the reason why the Pope has been so "nice" to Jews for the past 20 years is because if the Vatican does fully release the WW2 records, then he will spared any criticism??? The book also tells how Ukranian Catholics were more than nice enough to volunteer for an SS unit and they killed thousands of jews. The Vatican is an organization thats need to be torn down.
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on 17 March 2004
This book really demonstrates Vatican double-standards. On the one hand, the Vatican claims that it did all it could to save Jews from Nazism, but on the other it smuggled 1,000's of Nazi fugitives to South America, Australia and North America after the war (through Bishop Alois Hudal and Father Krunoslav Draganovic).
However, the British and the Americans are also to blame, since they supported the so-called "anti-Communist" guerilla groups in Eastern Europe (in actuality, fascist murderers who's hands were drenched in blood). As for Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) he was a moral coward who never spoke out against Nazi atrocities and even blessed the genocidal maniac, Ante Pavelic of the so-called "Independent State of Croatia" in 1941 and again in 1943, when he knew full well that Pavelic was butchering innocent civilians, Serbs, Jews, Romas, and Communists. Simply put, "undesirable" elements, or "untermenschen" as the Nazis would say.
Well worth the read!
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on 13 May 1999
Just another tired diatribe blaming the Catholic Church for everything that goes wrong in the world. In fact the Church did not support the Nazi's, Communists, or advocate the holocaust. Actually the Church saved many lives during the war including Jewish lives
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on 21 October 2014
An amazing book and an eye opener.
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