Guy Walters (b.1971) is a British historian who specialises in the time-period of WWII – and the associated military, political, cultural and social history of that time. I have read his ‘The Real Great Escape’ (where he unearths the ‘real’ history from beneath the debris of rumour, myth and deliberate fabrication), and am currently reading his ‘Hunting Evil’ – a book concerning the hunting of Nazi War Criminals. In the latter book – and to my surprise – he spends substantial time deconstructing the life of Simon Wiesenthal – and exposing him as a ‘liar’ on almost every front. In this book he also discusses the Vatican’s role in the Fascist-Nazi Era. As a good historian (of the bourgeois-type), he warns against jumping to conclusions or making assertions that move too far ahead of the available data. For instance, as the Vatican has taken the decision to ‘seal’ all of its records from that time ‘for eternity’ – it is obvious that there are no primary sources available ’from the horse’s mouth’, so-to-speak. So far, so good. However, Guy Walters then spends pages researching what might be called reliable ‘secondary sources’ – which are the historical records that exist external to the Vatican which were made by those who interacted with the Pope(s) and his Staff. From this ‘reflection’ of historical events ‘from other sources’ it is clear that there was a substantial ‘working correlation’ between the Vatican and the Fascist Regimes of the Italian Mussolini, the Spanish Franco and the Nazi Regime of Hitler. Simultaneously – the Vatican took an antagonistic stance toward the Soviet Union, the ideology of Marxist-Leninism (deliberately perpetuating the myth that it ‘secretly’ advocates the practice of child sexual abuse), and any Scientific Socialist Regime premised on any form of Marxism. As widely reported – the Vatican had a very good relationship with Leon Trotsky prior to his death in 1940 – on the grounds that he had reassured the Pope in 1938 that if he came to power by destroying the Soviet Regime – he would implement liberal democracy, predatory capitalism and allow the Vatican a free-rein, etc. Catholic Political Parties (such as that in Germany) were encouraged to convert the existing Unions into organisations that abandoned Marxist-Leninism and embraced Trotskyism – a policy that subsequently mainstreamed in the West post-1945.
Pope Pius XII, however, had a very ‘close’ relationship with the Fascist Movement of Croatia, despite many considering these people to be ‘worse’ than the Nazi Germans for their race-hate and excessive brutality. Even certain Nazi Germans detested the Croats – but the Pope was favourable to them because they were ‘committed Catholics’ – and that seems to be the only reason. After the Axis Powers invaded Yugoslavia during April, 1941, the (Catholic) Croatian Fascists formed the ‘Croatian Revolutionary Movement’ (Ustaša –Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret) – usually shortened to just ‘Ustasa’ (pron: ‘Ustashe’) – a name that inspires terror into the hearts of its political, ethnic and religious opponents. A key-mover who united the Vatican with these Fascist Croats was ‘Father Krunoslav Stjepan Draganović’ (1903-1983). The ‘Ustasa’ was founded and led by Ante Pavelić (1889-1959) – who exercised a reign of terror for four years – during which time he authorised the wholesale murder of Jews, homosexuals, Roma, Serbs, Communists and the Disabled using methods of manual killing using such implements as hammers, knives, screwdrivers, saws, axes, guns, iron-bars, whips, steel wire, gas, starvation, fire, suffocation, trampling, freezing, hanging, belts, grenades and hatchets, etc. Croatian death squads preferred to carry-out these murders by-hand – and often filmed or photographed the procedure. Certain ‘hardened’ Nazi Germans who had participated in the barbaric fighting on the Eastern Front – and even served as ‘Guards’ in Concentration Camps – were ‘shocked’ by what they saw! Jasenovac Concentration Camp – some 60 miles Southeast of Zagreb – between 85,000-100,000 people were murdered more or less ‘by-hand’. This included the brutal killing of men, women, children and babies. Babies were ‘sown’ into sacks ‘alive’ and thrown collectively in pits before being buried. The body of their mothers would form the next layer – but quite often the soil would lift and drop for a considerable time after-wards – with the Croat Guards making ‘bets’ as to how long the still living babies would last. On occasion, babies would be ‘dug-up’ to check if they were ‘still-breathing’ to settle a betting dispute – only to be killed by being swung into a nearby wall to ‘crush’ their skulls. For some strange reason – that no one can explain – the Croats used the ‘gauged eyeballs’ as a type of Camp currency, and would amass large barrels (weighing around 40 lbs) to give to their friends as ‘gifts’(?)
Father Draganović would visit this Camp regularly on behalf of the Catholic Church to bless the Guards ‘doing god’s work’ (of destroying Communism) and make regular Reports to the Vatican. He would target the Serbs who were often tied-up and kneeling on the ground awaiting ‘despatch’ by the most brutal of methods. He would ask them whether they would ‘willingly’ convert to ‘Catholicism’ – an act that would remove them (and their families) from the Concentration Camp. Father Draganović would also officiate over disputes involving how the stolen property of the murdered would be fairly ‘divided-up’ amongst their murderers. He would ‘sit in judgement’ leading with ‘prayers’ as axes continued to swing around him, and the air rang with screams and people ‘begging’ him to save them! The Pope was so grateful for this ‘service to the Church’ that Father Draganović was formally invited to the Vatican in August 1943 – where he was placed in-charge of the Archives of the Croatian Legation and the distribution of the ‘valuables’ smuggled into the Vatican from the Concentration Camp – official gifts to the Catholic Church offered by the ‘Ustasa’ – and formerly ‘accepted’ in the name of the Pope. Father Draganović was given the task of ‘hiding’ the origins of this ill-gotten amassed wealth – ‘laundering’ if you like. Unbelievingly, Father Draganović was permitted to travel through all Allied lines because he was an official representative of the ‘Croatian Red Cross’.
Pope Pius XII had granted – Ante Pavelić (the head of the ‘Ustasa’) – an audience in May, 1941 (considering him a ‘much maligned’ figure), as much of the Allied world was fighting for its life against a rampant International Fascist Offensive! This particularly irritated the British Government which at the time was confronting Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Imperial Japan single-handedly – and suffering defeats in all theatres! Pope Pius XII – building upon the solid pro-fascist foundation of his predecessor – Pope Pius XI – was of the opinion that the Church supports any worldly regime that does not attack the Church. In this case of Fascist Italy (and Mussolini’s pro-Church policies) this approach made sense – but it made no sense when applied equally to Nazi Germany (which openly attacked the Church), and Imperial Japan which beheaded anyone who dared to convert to any form of Christianity. It maybe that the Pope – like Trotsky – was banking on the Fascist Regimes combining their military might to destroy the Soviet Union and remove the threat of Bolshevism from the world. Again, this attitude made little sense as freedom of religion was guaranteed in the USSR – but no Church or religion was allowed to have ‘political’ power. This demonstrates that the Vatican employed the rhetoric of ‘religious freedom’ – when it actually meant ‘temporal political power’. The Pope intended to meet Ante Pavelić yet again in October, 1942. Again, the British Government lodged an ‘official’ complaint with the Vatican on the grounds that he had ‘murdered’ at least 600,000 Serbs throughout the whole of Yugoslavia! The Vatican replied that as the Pope ‘does not discriminate’, and given that ‘god moves in mysterious ways’ – it is highly likely that the two would meet again if the Pope decreed it. The British replied that in that case, should the Soviet Red Army ‘decide’ to move into Italy after the defeat of Hitler – the British Army would not ‘stand in its way’. This exchange appears to have hit the mark and the Pope quietly cancelled his intended meeting with a Fascist War Criminal.
This was not the end of this Papal ‘flirting’ with fascism, however, because on the 2nd of September, 1943, the Pope did meet with one-hundred and ten ‘Croatian Military Policemen’ who were in Fascist Italy for training. Many of these men had ‘served’ in Jasenovac Concentration Camp and were considered anti-Communist heroes by their fellow Croatians and Italian hosts. This was a view shared by Pope Pius XII – as he met each man individually, blessed their anti-Communist work, and gave each a ‘gift’ in the name of the Catholic Church! This led to unbridled ‘rejoicing’ by the Crotian Press – which printed piles of dead Serbs next to smiling faces of those ‘blessed’ by the Pope! The Vatican remained unrepentant when the nature of this coverage was reported. After the end of WWII – Father Draganović- was tasked with traversing the POW Camps in Italy and Austria and extracting former members of the ‘Ustasa’ and arranging their travel to South America – as a means to avoid Allied investigation and prosecution for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity. As ‘good Catholics’ the Pope authorised their ‘rescue’ from the potential condemnation of ‘Marxist morality’, and financed their ‘new lives’ abroad. Pope Pius XII devised the strategy of distributing fascist sympathisers around the world in an attempt to ‘inoculate’ the people of South America (and elsewhere) against Communism. No wonder the Vatican has ‘sealed’ its internal records of this era where the Shame of the Catholic Church reaches its lowest ebb.