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Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
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Restitution & justice for concentration camp survivors of Serb, Jewish, and Ukrainian background and their relatives
According to an article by Tom Rhodes (a correspondent with the London Times) in the Canadian newspaper The Ottawa Citizen (September 10th, 2000), the CIA has come under intense pressure to release secret documents believed to show how MI6 "used money stolen from Holocaust victims to finance Cold War operations" against the Soviet Union. The money came from Serbs, Roma and Jews who had been murderded by the Ustashe in Croatia. This is the result of two Californian lawyers, Jonathan Levy and Tom Easton taking the CIA to court to
"Obtain access to 250 papers that allegedly reveal the role of the British and American governments in bolstering right-wing groups in South America and elsewhere to counter the spread of communism. Many of the groups had links to former Nazi war criminals".
They are representing the families of 28 Serbian, Jewish and Ukrainian survivors of atrocities committed by the Ustashe in a court action against the Vatican Bank, believes the CIA documents will show how money was raised from looted goods and used by western intelligence services like the OSS and MI6 to propel former Ustashe members into positions of influence in countries such as Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela and Croatia. Levy has already stated that the files could prove highly embarrassing for Whitehall, Washington and the Vatican.
Central to the lawyers inquiry is the extreme nationalist Croatian Catholic priest Father Krunoslav Draganovic (who died in 1983). A member of the notorious Ustashe, Draganovic, is believed to have stolen millions of dollars worth of jewelry and other effects from victims of the Holocaust in Croatia. After the war, Draganovic moved to Rome, where he worked ostensibly as a secretary at a training seminary for Catholic priests. As noted by Rhodes:
In reality, he was involved in running the infamous ''ratline,'' an escape route to South America for Nazi war criminals, allegedly operated by the Catholic Church and sanctioned by allied intelligence. Klaus Barbie, the notorious ''Butcher of Lyons,'' was among those he helped to flee.
According to Jonathan Levy, by 1962 Draganovic was not only in the pay of the CIA - he said he had already found documents that proved a strong connection to MI6. It has also been claimed that the priest worked for the secret services of the Vatican, the USSR and Yugoslavia.
The lawyers also note that in 1998, a report by the American State Department accused British troops in Austria of accepting looted gold in return for the freedom of Croatia's wartime fascist leader Ante Pavelic. Apparently, after his arrest by the British army in 1945, Pavelic is alleged to have handed over up to $3 million U.S. in gold coins - described as "only a small part of an estimated $50 million U. S. in Ustashe gold smuggled out of Croatia". Pavelic moved to Italy and then to Argentina with the help of the Vatican. He survived an attempt on his life in 1957, and then fled to Paraguay and Spain where he died in 1959.
Despite all the evidence, the British Foreign Office has denied any involvement with the Ustashe. Interestingly, it insisted that military intelligence records relating to Pavelic would never be made public. As Levy notes:
''Without the help of the British and Americans, the Ustashe would have been destroyed . . . They were willing to help these war criminals launder their money and re-establish themselves.''