(Only) three examples of the 20th century the Roman Catholic Church atrocities of genocide

1. Catholic extermination camps

Surprisingly few know that Nazi extermination camps in World War II were by no means the only ones in Europe at the time. In the years 1942-1943 also in Croatia existed numerous extermination camps, run by Catholic Ustasha under their dictator Ante Pavelic, a practicing Catholic and regular visitor to the then pope. There were even concentration camps exclusively for children!

In these camps – the most notorious was Jasenovac, headed by a Franciscan friar – orthodox-Christian Serbians (and a substantial number of Jews) were murdered. Like the Nazis the Catholic Ustasha burned their victims in kilns, alive (the Nazis were decent enough to have their victims gassed first). But most of the victims were simply stabbed, slain or shot to death, the number of them being estimated between 300,000 and 600,000, in a rather tiny country. Many of the killers were Franciscan friars. The atrocities were appalling enough to induce bystanders of the Nazi “Sicherheitsdient der SS”, watching, to complain about them to Hitler (who did not listen). The pope knew about these events and did nothing to prevent them.[1]

Extermination of the Christian Orthodox Serbs in the Roman Catholic-run death camp of Jasenovac in Croatia during the WWII

2. Catholic terror in Vietnam

In 1954 Vietnamese freedom fighters – the Viet Minh – had finally defeated the French colonial government in North Vietnam, which by then had been supported by U.S. funds amounting to more than $2 billion. Although the victorious assured religious freedom to all (most non-Buddhist Vietnamese were Catholics), due to huge anticommunist propaganda campaigns many Catholics fled to the South. With the help of Catholic lobbies in Washington and Cardinal Spellman, the Vatican’s spokesman in U.S. politics, who later on would call the U.S. forces in Vietnam “Soldiers of Christ”, a scheme was concocted to prevent democratic elections which could have brought the communist Viet Minh to power in the South as well, and the fanatic Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem was made president of South Vietnam.

Diem saw to it that U.S. aid, food, technical and general assistance was given to Catholics alone, Buddhist individuals and villages were ignored or had to pay for the food aids which were given to Catholics for free. The only religious denomination to be supported was Roman Catholicism.

The Vietnamese McCarthyism turned even more vicious than its American counterpart. By 1956 Diem promulgated a presidential order which read:

Individuals considered dangerous to the national defense and common security may be confined by executive order, to a concentration camp.

Supposedly to fight communism, thousands of Buddhist protesters and monks were imprisoned in “detention camps.” Out of protest dozens of Buddhist teachers – male and female – and monks poured gasoline over themselves and burned themselves. (Note that Buddhists burned themselves: in comparison Christians tend to burn others). Meanwhile some of the prison camps, which in the meantime were filled with Protestant and even Catholic protesters as well, had turned into no-nonsense death camps. It is estimated that during this period of terror (1955-1960) at least 24,000 were wounded – mostly in street riots – 80,000 people were executed, 275,000 had been detained or tortured, and about 500,000 were sent to concentration or detention camps.

To support this kind of government in the next decade thousands of American GI’s lost their life….

3. Rwanda Massacres

In 1994 in the small African country of Rwanda in just a few months several hundred thousand civilians were butchered, apparently a conflict of the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic groups.

For quite some time I heard only rumours about Catholic clergy actively involved in the 1994 Rwanda massacres. Odd denials of involvement were printed in Catholic church journals, before even anybody had openly accused members of the church.

Then, 10/10/96, in the newscast of S2 Aktuell, Germany – a station not at all critical to Christianity – the following was stated:

Anglican as well as Catholic priests and nuns are suspect of having actively participated in murders. Especially the conduct of a certain Catholic priest has been occupying the public mind in Rwanda’s capital Kigali for months. He was minister of the church of the Holy Family and allegedly murdered Tutsis in the most brutal manner. He is reported to have accompanied marauding Hutu militia with a gun in his cowl. In fact there has been a bloody slaughter of Tutsis seeking shelter in his parish. Even two years after the massacres many Catholics refuse to set foot on the threshold of their church, because to them the participation of a certain part of the clergy in the slaughter is well established. There is almost no church in Rwanda that has not seen refugees – women, children, old – being brutally butchered facing the crucifix.

According to eyewitnesses clergymen gave away hiding Tutsis and turned them over to the machetes of the Hutu militia.

In connection with these events again and again two Benedictine nuns are mentioned, both of whom have fled into a Belgian monastery in the meantime to avoid prosecution. According to survivors one of them called the Hutu killers and led them to several thousand people who had sought shelter in her monastery. By force the doomed were driven out of the churchyard and were murdered in the presence of the nun right in front of the gate. The other one is also reported to have directly cooperated with the murderers of the Hutu militia. In her case again witnesses report that she watched the slaughtering of people in cold blood and without showing response. She is even accused of having procured some petrol used by the killers to set on fire and burn their victims alive…

As can be seen from these events, to Christianity the Dark Ages never come to an end….

Reference

1. A. Manhattan, The Vatican’s Holocaust, Springfield 1986. See also V. Dedijer, The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican, Buffalo NY, 1992.


1996

By Kelsos

Source: Truth Be Known

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Pope Francis at Auschwitz But Not Where Catholics Slaughtered 700,000 Serbs, Jews and Roma in WWII

Jasenovac in Croatia was the third largest World War II concentration camp in Europe by number of victims. It was operated by the Catholic and Nazi-allied Ustasha government. Wartime Croatia has been called “one great slaughterhouse.”

The prisoners – mostly Serbs, Jews and Roma had their throats cut with specially designed knives, or they were killed with axes, mallets and hammers; they were also shot, or they were hung from trees or light poles. Some were burned alive in hot furnaces, boiled in cauldrons, or drowned in the River Sava.

Here the most varied forms of torture were used. Finger and toe nails were pulled out with metal instruments, eyes were dug out with specially constructed hooks, people were blinded by having needles stuck in their eyes, flesh was cut and then salted. People were also flayed, had their noses, ears and tongues cut off with wire cutters, and had awls stuck in their hearts. Daughters were raped in front of their mothers; sons were tortured in front of their fathers.

Said plainly, in the concentration camps at Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, the Ustasha surpassed all that even the sickest mind could imagine and do in terms of the brutal way people were murdered. …

More than 74,316 children were killed. During the Second World War, the only place where there were special camps for children was Croatia. …

Estimates of the total numbers of men, women and children killed there range from 300,000 to 700,000.

“700,000 in a total population of a few million, proportionally, would be as if one-third of the US population had been exterminated by a Catholic militia.”

For the Ustasha (Ustase, Ustaša), “relations with the Vatican were as important as relations with Germany because Vatican recognition was the key to widespread Croat support.” (Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930–1965 (2000) p. 32)

Ante Pavelic, the “Butcher of the Balkans,” had already been convicted in France for planning the 1934 assassination of King Alexander of Yugoslavia and French Foreign Minister Louis Barthou when he was received in a private audience by Pope Pius XII in May 1941 shortly after becoming dictator of Croatia. “After receiving the papal blessing, Pavelic and his Ustasha lieutenants unleashed an unspeakable genocide in their new country. But Pius XII refused to cut his ties with Catholic Croatia and in 1943 once again imparted the papal blessing on Pavelic, who by that time was a genocidal killer.” (Phayer, Pius XII, The Holocaust, and the Cold War (2008) p. 219)

“It is well known that many Catholic clerics participated directly or indirectly in the Ustaša campaigns of violence.” (Phayer, 2000, pp. 34-35)

Pope Pius XII could not plead ignorance to these atrocities. “Both the nuncio [Vatican ambassador] and the head of the [Croatian] Church, Bishop Alojzje Stepinac, were in continuous contact with the Holy See while the genocide was being committed.” (Phayer, 2000, p. 30)

Vatican Bank

“Approximately half of what [Vatican agent] Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic took out of Croatia was in the form of gold coins, most of which had been looted from Jewish and Serbian victims of Ustasha terror.” (Phayer, 2008, p. 215) Along with gold taken from the pre-war Yugoslav treasury, the coins were transported by truck through Austria and Italy into Rome.

Based on accounts by Emerson Bigelow, in the U.S. Army reporting to the U.S. Treasury Dept, and U.S. intelligence agents William Gowen and James Angelton, “There is no reason to doubt that the Ustasha gold ended up as a deposit in the Vatican Bank.” (Phayer, 2008, p.217) In addition, Gowen later gave testimony at a U.S. federal court in San Francisco that his investigation in 1947 led him to believe that the Vatican was “implicated at the highest level.

In an April 2014 “Open Letter to Pope Francis,” William Dorich, whose father and 16 other relatives were burned alive by the Ustasha and Catholic priests, he asks the pontiff to open the Vatican archives from World War II and make restitution for the gold and other assets stolen from the Ustasha victims and deposited in the Vatican.

Dorich was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit first filed in 1999 against the Vatican Bank by elderly Ustasha victims and their heirs for compensation. When their claim was rejected by U.S. courts for lack of jurisdiction, their attorney, Dr. Jonathan Levy, began petitioning directly to the Vatican, including a letter to Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

“As the postwar years rolled by, the deposited gold had to be ‘laundered’ or changed into various currencies to finance an evolving sequence of tasks. The immediate need was for upkeep for many dozens of Ustasha exiles. False papers had to be fabricated. Some of the funds had to be used for the paying for passage of war criminals.” (Phayer, 2008, p. 217)

Ratlines

As an Allied victory became more certain, two distinct ratlines developed, both operated by Catholic clerics.

Austrian Bishop Hudal’s ratline began to assist highly-placed German and Austrian war criminals. To escape Germany, the best route lay across the Alps to Italy. The American OSS was able to trace support of Hudal’s operation to the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission of Assistance and expatriated Germans and Austrians in Argentina. That Hudal was a notorious Nazi sympathizer was well known in the Vatican. (Phayer, 2008, pp. 196-199)

Due to a “long-time relationship with Himmler’s SD espionage service,” (Phayer, 2008, p. 206) Hudal was able to assist monsters – just a few named here — to escape to South America: Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele, Franz Stangl, Eduard Roschmann, Alois Brunner, Walter Rauff.

Pius XII “made no effort to remove Bishop Hudal from the Austrian refugee program under the Pontifical Commission of Assistance until 1952, at which time all, or almost all, of the perpetrators of World War II atrocities who had not been apprehended had made good their escape.” (Phayer, 2008, p. 200)

Numerically, the largest ratline was operated by Fr. Draganovic, and “reveals the direct involvement of Pius XII himself.” Draganovic had served as an army chaplain with the rank of lieutenant colonel at Jasenovac. After the collapse of the Ustasha regime, Draganovic returned to his base in Rome where he established escape routes for Croatian war criminals. This was accomplished largely through the Croatian seminary, St. Jerome’s, located near the Vatican. (Phayer, 2008, pp. 231-232)

A large number of clerical and lay Ustasha war criminals took cover in St. Jerome. The Vatican wanted Draganovic to take care of the criminals and Draganovic served the Vatican as the front man in this venture. As one U.S. Army intelligence report put it, “in many instances it was hard to distinguish the activity of the Church from the activity of Draganovic.” (Phayer, 2008, p. 233) “All intelligence agents involved in the case, regardless of nationality, believed by 1947 that Ante Pavelic had found refuge in a Vatican property or properties.” (Phayer, 2008, pp. 222-223)

“The Vatican was able to use deposits of stolen Nazi funds to finance these [ratlines].” Also, “It would have been perfectly possible to channel funds to escaped war criminals in South America from Vatican Swiss bank accounts through the branches of Sudameris” a South American bank in which the Vatican was heavily invested and “which in the eyes of the Allies was simply an Axis Bank.” (Pollard, Money and the Rise of the Modern Papacy p. 202)

Both ratlines moved war criminals through the port of Genoa to Barcelona, and from Spain to Argentina. (Phayer, 2008, p. 232) In June 1947, “an American diplomat working in the Buenos Aires embassy wrote to the State Department deploring the fact that ‘the Vatican and Argentina [are conniving] to get guilty people to haven in latter country.’” (Phayer, 2008, p. 194)

Based on previously secret files, “investigators of the central war criminal authority in Germany estimated 9,000 war criminals escaped to South America, including Croatians, Ukrainians, Russians and other western Europeans who aided the Nazi murder machine. Most, perhaps as many as 5,000 went to Argentina.”

Argentina

The Peron government (1946 to 1955) was “so keen to have the war criminals that it sent recruiting agents to Italy to persuade them to come. Like all the other institutions that helped former SS men such as Eichmann get away, the Peron government was well aware of the crimes they had committed.”

Argentina and the Third Reich were “closely linked.” Peron had a secret postwar organization that provided a safe haven to war criminals, giving them landing permits and visas. Many were even given jobs in Perón’s government.

Pavelić arrived in Buenos Aires on November 6, 1948, on an Italian merchant ship and was employed as a security adviser to Peron. In 1950, Pavelić was given amnesty by Peron when the Yugoslav government asked for him to be extradited as a war criminal. He was allowed to stay in Argentina along with 34,000 other Croats, including former Nazi collaborators.

“Many South American countries postwar were ruled by fascist-style military dictatorships that had welcomed the brutal servants of Nazism with few questions asked.”

“Some Jewish groups in Argentina saw a continued Nazi influence in the armed forces and the police long after the first Peron government. They claimed there was persistent anti-Semitism at an official level, and that neo-Nazi propaganda was rife.”

The Dirty War — a period from 1976 to 1983 — shocked the conscience of the world. In the aftermath of a military coup, the junta and their hired killers “disappeared” an estimated 30,000 suspected of opposing them. There were also “child murders, mass executions and a harrowing array of other daily war crimes.”

“Disappeared” refers to one of the many types of Nazi atrocities copied by Latin American dictators. In 1941, Hitler ordered the Nacht und Nebel Erlass (Night and Fog Decree) designed to make anyone “deemed to be a threat … vanish without a trace into the night and fog” and murdered in secret. A victim who is murdered or executed in public becomes a martyr and public opinion is raised against the perpetrators.

“Uncertainty about the fate of those abducted sowed terror in society,” wrote Juan Méndez of Human Rights Watch. The situation “forced friends and relatives to renounce and ignore old ties, intimidated parents and siblings.”

“The Nazi influence was very much a part of the [Dirty War]. Pictures of Hitler hung in torture chambers and the torturers sometimes played Hitler speeches while torturing. While Argentina had the largest concentration of Jews in Latin America, Argentine society, particularly the Church and the military, were bastions of anti-Semitism.”

Navy School of Mechanics, Buenos Aires

After Jasenovac, Pope Francis’ next stop should be at ESMA — acronym for Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (Navy School of Mechanics) – “ground zero for torture during the Dirty War” and now a memorial.

“ESMA was the largest of nearly 400 detention and torture camps that operated in Argentina, where almost 5,000 people died.” Victims were trade unionists, students, those who helped the poor – anyone thought to be “leftist.”

Of the 30,000 who perished, about 1,900 were Jews — or more than 6 percent of the victims, even though Jews numbered only about 1 percent of the population. Argentina’s approximately 300,000 Jews suffered in greater proportion, because so many were members of that country’s intellectual elite and its left-wing …

“Jews suffered all types of torture,” at ESMA, “but there was one that was especially sadistic and cruel: A tube was inserted into the victim’s anus or in a woman’s vagina and a rat would be let loose inside the tube. The rodent would try to get out and eat the internal organs of the victims.”

Ana Maria Careaga was sixteen at the time of her disappearance. She was recently married and three months pregnant. “As soon as we arrived at the camp, they stripped, and began torturing me. The worst torture was with the electric prod — it went on for many hours, with the prod in my vagina, anus, belly, eyes, nose, ears, all over my body. They also put a plastic bag over my head and wouldn’t take it off until I was suffocating.”

“Our bodies were a source of special fascination,” Astelarra recounted, shuddering at the memory. “They said my swollen nipples ‘invited’ the prod, eased the passage of current.”

It was rare for a pregnant detainee to survive; most were killed soon after giving birth and their babies sold to “proper” couples, usually from the military or police.

Typically, ESMA inmates were “left hooded the whole time.” In addition to being “burned and poked and prodded, they would have had objects painfully inserted into their orifices. As they screamed, they would have heard cries of others being tortured nearby.”

In 1995, former navy Captain Adolfo Scilingo confessed that “between 1,500 and 2,000” ESMA inmates “were disposed of” by putting them on a military plane and then – stripped naked, drugged but alive — dropped from a height of about 13,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean.” Scilingo reported that the Catholic hierarchy “approved [of this] as a Christian form of death.” When Scilingo felt anguished after directing these death flights, he would seek counseling from Catholic chaplains at ESMA.

“In out-of-the-way streets, on isolated highways, along the Atlantic Ocean and Plate River [Rio de la Plata] corpses periodically were discovered by civilians. Riddled with bullets, missing digits and teeth, most of the bodies were too ravaged to be identified.

When the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights visited ESMA in 1979, they found no sign of prisoners. With the aid of the Church, the Army had hidden them in the “Island of Silence,” a vacation retreat that belonged to Cardinal Juan Carlos Aramburu, Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1975 until 1990.

Church and the Dictatorship

Like the Ustasha and Jasenovac, the junta was supported by the Catholic Church and the torture and deaths at ESMA and other detention centers were known by the Vatican, Argentine hierarchs and Pope Francis, then Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

The military had presented themselves as the defenders of “tradition, family and property … The internal enemy was [declared] more dangerous than enemies from abroad because it threatened the fundamental Western and Christian values of Argentine society.”

“Patriotism came to be associated with Catholicism,” said Kenneth P. Serbin, a history professor at the University of San Diego who has written about the Roman Catholic Church in South America. “So it was almost natural for the Argentine clergy to come to the defense of the authoritarian regime.”

In his book, El Silencio (The Silence), Horatio Verbitsky reports that the Catholic Church actively participated in the dictatorship while having full knowledge of the human rights violations being committed at the time. The secret relations that El Silencio revealed also include the collaboration of the secretary of the military vicariate, Bishop Emilio Graselli, and his program of reeducation of the prisoners of ESMA.

Gen. Jorge Videla’s junta “had a close alliance with the Church where they served as confidants to the military in that period … During his tenure, Videla expanded the Church’s economic benefits” and authorized a generous “retirement package for high-ranking Church officials.”

Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo, vicar of the armed forces, said that “General Videla adheres to the principles and morals of Christian conduct. As a military leader he is first class, as a Catholic he is extraordinarily sincere and loyal to his faith.’ He also said that when confronting subversion, the military should take on ‘hard and violent measures.’”

Cardinal Raul Primatesta made it clear at the start of the dictatorship that “the Church wants to understand, cooperate” with the junta. Primatesta prohibited the lower clergy from speaking out against state violence.

In 1997, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of women who protested against the disappearance of their children, petitioned the Italian government to prosecute Cardinal Pio Laghi, Pope Paul VI’s ambassador to Argentina, as an Italian citizen.

“As nuncio from 1974 to 1980, Laghi silenced international protests, falsely stated to relatives that he knew nothing of the fate of victims and expelled from the country priests and religious who protested the ‘disappearances’ and tortures.” Laghi, the Mothers charge, “was seen in the clandestine detention centers. He was consulted as to whether prisoners should be spared or killed, and they asked his advice regarding ‘the Christian and compassionate way to liquidate them.’ … He participated actively with the bloody members of the military junta and he undertook personally a campaign designed to hide the horror, death and destruction. … He was one of those who governed the country from the shadows.” Laghi escaped prosecution on the basis of his diplomatic immunity.

Laghi was particularly close to Admiral Emilio Massera, head of ESMA. “They played tennis together almost every day. Massera was convicted in 1985 of human rights violations and again in 1999 for disappearances. He was also charged with abducting babies of women who went into labor or suffered involuntary caesarian births while in prison.”

“The secret relations that El Silencio revealed also include the [power of] seduction Admiral Emilio Massera exercised over Pope Paul VI.”

Like Pius XII, Paul VI was kept informed by Argentine hierarchs. “On April 10, 1978, prelates of the Argentine Bishops Conference all went to the president’s mansion where they typed a summary of the dialogue held with Videla and sent it to the Vatican.”

Bergoglio and the Dirty War

While Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio (later Pope Francis) was the Jesuit provincial of Argentina, the Jesuit Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires awarded an honorary doctorate to Massera on November 25, 1977. It was “inexcusable” for Bergoglio to honor Massera, head of ESMA where “thousands of young Argentines were tortured and murdered in a reproduction of Auschwitz,” Roberto Pizarro, Dean of the Faculty of Economics of the University of Chile and rector of University Academy of Christian Humanism wrote. For Bergoglio to have “cultivated a relationship” with Massera is a “stain” on his record for which “Argentines, the Jesuits and the two hundred billion Catholic in the world deserve an explanation,” declared Pizarro.

Witness to the Truth: The Complicity of Church and Dictatorship in Argentina (1986) by Emilio F. Mignone “exposes the ‘sinister complicity’ between the Church and the military.” Mignone wrote that before the 1976 coup, Archbishop Adolfo Tortolo worked out a deal with the dictators that bishops would be consulted before a priest was arrested. The army “did the dirty work of cleaning up the inside of the Church,” that is, getting rid of “leftist” clergy, brothers and nuns. Churchmen could give a “green light” for those they wanted abducted while offering their protection to those they wanted spared.

The part Bergoglio played in the abduction and torture of his priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalic, was first published in Mignone’s book. Mignone’s daughter was “disappeared” along with seven other young volunteers by Navy commandos from a Buenos Aires shantytown in May 1976. They had been working alongside the Jesuit priests, Yorio and Jalics, who were taken a week later but were later released after being tortured.

By agreement with the government, priests were “licensed.” “A week before the arrest of the two priests, Archbishop Juan Carlos Aramburu had withdrawn their ministerial licenses without reason or explanation. Because of various expressions heard by Yorio in captivity, it was clear to him that the Navy interpreted Aramburu’s decision and, perhaps, some criticism from his provincial, Jorge Bergoglio, as an authorization to take action against him. Most certainly, the military had warned both Aramburu and Bergoglio of the supposed danger that Yorio posed,” according to Mignone. He thought Bergoglio’s criticism “served as part of the basis for the arrest, imprisonment and torture of the Jesuit priests.”

Mignone died in 1998, Yorio in 2000. Yorio’s siblings, Graciela and Rodolfo, repeated their brother’s accusation that Bergoglio had given a “green light” to their abduction as did Jalics’ siblings. Another Jesuit present at the time, Juan Luis Moyano Walker, confirmed that Bergoglio did not protect his priests working with the poor. Jalics issued a statement that Bergoglio had not turned them over to the military, but he was silent as to whether Bergoglio had facilitated their abduction. The only person actually present at the time who confirmed Bergoglio’s assertion that he tried to help Yorio and Jalics was Alicia Olveira, a personal friend.

In 2005, the military chaplain said that the Minister of Health should be thrown into the sea because of his progressive views on contraception. “It doesn’t take much effort at all to imagine what that must sound like to the ears of an Argentine with any sense of history,” historian Ernesto Semán noted. The government asked for the chaplain’s removal. Cardinal Bergoglio refused.

A series of interviews with Videla from 2010 were published in July 2012. He confirmed that “he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of ‘disappearing’ political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to ‘manage’ the policy.” Videla said that his “relationship with the Catholic Church was excellent, very friendly, honest and open.”

Church leaders had little choice but to respond when Videla’s interviews were made public. As cardinal primate, Bergoglio would have approved such an important declaration. The statement, Los Obispos de la República Argentina, 104º Asamblea Plenaria, 9 de noviembre de 2012, absolved the Church: “We have the word and testimony of our elder brothers, the bishops who preceded us about whom we cannot know how much they personally knew of what was happening. They tried to do everything in their power for the good of all, according to their conscience and considered judgment.” Videla’s statement was “completely divorced from the truth of what the bishops were involved in at that time.” The bishops also equated the “suffering” from “state terrorism” with “the death and devastation caused by guerrilla violence,” referencing the quickly-crushed left-wing opposition. The bishops conclude: “For our part, we have cooperated with the law when we have been asked for information which we have. In addition, we encourage those with information on the whereabouts of stolen children or know clandestine burial sites, to recognize their moral obligation to go to the relevant authorities.”

Four months later, when Pope Francis was elected and the initial reporting about the new pontiff questioned his cooperation with the junta, the Vatican press office issued a statement that the “accusations” came from “left-wing anticlerical elements to attack the Church.”

In 2015, when Chileans protested Pope Francis’ appointment of a bishop due to his covering up dozens of clerical sexual abuse cases, the pope called them “lefties.”

Opening the archives

After taking office, Pres. Nestor Kirchner made it a government priority to pursue justice by holding trials of those accused of human rights abuses committed during the Dirty War.

Cardinal Bergoglio was called to testify twice. The first was in November 2010 during a trial for ESMA officials. María Elena Funes — a former detainee at ESMA and a lay volunteer who was kidnapped along with Yorio and Jalics and, like them, later released — had testified that they were abducted in May 1976 after Bergoglio removed their protection. Bergoglio was called as a witness.

The second time was September 2011 during a trial for officials who stole babies. The five-month pregnant Elena de la Cuadra was kidnapped in 1977 and “disappeared” at ESMA. She was killed after giving birth and her baby was given to one of the favored families. Her father had gone to see Bergoglio twice asking for help, but was referred elsewhere.

The Vatican Embassy kept a secret list of thousands of people who “disappeared.” Laghi confirmed in 1995 that he knew of some 6,000 cases. A priest “discovered a second list of 2,100 ‘disappeareds’” kept by Tortolo, vicar of the armed forces.

In both his testimonies, Bergoglio told the court he would make Church records available. But neither Bergoglio nor other prelates provided any of the documents.

As pope, Bergoglio said he would produce the documents promised in his testimony in April 2013April 2015, and March 2016. This last time, Pope Francis’ spokesman said that first the records needed to be studied and agreement reached with the Argentine Bishops Conference. Then they would be released only by “specific legal questions requested by rogatory [a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance] or matters of a humanitarian nature.”

In spite of the iron curtain dividing Europe at the time, John Paul II returned to Poland less than eight months after his election. Benedict XVI went to Germany only four months after his election although it was a practically obligatory that he go to the World Youth Day in Cologne. In any case, after a year and a half pope, Benedict made a visit to his birthplace in Bavaria.

On February 18, 2016, a reporter asked: “Holy Father, when are you going to go to Argentina?” Bergoglio responded: “China. (laughs) To go there. I would love that. I would like to say something just about the Mexican people …”


2016-07-30

About the author:

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009).

Source: Daily Kos

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The Jasenovac Extermination Camp: Terror In Croatia

Ustase-bacaju-Srbe-u-jamu

The Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia on 6 April 1941. Vladko Maček, the leader of the Croatian Peasant Party (HSS) which was the most influential party in Croatia at the time, rejected offers by the Nazi Germany to lead the new government. On 10 April the most senior home-based Ustaša, Slavko Kvaternik, took control of the police in Zagreb and in a radio broadcast that day proclaimed the formation of the Independent State of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH).

The new Independent State of Croatia” was established as a pro-Nazi government. It was dedicated to a clerical-fascist ideology influenced both by Nazism and extreme Roman Catholic fanaticism. On coming to power, the Ustaša Party dictatorship in Croatia quickly commenced on a systematic policy of racial extermination of all Serbs, Jews and Gypsies living within its borders.


The NDH was ruled by Ante Pavelic under the title Poglavnik, or “Headman”. Pavelic served as leader of the Independent State of Croatia, a puppet state of the Axis Powers, throughout the four years of its existence, but since the Ustaše did not have a capable army or administration necessary to control the territory, the Germans and the Italians split the NDH into two zones of influence, one in the southwest controlled by the Italians (with Pavelić as Headman), and the other in the northeast controlled by the Germans.


Pavelić first met with Adolf Hitler on June 6, 1941. Mile Budak, then a minister in Pavelić’s government, publicly proclaimed the violent racial policy of the state on 22 July 1941. The Ustaša’s organization was a typically fascist organization and its military strength was an instrument for the implementation of the Ustaša’s Nazi ideology.

The first “Legal order for the defense of the people and the state” dated April 17, 1941 ordered the death penalty for “infringement of the honor and vital interests of the Croatian people and the survival of the Independent State of Croatia”. It was soon followed by the “Legal order of races” and the “Legal order of the protection of Aryan blood and the honor of the Croatian people” dated April 30, 1941, as well as the “Order of the creation and definition of the racial-political committee” dated June 4, 1941.

The enforcement of these legal acts was done not only through normal courts but also new out-of-order courts as well as mobile court-martials with extended jurisdictions.

The NDH Ustaša terror was also aimed at the Serbian Orthodox Church. Three Orthodox bishops and most of the Orthodox priests were murdered by the end of 1941 in the cruelest of manners. During the war, 450 Orthodox churches were demolished. Mass conversions were forced upon Serb villagers but the exact number of Serbs forcibly converted to Catholicism has never been established.

Ustaša decree issued by Ante Pavelic

One Orthodox Serb from Okučani reported:

“The new government told me that I’d have to convert to Roman Catholicism if I wanted to keep my job. I refused and was fired in July 1941. I moved my family to the nearby town of Okučani where I managed to find work. But in Okučani I was arrested, once by the Germans and once by the Croatian fascists. Both of those times I was released. Now I’ve been arrested yet again by the Croatian fascists. My crime—being a Serb.”


The Ustaša army (Ustaška vojnica) was organized by Slavko Kvaternik, and it was made up of Ustaša units (filled out with volunteers) under the direction of the Central Ustaša Headquarters, of special police units (redarstvo) and the Home Guard (domobrani), and in August of 1941 the Ustaša Secret Service was formed by Ustaša Security Service Kommando Eugen Dido Kvaternik who also oversaw the concentration camp system throughout the sphere of Ustaša control.

In the early stages of the Ustaša rule there were no legal regulations about sending people to concentration camps or the length of sentences. Such things were decided by Pavelić’s emissaries, district prefects, deputy prefects, camp supervisors and other Ustaša commanders. Such practices remained even later, and when the regulations were finally passed, no one actually obeyed them.

The first camps in the NDH were founded on the island of Pag at the place called Slano, on Mount Velebit near Gospić at a place called Jadovno, and in Bosnia at Kruščica near Travnik. Besides Jasenovac, the larger camps were:

  • Danica

  • Pag

  • Jadovno near Gospić

  • Kruščica near Vitez and Travnik in Bosnia

  • Đakovo

  • Loborgrad in Zagorje

  • Tenja near Osijek

The establishment of the Jasenovac Camp System

Jasenovac was established in August, 1941 and was dismantled in April, 1945. The creation and management of the camp complex were given to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustashka Nadzorna Sluzba; UNS) which was headed by Vjekoslav Maks Luburic, who commanded the Jasenovac camp.

The camp spread out over 210 square kilometers, along the Sava River from Stara Gradiska in the east to the village Krap1je in the west, and from Strug in the north to the line between Draksenic to Bistrica in the south.

Prisoners forced to labor at the brick factory

The choice of the wider region of Jasenovac for such a monstrous camp was made for several reasons. One of them was certainly the suitable geographic position. The Zagreb-Belgrade railway was in the vicinity and was important for the transport of the prisoners. The terrain was surrounded by the rivers Sava, Una and Velika Struga, in the middle of the swampy Lonjsko poije area, so that escape from the camp was almost impossible.

On the other side of the Sava, the Gradina region was hardly accessible and often flooded by the river, uninhabited and far from all witnesses. It was the ideal place for hiding mass murders.

Jasenovac became the largest and most important concentration camp (sabirni logor) and extermination camp complex in the Nezavisna Hrvatska Drzava (NDH), Independent State of Croatia, during World War II. The Jasenovac concentration camp complex would be crucial in the systematic and planned genocide of the Orthodox Serbs of the Srpska Vojna Krajina and of Bosnia-Hercegovina by the Croats and Bosnian Muslims.

Other concentration camps were established in Sisak, Stara Gradiska, Djakovo, Lepoglava, Loborgrad. In all, there would be 22 concentration camps in the NDH, almost half of which were commanded by Roman Catholic Croatian priests.

The first transports brought Serbs and Jews to the nearby village of Krapje, which was 7 miles west of Jasenovac. At this site, the prisoners were forced to build the camp that was called Jasenovac Camp No. 1. A second camp was built after the increase in the number of prisoners called Camp No.2.

Camp No.3 was built near the Ciglara brick factory, Ozren Bacic & Company, at the mouth of the Lonja and downstream from Jasenovac. Camp No.4 was built in Jasenovac itself near the former leather factory. The camp at the nearby town of Stara Gradiska is referred to as Camp No.5.

The maximum capacity of all the camps was 7,000 prisoners but usually only 4,000 prisoners were there at any one time.

Jasenovac was in fact a system or complex of concentration and extermination camps occupying a surface of 130 square miles, set up under decree-law, No. 1528-2101-Z-1941, on September 25,1941, legally authorizing the creation of ‘assembly or work camps for undesirable and dangerous persons.

Gypsies marched to Jasenovac escorted by Ustaša guards

The Ustaše interned mostly Serbs in Jasenovac. Other victims included Jews, Bosniaks,Gypsies, and opponents of the Ustaša regime. Most of the Jews were murdered there until August 1942, when they started being deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia after being gathered in Zagreb, and from Bosnia and Herzegovina after being gathered in Sarajevo.

Some came directly from other cities and smaller towns. On their arrival most were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac.

The living conditions in the camp were extremely severe: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, a particularly cruel regime, and cruel behavior by the Ustaše guards. The conditions improved only for short periods during visits by delegations, such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.

Following the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, where the ‘Final Solution to the Jewish Problem’ was formulated, the Germans proposed through SS Sturmbannfuehrer Hans Helm that the Croats transfer Jewish prisoners to German camps in the east.

Kvaternik, agreed that the NDH would arrest the Jews, take them to railheads, and pay the Germans 30 Reich marks per person for the cost of transport to the extermination camps in the east. The Germans agreed that the property of the Jews would go to the Croat government.

SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Franz Abromeit was sent to supervise the deportations to Auschwitz. From August 13-20,1942, 5,500 Jews from the NDH were transpoted to Aushwitz on five trains from the Croat concentration camps at Tenje and Loborgrad and from Zagreb and Sarajevo.

Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was on a state visit to Zagreb in May,1943 when two trains on May 5 and 10 trasported 1,150 Jews to Auschwitz.

Jasenovac prisoner being beheaded with a saw

Wholesale murder of the prisoners was also carried out in the forest near the Krapje Camp, near the „Versaj“ Camp and „Uštica“ Camp on the whole left bank of the Sava, downriver from Jasenovac to Jablanac and Mlaka. Furthermore, within the complex of Camp III there was also a crematorium which was actually an oven for baking bricks, that the Ustaša converted for the use burning the bodies of their victims.


The crematorium became known as “Picili’s Funaceo” after the designer of the oven conversion plan, Hinko Picili.

In addition to the horrendous conditions in the Jasenovac camps, the guards also cruelly tortured, terrorized, and murdered prisoners at will. Here the most varied forms of torture were used: finger and toe nails were pulled out with metal instruments, eyes were dug out with specially constructed hooks, people were blinded by having needles stuck in their eyes, flesh was cut and then salted.

People were also flayed, had their noses, ears and tongues cut off with wire cutters, and had awls stuck in their hearts. Daughters were raped in front of their mothers, sons were tortured in front of their fathers.

The prisoners and all those who ended up in Jasenovac had their throats cut by the Ustaša with specially designed knives, or they were killed with axes, mallets and hammers; they were also shot, or they were hung from trees or light poles. Some were burned alive in hot furnaces, boiled in cauldrons, or drowned in the River Sava.

The acts of violence and depravity commited in Jasenovac were so brutal that General von Horstenau, Hitler’s representative in Zagreb, wrote:

“The Ustaša camps in the NDH are the “Epitome of horror”!

Stara Gradiska

Stara Gradiska was the most notorious camp in the Jasenovac complex besides the main camp (Ciglana), mainly due to the crimes which were committed against women and children.

Camp staff, Antun Vrban, Nada Luburic, Maja Buzdon, Jozo Stojcic, and especially the commandant and former-friar Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic, were notorious both in Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, for killing scores of inmates with his bare hands, women and children included.

Mutilated body of a man tortured and killed at Jasenovac

In in cellar 3 at Stara Gradiska, (known as the “Gagro Hotel”), starved inmates were first tortured and then slowly strangled to death by wire.

In the Dinko Sakic trial, witness Ivo Senjanovic recalled how people were locked there without food or water:

“The people were gradually dying. It was horrible to hear them cry for help.”

The treatment of inmates was so horrific that on the night of August 29, 1942, bets were made among the prison guards as to who could liquidate the largest number of inmates. One of the guards, Petar Brzica reportedly cut the throats of 1,360 prisoners with a butcher knife. A gold watch, a silver service, a roasted suckling pig, and wine were among his rewards.

The type of knife used for cutting prisoners’ throats became known as srbosjek translated as the “Serb-cutter”. Because of his expertise with the sbosjek, Petar Brzica was dubbed “King of the Cut-throats”.

It is estimated that close to 600,000 (depending on who’s statistics you agree with), mostly Serbs, Jews, Gypsies, were murdered at Jasenovac.

The number of Jewish victims was between twenty and twenty-five thousand, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to Auschwitz for extermination began.

Statistics for Romani victims are difficult to assess, as there are no firm estimates of their number in prewar Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The best estimates calculate the number of Romani victims at about 26,000, of whom between 8,000 and 15,000 perished in Jasenovac.

There are only loose estimates for the number of Croats murdered by the Ustaša. This group included political and religious opponents of the regime, both Catholic and Muslim. Between 5,000 and 12,000 Croats are believed to have died in Jasenovac.

An emaciated child at Stara Gradiska

In early April 1945, the partisans were fighting nearby Jasenovac and its subcamps, so the Ustase began eliminating traces of the camp, killing some of the inmates and transporting others to Lepoglava and from there to Jasenovac I.

The ultimate liquidation of the Camp was begun on April 20, when the last large group of women and children was executed. On April 22, 1945, under the leadership of Ante Vukotic, about 600 people armed with bricks, poles, hammers and other things, broke down the doors, shattered windows and ran out of the building. About 470 people were sick and unable to fight barehanded with the armed Ustaša, so they did not take part in the rebellion.

The 150 meter long path to the east gate of the camp was covered by the crossfire of the Ustaša machine guns, and many prisoners were killed there. A large number of them was killed on the wires of the camp. A hundred prisoners managed to break through the broken gate of the camp. Only 80 prisoners survived while 520 of them died in the first assault. The remaining 470 within the camp were later killed by the Ustaša.

Yugoslav Army forces entered the Stara Gradiska camp on April 23, and Jasenovac on May 2, 1945. Before leaving the camp, the Ustaša killed the remaining prisoners, blasted and destroyed the buildings, guard-houses, torture rooms, the “Picili Furnace” and the other structures. Upon entering the camp, the liberators found only ruins, soot, smoke, and dead bodies.


During the following months of 1945, the grounds of Jasenovac were thoroughly destroyed by forced laborers, composed of 200 to 600 Domobran soldiers captured by the Partisans, thereby making the area a labor camp. They leveled the camp to the ground and among other things dismantled a two-kilometer long, four-meter high wall that surrounded it.

The National Committee of Croatia for the investigation of the crimes of the occupation forces and their collaborators stated in its report of November 15, 1945 that 500,000-600,000 people were killed at Jasenovac.



Sources:

Dedijer, Vladimir. The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican: The Croatian Massacre of the Serbs during World War II. Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1992.
Romans, J. Jews of Yugoslavia, 1941- 1945: Victims of Genocide and Freedom Fighters, Belgrade, 1982

Fotich, Konstantin. The War We Lost:Ý Yugoslavia’s Tragedy and the Failure of theÝWest. New York: Viking Press, 1948.
Brochure of the Jasenovac Research Institute, written by JRI Research Director Barry Lituchy, (c) 2000.
Gutman, Israel,ed. The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. 4 vols. New York:

Ustaša Camps by Mirko Percen, Globus, Zagreb, 1966. Second expanded printing 1990.

Ustashi and the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945, by Fikreta Jelic-Butic, Liber, Zagreb, 1977.

US National Archives

*Special thanks to the USHMM

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Documentary Movie: “God And Croats” (English Subtitle)

Ustase-bacaju-Srbe-u-jamu

The Serb holocaust during the WWII in the Independent State of Croatia is not a misnomer, an accusation, and even less a speculation. It is an historical fact. Rabid nationalism and religious dogmatism were its two main ingredients. During the existence of Croatia as an independent Catholic State, over 700,000 men, women and children perished. Many were executed, tortured, died of starvation, buried alive, or were burned to death. Hundreds were forced to become Catholic. Catholic padres ran concentration camps; Catholic priests were officers of the military corps which committed such atrocities. 700,000 in a total population of a few million, proportionally, would be as if one-third of the USA population had been exterminated by a Catholic militia (Avro Manhattan).

This is the “hidden Holocaust” which, though well-known to scholars, is rarely, mentioned elsewhere, presumably because of the active involvement of the Catholic Church, which used the terror to win an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 new converts. The current lawsuit is on behalf of three groups of victims in the Croatian Holocaust: the Serbs, who were obliged to wear blue armbands marked with a “P” for Orthodox (Pravoslavac), the Jews, who had to wear the Star of David, and the Roma (whose extermination by the Nazis is called the Porajmos). The suit no longer involves the means by which the funds were obtained, only their disposal. However, no serious historian disputes the claimants’ account of the origin of the “victim gold”:

The Serbs, Jews, and the Roma were slaughtered in their villages after unspeakable tortures or burned alive in their churches. Those that were not murdered were expelled to Serbia proper after being despoiled of all their property or forcibly converted to the Roman Catholic faith by Franciscan and Roman Catholic clergy. Many were used as slave labourers. The remaining people were taken to concentration camps where the majority perished.

The Führer (Poglavnik) Pavelic in the military boots beloved of fascist leaders is surrounded by Franciscans. “Upon the establishment of the Ustasha Regime[led by Pavelic] individual Franciscan priests deserted their vocations and incited attacks on Serb and Roma settlements, tortured, killed and expropriated their victims in dozens of villages in Croatia and Bosnia. […] OFM [the Franciscans] did not actively seek out and punish most priests associated with the Ustasha during the Second World War despite knowledge of their activities.”

And the Vatican did nothing.

From stolen gold and money, the Vatican enabled Nazis to escape to Argentina, buy so-call “ratlines”.

Pope John Paul ll declared Aloysius Stepinac beatified in 1998.

During World War II, on 6 April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by Nazi Germany, who established the Ustaše-led Independent State of Croatia. As archbishop of the puppet state’s capital, Stepinac had close associations with the Ustaše leaders during the Nazi occupation, had issued proclamations celebrating the NDH, and welcomed the Ustaše leaders. Also, he was a military vicar and a deputy of “parliament” of the so-called Independent State of Croatia.

Despite opposition of the international community, the Vatican and Germany were the first to recognize the independence of Croatia, 1991-2. The historical revisionism triumphed in the Balkans.
In August 1995, Croatia expelled the remaining Serbs. The second part of the Ustasha’s plan for resolving the Serbian question was fulfilled.

Јасеновац