On October 19, 2014, Paul VI (Monsignor Montini) in a solemn ceremony at the Vatican is to be beatified which is the first step to sainthood A miracle, the curing of an unborn baby's illness, has been attributed to Paul VI. However, Holocaust Victims and their families from Eastern Europe who are locked in a decade's long legal dispute with the Vatican over looted assets from the Second World War, question the saintliness of the man who as Vatican Secretary of State supervised the infamous Vatican ratline funded with Holocaust era loot.

The Vatican Ratline was a post war system of escape routes for Nazis fleeing Europe at the end of the Second World War. The Vatican version was centered at the Croatian Confraternity of Saint Jerome located in Rome at Via Tomacelli 132 just a block away from the Tiber River bridge and next to the sprawling Tomb of Augustus.

The so called "Golden Priest" Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic, the Apostolic Vistator for Croatian matters, was the chief conductor of the Vatican ratline whose beneficiaries included major war criminals like Croatian mass murderer Ante Pavelic who escaped to Argentina in 1947 despite being responsible for the deaths of 500,000 Serbs, Jews, and Roma. Other ratline escapees included the Nazi war criminals Klaus Barbie, Josef Mengele and Adolf Eichman.

The funds that ran the Vatican ratline were obtained from the treasuries of defeated Axis allies like Croatia, Hungary, and Romania and often contained victim loot transformed into Church property through a complex scheme involving deposits at the Vatican Bank. Since 1998, the Holocaust victims have been seeking an accounting from the Vatican which has so far successfully resisted on grounds of sovereign immunity a long running lawsuit in the United States, a more recent EU Commission inquiry and direct claims lodged with the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy.

Declassified documents obtained by Holocaust Victims' attorneys link Paul VI, then Vatican Secretary of State, to Draganovic and Pavelic. Former US Special Agent, William Gowen, who investigated the Vatican ratline in Rome 1946-1947, testified that Draganovic was supervised by Montini and that Draganovic boasted of a clandestine ten truck convoy of looted gold and valuables that pulled into St. Peter's Square in 1946 right under the nose of the Allied authorities. The Holocaust Victim group is seeking an accounting and restitution of the looted assets used to fund the ratline.

The Holocaust Victims' lawyers have now released the transcripts of the entire Gowen deposition in hopes of bringing attention to the case. According to lead counsel, Dr. Jonathan Levy: "The real miracle is how the Vatican made countless millions in victim loot and major Nazi war criminals disappear with apparent impunity. The Vatican must open its archives once for all."

William Gowen who as a young Army CIC Special Agent fluent in Italian infiltrated the ratline and almost captured Pavelic at San Girolamo in 1947, endured four days of cross examination by Vatican attorneys in 2005 and 2006 and never wavered from his position. The deposition in its entirety is now available.

William E W Gowen, Deposition December 12, 2005 Volume I Alperin v. Vatican Bank

William E W Gowen, Deposition December 13, 2005 Volume II Alperin v. Vatican Bank

William E W Gowen, Deposition December 14, 2005 Volume III Alperin v. Vatican Bank

William E W Gowen, Deposition March 9, 2006 Volume IV Alperin v. Vatican Bank

William E W Gowen, Deposition Exhibits

Declassified Document on Montini's Meetings with Pavelic

Appeal to the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy for Restitution of Roma Property
For more information, contact

Dr. Jonathan Levy, Legal Representative for Holocaust Victims Group
+1 202-318-2406