Red Cross & the Vatican helped Nazis escape: Book

Gerald Steinacher, in his new book, sheds light on how thousands of Nazis managed to evade detection.

Updated: May 27, 2011, 13:31 PM IST

London: The Red Cross and the Vatican
had helped thousands of Nazis, including German dictator Adolf
Hitler`s close aides like Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele, to
escape justice after World War II, a new book has claimed.

In his book `Nazis On The Run: How Hitler`s Henchmen
Fled Europe`, author Gerald Steinacher, a research fellow from
Harvard University, sheds light on just how thousands of Nazis
managed to evade detection and start a new life.

Much of the book is based on unpublished documents,
held by the Red Cross, which revealed a system struggling to
cope with the millions of displaced people in post-war Europe,
and one that could be exploited by fleeing Nazis.

The historian estimates the some 8,000 Nazis managed
to escape to Britain and Canada alone, using documents issued
to them by the Red Cross by mistake, `The Daily Telegraph`
newspaper reported.

But most fleeing war criminals either headed to Spain
or South America; while the Red Cross provided inadvertent
help, the Vatican may have provided more considered help for
Nazis desperate to avoid prison or gallows, the book says.

Owing to a desire to revive a Christian Europe or out
of a morbid fear of the Soviet Union, the Vatican, through its
refugee commission provided leading war criminals with false
identity papers, the book claims.

The Red Cross also depended upon Vatican references
where issuing travel documents, it says.

The Vatican has always refused to comment on
its wartime activities and has kept its archive closed to the
public.

PTI