Cvitković wrote:Hi there,
I'm interested in obtaining any information on the relationship between the NDH and the Vatican City, both pre the breakup of Yugoslavia and during the time of NDH. Did the Vatican City recognize NDH, how (if he was at all) involved was Pope Pius XII with the Roman Catholic state? Any info would be great!
Also I watched a documentary some time ago now about "ratlines" with notorious Nazi's and other fascists escaping through the help of the Vatican? How organized were these ratlines and which Nazi and fascist members escaped? Any information about this too would be great. Thanks for you're time.
The Independent State of Croatia was located in an area of vital concern to the Vatican, where Roman Catholicism had coexisted or collided with both Eastern Orthodoxy and Islam for centuries. During the Second World War, a new enemy, international Communism, threatened the position of all churches and traditional ruling groups in eastern and southeast Europe, and Croatian territory was a central battleground in this struggle. In the newly established Croatian state, Catholics wielded all the political power that the forces of occupation allowed. Croatia had also become a formal quasi protectorate of Italy, the home of the Catholic Church. For all these reasons, the Vatican's interest in the political and religious developments in the area was intense.
During the war, neither the Vatican nor the Independent State of Croatia, each for its own reasons, gave out information about the precise nature of their relationship. In documents published after the war, Vatican authorities constantly stressed that the Vatican could not and did not recognize the Croatian state de jure because, according to established custom, it did not so recognize states created during war until peace treaties were concluded and the new states were accepted into the community of nations. But while formal appearances were preserved, Vatican diplomatic practice was flexible enough to allow representation of a special nature in states created during war but not yet recognized. So in August 1941, the Vatican accredited Giuseppe Ramiro Marcone, abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Montevergine, as apostolic legate to the Croatian episcopate. In the message of July 25, 1941, that Luigi Cardinal Maglione, papal secretary of state, sent to Archbishop Stepinac announcing the arrival of Abbot Marcone, he observed that "surely the abbot will have opportunities to make contact with Croatian government authorities and to listen to their requests." That Abbot Marcone took advantage of this possibility is seen from the diary of his secretary, the Reverend Giuseppe Masucci, which tells of the abbot's visits to Pavelić, the head of state, and to various Croatian ministries—Army, Education and Religion, and Interior—with the exception of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he scrupulously avoided visiting. After February 1942, Abbot Marcone was present at practically all official functions of the Croatian government.( For Cardinal Maglione's message to Stepinac, see Holy See, Actes et documents du Saint Siege, 5:106. For Abbot Marcone's presence at Croatian government functions, see Masucci, Misija u Hrvatskoj, 1941-1946, pp. 32, 39-43, 77) At the same time, however, it should be noted that the Vatican maintained diplomatic relations with the Yugoslav government-in-exile throughout the war and recognized the unified Yugoslav government formed on March 7,1945.( Diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the Yugoslav government-in-exile during the war became a test case for the interpretation of Article 12, Paragraph 2 of the Lateran Treaty of 1929 between the Vatican and Italy. According to the Vatican, diplomats accredited to the Holy See could maintain their residence in Rome proper, that is, outside the Vatican. According to the Italians, once the war began, they could not. In fact, most diplomats accredited to the Vatican from countries at war with Italy moved into the Vatican. The Yugoslav minister to the Vatican, Niko Mirošević-Sorgo, was initially permitted to live in Rome,but when the Italian government accused him of espionage, he was forced to leave the country.
He did so at the end of July 1941, but remained accredited to the Vatican, performing his
duties from Lisbon. A Yugoslav diplomatic chancery operated in the Vatican with a diplomatic official who lived in the Vatican and a consultant for religious affairs who lived inRome. See Pavlowitch, "'II caso Mirošević,'" pp. 105-37. See also the memorandum of the papal Secretariat of State of February 12,1942, to the diplomatic missions to the Holy See on the issues raised by the Mirošević-Sorgo case, in Holy See, Actes et documents d u Saint Siege,5:417-27). The Independent State of Croatia, for its part, had an unofficial representative at the Vatican, stationed at the Croatian Legation in Rome, first Nikola Rušinović(Rušinović was born in the United States, but was taken by his mother to her native Dalmatia while still a child. His two most important posts during the war were as the unofficial representative of the Croatian government to the Vatican and as the Croatian delegate to the Italian 2nd Army, the army of occupation in about half of Croatian territory. After the war, he eventually returned to the United States and became a professor at a university in Kentucky.) and later Count Erwein Lobkowicz.
The best description of the true nature of the relationship between the Vatican and the Independent State of Croatia is found in a dispatch of the German News Agency DNB from Rome on March 14, 1942: "According to well-informed Vatican sources, there are no diplomatic relations between Croatia and the Vatican, but there exist confidential relations recognized and authorized by both parties." This dispatch was preceded by one day by a report to the same effect from the German ambassador to the Vatican, Diego von Bergen, to his ministry. According to von Bergen, the main reason for the establishment of these confidential relations was the existence "of a series of questions which urgently required mutual discussion and regulation. The most difficult problem was that of the Orthodox."( Germany, Federal Republic of, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bonn, "Nachlass Kasche."Both quotations are from this collection of Envoy Siegfried Kasche's files, made available to me on microfilm by courtesy of the ministry.)
It is obvious from these sources that the Vatican recognized de facto the Independent State of Croatia. This was also the opinion that Archbishop Stepinac gave at his trial.( Sudjenje . . . S t e p i n c u , p. z 6 6 . Blažeković, " E l status internacional del Estado Independiente de Croacia," p. 270, also says that the Vatican had recognized de facto the Independent State of Croatia). From the contacts that Abbot Marcone maintained with Croatian authorities and the reports that he received directly from Croatian bishops and clergymen, as well as from the information that the Vatican received from the Yugoslav government-in-exile, the Vatican was undoubtedly well informed about both ecclesiastical and political events in the Independent State of Croatia during the war. At the same time, reports from the unofficial Croatian representatives at the Vatican, Rušinović and Lobkowicz, show that some officials in that body had grave misgivings about the Ustasha state and severely criticized it.( Tajni d o k u m e n t i , passim; see also Falconi, l l s i l e n z i o d i P i o X I I , pp. 453-504.) Yet according to the available documents, the Vatican never protested publicly to Croatian authorities against Ustasha persecution of the Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church. As will be seen below, the Vatican may also have been partly responsible for the fact that the Catholic Church hierarchy in Croatia itself never protested publicly against this persecution, which many Catholic priests abetted. The absence of an official Vatican representative with the Croatian government might be a formal excuse for this lack of protest, but it cannot serve as a moral excuse, and in fact indirectly implicates the Vatican in the persecution. The rationale for silence apparently lay in the fact that the Croatian government was engaged in a struggle against both the traditional and new enemies of the Catholic Church—Eastern Orthodoxy and Communism—which the Vatican felt it was politically inopportune to condemn.
from: "War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941-1945,Occupation and Collaboration" by J.Tomasevich, pp.532-4
For detailed description of "Rat-line" consult "U.S. Intelligence and the Nazis"by Norman J. W. Goda, Richard Breitman, Robert Wolfe, Timothy Naftali