From- 'UNHOLY TRINITY: The Vatican,The Nazis, and Soviet Intelligence By John Loftus and Mark Aarons - Pub by St.Martins Press  Available from Barnes & Noble [1-800-242-6657] or [1-800-843-2665] ISBN 0-312-07111-6 [hardcover] ISBN 0-312-09407-8 [paperback]
A Staggering Blow to the Holy See
Having 'carefully checked' the compound, Gowen concluded that Pavelic was probably in the Monastery of St Sabina, reporting that other 'information from reliable informants tends to show that the tram line running beneath the Aventine Hill along the Tiber and thence to the Circus Maximus, the Colosseum and Via Cavour is the connecting link between Pavelic and Via Cavour, 210 int. 3, which is an Ustasha base well known in Rome'. Although we were unable to verify the existence of an underground tunnel linking Pavelic with his loyal Ustashi supporters, Gowen attached a map to his report showing the route he believed it took to the tramline.35
Gowen seemed to have finally uncovered a concrete lead in the mysterious Pavelic case. He was still cautious, though, reporting that 'the information seems plausible and paints a plausible picture when it is taken as a whole'. However, he believed that only 'action against such known Pavelic contacts as Draganovic, Krunoslav can ultimately reveal the hiding place of Pavelic and lead to his apprehension'.36
The net seemed to be finally closing and all fingers, from the British Foreign Office to the US Army's CIC, were now pointing at Father Draganovic as the man who could lead to Pavelic's arrest and extradition. The focus of the Yugoslav press campaign now shifted to the Vatican. They claimed 'that a number of Yugoslav war criminals had been enabled to emigrate from Italy under the protection of a Vatican institution'.37
US intelligence launched a comprehensive operation to establish the truth, quickly confirming that Draganovic was in close contact with the former Croatian dictator all along. According to one report, Draganovic was 'known as the "alter ego" of Ante Pavelic', with whom he maintained close relations. Indeed, Draganovic operated a regular courier service between San Girolamo and the Poglavnik's Austrian hideout.38
After establishing the close relations between the two men, the Americans convened a top secret conference on 11 April 1947 to plan Pavelic's arrest. The US Army's senior Rome intelligence officers were all present to review the information available and put in motion a plan to penetrate Pavelic's Vatican network.39
Over the following weeks CIC officers received information that he was hiding in one Vatican-controlled institution or another. They also discovered more of the fugitive's aliases. The Jesuits were among his closest Church helpers at this time, assisting his
80 plans to leave Italy by arranging for his passage to Spain under the alias of Padre Gomez, supposedly 'a Spanish Minister of Religion'.40 The barrage of reports that Pavelic had taken refuge under the wing of the Vatican forced a senior State Department official to ask the diplomats at the Vatican to make inquiries. He cynically pointed out:
..... 'while I'm aware of, and appreciate, the humanitarian attitude towards criminals who may have shown any indication of repentance, it seems to me that Pavelic's peculiarly unsavory record would make it difficult for the Church to afford him protection.'
Washington was apparently in no hurry to receive a reply; there 'is no urgency about this case, but I should appreciate hearing anything you may be able to turn up'.41 In Rome they evidently took this hint, taking over two months to report that they had not been able to confirm the wanted man's whereabouts; 'Pavelic, like Kilroy, seems to be everywhere. Or so the reports of dozens of sleuths would indicate.'42
By mid-June, the Foreign Office was also involved in the hunt, proposing that every effort be made to catch Pavelic. Apparently a huge chasm of mistrust existed between Washington and London. The British suspected that the Americans were deliberately sabotaging the plan, by insisting that the Italian police had to be involved in the operation, because 'from a practical point of view there is a far greater danger of a leakage or of inefficient handling'.43 Ustashi intelligence was especially efficient in Rome, where they had extremely good connections with the Italian police, who had sponsored Pavelic during his exile in the 1930s.
This British position was cynically dishonest; while SIS protected Pavelic, the Foreign Office complained of US efforts to sabotage the plan to apprehend him. As we shall see, both governments were involved in devious and often conflicting machinations at higher policy making levels.
By mid-July the British had also received information that Pavelic was living 'within the Vatican city' and proposed a joint operation to arrest him.44 The reluctant Americans agreed, but only if Pavelic's arrest was 'carried out to [the] greatest extent possible by [the] Italians'.45 The British again warned against the risks of Italian involvement, insisting on 'the closest supervision of the whole operation by the Allied Security authorities'.46
81 On 28 July the State Department issued unenthusiastic instructions for American authorities to participate 'to [the] extent necessary and possible in [the] Pavelic case'.47 The following day, the US Political Adviser in Rome passed this order on to the Supreme Allied Commander, still insisting that US forces would only 'assist the Italian authorities in endeavouring to arrest him at a suitable opportunity outside Vatican territory'. His British counterpart followed suit on 2 August.48
In fact, British and American officials were playing bureaucratic chess. The intelligence operatives on the scene were merely their pawns and really did not understand the game's rules. The British hoped to blame the Americans if the operation failed, while the Americans were desperate to force the British to make the arrest so they could claim that they were not responsible.
In this game, the British finally forced their ally to 'supervise the arrest' and it seemed that finally, after more than two years of prevarication, action was about to be taken.49 On 7 August the US Deputy Chief of Staff at Allied Force Headquarters noted that it would 'be an extremely tricky operation requiring elaborate co-ordination between the U.S., British and Italian authorities and the maintenance of absolute secrecy'.50
Updated information was then collected on Pavelic's exact location, and it was discovered that he was 'hiding as an exHungarian General under the name of "Giuseppe". He wears a small pointed beard and has his hair cut short'. Further, he
....is living on Church property under the protection of the Vatican, at Via Giacoma Venezian No. 17-C second floor On entering the building you go along a long and dark corridor At the end of the corridor there are two stairs, one to the left and one to the right . You must take the right. On the right the rooms are numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. If you knock once or twice at door No. 3 an unimportant person will come out. But if you knock three times at door No. 3, door No. 2 will open. It leads to the room where Pavelic lives together with the famous Bulgarian terrorist Vancia Mikoiloff [sic] and two other persons. About twelve other men live in the building. They are all Ustasha and make up Pavelic's bodyguard. When Pavelic goes out he uses a car with a Vatican [SCV] number plate.51
News of the Poglavnik's hiding place in Via Giacoma Venezian belatedly reached the Italian public in September 1948, when the press published a sensational series of articles dealing with the Vatican's role in the affair.
82 By then, Pavelic was long gone, perhaps explaining why someone in Western intelligence leaked the story to the newspapers.52
Twelve months earlier, US intelligence had investigated Via Giacoma Venezian 17-C. They suspected that it was one of the Vatican's libraries, although we have not been able to confirm this. But they did confirm that some senior Vatican official was protecting Pavelic: he regularly travelled around in their official cars. As these bore the special number plates of the Diplomatic Corps, the Western authorities could not stop them, even when Pavelic left Vatican territory.
However, everything seemed in place; the joint intelligence team only had to quietly observe Pavelic, and when he left the Vatican's extraterritorial protection, follow him until he alighted from his Vatican car and arrest him. Three weeks went by and nothing happened, prompting London to ask Rome to 'report recent developments'. Another six weeks elapsed but still no answer was forthcoming; the Foreign Office grew agitated and again asked for a response.53
Eventually the operation was allowed to quietly die. The apparent determination to arrest this notorious Nazi mass murderer disappeared, just as Pavelic himself had seemingly done in May 1945. The answers to this further mystery are partially found in three key American intelligence documents. On 7 July 1947 Bernard Grennan, Chief of CIC Operations in Rome, directed his Supervising Agent, Gono Morena, to take Pavelic 'into custody on sight'. The order had come down the line from the Assistant Chief of Staff of Army Intelligence. One week later, a handwritten note was added to Grennan's memo by Morena. He had received 'new instructions', which he summarised with a brief but all too obvious comment: .
.... 'Hands Off' ......
The order was passed to Morena by Grennan and Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hartman, the commander of Army Counter Intelligence in Rome. Grennan and Hartman were at the top level conference held on 11 April to plan the operation, and must have been astounded by this sudden change of direction.54 Evidently someone much higher up the chain had already decided to sabotage the operation, even before it had been finalised. The .........
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