Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
February 25, 2011
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
May 10, 1984
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP90-01208R000100120072-1.pdf89.32 KB
Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/02/25: CIA-RDP90-012 ARTICLE AP EARn. ON PAGEE WASHINGTON POST 10. May ? 1984 08R000100120072-1 Jewish Group Seeps Vatican Probe 'of Nazi's Escape By Thomas OToole Waahln$ton P Staff WAter NEW YORK, May 9-A Jewish scholarly organization based in Cal- iforpia..asked the Vatican today to investigate whether the late Cardinal Ildefonso Schuster, archbishop of Milan during World War II, helped an accused Nazi war criminal escape from Italy to Chile almost 30 years ago. Walter Rauff, now _78, a former Nazi official, is still living in Chile. "Outside of the infamous Dr. [Jo- sel Mengele, Walter Rauff is the most notorious of all the accused Nazi war criminals still at large to- day, a man who symbolizes the. Ho- locaust to millions of Jews," Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean. of the Simon Wiesenthal Center at Yeshiva Uni- versity in Los Angeles, said. "We believe it is incumbent on Pope John Paul II to launch a for- mal inquiry to find out if there was any connection between Rauffs es- cape from justice and high Vatican church officials," Hier? said. Rauff was a colonel in the Nazi SS who has been accused of. devel- oping and directing the mobile gas vans by which the SS Einsatzgrup- pen murdered 250,000 Jews in Po- land and the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1943. Rauff then was trans- ferred to Milan, where he headed the SS in northern Italy. Arrested by U.S. Army counter- intelligence troops in 1945, Rauff escaped from the Allied Detention Center in Rimini in December, 1946, and allegedly made his way to Rome, where he hid for almost a year 'and a half before leaving from Genoa-on a ship bound for South America. Rauff and his family eventually set- tled in Chile. State Department. and U.S. Army documents released by the Simon Wiesenthal Center suggest that Rauff had numerous meetings and exchanged letters and even gifts with ` two high-ranking Catholic church officials while he lived in Milan. One was Msgr. Don Giuseppe Bicchierai, who is still living in Milan; the other was Schuster, who died in 1954. At the time of his death, the New York Times said Schuster was "one of the outstanding churchmen of Italy who was regarded as a possible choice" for pope in 1939. There have been numerous charges that anticommunist Catholic priests helped Nazis escape capture and find refuge after the war. The charge leveled today, however, is the first time high-ranking church offi- cials have been mentioned in the context of a so-called "Vatican es- cape route." The documents released today, which were acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, show that Rauff knew Bicchierai and Schuster while he was SS leader in Milan. Bicchierai was Schuster's sec- retary, the documents show. The two acted as envoys for .,the Vatican while Germany and Italy negotiated secretly with the Allies to surrender.'The documents also dis- close that Rauff was involved in these negotiations and often dis- cussed prisoner exchanges and re- leases with Bicchierai and Schuster. Hier said the documents contain "no smoking gun," but added, "Let's find out if there is one." In a telephone interview, Dr. Eu- gene Fisher, secretary for Catholic- Jewish Relations of the National STAT Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the documentation "does not indi- cate any special intimacy between . Rauff and Cardinal Schuster outside of the fact that they arranged pris- oner exchanges and were involved in surrender negotiations together." . "The documentation comes no- where near to validating the charges. that have been made," he said. Meanwhile, the editors of the Na- tional Catholic Reporter have called for an independent, interfaith panel to examine Roman Catholic involve- ment in the Holocaust. _ . Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2011/02/25: CIA-RDP90-01208R000100120072-1