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Ratzinger’s Vatican Benefactor


Car­di­nal Josef Frings

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [2]

COMMENT: We’ve post­ed often recent­ly, in the wake of the Pope’s res­ig­na­tion. Before mov­ing on, it might be use­ful to ampli­fy a top­ic of dis­cus­sion in FTR #508 [3].

In that broad­cast, we high­light­ed the back­ground and activ­i­ties of one of Ratzinger/Benedict’s Vat­i­can mentors–Cardinal Josef Frigs of Cologne. (Ratzinger attend­ed Vat­i­can II as a pro­tege of Frings.)

Frings was piv­otal­ly involved with suc­cess­ful efforts to have the death sen­tences of SS war crim­i­nals com­mut­ed. In the pas­sages that fol­low, note that Frings’ efforts were con­duct­ed in con­cert with”

The New Ger­many and the Old Nazis by T.H. Tetens; Copy­right 1961 by T.H. Tetens; Ran­dom House [HC]; pp. 201–204. [4]

EXCERPT: . . . Effec­tive schemes had been devel­oped by the Nazis and mil­i­tarists to obstruct law and jus­tice. After they had reached suc­cess, after thou­sands of Nazi crim­i­nals had fled to Spain and Egypt, after oth­er thou­sands had been freed from Allied pris­ons, there appeared accounts in some Right­ist news­pa­pers, con­grat­u­lat­ing a group of Nazi ring­lead­ers on accom­plish­ing an almost impos­si­ble task. The Deutsche Sol­dat­en Zeitung aune 1958) pub­lished a full-page account of a far­reach­ing secret orga­ni­za­tion which had been found­ed in 1948 in vio­la­tion of Allied rules.

The pur­pose of the orga­ni­za­tion was to free the war crim­i­nals in defi­ance of law and jus­tice. The author of this remark­able report, Major Gen­er­al Hans Korte, describes how a kind of Gen­er­al Staff, or “steer­ing com­mit­tee,” was set up in Munich to direct all the anti-war­guilt pro­pa­gan­da in occu­pied Ger­many and through­out the entire world. A group of Nazi jurists who had served in Nurem­berg as coun­sels for major war crim­i­nals formed the nucle­us of the direct­ing body. Promi­nent among them were Dr. Rudolf Aschenauer of Munich and Ernst Achen­bach (of the Nau­mann cir­cle) of Essen, the lat­ter hav­ing excel­lent finan­cial con­nec­tions on Rhine and Ruhr.

In order to con­ceal cer­tain activ­i­ties from the occu­py­ing pow­ers, a num­ber of fronts or sub­agen­cies were cre­at­ed to serve as spe­cial task forces. To fur­nish the press with pro­pa­gan­da on the war-guilt ques­tion, an “inde­pen­dent” month­ly newslet­ter, Die Andere Seite (The Oth­er Side), was issued, in which mate­r­i­al about the “so-called war crim­i­nals” was clev­er­ly intro­duced among oth­er news items. This dis­tort­ed and slant­ed news was reprint­ed not only in the provin­cial press but in such lead­ing papers as the Frank­furter All­ge­meine) the Stuttgarter Nachricht­en) and Die Welt. In addi­tion, a cir­cu­lar let­ter was mailed peri­od­i­cal­ly to orga­ni­za­tions and influ­en­tial per­son­al­i­ties in Ger­many and abroad in order to gain their sup­port for the release of all war crim­i­nals.

To cam­ou­flage these activ­i­ties well-known Ger­man church rep­re­sen­ta­tives were brought into the orga­ni­za­tion, so that both major denom­i­na­tions joined the com­mon defense for the con­vict­ed Nazi war crim­i­nals. A Com­mit­tee for Chris­t­ian Aid to War Pris­on­ers was formed in 1948; among its spon­sors there were promi­nent Roman Catholics-Car­di­nal Josef Frings of Cologne and Bish­op Johann Neuhaeus­sler of Munich-and lead­ing Protes­tants-Bish­op Theophil Wurm of Stuttgart and Bish­op Meis­er of Munich. These church lead­ers had already issued sev­er­al strong protests against the Allied war crime tri­als.

Now Car­di­nal Frings and oth­ers demand­ed a halt to the hang­ing of con­vict­ed Nazis. In May 1946, Wash­ing­ton had ordered a stop to all exe­cu­tions in Lands­berg. But there were still 230 Nazis sen­tenced to death for hav­ing com­mit­ted mass mur­der. In 1948, Car­di­nal Frings again asked Pres­i­dent Tru­man for clemen­cy for the last two dozen con­vict­ed Nazis, whose exe­cu­tions were pending.6 

Under the spon­sor­ship and pres­tige of Car­di­nal Frings and Bish­op Wurm, a wide net­work of orga­ni­za­tions coor­di­nat­ed their efforts to save the con­vict­ed crim­i­nals from the gal­lows. The church lead­ers were sup­port­ed by two pow­er­ful reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions-the Roman Catholic Car­i­tas and the Protes­tant Evan­ge­lis­ches Hil­f­swerk. The lat­ter had giv­en jobs and shel­ter to dozens of Nazi offi­cials, espe­cial­ly for­mer Ribben­trop diplo­mats. This group issued a week­ly news­pa­per, Christ und Welt) in which the cam­paign for the war crim­i­nals had top pri­or­i­ty.

Car­di­nal Frings and Bish­op Wurm head­ed anoth­er orga­ni­za­tion under the slight­ly con­fus­ing name, Com­mit­tee for Jus­tice and Trade, which served as a ral­ly­ing point for the for­mer Nazi elite. Accord­ing to Gen­er­al Kor­te­’s account, this group con­sist­ed of ex-offi­cers, high gov­ern­ment offi­cials, jurists, edu­ca­tors, indus­tri­al­ists, and church lead­ers. Its pur­pose was to raise mon­ey to assist all war crim­i­nals finan­cial­ly and legal­ly and to cre­ate a cli­mate of pub­lic opin­ion con­ducive to the release of all con­vict­ed Nazis.

The orga­ni­za­tion had a mys­te­ri­ous bank account (“Kon­to Gus­tav”), to which more than six­ty unnamed indus­tri­al and finan­cial tycoons reg­u­lar­ly con­tributed large sums. Accord­ing to the report in the Deutsche Sol­dat­en Zeitung) this group was close­ly affil­i­at­ed with a pro­pa­gan­da cen­ter in Switzer­land, the Cen­tro Europa, which car­ried on a world-wide cam­paign to bring quick free­dom to Hitler’s pro­fes­sion­al mass mur­der­ers. Two oth­er orga­ni­za­tions were work­ing toward the same goal, but they extend­ed their activ­i­ties into the exclu­sive cir­cles of high soci­ety and among aris­to­crats in Ger­many and abroad. One was the Stille Hil­fe (Silent Help), head­ed by Princess Helene von Isen­burg, and the oth­er was called Helfende Haende (Help­ing Hands), and was direct­ed by Princess Stephany zu Schaum­berg-Lippe.

The com­mon char­ac­ter­is­tic of all these groups was their dual activ­i­ty; first, they solicit­ed finan­cial aid for Nazi pris­on­ers, and sec­ond, they stirred pro­pa­gan­da against the “war­guilt lie,” cli­max­ing it with a demand for speedy release of all war crim­i­nals. Work­ing in coop­er­a­tion with the Chris­t­ian Aid cen­ter in Munich were such noto­ri­ous Nazi orga­ni­za­tions as the SS HIAG, the Soci­ety of Late Home­com­ers, the Stahlhelm, the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man Sol­diers, and the var­i­ous expellee groups. Among the orga­ni­za­tions abroad we find the Kam­er­aden Hil­fe in Spain, head­ed by the SS Colonel Otto Sko­rzeny, a sim­i­lar group work­ing in Latin Amer­i­ca under the lead­er­ship of the Luft­waffe ace Colonel Hans Ulrich Rudel,· and var­i­ous Ger­man “relief” and pro­pa­gan­da orga­ni­za­tions in the Unit­ed States under the polit­i­cal guid­ance of the Steuben Soci­ety. . . .