Petition on Ustasha Treasury Filed on Holocaust Remembrance Day

April 22, 2020

Holocaust Remembrance Day – Serbia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

USTASHA VICTIMS FILE PETITION WITH CROATIAN PRESIDENT SEEKING ACCOUNTING OF USTASHA TREASURY IN ROME

Belgrade:

On Serbian Holocaust Remembrance Day, a petition was filed with Croatian President Zoran Milanović seeking a final accounting of the World War Two Ustasha Treasury.

During the Second World War hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Roma, Jews, and opponents of the fascist Ustasha regime in Zagreb were massacred by the Axis allied Independent State of Croatia. The Second World War Croatian regime was controlled by the fanatical Ustasha Party. The Ustasha sought to ethnically cleanse Croatia of Serbs, Jews and Roma and operated brutal concentration camps. The property of victims was confiscated and looted and a significant portion of that wealth followed the Ustasha leaders into exile in Italy in 1945.

The Catholic Church assisted the Ustasha after the war and the stolen property known as the Ustasha Treasury was transported to the Vatican Bank for safekeeping. In 1998 the US State Department raised questions about the whereabouts of the Ustasha Treasury and a lawsuit by the Ustasha victims was filed by Dr. Jonathan Levy, their current lawyer, in US Federal Court. Since then the matter has remained unresolved.

In March 2020, the Vatican announced it would open the sealed archives of wartime Pope Pius XII. Those archives are thought to contain the key to the Ustasha Treasury. The petition requests the Croatian President assist the victims in bring moral pressure on the Vatican to assist in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury, something it has refused to do so far. The petition points out that while Croatia has voluntarily paid hundreds of millions of Euros in pensions to the families of the wartime Independent State of Croatia veterans and officials, it has so far refused to assist victims of that regime.

The victims’ lawyer, Dr. Jonathan Levy, details the efforts made since 1998 to achieve justice and hopes in 2020 the Ustasha Treasury may be finally resolved. According to Dr. Levy: “The petition and its exhibits tell a story of an incredible injustice and cover up by the Vatican and others but I remain certain that our stand for human rights and justice will succeed.”

Petition and Letter to President Zoran Milanović attached.

For more Information:

Dr. Jon Levy

jlevy

ADDENDUM:

Before the Republic of Croatia

Office of the President

Petition of Dr. Jonathan Levy on behalf of the Victims of the Independent Republic of Croatia (NDH) and their Families

On Holocaust Remembrance Day April 22, 2020

INTRODUCTION

Since 1999, this law office has represented victims of the former Independent Republic of Croatia (NDH) and their families and several organizations representing Holocaust survivors, Serbian, Croatian and Bosnian civil society and the Roma people.

In 1998, the US Government issued a report on the whereabouts of the Ustasha or NDH Treasury which contained the monetary proceeds of the Ustasha genocide, summarized here by the United States CIA:

CIA report 1

CIA Report 2

In 1999 class action lawsuits the United States Federal Court were filed by Petitioner on behalf of Ustasha victims and their families in against the Vatican Bank, Swiss National Bank, Croatian Liberation Movement (Hrvatski oslobodilački pokret), the Papinski hrvatski zavod svetog Jeronima and the Franciscan Order seeking an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury. In 2010, the US courts finally determined they did not have jurisdiction in the matter.

The Petitioner then sought the assistance of the European Commission and was eventually referred to the Vatican Financial Intelligence Unit which then refused to act on my request.

The matter was referred back to the European Commission and EU Ombudsman which refused to act because the Holy See and Vatican Bank were not under their direct jurisdiction.

A petition was then filed with Pope Francis which was never acknowledged or acted upon by the Vatican despite numerous deliveries of it to various representatives of The Holy See:

Petition to Vatican

In 2017, Petitioners submitted this matter to the Republic of Croatia Council for Dealing with Consequences of the Rule of Non-Democratic Regimes, and the office of the former president of the Republic of Croatia; neither acknowledged the communication.

FACTS

The Independent State of Croatia (NDH) 1941-1945 and its Ustasha party were supported by Germany and Italy and would not have been able to commit genocide without this military and political support which propelled and sustained the Ustasha in power 1941-1945.

The Ustasha committed well documented acts of genocide and summary executions. The number of victims though disputed, were substantial and included Serbs, Jews, Roma, and Croatian and Bosnian Anti-Fascists. The property of victims was often confiscated or looted by the Ustasha and a portion of this loot was sent to Rome and Switzerland in tranches from 1943 onward. A final consignment accompanied the Poglavnik, Ante Pavelić, into exile after the liberation of Zagreb in May 1945.

The uncontroverted sworn testimony of former US Special Agent William Gowen who was posted in Rome 1946-1947 stated:

The highest ranking Ustasha were protected after the fall of Zagreb in 1945 by the Vatican and elements of US and UK intelligence agencies as anti-Communist assets.

In 1946 the Ustasha Treasury consisting of the proceeds of genocide was removed from Northern Italy in a 10-truck convoy commanded by an Ustasha defector to the British, Colonel Ivan Babić, and was deposited at the Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome and the Vatican Bank in Rome and administered by the Treasurer of the Franciscan Order in Rome, Fr. Dominik Mandic.

The funds were then used to help the Ustasha leaders escape justice through the “ratlines” and to fund the Ustasha movement in exile thus creating an ongoing legacy of anti-democratic activities which included terrorist acts.

William Gowen in his well-documented investigations infiltrated the Ustasha exile headquarters at the Croatian College of St. Jerome in Rome and also interrogated the senior Ustasha officers Fr. Krunoslav Draganovich and Col. Iven Babić in 1947. Gowen also attempted to arrest the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic but was ordered to cease his efforts by the Allied Command.

Testimony of Gowen 1

Testimony of Gowen 2

Testimony of Gowen 3

Testimony of Gowen 4

Testimony of Gowen 5

Until at least 1963 Fr. Draganovich was an agent of the CIA and US Army Intelligence.

In 1993 Croatia began paying pensions to Ustasha veterans and their families but has done nothing tangible to aid the Ustasha victims and their families in obtaining an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury.

THE LAWSUIT AGAINST REPUBLIC OF CROATIA IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NOTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

In May 2016, a $3.5 billion-dollar complaint was filed against the Republic of Croatia seeking restitution for the crimes of the Ustasha. The names of Petitioner’s clients were entered as the plaintiffs without their agreement. The lawsuit was subsequently served on the Republic of Croatia by the US State Department. The Republic of Croatia entered an appearance in federal court.

Petitioner advised all parties and the court that the lawyers who filed the lawsuit, did so without the consent of any of the plaintiffs. When this did have the effect of an outright dismissal, Petitioner’s clients whose family members had been murdered by the Ustasha, wrote the Judge, made statements to the press and swore affidavits requesting the lawsuit be dismissed. This resulted in the dismissal of the lawsuit

RELIEF REQUESTED

Petitioner requests the Republic of Croatia support the call for a final accounting of the NDH Treasury now that the Pius XII archives have been unsealed for the following reasons:

1. The NDH Treasury originated in Croatia.

2. The Republic of Croatia has undertaken voluntary obligations to pay pensions to former NDH officials and armed forces members and their families.

3. The Petitioners’ clients performed a valuable service to the Republic of Croatia in helping to obtain the dismissal of the 2017 class action lawsuit against the Republic of Croatia.

Respectfully submitted,

Dr. Jonathan Levy

Lawyer for Ustasha Victims and their Families

37 Royal Pointe Dr.

Hilton Head SC 29926

USA

info@jlevy.co

PROOF OF SERVICE BY LAWYER

On April 22, 2020 an electronic copy of this Petition has been served upon the legal representative of the Republic of Croatia at the following coordinates:

His Excellency

Zoran Milanović

President of the Republic of Croatia

Fax 01 45 65 167

ured@predsjednik.hr

Pantovčak 241, 10 000 Zagreb

Dr. Jonathan Levy

Lawyer for Ustasha Victims and their Families

Dr. Jonathan Levy

Solicitor & Attorney at Law

37 Royal Pointe Dr.

Hilton Head SC 29926 USA

jlevy@globalattorneys.org

Tel +44 (0) 20 8144 2479

Fax +1 202 478 1970

April 22, 2020

April 22, 2020

His Excellency

Zoran Milanović

President of the Republic of Croatia

Fax 01 45 65 167

ured@predsjednik.hr

Pantovčak 241, 10 000 Zagreb

Dear Mr. President:

Since 1999 I have represented victims of the former Ustasha NDH regime (1941-1945) in seeking an accounting and restitution of the so called Ustasha or NDH (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska) Treasury from the Holy See. Now that the Vatican has opened the World War Two era archives of Pope Pius XII, the time is appropriate to begin this task. As the NDH Treasury originated in the territory of Croatia, The Republic of Croatia has a vested interest in the matter for this and other reasons noted below.

The Republic of Croatia for many years has paid sizeable pensions now totaling well over € 100 million to the NDH veterans and their families yet has accorded no relief or assistance to victims of the NDH regime. Even though the Republic of Croatia is clearly not the legal successor state of the Independent State of Croatia (1941-1945) and therefore was not liable for its debts and crimes, it voluntarily undertook the obligation to pay pensions to members and their families of that former Axis allied regime. The Republic of Croatia therefore has voluntarily involved itself in the affairs and obligations of the former NDH regime.

My clients and I have provided valuable assistance to the Republic of Croatia in obtaining the dismissal of a fraudulent class action lawsuit in Chicago in 2017 which falsely claimed to represent Ustasha victims and deceived the international press and even the US State Department. The lawyers behind that lawsuit threatened to harm the Croatian tourism industry and were unmasked only through the positive and repeated intervention of my clients who have no ill will towards the Republic of Croatia or its citizens. The Hinshaw Culbertson law firm can attest to that result and our resolve in that matter to not allow a miscarriage of justice against the people and Republic of Croatia.

We are appealing to you directly to help us address this situation and appreciate your attention to the attached Petition which would help bring reconciliation and mutual understanding to the region. The Petition is even more timely today on Holocaust Remembrance Day since the Vatican announced it would finally open up the archives of Pope Pius XII which will include previously unknown material about the NDH, Vatican, and the post war disposition of that portion of the Ustasha Treasury in Rome.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jonathan Levy, Attorney (California)

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