FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (posted Jan. 21, 2000)
Yesterday, on January 20, California attorneys Jon Levy and Tom Easton filed their First Amended complaint in San Francisco. The original class action suit, filed last November, named the Vatican Bank, Franciscan Order and other unidentified Swiss, Austrian, Argentine, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, and American banking institutions as defendants and sought an accounting of the Nazi Ustasha gold and restitution for the victims and their families.
The original class plaintiffs, four Ukrainian and Jewish concentration camp survivors and two organizations representing over 300,000 Holocaust survivors and slave laborers are now joined by three new class plaintiffs.
First is class plaintiff Vladimir Brodich of Arizona, who was 9 years old in 1941 when the Ustashi took away and shot his Serbian father and brother and gang raped his sister.
Second is class plaintiff William Dorich of California, who lost 17 relatives when the Ustashi burnt alive 45 Serbian victims in the Orthodox Serbian Church in Vojinic. Third is class plaintiff Igor Najfeld of Vermont, who was born June 28, 1944, the day his two Jewish physician parents escaped from slave labor in Bosnia to join Tito's partisans, and whose mother had 56 relatives killed by the Ustashi, some in the infamous Jasenovac extermination camp.
In addition, The Jasenovac Research Institute of Birmingham, Michigan has also joined the effort to persuade the Vatican to open its archives and reveal the truth of the ''hidden holocaust'' of World War Two.
More than 700,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and former Soviet Union citizens were murdered and enslaved by the Nazi puppet regime of Croatia during World War II. The Croatian Nazis, known as the Ustashi, burned villages and churches, operated slave labor and concentration camps, and committed monstrosities that shocked even hardened German observers. In a scenario shockingly similar to today's Yugoslavia, atrocities were committed to cleanse ''Greater Croatia'' of non-Roman Catholics. Hundreds of millions of dollars of gold, property, and money was looted by the Ustashi from their victims.
The Ustashi Treasury, with the connivance of the Vatican and other banks, was secretly transferred out of Yugoslavia in 1944-45 and then used to assist Croatian and Nazi war criminals to evade justice. Ante Pavelic, known as the ''Butcher of the Balkans'' and leader of Nazi Croatia was given refuge by the Vatican and later escaped to Argentina. The whereabouts of the Croatian ''blood'' gold was a dark mystery until the publication in 1991 of ''Unholy Trinity'' by Nazi hunters Mark Aarons & John Loftus.
As a result by 1998 even the U.S. State Department was requesting that the Vatican account for the looted gold. Despite these requests from government and Holocaust victims, the Vatican Bank and Holy See still refuse to open their wartime archives. Restitution could reach hundreds of millions of dollars which would be distributed to the tens of thousands victims of the Ustashi Regime and their descendants.
The First Amended Class Action Complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, C99-4941MMC.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Law Office of Thomas Dewey Easton Jonathan H. Levy PO Box 6080, Cincinnati OH 45206 (513) 528-0586 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Easton (707) 464-4513 ~ Fax: (707) 465-5389 ~ email@example.com