Skip to main content
GeneralThe Golden Doves

My Journey Tracing the Nazi Ratline Through Italy Ended at the Vatican

By March 23, 2023July 26th, 2023No Comments

 

Reading the fascinating book The Ratline by Philippe Sands for research for my novel The Golden Doves sent me on a wild trip through Italy tracing the routes thousands of Nazi fugitives took to escape justice. My husband and I started in Bolzano in Northern Italy in the Dolomite Mountains where Nazis came post WWII from Germany and Austria to hide from the military tribunals taking place after the war. Assisted by Nazi sympathizers, the International Red Cross and the Catholic Church, the men stayed in local homes and monasteries awaiting forged travel documents and passage out of the country.

 

 

 

We then took the same train route many of the Nazi fugitives took, from the Bolzano Train Station to the Termini Station in Rome. Once in Rome, we headed to Santa Maria dell’Anima Church where Bishop Alois Hudal, known as the Brown Bishop for his ties to Austria, served as rector, and helped Nazis escape to South America and other safe havens. Declassified CIA documents show that Hudal aided Nazis hoping to flee the country by providing travel documents and a safe haven at his church and at nearby monastery Vigna Pia. Hudal, famous for his 1937 book “The Foundations of National Socialism” in which he praised Hitler and some of his policies, and for helping thousands of Nazis escape justice, only resigned in 1952 under pressure German and Austrian bishops and the Holy See.

Santa Maria dell’Anima Church in Rome

 

My husband and I joined the line for the tour of the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City and were stunned to find that Bishop Hudal is buried there, under the Good Samaritan Station of the Cross.

Bishop Hudal’s burial site under the Good Samaritan Station of the Cross.

Aerial shot of the Teutonic Cemetery in Vatican City

After the trip we came back home and I had plenty of new insights into the Nazi ratline to add to The Golden Doves. Thank you Philippe Sands!

 

#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left;}
* indicates required
First Name
Last Name
Email Address *
(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';fnames[3]='ADDRESS';ftypes[3]='address';fnames[4]='PHONE';ftypes[4]='phone';fnames[5]='BIRTHDAY';ftypes[5]='birthday';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);
To sign up for Martha's email mailing list, please enter your contact information below:
#mc_embed_signup{background:#fff; clear:left; font:14px Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif; width:600px;} /* Add your own Mailchimp form style overrides in your site stylesheet or in this style block. We recommend moving this block and the preceding CSS link to the HEAD of your HTML file. */
* indicates required
First Name
Last Name
Email Address *
(function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';fnames[3]='ADDRESS';ftypes[3]='address';fnames[4]='PHONE';ftypes[4]='phone';fnames[5]='BIRTHDAY';ftypes[5]='birthday';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true);
To sign up for Martha's email mailing list, please enter your contact information below: