Holocaust Survivors Demand Payment

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Sixty years after the atrocities of World War II, a Vatican apology does little to heal the wounds of Holocaust survivors who’ve wondered for years about the church’s association with the Nazis.

CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports many Holocaust survivors are turning to the courts to get back some of the money taken from their families.

Holocaust survivor George Zivkovich says an apology from the pope is not enough.

When he was a young boy living in Serbia, the Croatian Nazi regime stole his family fortune, killed his mother and grandfather and sent him to a death camp.

"They took my childhood away, and they took my life away," he says. "I want the blood money."

This spring, Swiss banks are expected to reach a settlement with victims, as are German companies who used Jews for slave labor. But this case accuses another bank of collaborating with the Croation Nazis, the bank of the Catholic Church, the Vatican Bank.

John Loftus, an expert on Nazi war crimes, says, ”As embarrassing as it is to me as a Roman Catholic to admit, there is a great deal of validity to the accusations in the lawsuit.”

Loftus and others have charged that Pope Pius XII and his advisors actually supported the Nazis by giving them a place to hide stolen money.

"Basically, they turned the Vatican into money launderers," he says.

The Vatican denies the accusation, telling CBS News, "We can't return what doesn't exist."

The lawsuit is relying on recently declassified secret intelligence documents indicating that the U.S. government knew about the Vatican action as far back as 1946.

A recent State Department investigation put the amount at $47 million dollars.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

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