Skip to comments.New Allegations by Croatian Holocaust survivors against Franciscan Order - OFM
Posted on 04/16/2009 7:32:37 PM PDT by Ravnagora
New Allegations by Holocaust Survivors against Franciscan Order - OFM
Details Slowly Emerge about Nazi Gold in Vatican
April 16, 2009
United States District Court for Northern California Alperin v. Vatican Bank and Franciscan order Case No. C-99-4491 MMC
A federal court judge has overruled objections of the defendant Franciscan Order of Friars Minor (OFM) and has permitted the filing of an Amended Complaint in the decade long lawsuit Alperin v. Vatican Bank & Franciscan Order. The plaintiffs, Holocaust survivors and their heirs from former Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union, are seeking an accounting and return of gold and other valuables deposited at the Vatican Bank in 1946 by members of the Nazi puppet government of Croatia known as the Ustasha who were sponsored and assisted by the Franciscan Order - OFM.
New details link the Nazi loot to the ongoing Zagorec diamond affair trial in Croatia involving millions of dollars of diamonds that were furnished by the Croatian Catholic Church to purchase arms for the fledging state of Croatia during the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
Additionally, the involvement of the Franciscan Order in the United States and Rome with post war money laundering is chronicled along with a description of the Ustasha treasure convoy and the initial deposit of the funds at the Vatican in 1946.
For a copy of the Court order and Sixth Amended complaint go to:
Vatican Bank Claims/Sixth Amendment
For more information:
Vatican Bank Claims www.vaticanbankclaims.com
THE FRANCISCAN ORDER (ORDER OF
FRANCISCANS MINOR - OFM) a/k/a
CROATIAN CUSTODY OF THE HOLY
FAMILY OF CHICAGO and
CROATIAN CONFRATERNITY OF SAN
GIROLAMO (SAINT JEROME),
PLAINTIFFS SIXTH AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT ~ C99-4941 MMC (EDL)
I. INTRODUCTORY STATEMENTS REGARDING SIXTH AMENDED COMPLAINT
1. This is a civil action arising under international law and the laws of the United States of America on behalf of named plaintiffs and a worldwide class of all SERBS, JEWS, ROMA (GYPSIES or SINTI-ROMANI), and CERTAIN FORMER SOVIET UNION CITIZENS and their legal heirs, successors in interest, assignees, legatees and beneficiaries hereafter referred to as Holocaust Survivors, who suffered monetary and/or property losses during the systematic and brutal persecution of the class of Holocaust Survivors by the regime known as THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA (hereinafter referred to as the Ustasha Regime) and whose property, collectively known as the USTASHA TREASURY, was deliberately concealed, laundered, hypothecated, commingled and converted by defendant OFM and its agents for the benefit of defendant and members of the former Ustasha Regime.
2. This action is made necessary by the refusal of the defendant to provide an accounting of converted assets and disgorge property in its possession and restore the profits of unjust enrichment. Defendant has had constructive notice of this matter since June 1998 when the US State Department published the report The Whereabouts of the Ustasha Treasury which implicated by name, OFMs former Treasurer, Fr. Dominik Mandic OFM, as a party in the conversion and laundering of the Ustasha Treasury and actual notice since its agent, OFM Provincial Minister Melvin Jurisich, accepted service on behalf of OFM in Oakland, California.
3. Defendant OFM has long been involved in the politics of Croatia, Herzegovina and Bosnia. At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939 OFM had five administrative Provinces in Croatia and Bosnia (OFM Provinces). An OFM Province is an ecclesiastical administrative unit containing friaries headed by a Minister Provincial. In 1939 due to the outbreak of the Second World War, the OFM and its Minister General invested certain extraordinary powers to a Croatian member of their Central Administration from Herzegovina, Father Dominik Mandic, who was contemporaneously served as Treasurer (General Economus) of OFM and General Definitor (Rome Representative) of all the Franciscan provinces in Slavic countries including Croatia, Herzegovina and Bosnia 1939-1946 and OFM Treasurer and General Definitor 1946-1951.
4. In June 1941, the Axis powers, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Croatian fascist exiles known as Ustasha entered Zagreb with the Axis forces and were placed in control of Croatia. With the Ustasha takeover of Croatia and establishment of the Ustasha Regime in April 1941, a significant number of Croatian OFM priests, monks, friars and seminarians joined the ranks of the Ustasha. Some of those who had been affiliated with OFM committed atrocities and mass murder against Holocaust victims including the infamous chief of the Jasenovac Concentration Camp, Father Miroslav Filopovic-Majstorovic, known as Brother Satan due to his incredible cruelty to Serbs, Jews, and Roma. While OFM in Rome did not appear to condone or order any atrocities, it was aware of the genocidal policies of the Ustasha Regime and the looting of Holocaust victims property that occurred through regular dispatches and visits received from OFM Minister Provincials in Croatia and Bosnia to OFM Definitor General Mandic, OFM Vicar General Policarp Schmuel, and the OFM Minister General, Leonard Bello, in Rome. The OFM Minister General is the highest office in OFM and he is considered the successor and earthly representative of Saint Francis of Assisi. Mandic and OFM were also politically involved with the Ustasha Regime and sympathetic to Croatian independence from Yugoslavia, and with the consent of the OFM Minister General, Mandic attempted to negotiate with the British government on behalf of the Ustasha Regime in the closing years of the war. 5. Upon the imminent fall of the Ustasha Regime in May 1945, OFM and its Vicar General (Acting in place of the Minister General Bello who had died in 1944) detailed to its General Definitor, Mandic, the urgent task of providing aid to Croatians fleeing Titos Communists, including those members of the Ustasha Regime who had successfully fled Zagreb to Austria and Italy. To carry out his instruction from OFM, Mandic entered into a partnership with a Vatican official, Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic, who was a Croatian priest and who was also a former official of the Ustasha Regimes Colonization Ministry. The Colonization Ministry was responsible for looting property from Serbs in Slavonia, Srem, and Krajina. Draganovic also held the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Ustasha Regime Armed Forces and had served at Jasenovac Concentration Camp. Draganovic was not only aware of the Ustasha Regimes atrocities against Holocaust victims but had witnessed them first hand and had engaged in and had helped coordinate the organized looting of Holocaust victims property. In 1943 Draganovic as a priest and an expert in looted property was detailed as a Croatian diplomat to Rome by the Ustasha Regime and was recalled to Zagreb by Pavelic before the fall of the Ustasha Regime to remove an unknown quantity of the Ustasha Treasury to the Vatican before the end of Second World War. With the imminent fall of the Ustasha Regime in the final years of the war, Draganovic was appointed by the Vatican Pontifical Commission of Assistance as Apostolic Visitator to the Croatians reporting to Vatican Under Secretary of State Montini (later Pope Paul VI), a position that provided Draganovic travel documents in post war Europe as a Vatican emissary.
6. Mandic, Draganovic, and OFM quickly established a plan of action - Ustasha fugitives would be sheltered by Mandic and Draganovic through the Croatian Confraternity of San Girolamo or St. Jerome (henceforth Croatian Confraternity) in Rome. The Croatian Confraternity of St. Jerome (San Girolamo) was reestablished in 1945 by Mandic and Draganovic as a separate entity at the premises of The Pontifical Croatian College of St. Jerome in Rome after the Croatian Confraternity had been disbanded in 1901. Funds from the Ustasha Treasury would be used as part of the operation as well as being converted and banked on behalf of the fugitive Ustasha war criminals. At no time, was Mandic, a senior official of OFM acting on his own behalf. OFM and its Vicar General and his successors made an informed decision to become involved with the remanants of the Ustasha Regime despite foreknowledge of their treatment of Holocaust victims. Some time after OFM Minister General Bellos unexpected death in July 1944, a new Minister General, the American priest, Rev. Valentine Schaaf, was eventually appointed by the Pope in 1945 as Minister General of OFM with Mandic continuing as a General Definator. Upon Schaafs death in 1946, Mandic continued as a Definitor General and OFM Treasurer through 1951. Further Mandic was under an oath of obedience to OFM and its Minister Generals and did not act on his own behalf - the recreation of the Confraternity of St. Jerome was therefore specifically condoned by OFM.
7. Between 1946-1952 Draganovic and Mandic using funds from the Ustasha treasury helped hundreds of Ustasha criminals avoid justice and flee Allied jurisdiction. They also assisted the Ustasha organization by providing safe houses in Rome and dispensing funds worldwide including the United States and supporting Ustasha interventions in Yugoslavia. In 1948 Draganovic was accused by the Yugoslav government of infiltrating 95 Ustasha spies and terrorists into Croatia. Mandic was so intermeshed with the Ustasha exile movement, that the Ustasha government in exile under the Ustasha regimes former Vice President, Djafer beg Kulenovic, issued a postage stamp in honor of Mandic in 1951 for use in regions of Herzegovina under the alleged control of Ustasha partisans.
8. The second phase of OFM involvement began in 1951 with the splitting of the Ustasha Treasury related activities between Rome, where Draganovic continued at the Croatian Confraternity, and Chicago where Mandic established a pro Ustasha cultural and publishing enterprise with money from the Ustasha Treasury at the OFM controlled Croatian Custody of the Holy Family of Chicago henceforth Croatian Custody. The Croatian Custody or Commissariat as it was then known was an administrative dependency of the OFM Minister General in Rome and Mandics relocation there was explicitly approved by the OFM Minister General. The publishing entity was used to print propaganda favorable to the Ustasha program and Croatian independence.
9. Promotion of a Croatian nationalistic agenda at the Croatian Custody of the Holy Family of Chicago continued after Mandics death in 1979 with access to residual funds from the Ustasha Treasury through the establishment of Croatia as an independent state in 1991. The Croatian Custody continued to support the Croatian nationalist cause through the conflict in former Yugoslavia by materially supported the controversial unapproved nationalist shrine of Medjugorje, located in the Croatian sector of Bosnia, Herceg-Bosna, and provided support to the shrines main promoters - OFM priests like Jozo Zovko, Tomislav Vlasic, Slavko Barbaric and Svetozar Kraljevic. Between 1987-2000 the Croatian Custody maintained an active position at Medjugorje through its own friar, Fr. Philip Pavic, who served at Medjugorje as confessor and pilgrim assistant.
10. This complaint was originally filed in November 1999 and has been amended several times since. Pursuant to the Courts ruling of dismissing OFMs Motion to Dismiss the Fifth Amended Complaint as premature and the granting of jurisdictional discovery the Sixth Amended Complaint is filed incorporating the following changes (in no particular order):
(a). Incorporation of material from jurisdictional discovery re: OFM and its Provinces, Custodies, and Commissariats including its personnel;
(b). Clarification of state, federal, foreign citizenship of plaintiffs;
(c). Clarification of plaintiffs standing and claims re: equitable remedies of accounting, disgorgement, restitution and replevin;
(d). Supplemental facts distinguishing the agency/alter ego relationships of OFM, Draganovic, Mandic, the Croatian Confraternity of St. Jerome, and the Croatian Custody of the Holy Name of Chicago and their relation to the Ustasha Treasury.
11. Pursuant to the Courts ruling of December 27, 2007 dismissing defendant Vatican Bank as a defendant on grounds of sovereign immunity, the caption no longer makes mention of the Vatican Bank, without prejudice to the ongoing appeal by plaintiffs.
12. The organized looting of the Holocaust Survivors property took place during the time period April 10, 1941 through the end of May 1945 when their assets and property were seized, carried away and deposited, or otherwise added to the Ustasha Treasury by agents of the Ustasha Regime.
13. The Ustasha Regime during the entirety of its existence was led by the dictator or Poglavnik, Ante Pavelic and his Ustasha Party that controlled Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dalmatia and portions of Slovenia and Serbia, and militarily occupied sectors of the former Soviet Union. After the war, Pavelic continued to exercise control over many of the Ustasha exiles and fugitives until his death in 1959 in Spain.
Ante Pavelic (1889-1959) was a Croatian nationalist leader implicated in the 1934 assassination of theYugoslavian King Alexander who was cofounder of the Ustasha circa 1930. In 1941 he became the Poglavnik (supreme leader) of the NDH. As the leader of the Ustasha, he directly ordered, organized andconducted a campaign of terror and genocide directed against Serbs, Jews, Roma, and Orthodox Christians. In May 1945, Pavelic and his entourage fled to Austria and then to Italy where he was shielded by theVatican from extradition to Yugoslavia for war crimes. He subsequently was smuggled to Argentina in 1947 and after an assassination attempt died in Spain.
14. This is an action against the Order of Friars Minor - OFM and OFM agents, alter egos and co-venturers which included Fr. Dominik Mandic OFM, Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic, the Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Family of Chicago, and the Croatian Confraternity of Saint Jerome (all hereinafter collectively referred to as OFM), for an accounting, declaratory relief, unjust enrichment, restitution, replevin, safekeeping, violation of international law and continuing conversion of the Ustasha Treasury after the fall of the Ustasha Regime in May 1945. For jurisdictional purposes, OFMs agents and/or alter egos also include the OFM Province of Saint Barbara in Oakland, California and the Croatian Mission of San Jose, California which is affiliated with the OFM Province St. Cyril and Methodius in Zagreb, Croatia.
15. The defendant concealed, hypothecated, converted, laundered, profited from, and retained a significant portion of the illegally looted wealth of the Ustasha Regime which has been deemed collectively the Ustasha Treasury by the United States State Department in the 1998 Eizenstat/Slany Report entitled U.S. Concerns About the Fate of the Wartime Ustasha Treasury.
16. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment, an accounting, restitution, disgorgement, replevin, safekeeping and to recover damages arising out of defendants actions.
17. Defendant profited from, both directly and indirectly, the financial proceeds of the inhumane and genocidal system instituted by the Ustasha Regime in Croatia and territories subject to Ustasha Regime civil or military occupation upon those peoples that it viewed, not as human beings, but as subhuman according to Ustasha ideology which equated Catholic Croatians and Bosnian Muslims with Aryan Goths while the supposedly subhuman Serbs, Jews, and Roma were characterized as enemies of the Croatian people. Portions of this same ideology was promoted after the war by Dominik Mandic in regards to Serbs and Croatians.
18. Defendant acted post Second World War in concert with former Ustasha Regime leaders and sympathizers including such wanted war criminals as Ante Pavelic, Andrija Artukovic, Djafer beg Kulenovic, Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic, and Vjekoslav Maks Luburic. 19. Defendant by making available assets from the Ustasha Treasury, directly assisted the Ustasha Regime leaders and their Ustasha followers to successfully evade justice post Second World War for their genocidal crimes, bank their assets, propagandize and reestablish themselves and the Ustasha network in Europe and the Americas.
20. Recipients of funds from the Ustasha Treasury, laundered and converted by the defendant, included the Ustasha war criminals: Ante Pavelic, leader of the Ustasha Regime who went in to exile in Argentina and Spain; Andrija Artukovic, Ustasha Minister of the Interior, who fled to California; Ante Bonifacic, former Ustasha official and Leader of the Croatian Government in Exile, who fled to Chicago; Stepan Hefer, Ustasha Minister of Agriculture, who fled to Argentina; Ustasha Army Commander and Chief Vjekoslav Maks Luburic who fled to Spain; Ustasha regime Vice President Djafer beg Kulenovic who went to Lebanon; Jasenovac Concentration Camp officer Lt. Petar The Throat Slasher Brzica who fled to the United States; Dinko Sakic, Jasenovac Concentration Camp Commander, who fled to Argentina and hundreds of others.
Lt. Petar Brzica was a former Franciscan seminarian from Siroki Briej who boasted he had single-handedlykilled over 1300 Serbs at Jasenovac in a short period of time with a special killing device called the srbosek or Serb cutter.
21. Defendants byconverting, retaining and concealing assets from the Ustasha Treasury, prevented the rightful owners and beneficiaries from recovering their assets and making use of them.
22. By the end of the Second World War, the defendant was advised by the international community that the knowing use and benefit from the Ustasha Treasury were long standing violations of international law and various codes of criminal conduct including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Multilateral Declaration on Forced Transfers of Property in Enemy Controlled Territory of 1943, the London Declaration, 943 U.S.T. LEXIS 188; 3 Bevans 754; and the Multilateral Gold Policy treaty of 1944 between the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, 1944 U.S.T. LEXIS 149; 3 Bevans 889 which states: [T]he United States Government formally declares that it does not and will not recognize the transference of title to the looted gold which the Axis at any time holds or has disposed of in world markets. Defendant nevertheless improperly retained and concealed illicit profits and withheld them from their rightful owners.
23. The term Confraternity generally refers to a voluntary association of Catholic laymen and priests, established and guided by a competent ecclesiastical authority for the promotion of special works.
24. The term Custody refers to an autonomous lesser grouping like a small province within OFM dependent either upon an OFM Province or reporting directly to the OFM Minister General in Rome.
25. The term Commissariat refers to a smaller OFM grouping than a custody with less autonomy.
26. Looted Assets is defined as, but not limited to, any and all personal, commercial, real, and/or intangible property, including cash, securities, silver, gold, jewelry, businesses assets, art masterpieces, equipment, collectibles, religious items, livestock, and intellectual property, that was illegally and/or improperly taken from the ownership or control of an individual, organization or entity, by means including, but not limited to, theft, forced transfer, ransom and exploitation, during the period of April 1941 through May 1945 by any person, organization or entity acting on behalf of, or in furtherance of the acts of, the Ustasha Regime, its officials, agents or related entities, in connection with crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes against peace, genocide, or any other violations of fundamental human rights.
27. The term Ustasha refers to a Croatian fascist organization put in charge of the Independent State of Croatia by agreement of the Axis Powers in April 1941 and which ruled through May 1945, after which time its leaders fled into exile in Austria and Italy where they were sheltered by defendant, its agents and their co-venturers before being moved via the Ustasha ratline to Spain, Lebanon, the United States, Europe, Australia and Latin America.
28. The Ustasha Regime is defined as the fascist government of Croatia from April 1941 through May 1945. Its agents included the Ustasha party members, police, armed forces, diplomats and government ministries.
29. Ustasha Regime Armed Forces refers to various military and paramilitary formations under the control or coordinated by the Ustasha Regime, including all domestic military and paramilitary formations and the Croatian Legion, Croatian Naval Legion, and Croatian Air Force which served against the Soviet Union; the Croat SS Volunteer Division; the 13th Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Handschar and the 23rd Waffen Mountain Division of the SS Kama, both recruited from Muslim Ustasha members and which served in Bosnia, Srem, Sanjak, and Croatia; various Ustasha Party units including Pavelics bodyguards, the Ustasha Security Service - Ustaka Nadzorna Sluzba, Ustasha Reserve, Ustasha Youth, the Black Legion, Gendarmerie, and irregular Ustasha militia; the regular Croatian Home Army; and other miscellaneous units and irregular bands.
30. The Ustasha Ratline refers to a network consisting of Ustasha Regime, OFM and Roman Catholic priests utilizing the offices of the Croatian Confraternity of Saint Jerome in Rome and funds from the Ustasha Treasury to facilitate and arrange the escape of over two hundred wanted Ustasha war criminal to Argentina and elsewhere 1945-1949. The OFM agent involved in managing this network was Fr. Mandic OFM who worked with Fr. Draganovic, Pavelics son-in-law Vilko Pecnikar, and Monsignor Juraj Madjerec, the Rector of the Pontifical College of San Girolamo in this venture.
31. The Ustasha Treasuryrefers to a horde of looted assets originally plundered from Serbs, Jews, and Gypsies in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Dalmatia, portions of Slovenia and Serbia, and from citizens of the former Soviet Union by agents of the Ustasha Regime and revealed as having been concealed since May 1945 in the Eizenstat Report on the Ustasha Treasury released in June 1998 by the US State Department. In the closing months of the Second World War, this plunder was collected from various repositories and banks in Zagreb by the Ustasha Regime dictator Pavelic, who personally supervised its partial evacuation in several tranches from Zagreb to Switzerland. In late 1944 or early 1945, Draganovic transported an unknown quantity of the Ustasha Treasury to Rome and the Vatican at the behest of Pavelic. Another substantial portion of the Ustasha Treasury accompanied Pavelic into exile in Austria in May 1945 where it was hidden. In late 1945 two boxes containing 45 kilograms of the Austrian gold horde were entrusted to Draganovic who personally delivered it to Mandic and the Croatian Confraternity of San Girolamo in Rome to set up operations there.
32. In 1943 Ustasha Lt. Colonel Ivan Babic, a veteran of the Ustasha armed forces in the Soviet Union was dispatched to Italy by Pavelic to make contact with the Allies about Croatia defecting from the Axis. While Churchill favored an invasion of east central Europe via Croatia, Roosevelt and Stalin vetoed the plan at the December 1943 Tehran Conference. When it became apparent the Axis powers would fall, Babic and Draganovic were tasked with conceiving plans whereby the Ustasha Treasury could be saved from the advance of the Red Army. Draganovic and Babic devised a plan in which Ustasha assets would ostensibly become assets of the Roman Catholic Church with the active cooperation of OFM. The Ustasha Treasury therefore would not only be saved from the Communists but from seizure by the Allies as Axis loot.
33. In 1946 Babic carried out the final leg of the plan when he and Ustasha members dressed in British uniforms, accompanied by a few men clad as priests escorted the remainder of the Ustasha Treasury in a 10 truck British flagged convoy through Northern Italy to the San Girolamo Ponticial College in Rome where it was received by Mandic, Draganovic and the Confraternity of San Girolamo on behalf of OFM and certified as property of a Roman Catholic Church entity and thus eligible for deposit at the Vatican where it would be safe from the Allies. At some point during the convoys journey it was joined by Ante Pavelic personally who was present for the convoys arrival in Rome.
34. The convoy however was not unloaded at San Girolamo but was parked in a safe area off the nearby Via Tomacelli where Pavelic and the British uniformed Ustasha disembarked. Then with care, the convoys British indicia were removed and Vatican license plates provided. The convoy was then driven into St. Peters Square and into the Vatican where it was received by representatives of the Vatican Bank in their official capacity as depository for Church contributions from around the world. This single transfer contained the greater remaining part of the Ustasha Treasury. It was estimated in 1946 to be worth an estimated 200 million Swiss Francs (approximately $50 million) by US Treasury Agent Emerson Bigelow who contemporaneously reported the incident to the US government. These funds were place under the control of Mandic who as OFM Treasurer had the knowledge, access, and ability to utilize the Vatican financial system, Vatican extraterritorial rights in Rome, the OFMs internal resources and various external OFM and Diocesan accounts to convert the treasure into a useful form that could be dispersed worldwide to banks in Spain, Latin America, the United States and elsewhere in evasion of post war Allied currency and monetary controls in place in Italy and to promote the Ustasha agenda
35. The events described in the preceding two paragraphs were documented by former US Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Special Agent William Gowen in 1947. Gowen investigated the Ustasha on behalf of the CIC in Rome which was interested in interdicting the ratline and other human smuggling rings. As part of his official duties Gowen interviewed Draganovic and Babic who admitted their roles in the delivery of the Ustasha Treasury to San Girolamo and the Vatican. Three additional named informants of Gowen also verified the events related to Gowen by Babic and Draganovic. These were Ferenc Vajta, the former Hungarian Consul in Vienna 1944-1945 and who served as an informant for French Intelligence in Innsbruck, Austria in 1946 and was involved in smuggling Hungarian assets to Rome and Austria; Dr.Miha Krek, former Deputy Premier of the wartime Royal Yugoslav government in exile who in 1946 was an officer of the British sponsored Central European Federal Club Intermarium in Rome and was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison by the post war Communist government of Yugoslavia, and Monsignor Augustin Juretic who in 1941-1942 had served as a consultant to the Croatian Catholic Episcopal Congress with Draganovic and left Croatia in 1942 for exile in Switzerland and Italy due to political differences with the Ustasha regime and became an Allied informant.
III. JURISDICTION & VENUE
36. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 USC § 1331 in that plaintiffs make claims against defendants under federal common law as it incorporates customary international law and international treaties enforceable as federal common law.
37. Plaintiffs claims involve violation of well known international treaties and norms condemning the practice of looting and plunder and retention of loot and profits from converting loot, including the Hague Convention of 1907, the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, the Roerich Pact of 1935, the 1943 Declaration of the United Nations regarding property looted by the Axis, the 1944 Multilateral Policy on Gold Looted by the Axis Powers and the Holocaust Victims Redress Act of 1998 (Pub.L. No. 105-158, 112 Stat. 15 1998).
38. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 USC §1332 in that the amount in controversy as to each claim asserted and sought to be asserted herein by certain plaintiffs exceeds the sum of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs and certain plaintiffs herein are U.S. citizens and thus diverse in state citizenship from defendant OFM.
39. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 USC § 1350 in that certain plaintiffs are citizens of Serbia (Popovic, Celebonovic, Pavic, Bates), Sweden (Reljanovic), and Ukraine (Alperin, Romanova, Dankewitsch, Morgunov), while five plaintiffs are foreign organizations from: Ukraine (Ukraine Organization of Ukrainian Antifascist Resistance Fighters, Ukrainian Union of Nazi Victims And Prisoners, International Union of Former Juvenile Prisoners of Fascism), and Serbia (Serbian Republic of Krajina in Exile and Independent Council of Gypsies in Serbia), who assert claims for torts, equitable and declaratory relief in violation of the law of nations including the common law of the United States, customary international law, the Hague Convention of 1907, Customary International Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal, G.A.Res. 95(I), UN GAOR, 1st Sess., at 188, UN Doc. A/236 (1947); Multilateral Declaration on Forced Transfers of Property in Enemy Controlled Territory of 1943, London Declaration, 943 U.S.T. LEXIS 188; 3 Bevans 754; Multilateral Gold Policy of 1944 between the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, 1944 U.S.T. LEXIS 149; 3 Bevans 889; Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 78 U.N.T.S. 277 (1948); Universal Declaration of Human Rights, U.N. G.A. Respondent. 217 (III1948); International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (December 16, 1966); International Declaration Concerning the Laws and Customs of War, adopted by the Conference of Brussels, Aug. 27, 1874, reprinted in (1907) 1 Am.Jur.Int.L. Supp. 96; and Protocol No. 1 to the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (Mar. 20, 1952, 213 U.N.T.S. 262,E.T.S.9).
40. This Court has supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiffs non-federal law claims pursuant to 28 USC § 1367 and for any claims not otherwise covered by the aforementioned jurisdictional bases.
41. This Court has personal jurisdiction over the alien defendants in that all of the alien plaintiffs are alleging tort violations arising under the law of nations in accordance with the Alien Tort Claims Act and the named defendant conducts business within the State of California and has minimum contacts with the State based on defendants continuous and systematic general business activities within the State of California since 1879 when the modern form of the OFM was constituted by Pope Leo XIII.
42. Venue is proper in this Court because the defendants are doing business in this District and may be found in this District within the meaning of 28 USC § 1391(b) and/or, as aliens, may be sued in any district pursuant to 28 USC § 1391(d) and service of process was made upon the defendant in this district pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 4(c)(2)(A) and Rule 4(d)(3).
43. Further, defendant and certain plaintiffs may be found in this District and plaintiffs are unable to pursue remedies in the place where the transaction occurred in that no adequate or available remedies exist and that such efforts would be futile in that the transactions occurred in multiple jurisdictions.
44. Funds from the Ustasha Treasury laundered by OFM were used to set up the publishing and commercial activities of the Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Name in Chicago, including the Croatian Publishing House Croatia and the Croatian Historical Institute, both under the direction of Fr. Dominik Mandic and to expand the existing operations of the Danica newspaper, Croatian Historical Society, Croatian Publishing House Croatia, the Franciscan Printery, the Croatian Almanac, and the Croatian Catholic Messenger newspaper, all in Chicago but conducting business nationwide and in California under the direction of OFM.
IV. STANDING OF PLAINTIFFS
45. All individual plaintiffs allege specifically in this complaint below, that their personal and/or real property was taken by the Ustasha Regime through its agents which maintained a systematic procedure of looting and plunder from its victims in which confiscated property was deposited in central accounts in Zagreb controlled by the Ustasha Regime or was auctioned or sold first and the proceeds sent to the Ustasha Treasury. All individual plaintiffs allege below that they are legal heirs or otherwise legally entitled to present a claim for property lost to the Ustasha Regime and combined into the portions of the Ustasha Treasury which are dealt with herein.
46. Specifically, the looting and conversion process was institutionalized by the Ustasha Regime. The agents of the Ustasha Regime included police, the armed forces, irregular bands of Ustasha party members, and all the various government ministries of the Ustasha Regime and in particular Interior, Colonization, Treasury, and Agriculture.
47. The Ministry of Colonization of the Ustasha Regime carried out much of the institutional looting. The Ministrys mission was to ethnically cleanse regions of Serbs and Roma, liquidate their belongings for the benefit of the Ustasha Treasury and redistribute land to Croats, Muslims, and Volksdeutch. For example in the regions of Kozara and Prosara, in 1942 alone, grain and cattle worth over 100 million Kuna were confiscated from Serbs who had either fled in well founded fear of their lives, been summarily executed, or were sent to concentration camps. This was repeated nationwide as Serb regions were plundered, livestock were driven to central locations like the fairgrounds at the Croatian town of Hrvatska Dubica and sold, the funds being deposited in the Ustasha treasury. Jews were treated similarly, for example in the town of Bihac in 1941, Jews were rounded up, their belongings expropriated by agents of Ustasha Regime and transported to Ustasha Treasury in Zagreb by rail.
37.5 Croatia Kuna were the equivalent of 1 German Reichsmark in 1942.
48. The property of Jews was meticulously documented and disposed of by branches of the Ustasha State Treasury Department for the benefit of the Ustasha Regime and addition to the Ustasha Treasury. The Croatian State Archives currently contains specific documentation of this stolen property including 20,000 dossiers, one for each Jewish family, including property declarations listing both moveable and immovable assets.
49. Of particular interest to the Ustasha Regime were items of gold. A ransom of 1004 kilos of gold items was collected from the Jewish community of Zagreb alone by the Ustasha Regime in 1941. The Jewish Community of Zagreb eventually was dispossessed of 82 bags of gold items, 19 boxes of jewelry and diamonds, four boxes of pearl necklaces, six bags of gold coins, 1 bag of cast gold, and various foreign currency. This extortion from Jews was repeated throughout Croatia by the agents of the Ustasha Regime until the Jews were eventually murdered. Only 20% of the prewar Jewish population survived the Ustasha persecutions either by being named honorary Aryans by Pavelic or through the intervention of Italian military units stationed within the Ustasha Regimes territory or nearby.
50. Organized robbing of Roma (Gypsies) began in as early as April 1941 and was in full swing by 1942. The agents of the Ustasha Regime in 1942 alone confiscated 200,000 gold coins, millions of banknotes, and various jewelry and clothing from the Roma. Plaintiff Independent Council of Gypsies in Serbia has collected over one thousand claims from its members regarding Ustasha looting. Typical items looted included: gold crucifixes, rings and icons, gold and silver ducats (the ducat was the trade coin of central and eastern Europe), and livestock. The valuable items taken from Roma were shipped directly to the Ustasha Regimes repositories in Zagreb and the other items sold and then transferred as cash to Zagreb and the Ustasha Treasury. The Ustasha Regime maintained a strict policy towards diversion of looted property for personal use. Some Ustasha officers arrested by the Interior Ministry for diverting Gypsy gold for their own profit at Jasenovac concentration camp were tortured and then executed as an example to others who might be tempted to divert looted property to their own account.
51. Between 1941 and 1945 the Ustasha Regime plundered the contents of over 300 Orthodox Churches and monasteries in Croatia, Bosnia, Krajina, and Serbia. Special Ustasha units transported dozens of railway car loads full of icons, valuable books, manuscripts, church vessels, and gold and silver items to Zagreb pursuant to Ustasha Regime Order LXXXVII 135 - Z.p. 1941 to remove from all Orthodox churches before their destruction, all moveables including icons and iconostasis. The value of these properties has been estimated by the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church to have been tens of millions of dollars.
52. All individual plaintiffs allege that their property in the Ustasha Treasury was removed from Croatia by June 1945 to Austria, Switzerland, Vatican City or Italy, with the assistance of OFM and its confederates and agents, the property was converted, commingled, concealed and/or laundered for the benefit of the exiled Ustasha regime members with some portion retained by the defendant for its own profit as well as to further promote the Ustasha cause in exile.
53. Items from the Ustasha Treasury include readily identifiable artwork, numismatic properties, gems, jewelry, religious articles (both Jewish and Orthodox Christian) and philatelic rarities that are still recognizable by their rightful owners and are subject to accounting, identification, and replevin if in the possession of defendants or if in the possession of others may be recovered under various remedies including California Code of Civil Procedure § 354.3 once discovered and identified.
54. Fungible property such as gold teeth, jewelry, scrap gold, silver and coins were melted down and commingled with looted property from other sources both by the Ustasha 1941-1945 and OFM or its agents post World War Two. If plaintiffs cannot identify their specific gold items, plaintiffs retain a right to an accounting of the whole to determine their aliquot share.
55. All organizational plaintiffs have as actual members and represent members whose property was looted by the Ustasha or their legal heirs and whose property was deposited in the Ustasha Treasury and converted or retained by defendants and may sue in their own right and therefore these organizations have a direct stake and interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury and a declaratory judgement.
56. Plaintiff Emil Alperin was born June 3, 1922. Prior to and during the Axis occupation of the former USSR he resided in Odessa, Ukraine at 63 Sverdlova Street, Apt. 11. Armed forces of the Ustasha Regime looted household belongings and personal property of the Alperin family in 1942 - valuables such as currency, small items of gold jewelry, and miscellaneous personalty of value were seized. Under Ustasha law property seized by agents of the Ustasha Regime were turned over to the Ustasha Regime on penalty of death. Plaintiff was held prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp from March 1944 until April 1945 where he was prisoner #34646. Emil Alperin has a Jewish background and currently resides in Kharkov and is a citizen of Ukraine and makes claims in his own right and as legal heir to his familys claim and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth several grams.
57. Plaintiff Jewgenija Romanova, formerly Petruchina, was born December 7, 1927.
Before and during the Axis occupation of the former USSR, she resided in Nikolayev, Ukraine at 13 Kolodeznaya Street. In 1942 military forces of the Ustasha Regime looted and destroyed all the household belongings and confiscated personal property of Romanova and her family including gold rings, jewelry and currency. Under Ustasha law property seized by agents of the Ustasha Regime were turned over to the Ustasha Regime on penalty of death. Romanova was held prisoner at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp from March 1944 until April 1945 where she was prisoner #33543. Romanova currently resides in Kharkov, Ukraine. Jewgenija Romanova is of Ukrainian nationality and background and makes claims in her own right and as legal heir to her familys claim and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth several grams.
58. Plaintiff Maria Dankewitsch was born January 29, 1922. During the Axis occupation of Ukraine, she resided in Sevastopol, Ukraine in the Fudolf District. Croatian armed forces under the control of the Ustasha Regime confiscated all the household belongings and her personal property including small items of value - rings, a gold watch, and other valuables of Dankewitsch. Under Ustasha law property seized by agents of the Ustasha Regime were turned over to the Ustasha Regime on penalty of death. Dankewitsch was held prisoner at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp from February 1943 until May 1945 where she was prisoner #17406. Dankewitsch currently resides in Kiev and is a citizen Ukraine. Maria Dankewitsch is of Ukrainian nationality and background and makes claims in her own right and as legal heir to her familys claim and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth several grams.
59. Plaintiff Vladimir Morgunov was born September 2, 1925. During part of the Second World War, he resided in Mariupol, Ukraine at 75 Kotovskoogo Street. In 1942 Croatian Naval Legion personnel of the Croatian armed forces under the control of the Ustasha Regime looted and destroyed all the household belongings and personal property including small items of value of Morgunovs family in Mariupol. Under Ustasha law property seized by agents of the Ustasha Regime were turned over to the Ustasha Regime on penalty of death. Morgunov was held prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp from March 1943 until April 1945 where he was prisoner #13341. Morgunov currently resides in Kiev, is a citizen of Ukraine and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth one gram.
60. Plaintiff Nikola Brodich is the surviving son of Vladimir Brodich who was born March 1, 1931 in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. As a young Serb Orthodox boy, Vladimir resided in the town of Kostajnica, Krajina. In August 1941 the Ustasha Regimes police took away his father Nikola, his 24 year old brother Dragomir, and his older sister to a detention center due to their status as Serbs. Vladimirs father and brother were tortured, then murdered. At the detention center plaintiffs sister was gang raped by Ustasha. In late 1941, the Ustasha Regime agents confiscated two homes belonging to plaintiffs immediate family including all their property such as small valuables of gold and silver and substantial furnishings. It took the Ustasha Regimes agents more than two years to auction all of his brothers property. The proceeds were then sent to the capital Zagreb and deposited in the Ustasha Treasury. Vladimir came to the United States in 1949, and was the only surviving heir to the family property. Vladimir Brodich died in 2006 and by order of the Court, his son and successor in interest and heir, Nikola Brodich, who was born in the United States and is a citizen of New Hampshire and member of the New Hampshire Bar, was substituted in his stead and demands an accounting of their share of gold and silver estimated to worth 2 ounces of gold and three ounces of silver.
61. Plaintiff William Dorich was born July 17, 1939 in West Virginia and is US citizen. During the Second World War, the Ustasha burned to death 45 Serb victims in the Orthodox Serb church in the village of Vojnic in Knin-Krajina of which 17 victims were related to plaintiff. All of the Dorich-Todorovic family property in Vojic was seized by agents of the Ustasha Regime including gold, currency, jewelry and coins. Plaintiff is a citizen of California. In 1995 the remnants of the Dorich-Todorovic family were murdered in the Republic of Serbian Krajina by Croatian forces during Operation Storm leaving William Dorich as the only legal heir and surviving claimant to the property stolen by the Ustasha and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth three ounces.
62. Plaintiff Igor Najfeld was born June 28, 1944 in Yugoslavia. Plaintiffs parents had been living in Zagreb on April 10, 1941 when the Nazis invaded Yugoslavia, but by October 4, 1941 the Ustasha Regime had imprisoned plaintiffs parents as Jews and later sent them as forced laborers to Bosnia. Plaintiffs grandparents, who were sent to Jasenovac concentration camp and murdered there, owned a department store in Slavonski Brod that was looted and taken over by the agents of Ustasha regime and the proceeds sent to Zagreb and the Ustasha Treasury. Fifty-six of plaintiffs mothers relatives were murdered by the Ustasha, many of whom perished in the Jasenovac Concentration Camp system. Most of plaintiffs relatives were prosperous and all lost significant property, including gold, to the Ustasha Regimes organized looting. Documentation of the familys property is in the Croatian National Archives in Zagreb. Plaintiff grew up in Yugoslavia and eventually emigrated to the United States and became a naturalized citizen, where he now resides in Vermont and is a citizen thereof. He is a legal heir and successor to the above claims. and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth five to ten ounces.
63. Plaintiff Lizabeth Lalich born in 1950 in the United States and is the legal heir to her maternal and paternal family claims. Her family lost 48 family members in early May 1945, when all the women and children from the Lalich family were murdered and placed in a mass grave. They were murdered by Ustasha Regime military forces after they descended from hiding in the mountains above their village in Korencia, Lika (Krajina) Yugoslavia. The Ustasha Regimes agents looted all their property including the contents of homes and buildings, livestock, and personal properties and small valuables which were then carried to Zagreb and added to the Ustasha treasury that was being evacuated to Austria by Pavelic. In plaintiffs maternal family (Knezevic), Jovan Knezevic, brother of plaintiffs grandfather Stojan Knezevic, was taken from his home and tortured and murdered by Ustasha armed forces in May 1944 in Mutilich, Lika (Krajina) and their property homes, land, livestock, crops, and personal possessions looted by agents of the Ustasha Regime. Plaintiffs teenage cousin Dusanka Kovacevic (niece of plaintiffs grandfather Stojan Knezevic) was taken from her home in Dalmatia to Croatian capital Zagreb, along with other kidnaped Serbs, and hung to death on Serb Eastern Orthodox Christmas, January 7, 1942. Plaintiff is a citizen of Illinois and the US and is the legal successor to all these claims.
64. Plaintiff Mladen Djuricich was born March 20, 1929 in Strmen, Township of Crkveni Bok, County of Kostajnica, Krajina, on the Sava River. During the first week of May 1941 plaintiffs father discovered a naked body floating down the river from Sisak and pulled it out. After removing the board nailed to its head, he recognized it as a Jewish liquor dealer from Sisak and thereafter buried his body in the Strmen Orthodox cemetery. Two days later plaintiffs father was arrested by Ustasha for the crime of burying a Jew and sent off to Auschwitz. He survived, was reunited with his family after the war, and died in 1958. Plaintiff was in August 1942 one of some 3,000 Serb children forcibly converted to Catholicism by the Ustasha and Franciscans (OFM), where he was so viciously kicked by Franciscan priests for accidently tripping into one, that his friend watching reported to his mother that he was dead. A little later, on October 13, 1942 a large number of armed Ustasha surrounded the three villages of the Township to round up everyone to take them to Jasenovac extermination camp, but plaintiff and his older brother Djuka escaped and went to join the partisans. However, plaintiff was too young and had to return to Strmen where he found everything burned and looted and learned that more than a 100 people had been killed on the spot. His aunt Stoja Maslovara was one of two women that the Ustasha beheaded. Plaintiffs fathers entire estate of a large house and furnishings, two barns, four horses, eight cows, many pigs and turkeys and chickens was destroyed and looted by the Ustasha. Plaintiff is a citizen of the US and Indiana. He is legal heir to these claims.
65. Plaintiff Robert Predrag Gakovich was ten years old in June 1941 when the Ustasha came to the town of Plaski in Krajina where he lived with his parents and two brothers. His father, a 40 year old Serb Orthodox priest was taken along with all of the towns prominent Serbs to Velebit Mountain, tortured, and in July 1941 thrown into the Jadovno pit to die. Plaintiffs mother fled with her children for Belgrade in July 1941, leaving behind all their household possessions and personal property which were looted and converted by the Ustasha Regimes agents and added to the Ustasha treasury. Plaintiff thereafter emigrated to the United States in 1952 where he graduated from the University of California Berkeley and retired in 1994. Plaintiff is a naturalized US citizen and resides in Wisconsin and is a citizen thereof.
66. Plaintiff Nevenka Vukasovic Malinowski was born in the village of Mala Pralovica. In 1942 plaintiffs father Panteluja, brother Nikola, aunt Vida and uncle Gjulo Kovacevic, cousin Milan Zigic and his 18 year old son Nikola, and most of her friends and neighbors were taken by the Ustasha because they were Serbs, some sent to forced labor in Germany but those that were left were sent to the Jasenovac concentration camp system. All the family property - household belongings, livestock, crops were looted by agents of the Ustasha Regime and disposed of for the benefit of the Ustasha Treasury. A surviving witness told plaintiff that her relatives were tortured, then made to dig their own graves, chained together, and every other victim shot (to save bullets) causing them all to fall into the graves, dying and alive together. Some in her village who resisted were murdered on the spot. Plaintiffs uncle Samojlo Vukasovic resisted and was beheaded in his own yard; an eyewitness told plaintiff that his body stood upright for a few unbelievable seconds with blood spouting from his neck, while his wife ran out from her hiding place screaming in horror. The Ustasha then murdered her by smashing her head with their rifle butts until her brains oozed out. Another eyewitness told plaintiff that her cousin Sava Otkovic resisted also and as punishment the Ustasha tied him up in his yard while they drove his widowed mother and wife and two small children back into the home to which they then set fire. The Ustasha only murdered him after forcing him to listen until the dying screams of his family and ended by cutting off his extremities and finally decapitating him so that his body looked like the carcass of a slaughtered animal. Plaintiff resides in Florida, is a citizen of Florida and is a naturalized US citizen and is legal heir to her familys claims.
67. Plaintiff Eli Rotem was born June 11, 1931 in Zagreb. On April 3, 1941. All the family property - furnishings, money, valuables - in Zagreb was forfeited and taken by the Ustasha Regime because the family was Jewish. Documentation of the confiscated property is in the Croatian National Archives. Plaintiffs father survived the war years in a prisoner of war camp in Germany, while plaintiff and mother and sister managed to get to Split, in the Italian zone of Dalmatia. Plaintiff thereafter spent some five months in refugee camps before emigrating to Palestine in April 1945. After serving in the Israeli armed forces, plaintiff emigrated to the United States in 1952 and became a citizen. Plaintiff currently resides in Florida, is a citizen of Florida and is and the sole remaining claimant and successor in interest to the property above.
68. Plaintiff Milorad Skoric was born in Pakrac, Yugoslavia, on December 12, 1948, but his father was born on January 8, 1924 in Loncarica, a small village between Virovitica and Grubisno Polje in Slavonia. Plaintiffs father was grazing pigs in the nearby forest in 1942 at the age of 18 when he saw smoke rising from Loncarica. By the time plaintiffs father returned home the whole village had been pillaged and burned down and every person, including all his family, taken away, by the Ustasha because they were Serbs. The Skoric household property, crops, livestock and furnishings had been looted by agents of the Ustasha Regime and carried away for disposal and conversion to the benefit of the Ustasha Treasury. In 1945 it was learned that his father and mother and two of his six sisters had perished in the Jasenovac concentration camp system, and that some younger sisters had been sent as forced laborers to Germany. Plaintiff emigrated to the United States in 1991, became a citizen, and is a citizen of California and is the legal heir and beneficiary to the remaining family claims for property taken by the Ustasha.
69. Plaintiff Veljko Miljus was born in 1950 in the same village as his ancestors in Tusilovacski Cerovac, Kingdom of Yugoslavia. There under Ustasha Regime occupation, plaintiffs grandfather Mica Miljus and uncle Nikola Miljus were arrested by Ustasha in 1942 and sent to Jasenovac concentration camp where they perished. Plaintiffs grandfather and uncle were peasants and not guilty of any crime except being Orthodox Serbs, but a Croatian neighbors accusations against them was enough to send them to their death at Jasenovac. Plaintiffs remaining family was forced to flee from the Ustasha several times during World War II. All the family property, household items and valuables were looted each time by agents of the Ustasha Regime. Plaintiff immigrated to the United States in 1965, and is a citizen of the US and Illinois and is legal heir to these claims.
70. Plaintiff Fred Zlatko Harris was born in Zagreb on April 15, 1911 as Zlatko Hirschler and his now deceased wife Milica Neumann was born on August 17, 1918. As a Croatian Jew, plaintiff and his relatives lost all their property to agents of the Ustasha Regimes Ministry for the State Treasury, including their homes and apartments and furnishings which were sold for the benefit of the Ustasha Regimes Treasury. Plaintiff was the production manager for his in-laws apparel factory, the second largest in Yugoslavia at the time, and the factory and its contents including 50 advanced industrial Singer sewing machines was confiscated by the Ustasha Regime. Plaintiffs in-laws also owned many pieces of investment real estate, a new car, and plaintiff a motorcycle, all of which were confiscated. Documentation of this property is in the Croatian National Archives. Plaintiff and his in-laws managed to eventually reach Split, Dalmatia then under Italian occupation, but not before having to deliver to the Zagreb police headquarters most of their gold, jewelry, and other valuables under pain of immediate execution. Plaintiff became a US citizen and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area as a citizen of California and sole remaining heir and successor in interest under the California Probate Code to the claims of his deceased wife for her familys possessions.
71. Plaintiff Milja Conger was born January 1,1925 in Slunj, Krajina. After undergoing surgery in the hospital in Ogulin in April 1941 plaintiff was taken by Ustasha to Karlovac as a forced laborer in a formerly Jewish factory, and then on January 28, 1943 sent to Germany for forced labor for the remainder of the war. Plaintiff and one cousin were the only members of her family to survive the Ustasha purges of Orthodox Serbs in Croatia. All family property was confiscated by the Ustasha Regimes agents for the befit of the Ustasha Treasury including household possessions and small items of gold and silver. Plaintiff eventually emigrated to the United States and became a citizen. Plaintiff is a citizen of California. Plaintiff is legal heir to these claims and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth several grams.
72. Plaintiff Allen Dolfi Herskovich, born April 20, 1918, was an important sports figure in prewar Yugoslavia, representing his county in Vienna in 1937, in London in 1938, and Cairo in 1939 in table tennis. With the invasion by Hitler in 1941 the team of five players dispersed to five different countries, plaintiff reaching Italy after five months with what remained of his family. In October 1943 plaintiff was liberated by the Allies along with two brothers, but plaintiff lost his father and sister with her two small children in Auschwitz, while a brother was killed that year by the Ustasha. Plaintiffs father had been a very successful businessman in textile manufacturing, but all his property was confiscated by agents of the Ustasha Regime. This property was valued by the Tito government in 1948 in excess of $1,500,000 in prewar dollars and is documented in the Croatian national Archives records of Jewish property appropriated by the Ustasha Regime. No compensation has ever been received by plaintiff. Plaintiff and his wife Dorothy and two sons presently reside in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are citizens of the US and California. Plaintiff is legal heir to these claims.
73. Plaintiff Bogdan Kljaics father Luka Kljaic his first wife and two children were murdered by the Ustasha between1941 to 1943. Plaintiffs mother lost her first husband, Stojan Mitic, to the Ustasha, the same day that 700 other Serbs were murdered in the Orthodox Church in Glina in 1941. Plaintiffs half-sister Ljubica Kljaic, born 1927 in Strmen, was sent to Jasenovac in June 1941 at the age of 14, where she was tortured and killed. Plaintiffs older half-brother Bogdan Kljaic, born 1924 in Strmen, was killed by Ustasha in 1942 on a mountain top called Lebrenica near Kostajnica. Family and personal property was looted by the Ustasha Regimes agents for the benefit of the Ustasha treasury. Plaintiffs parents afterwards met and married and had two children, Jelena Kljaic born in 1946, and plaintiff born in 1947. Plaintiff is a citizen of the US and Illinois and legal successor to these claims.
74. Plaintiff David Levy was born April 12, 1922 in Belgrade and resided in Zagreb at the outbreak of the war. All of plaintiffs family property -gold, valuables, furnishings in Zagreb was taken in 1941 by the Ustasha Regimes agents for the benefit of the Ustasha treasury. Documentation of the property exists in the Croatian National Archives records of Jewish property. Plaintiff was made a forced laborer until he escaped in September 1941, after which his mother and brother and grandmother were murdered in concentration camps. Plaintiff was caught in January 1942, taken in chains to Italy, where he survived to become one of the 1,000 Jews allowed to come to the United States in August 1944. Plaintiff currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a citizen of the US and California, with his wife Zdenka Baum Ruchwarger-Levy and is legal heir to these claims.
75. Plaintiff Zdenka Baum Ruchwarger-Levy was born September 15, 1925 in Zagreb. All of plaintiffs family property was taken in 1941by agents of the Ustasha Regime including her fathers metal furniture plant and sold for the benefit of the Ustasha Treasury. Documentation of the property exists in the Croatian National Archives records of Jewish property. Plaintiffs father was taken to Jasenovac but released after three weeks. In November 1941 plaintiff and her family fled into the mountains, were eventually captured and sent to Italy where they spent the next year and a half until freed by the Allies and brought to the United States. Plaintiff lost 11 relatives to the extermination camps. Plaintiff met and married plaintiff David Levy in 1985 and currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is a citizen of the US and California. She is legal heir to these claims.
76. Plaintiff Vladan Celebonovic was born in 1955 in Belgrade. Plaintiffs aunt, Alice Celebonovic, born in 1910, was undergoing medical treatment in Zagreb at the beginning of the war when she was murdered by the Ustasha on April 10, 1941 or shortly thereafter in an anti Serb pogrom and her personal possessions including jewelry was looted by agents of the Ustasha Regime for the benefit of the Ustasha Treasury. Plaintiff, her only heir, is a research physicist residing in Belgrade and is a citizen of Serbia and demands an accounting regarding his aunts jewelry.
77. Plaintiff Daniel Pyevichs parents were born in Citluk, near Gospic, Lika, and emigrated to the United States in 1928. On plaintiffs fathers side, in 1941 his fathers mother, two brothers, the son and daughter of his sister, and the daughter of a brother were killed by the Ustasha because they were Serbs. Plaintiffs uncle Mile was killed in a brutal fashion by being thrown into the notorious Jadovno pit outside of Gospic, where hundreds of Serbs met their death. All of the property - household belonging, rings, coins, icons - of these murdered relatives was looted by the Ustasha regimes agents for the befit of the Ustasha Treasury. Plaintiff is a citizen of the US and Illinois and sole legal heir to these claims. He demands an accounting to recover missing items including religious icons.
78. Plaintiff Koviljka Popovic, a Serb, is the daughter of Bozo Kolak, a farmer of the village of Tulje, Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In March 1944 while Bozo Kolak was in his fields with his 7 year old son Branko, agents of the Ustasha Regime came upon them and killed Kolak and wounded Branko in both of his legs. The killers then burned down and looted his homestead of all crops, furnishing, and valuables entirely on the same day, the family thus losing all their worldly possessions to the Ustasha Regime. Branko Kolak survives as a pensioner in Tulje, along with a sister Slavka Kolak. Plaintiff resides in Smederevo, Serbia and presents this claim on her and her siblings behalf as heirs to the property claims.
79. Plaintiff Ukraine Organization of Ukrainian Antifascist Resistance Fighters is recognized by Ukrainian Ministry of Justice as an official representative of 8,500 former partisans and resistors of the Nazi occupation of Ukraine and concentration camp victims and as such has an interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury. This membership includes some victims of the Ustasha Armed Forces in Ukraine who lost property to agents of the Ustasha Regime.
80. Plaintiff Ukrainian Union of Nazi Victims and Prisoners is recognized by Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and represents over 300,000 former slave and forced laborers, prisoners, concentration camp, and ghetto survivors and as such has an interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury. This membership includes some victims of the Ustasha Armed Forces in Ukraine who lost property to agents of the Ustasha Regime.
81. Plaintiff Jasenovac Research Institute was established in 1998 as a non-profit (503-1) human rights organization and research institute registered in the state of Michigan, committed to establishing the truth about the Holocaust in Yugoslavia, dedicated to the search for justice for the crimes of genocide committed by the Ustasha Regime at the Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska concentration camp system and Ustasha persecution against Serbs, Jews, and Romas. The Jasenovac Research center also assists its members in Holocaust restitution matters. The Jasenovac Research Institutes membership includes Serb, Jewish, and Roma Holocaust survivors of the Ustasha terror in former Yugoslavia and their heirs including some of the plaintiffs and has sponsored conferences, publications, videos and memorials for victims of the Ustasha in the United States, Serbia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. Jasenovac Research Institute has an interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury.
82. Typical members of Jasenovac Research Institute include individuals like Eva Deutch Costabel who was born in Zagreb, Kingdom of Yugoslavia in November 1924. In 1941 her father was arrested by the Ustasha Regime and his assets and successful chemical business were confiscated by agents of the Ustasha regime because of the family being Jewish. He was handed over to the German authorities by the Ustasha Regime and was murdered at a German concentration camp in 1943. Evas mothers children's clothing shop and home and all household belongings, store stock, and property was confiscated by the Ustasha Regimes agents in 1942. As was customary no receipt was provided and asking for such would be either futile or result in deadly consequences, although documentation of confiscated Jewish property exists in the Croatian National Archives. Eva and her mother escaped from Zagreb to the Italian occupied zone of Croatia where they were interned in various concentration camps until the Italian government surrendered to the Allies in 1943. They then escaped from the concentration camp on the island of Rab before it was liquidated by the Ustasha and made their way to partisan held territory in Yugoslavia. Plaintiff now resides in New York. Plaintiff is a legal heir and successor under the law of New York to her mothers claims for the loss of the family property and businesses in 1941-1942 and is a member of the Jasenovac Research Institute Advisory Board.
83. Plaintiff International Union of Former Juvenile Prisoners of Fascism based in Kiev, Ukraine is recognized by Ukrainian Ministry of Justice and represents Nazi victims in the former Soviet Union including Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus and as such has an interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury. This membership includes some victims of the Ustasha Armed Forces in Ukraine who lost property to agents of the Ustasha Regime.
84. The Republic of Serbian Krajina In Exile (RSK) is based in Zemun, Serbia under the leadership of Premier Milorad Buha who is also a deputy in the Serbian Parliament. The RSK is the legitimate continuation of The Republic of Serbian Krajina which exercised sovereignty over Krajina and Slavonia between 1991 and 1998 when the region was eventually overrun by Croatian army units and paramilitaries in a series of invasions called Operation Storm and Operation Flash under the command of General Ante Gotavica now on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in The Hague. Serb residents of modern Krajina and Slavonia were ethnically cleansed by murder, forced conversion to Roman Catholicism, or forced to flee to Serbia as refugees after 1998. The Ustasha previously committed atrocities against Serbs, Jews, and Roma in the same region 1941-1945 when it was part of the Ustasha Regime. The RSK represents the interests of all Serb, Jewish, and Roma Holocaust Survivors from Krajina, Western Srem, Baranja and Slavonia. The RSK also presents a claim on behalf of looted Orthodox Christian Church properties within the 1991-1998 borders of the RSK and as such has a direct interest in an accounting of the Ustasha Treasury. 85. The Independent Council of Gypsies in Serbia (Nezavisni Savet Roma Srbije) represents over eighty Roma organizations in Serbia and is a non profit organization based in Belgrade, Serbia. Its president is Slobodan Bojic-Bittner. The purpose of the organization is to promote the socio-economic well being of the Roma people in Serbia including addressing the historic injustices committed against the Roma throughout former Yugoslavia. The Independent Council has collected over one thousand five hundred claims from its members involving property looted by the Ustasha; each members claim if filed separately would have standing to sue in this matter. These claims involve theft and murder by the Ustasha regimes agents of Roma 1941-1945 and looting of numerous items including gold and silver: rings, bracelets, ducats, icons, and crucifixes; livestock, clothing, and miscellaneous property. Aggregate claims of the organizations members exceed 100,000 ounces of gold as Roma did not utilize banks and kept their wealth at hand often in the form of gold Austrian ducats, the favored coinage of the time. The Independent Council seeks an accounting of its members gold and silver.
86. Mileva Reljanovic (Vujcic) was born in 1930 in Vojskova, Bosnia, Kingdom of Yugoslavia and resides in Sweden. In 1942 the Ustasha Regimes agents forcibly removed all Serbs from Vojskova in order to colonize the region. The village store and its contents owned by plaintiffs family was seized and the Serb residents of the town terrorized by rampaging Ustasha armed forces who killed and raped indiscriminately among the Serbs. The store and its contents were converted to cash by the Ustasha Regimes Ministry of Colonization and the proceeds added to the Ustasha Treasury. Plaintiff and her family members were sent to Jasenovac where her father and some of her siblings died. Upon entering Jasenovac, the Ustasha Regime agents confiscated the jewelry the family had concealed on their persons. Plaintiff after many travails was eventually released to the custody of a Croatian farmer and used as a forced laborer until the end of the war. Plaintiff is legal heir to her familys claims in this matter.
87. Nadezda Bates born in Bihac, Bosnia, Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1923. Plaintiffs father, Janko Bates, was a wealthy Serb businessman in Bihac and owned an establishment named Kafana Beograd. The Bates family owned numerous other properties through out the region and had accumulated a great deal of wealth including an opulently furnished home and jewelry including one dozen hand made bracelets of 18 carat gold with sapphires and diamonds and three necklaces made in the same fashion with dark sapphires, twenty rings made of 18 carat gold, hundreds of gold ducats, and many items of lesser value. They also possessed a quantity of cash and a large stock of food and drink used in their trade. On June 23, 1941 agents of the Ustasha Regime entered into Bihac and arrested the Serb and Jewish inhabitants. Plaintiff witnessed the well organized pillaging and plundering of the Bates family property and Jewish properties in the and neighborhood by the Ustasha Regimes agents. Teams of special soldiers with trucks conducted the looting operation in a thorough manner. The Ustasha soldiers herded the Serbs and Jews into the changing rooms at the Bihac sports grounds, where they were thoroughly searched relieved of any concealed valuables. Plaintiff and her family was transported to Krnjeusa by the Ustasha where her father and brother were murdered by Ustasha armed forces under the command of the Ustasha Governor of Bihac, Ljubomir Kvaternik. The murder of Serbs was witnessed by a Franciscan priest and a local Croat merchant, Dudek. Plaintiff and her remaining family were sent to Jasenovac from which they were eventually ransomed in November 1943. Plaintiff now lives in Belgrade, is a citizen of Serbia and is legal heir to these claims on behalf of her family and demands an accounting of their share of gold estimated to worth 40 ounces and the family jewelry worth in excess of $100,000.
88. Dubravka (Stojakovic) Pavic was born in 1956 in Belgrade, Serbia where she now lives. Her deceased father Milutin Stojakovic was a Serb, born in 1925 in a village of Subocka, Pakrac, Slavonia-Croatia, in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The Stojakovic family consisted of nine members. In 1941 agents of the Ustasha Regime ordered the family to convert to Roman Catholicism against their will. Plaintiffs father (Milutin) went to Pakrac in the Autumn of 1941 to train as a tailor. But in March 1942 he was arrested by the Ustasha police during a raid and because he was a Serb and was deported to the concentration camp Stara Gradiska where his personal possessions and clothes were taken from him by the Ustasha Regimes agents in the course of the organized plunder of incoming prisoners and then he was sent to Jasenovac from where he escaped on April 22, 1945 in a prisoner revolt after his gold teeth had been removed by the Ustasha per the camps standard procedure for looting prisoners. Milutin Stojakovic never received any compensation for his suffering from any source. Plaintiff is sole legal heir to her fathers claims and an accounting for gold worth 1 gram.
VI. DEFENDANT -FRANCISCAN ORDER (OFM)
89. Defendant OFM, also known as Order of Friars Minor and colloquially as the Franciscan Order is a hierarchal Roman Catholic mendicant religious order which follows the rule of St. Francis of Assisi which is memorialized in the Testament of St. Francis, Rule of the Order, the Constitutions of the Order, the Statutes of the Order, the Ratio Formationis Franciscanae and Provincial Statutes.
90. All OFM members, including Fr. Dominik Mandic, during the times described herein, take a lifetime solemn vow of obedience to the OFM Minister General and absolute poverty upon becoming a professed member of OFM, currently described as: For the good of the Church and the Order, all the friars owe to the MinisterGeneral, the legitimate successor of St. Francis, the highest obedience and respect, as asign of the unity and fellowship of the whole fraternity. OFM General Constitutions Art. 7 CC §2.
. . .(To) renounce the right to use and dispose of material goods withoutthe permission of their Ministers and Guardians; indeed, after solemn professionthey also renounce the right of ownership. OFM General Constitutions Art. 8 CC.
91. OFM has its headquarters in Rome and is and was during the times described herein, a hierarchal organization headed by an elected Minister General who is the supreme authority figure in the order and is assisted by a Procurator General and six or seven Definitor Generals (Definitors) who form the Minister Generals Council or General Definatory. Other officers include a Secretary General, Vicar General and Postulator General. For a brief period 1944-1945 relevant to this lawsuit, the Minister Generals position was vacant and the Vicar General headed the Order. The mere recognition of OFM under the laws of Italy does not influence the relationship of the OFM Minister General with its subordinate entities, because these relationships are delineated by the OFM Constitutions.
92. The OFM General Constitutions (Art. 175-1) state that the OFM Minister General enjoys ordinary authority over each and every friar, as well as over Provinces and Houses. The OFM Minister General is the top position within OFM. There can be only one Minister General at a time.
93. OFMs administrative structure is and was during the times described herein divided into roughly geographically based Provinces including several in the United States. No Province can be independent of the OFM Constitutions and Statutes. The OFM Province of Saint Barbara maintains its Provincial headquarters in Oakland, California. The Province of St. Barbaras civil alter ego is a California non-profit corporation, Franciscan Friars of California (FFCI), whose President, Father Melvin Jurisich, is also Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Barbara. There is no physical division between the Province of St. Barbara and FFCI because they share one headquarters office located at 1500 34th Ave., Oakland, California. One administrative assistant is shared without any delineation by the one person who is Minister Provincial and concurrently the FFCI President. Daily operations of these two entities are in fact fused together. In dealing with secular issues, FFCI stands in the position of the Province of St. Barbara. Father Jurisich, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Barbara, acts in the capacity as the President of FFCI to accomplish the spiritual mission of the Province of St. Barbara. Failure to disregard the separate identities of the Province of St. Barbara and FFCI would result in fraud or injustice because the Province of St. Barbara would never be able to be sued and be held accountable for its conduct.
94. The Province of St. Barbara operates and controls FFCI as its legal and financial instrument. At the same time, OFM operates and overwhelmingly controls both of these California-based entities, which together merely comprise one division (branch) of Defendant OFM, to perform OFM's work in California. FFCI provides financial support only to the Province of St. Barbara. FFCI pays all obligations of this Province through the FFCI bank account in California. The Province of St. Barbara in turn provides regular and special contributions to OFM in Rome through OFMs IOR (Vatican Bank) dollar account in New York in the name of OFM Curia Generale Economato. OFM in Rome however does not provide financial support to the Province of St. Barbara or FFCI.
95. While it is the Provinces obligation to support its Minister Provincial with a monthly stipend, every check on behalf of the Province of St. Barbara is written from FFCIs bank account. All travel expenses for the Minister Provincial are paid through FFCI. All employees are paid by FFCI when they work for the Province of St. Barbara. FFCI is the keeper of the Province of St. Barbaras money. The Province of St. Barbara supposedly owns no property. Rather, it is FFCI who officially owns this Provinces property and maintains liability insurance.
96. The officers of the Province of St. Barbara correspond to the officers of FFCI. The FFCI Bylaws state: The Trustees of the Corporation shall be the members of the Definitorium of the Province of St. Barbara, Order of Friars Minor (Franciscan Friars of California). FFCIs Articles of Incorporation and FFCIs Bylaws confirm that OFM controls FFCI:This corporation is an integral and subordinate part of the Roman Catholic Religious Order known as the Order of Friars Minor. (Article IV(B) of FFCIs Articles of Incorporation and Article II of FFCIs Bylaws). By virtue of OFMs overt control over FFCI, OFM controls the Province of St. Barbara because FFCI exists in such unity with the Province of St. Barbara that these two California entities are one in the same. Neither the Province of St. Barbara nor FFCI may act independent or contrary to the OFM Rule, Constitutions, or Statutes. Upon dissolution or winding up of FFCI, all of its business, properties and assets remaining after payment of all debts and liabilities, shall be distributed to the General Curia, Order of the Friars Minor [OFM], Rome, Italy. (Article IV(B) of FFCIs Articles of Incorporation and Article III, Section 2, of FFCIs Bylaws). The reality shows that OFM not only controls the day-to-day affairs of FFCI (and thus the Province of St. Barbara) by being able to usurp FFCIs Bylaws with OFM rules, but also shows that OFM even controls the disposition of FFCI (therefore the Province of St. Barbara)s assets.
97. The Province of Santa Barbara and its alter ego FFCI function as the alter ego and/or agent of OFM in California. There are approximately 200 friar members in the Province of St. Barbara and approximately 2000 OFM friars throughout the United States. Every friar in every OFM-recognized Province is a recognized member of OFM in Rome, Italy. By virtue of the fact that a friar is a member of the Province of Saint Barbara, he is a member of the Order of the Friars Minor OFM. The Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Barbara is the superior to all friars within this Province. But the OFM Minister General, located in the OFM general office in Rome, Italy, is the superior to all friars, including Minister Provincials, in all the Provinces around the world.
98. Through the Province of St. Barbara, OFM Rome, carries out an active agenda in California. This Province has a specifically defined territory to carry out the purposes of the OFM Rule and Constitutions. OFM does not do its work in California without engaging one of its Provinces. OFM has no offices of its own within California. Rather, OFM maintains its presence in California by the many entities that fall under the Province of St. Barbara. Only OFM in Rome, Italy has the authority to erect, divide, unite, or suppress the OFM Provinces. The Province of St. Barbara reports to the OFM in Rome, Italy, on such matters as the money collected for their missions (which FFCI legally owns) and statistical reports of how many friars died and how many became members. These are reported on OFMs forms. Accordingly, OFM uses the Province of St. Barbara, along with FFCI, as a conduit to conduct its business and objectives in California. Failure to disregard the separate identities of OFM and the Province of St. Barbara would result in fraud or injustice because OFM would be able to claim it never has contacts with any jurisdiction other than that in Rome, Italy, although it absolutely controls approximately 2000 friars in about 200 Houses throughout the U.S.
99. OFM Rule, Chapter I, expressly mandates: All the friars are bound firmly to obey the OFM Minister General. OFM General Constitutions, Article 7, reconfirms that all the friars owe to the Minister General, the legitimate successor of St. Francis, the highest obedience and respect, as a sign of the unity and fellowship of the whole fraternity. OFM General Statutes, Article 114, states: The Friars of our Order must give their work in the service of the Pontifical Athenaeum Antonianum in a spirit of cooperation and obedience to the [OFM] Minister General, in accordance with the Special Statutes and the decisions of the Order. The OFM Constitutions (Art. 37) mandate even how friars are to pray in their daily activities: friars are to pray for the deceased friars, for their parents and for the benefactors of the Order, in accordance with the [OFM] Statutes.
100. Only the OFM Minister General can grant the privilege of travel to all Friars in the entire Order. Only the OFM Minister General may issue decrees or rules for the entire Order. And without permission of the OFM Minister General with consent of his Definitory in Rome, Italy, a solemnly professed friar within a Province cannot transfer out of the Order to another religious institute or take a sabbatical from the Order. Expenditures over a set amount by a Province are subject to approval by the OFM Definitory in Rome. OFMs Minister General and his Definitory in Rome also has the right to regulate and supervise the education of every OFM friar and the power to remove Provincial Ministers and approve their resignations.
101. The responsibilities of each OFM friar, wherever he is in the world, are established (1) by the Rule of the OFM; (2) by the OFM Constitutions; and (3) by the Provincial Statutes, which all must be approved by OFM. In other words, all friars must apply the OFM Rule, Constitutions, and Statutes. It is expressly written that: "[A]ll the friars are to strive to observe with the greatest care, the laws contained in these [OFM] General Constitutions" and that the "life of fraternal fellowship demands . . . a single-minded observance of the Rule and [OFM] Constitutions. . . and the handing over of all financial gains for the use of the fraternity, whatever their source." (OFM General Constitutions, page 99, Article 42, Section 2).
102. OFM historically draws some of its staunchest support from Croatia and Bosnia- Herzegovina which includes the OFM Provinces of Holy Cross (Sarajevo), Assumption of BM (Mostar), Province of St. Cyril and Methodius (Zagreb), Province of St. Jerome (Zadar), and Province of the Holy Redeemer (Split). The Province of St. Cyril and Methodius (Zagreb) maintains a presence in California through its operations at the Croatian Mission of San Jose, California. Like the Province of St. Barbara, The Province of St. Cyril and Methodius and its mission in San Jose functions as the alter ego and/or agent of OFM in California.
103. At all times mentioned herein, Fr. Dominik Mandic OFM, was acting not on his own behalf but as an obedient agent and servant on behalf of OFM and its hierarchy in his various capacities as a Provincial of the OFM Province of Mostar, OFM General Definitor, OFM Procurator General, OFM Treasurer, Custos of the Croatian Holy Family Commissariat of Chicago, and in his other capacities. Mandic as a member of the Franciscan Order (OFM) and as part of his vocation had taken a vow of poverty and obedience to the OFM Minister General. Mandic thus could not accumulate individual wealth and all his actions were for the collective benefit of OFM. Mandic did not repudiate his OFM vows at anytime described herein nor OFM denounce Mandic for his actions connected with the Ustasha or its Treasury.
VII. THE CROATIAN CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JEROME
104. The Croatian Confraternity of Saint Jerome (San Girolmao) founded in the 15th Century was an association of Catholic priests and layman with the mission of assisting Croatian priests, pilgrims, and students in Rome and originally included a church, hostel, chapter house and hospital. In 1901 the Croatian Confraternity was disbanded and its property taken over by the Pontifical College of Saint Jerome, a separate entity not affiliated with OFM.
105. In 1945, the Croatian Confraternity was reestablished at the behest of OFM, Fr. Dominik Mandic and Fr. Krunoslav Draganovic as part of an elaborate scheme to assist not just Croatians fleeing the fall of the Ustasha Regime but to provide material and financial support to the Ustasha Regime in exile with help eventually extended to non Croatians who had been affiliated with the Axis including German Nazi officials and Nazi collaborators from Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia, and Albania. Mandic as a General Definitor and Treasurer of OFM was the ranking clerical member and Director of the Croatian Confraternity while Draganovic, as a member of the Ustasha Regime holding Vatican credentials, handled day to day affairs as the Croatian Confraternity Secretary. The purpose of this enterprise was to prevent Ustasha Regime members and other anti Tito Yugoslavs from being deported to Yugoslavia and to materially support anti Yugoslav activities including infiltration of Ustasha partisan units called Krizari back into Yugoslavia under the command of General Rafael Boban, the former commander of the Ustasha Black Legion, and Fr. Draganovic. The Ustasha Treasury was the major source of funding for the Croatian Confraternity beginning with the part of the Ustasha Treasury transported by Draganovic to Rome in late 1944 and late 1945.
106. In late 1945, Draganovic traveled to Austria under the guise of his position as a Vatican relief official and retrieved an additional two boxes of gold weighing 45 kilograms total from the portion of the Ustasha Treasury hidden in Austria and returned with it to Rome to fund the activities of the Confraternity and Ustasha Regime in exile. Mandic meanwhile began organizing Ustasha exiles at the Displaced Persons Camp at Fermo, Italy and with funds from the Ustasha Treasury obtained through the Confraternity and set up printing presses there and at an OFM property at Grottaferrata near Rome to forge identity and travel documents for the benefit of the Ustasha Regime members. Mandic set up safe houses for the Ustasha exiles. Mandic also facilitated the role of the Confraternity as a financial arm of the Ustasha Regime in exile by using his knowledge and access to the Vatican City financial system obtained while acting in the capacity of OFM Treasurer.
107. By 1946 the Confraternity-OFM-Mandic-Draganovic combination had concealed a significant number of Ustasha Regime exiles, wanted by the Allies or Yugoslav government for war crimes, in the Vatican or its extraterritorial properties in Rome proper or in Italy, Franciscan Monasteries in Italy, or at the Croatian Confraternity. First and foremost of these wanted criminals were Ante Pavelic, who was sheltered at Vatican City, the Croatian Confraternity and elsewhere in the environs of Rome until 1947. The war criminal Andrija Artukovic, the Ustasha Regime Interior Minister, was also hidden by the Croatian Confraternity. The cost of this operation was paid for with the proceeds of the Ustasha Treasury banked through financial channels within Vatican City which was unoccupied by the Allies and treated as a sovereign entity which enjoyed certain extraterritorial rights within Rome and its environs. Pro Ustasha operations at the Confraternity continued though 1957 when it was disbanded and Draganovic expelled from the premises of Pontifical College of St. Jerome upon the death of Pope Pius XII.
108. By mid-1946, the major part of the Ustasha Treasury from Switzerland and Austria was received at the Croatian Confraternity by Draganovic and members of the Confraternity. According to the deposition testimony of US Army Counter Intelligence Corps Special Agent William E. W. Gowen, who in 1947 debriefed Draganovic and Ustasha Colonel Ivan Babic, two of the main participants in the operation, a convoy of ten trucks commanded by Colonel Babic with helpers in British uniforms, delivered its cargo of the Ustasha Treasury to Draganovic at St. Jerome for redelivery to the Vatican. Col. Babic, despite being an Ustasha, had enjoyed good relations with the British Eighth Army having been dispatched by Pavelic before the wars end to attempt to negotiate a separate peace. The value of this horde consisting of the bulk of the Ustasha treasury including gold in various forms, jewelry, foreign currency, and other moveable items of value, was estimated by United States Treasury Agent Emerson Bigelow to be worth as much as 200 million Swiss Francs in 1946. Mandic banked the Ustasha Treasury though Vatican City financial channels for export to Spain, Portugal, the United States and Latin America on behalf of Pavelic while retaining a portion for the Confraternitys and related ongoing activities. Other less liquid property such as religious articles and artworks were retained or dispersed through channels available to OFM and Mandic. Some of these artifacts remain in repositories controlled by OFM.
VIII. CROATIAN FRANCISCAN CUSTODY OF THE HOLY FAMILY
109. The Croatian Custody of the Holy Family of Chicago was originally known as the Croatian Commissariat of the Holy Family when established in 1926 under the direct control of the Minister General of OFM. Between 1931 and 1939 the Commissariat was attached to the OFM Province of Herzegovina of which Dominik Mandic was the Provincial Minister but was detached again and placed under the control of the Minister General of OFM from 1939 to 1969. In 1969 the Commissariat was designated a Custody. In 1969 the Custody was again placed under the control of the OFM Province of Herzegovina but was detached in 1977 and returned to control of the OFM Minister General according to the website belonging to the Croatian Custody.
110. In 1944 St. Anthonys Friary in Chicago became the headquarters of the Croatian Commissariat. In 1952, coinciding with the arrival of Fr. Dominik Mandic from Rome, the friary was rededicated and served as the hub of several operations controlled by the Custody including the Franciscan Printery and the Croatian Franciscan Publications which included the Croatian Catholic Messenger, Croatian Historical Croatian Almanac, and the newspaper Danica. These all espoused a pro Croatian and anti Yugoslav agenda. Mandic was the chief administrator or Custos of the Croatian Commissariat from 1952-1955.
111. The Croatian Almanac was edited by Mandic from 1953 to 1954. Mandics main role at the Croatian Custody was to establish the Croatian Publishing House and Croatian Historical Institute with funds from the Ustasha Treasury. These organizations promoted pro Croatian, anti Serb, propaganda masquerading as historical research which promoted the Ustasha view that Croats (unlike Serbs) were not Slavs and were descended from Aryans and that Krajina Serbs were decedents of African Mauretanians and thus by inference an inferior race. Mandic also published works by former Ustasha officials like Ante Bonfacic attacking Yugoslavia. Non Croatian contemporary academics found Mandics dubious historical works to be chauvinistic and racist. Ustasha Treasury funds were used extensively at the Croatian Custody in Chicago, which became a hub of pro Croatian independence activities for North America intermingled with promoting Croatian cultural activities.
112. At all times mentioned herein, OFM through its Minister General directly supervised the activities of the Croatian Franciscan Custody of the Holy Family except for the period 1969 to 1977 when it was attached to the OFM Province of Herzegovina for administrative purposes. Funds from the Ustasha Treasury were administered through the Croatian Custody by Mandic and upon Mandics death in 1979, the remaining funds and property from the Ustasha Treasury came under the administration of the Croatian Custody of Chicago and its ecclesiastical and administrative superior, the OFM Minister General. At all times herein the Croatian Custody or Commissariat was an integral part of OFM and its agent or alter ego.
IX. FACTS PERTAINING TO SERB VICTIMS
113. Upon its founding, the Ustasha Regime immediately began a campaign to purify Croatia of those that the Ustasha Regime Interior Minister Andrija Artukovic called the insatiable parasites: Serbs, Jews, and Roma. On May 26, 1941, the Ustasha Zupan (Governor) of Western Bosnia, Viktor Gutic, proclaimed: All undesirable elements will be exterminated so no trace remains. On June 2, 1941, Milovan Zanic, Ustasha Regime Minister of Justice proclaimed: This state, our country is only for Croats and no one else. There are no ways and means which we Croats will not use to make our country truly ours and to cleanse it of Orthodox Serbs.
114. By late April 1941 Serbs were forced to wear a white armband with the letter P, the initial for Orthodox Christian (Pravoslavac) in the Serbo-Croatian language.
115. The Ustasha regime Doglavnik (Deputy Leader) and government Minister, Mile Budac, stated in 1941 that the Ustasha Regimes policy towards the Serbs under its control was: To kill a third, expel a third from Croatia, and forcibly convert a third of the Serbian population to Roman Catholicism.
116. The Ustasha promoted this objective through the use of organized terror including mass murder, punitive raids and pogroms, concentration camp complexes, forced labor, deportations, forced conversion to Roman Catholicism and genocide.
117. Over 600,000 Serbs were murdered by the Ustasha between April 1941 and May 1945 and despoiled of their property.
X. FACTS PERTAINING TO JEWISH VICTIMS
118. In 1941 Jews in Croatia, though not numerous, were largely urbanized and constituted one of the regions wealthiest groups.
119. By late April 1941 Jews had to wear the Star of David on their sleeves, and later, across their backs and were expelled from Zagreb by order of the Ustasha Regimes Minister of the Interior, Andrija Artukovic.
Artukovic resided in California for over 30 years before he was extradited in 1985 to face charges of murder in Yugoslavia. In re Extradition of Andrija Artukovic, 628 F.Supp. 1370 (C.D. Cal. 1985)
120. The majority of Croatian Jews (upwards of 75%) were either murdered outright by the Ustasha or sent to Croatian or German concentration camps after having all their property confiscated by the Ministry of State Treasury - Department of Finance, State Property, and Debts Office for Nationalized Property.
121. Jews were ruthlessly hunted, robbed and murdered save for the wealthiest 5% who were charged a sizable ransom for the privilege of being named honorary Aryans.
Decree 76 of April 30, 1941 On Racial Affiliation: Persons who prior to April 10, 1941 have shown themselves to be deserving before the Croatian people, especially toward its liberation, as well as their marital partners with whom they concluded marriage prior to the enactment of this decree and the descendants of such a marriage, in the event these persons may be affected by this decree, may receive recognition of all rights belonging to persons of Aryan descent at the discretion of the head of state, regardless of the provisions of this decree.
122. Ransoms greatly enriched the Ustasha treasury along with other funds and property extorted from the Jewish population of the NDH.
123. Approximately 30,000 Jews were murdered by the Ustasha Regime.
XI. FACTS PERTAINING TO ROMA VICTIMS
124. The Roma, like the Serbs and Jews, were victims of Ustasha policies of institutionalized racism, genocide and looting. Only those Roma who were able to pass as Albanians or Macedonians avoided execution.
125. Approximately 30,000 Roma were murdered by the Ustasha Regime after being robbed of all their possessions including substantial quantities of gold and silver.
XII. FACTS PERTAINING TO CLAIMS BY FORMER SOVIET CITIZENS
126. When Nazi Germany invaded Russia on June 22, 1941, the Ustasha leader, Ante Pavelic declared war on the Soviet Union on June 23, 1941 in order to join the battle of all freedom loving nations against Communism.
127. Pavelic offered ground, sea and air forces, to fight alongside Germany. Hitler responded to Pavelic's letter on July 1, 1941, accepting the Croatian offer and thanking them for their service. Beginning in July 1941, Croatian ground, sea, and air forces invaded, alongside Germans, the Soviet Union including Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Croatian armed forces units wore German style uniforms with Croatian indicia and provided front line and support units in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Croatian air force and navy units patrolled the Black and Azov Seas in Russia and Ukraine. Croatian ground troops from the Croatian Legion took part in battles in Kiev, Kharkov, and Stalingrad. In September 1942, Pavelic, on behalf of the Croatian government, visited Croatian Legion troops outside Stalingrad.
128. Croatian armed forces assisted the German occupiers of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia and participated in a systematic plunder and looting of Ukrainian, Russian, and Belorussian resources and individual property for the benefit of the Ustasha Regime. Unauthorized looting for personal gain was strictly forbidden and severely punished. The Ustasha Treasury contained loot from the former Soviet Union.
XIII. FACTS PERTAINING TO USTASHA CONCENTRATION CAMPS
129. Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska Concentration Camp complexes, termed by historians as the Auschwitz of the Balkans, were the home of horrific and nearly indescribable brutality against Serbs, Jews, and Roma. The notorious Jasenovac camp was actually a complex of five major and three smaller special camps spread out over 240 square kilometers (150 square miles) in south-central Croatia. Along with hundreds of thousands of Serbs, some 30,000 Jews and at least 30,000 Romas were murdered in these camps. The names of some 20,000 murdered children of all three nationalities collected thus far by historians provides only a fraction of the crimes committed there against children.
130. The Ustasha at their concentration camps also looted from their victims their last remaining possessions before being murdered including gold teeth and dentures, wedding rings, and gold eyeglass frames. Textiles were reprocessed by agents of the Ustasha Regime from the bloodstained and soiled clothes of those murdered for the profit of the Ustasha Regime and its Treasury. The loot from the Ustasha run concentration camp complexes comprises a significant part of the Ustasha Treasury. Serbs and Jews were also occasionally ransomed from Ustasha Regime concentration camps, these funds also flowing into the Ustasha treasury.
XIV. FACTS PERTAINING TO THE USTASHA REGIMES RELATIONSHIP WITH OFM
131. OFM members in Croatia were some of the early supporters of the Ustasha prior to the takeover in 1941 of Croatia by the Axis. The operational headquarters in which the plan for the Ustasha take-over of Croatia was made was a Franciscan (OFM) monastery. OFM Monasteries, parish houses, cathedrals, Franciscan high schools, seminaries, etc., throughout Croatia doubled as meeting places, recruiting centers, arms depots, and staging areas for the Ustasha terror in the years prior to and during the war.
132. Upon the establishment of the Ustasha Regime individual Franciscan priests deserted their vocations and incited attacks on Serb and Roma settlements, tortured, killed and expropriated their victims in dozens of villages in Croatia and Bosnia. In one typical example, the Franciscan Priest Shimich exhorted Croats to commit genocide: All Serbs must be murdered within the shortest time. That is our program. One of the most notorious examples of the Franciscan clerical killers was Fr. Miroslav Filopovic-Majstorovic, known as Brother Satan, who personally killed tens of thousand of Serbs at Jasenovac concentration camp where he served as Commander for four months, from September 1942 to the beginning of January 1943. Brother Satan also directed numerous actions against Serbian villages in which he played a conspicuous part in the killings. Before one such attack in the town of Drakulic, Brother Satan strangled a Serbian baby with his bare hands in order to incite the Ustasha to commit barbarities. Brother Satan was hanged as a war criminal in 1946 by the Yugoslav government. OFM did not actively seek out and punish most priests associated with the Ustasha during the Second World War despite knowledge of their activities. OFM and in particular its General Definitor, Dominik Mandic, had in its possession by May 1945 irrefutable proof of atrocities of genocide and looting committed by the Ustasha Regime.
XV. FACTS PERTAINING TO THE USTASHA TREASURY
133. The Ustasha Regimes looting of Serbs, Jews, Romas, and others was systematic and kept under tight control of the Ustasha Regime until 1944 when Pavelic took personal control of all liquid assets of the Ustasha Regime for the purpose of relocating them outside Croatia for safekeeping. Draganovic and Babic were tasked with preparing the way in Rome and the Vatican for the Ustasha Treasurys delivery.
134. During the Second World War the Swiss National Bank and other banks in Switzerland, as well as facilities in Croatia, acted as depositories for some of the Ustasha Treasury.6
135. The Independent Commission of Experts - Switzerland - Second World War, known as the Bergier Commission, linked Swiss banks with Croatian wartime gold transactions (p. 25 of their report).
136. With the fall of the Ustasha Regime imminent in 1945, an effort was made by Pavelic to move the remaining Ustasha Treasury outside the borders of the Ustasha Regime. In late May 1945 Ustasha Regime agents were found at the British-occupied Austro-Swiss border with gold, currency and other assets valued at 350 million Swiss francs. Over 200 million Swiss francs value of this particular hoard were eventually transferred to the Croatian Confraternity at Saint Jerome, Mandic and Draganovic and then to the Vatican City financial system and elsewhere for conversion. One portion of the horde contained in two chests of gold was personally brought from Austria by Draganovic for the use of the Croatian Confraternity in late 1945. The larger portion of the Ustasha Treasury consisting of a ten truck convoy was commanded by Ustasha Colonel Ivan Babic and trucked from Northern Italy to the Croatian Confraternity in 1946 by Babic and Ustasha confederates wearing British uniforms. Other remnants of the Ustasha treasury arrived in similar fashion 1946-1948, first to Mandic, Draganovic and the Croatian Confraternity and then dispersed though either Vatican City, Vatican extraterritorial properties in Italy, or OFM accounts.
137. In 1948 a tranche of 2,400 kilograms of Ustasha Treasury gold was moved from accounts in Vatican City to Swiss bank accounts.
138. In 1952 the Ustasha leader Pavelic transferred 5 million Swiss francs from the Ustasha Treasury horde from Switzerland to Argentina.
139. Pavelic and other exiled Ustasha war criminals, in order to bank and transfer assets from the Ustasha Treasury, depended upon the intermediation and cooperation of OFM and its agents.
140. A significant portion of the post war Ustasha Treasury was in the form of jewels and non monetary valuables that required either conversion by OFM or was retained by OFM and its agents to used to promote the Ustasha cause and Croatian nationalism. In 2008 it was revealed after the arrest of a former Croatian Ministry of Defense official, General Vladimir Zagorec, that in 1991 diamonds worth up to $40 million with their origin in the Ustasha Treasury were in the possession of Cardinal Kuharic of Zagreb who provided the diamonds to the Croatian Defense Ministry to purchase arms to be used in the war with Yugoslavia.
141. Ustasha Treasury assets were banked and converted by OFM using its accounts in the Vatican and elsewhere for use in Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal the United States, and Italy by the exiled Ustasha and Dominik Mandic-OFM controlled enterprises in Chicago.
XVI. FACTS PERTAINING TO POST WAR BENEFICIARIES OF THE USTASHA TREASURY
142. In 1956 the overt successor to the Ustasha, the Croatian Liberation Movement (Hrvatski oslobodila ki pokret, HOP), was founded by Ante Pavelic in Buenos Aires as a beneficiary of the Ustasha Treasury along with its terrorist front group - the Croatian Revolutionary Brotherhood (HRB) and related organizations. When Pavelic died in 1959, HOP leadership passed to former Ustasha Minister Stepan Hefer, then to Ante Bonifacic who moved the headquarters to Chicago and then to Pavelics son in law, Srecko Psenicnik in 1981. The HOP operates in Argentina, the United States, Australia, Europe and Canada and is a minor political party in Croatia. Funds from the Ustasha Treasury banked and converted by OFM and Dominik Mandic helped fund these organizations through 1991 when Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia and HOP relocated to Croatia.
143. The Croatian Custody of the Holy Family of Chicago and OFM have continued to use the funds derived from the Ustasha treasury to set up, facilitate, and coordinate the OFM operations at Medjugorje, Bosnia and to support financially Croatian paramilitary formations like the Croatian Defense Council (Hrvatsko Vijee Obrane, HVO), who often used Ustasha indicia in their ethnic cleansing battles against Bosnian Serbs, Muslims, and Roma in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Serbian Krajina in the 1990's and to support the Croatian nationalist shrine of Medjugorje in Herzegovina.
144. As the principal postwar financier to the former Ustasha Regime, the OFM profited from Ustasha Treasury transactions, including transfer of funds to it from the Ustasha Treasury in exchange for services.
XVII. CLASS ALLEGATIONS
145. This action is brought and may properly be maintained as a class action pursuant to the provisions of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23.
146. Plaintiffs bring this action on behalf of themselves and a class of all Jews, Serbs, Roma and former Soviet Union citizens and their heirs and beneficiaries who had property - looted assets - taken from them as part of the systematic and brutal murder and persecution of Jews, Serbs, and Roma by the Ustasha Regime, and as a result of the occupation of the Soviet Union by Ustasha Regime controlled military forces.
147. The exact number of the members of the class, as identified above, is not known to plaintiffs, but it is estimated that members of the class number in the tens of thousands7 and are so numerous that joinder of individual members herein is impracticable.
148. Questions of fact and law common to the class predominate over any questions affecting only individual members. Common questions of fact and law include:
(a) Whether OFM and its agents improperly retained or converted looted assets of the plaintiffs.
(b) Whether OFM was unjustly enriched by their wrongful conduct.
(c) Whether plaintiffs experienced irreparable harm by defendants wrongful taking of plaintiffs property and goods, supporting a claim for restitution and/or replevin.
(d) Whether defendant has failed to account for the Ustasha Treasury by fraudulently and/or intentionally concealing and/or limiting access to their archives and records .
(e) Whether defendant was directly and/or indirectly involved with the conversion of plaintiffs property in violation of international law.
(f) Whether defendant should disgorge any profits resulting from their dealings with the Ustasha Treasury.
(g) Whether any identifiable property including cultural property of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Jewish communal property or important works of art remains in the possession of the defendant or its whereabouts is known to the defendant.
149. Plaintiffs claims are typical of the claims of the other members of the Class, since all such claims arise out of defendants actions or the actions of its agents, which resulted in the loss and conversion of plaintiffs and their ancestors rightful property, which gives plaintiffs the right to the relief sought.
150. There is no conflict as between the named plaintiffs and the members of the class which they represent with respect to this action, or with respect to the claims for relief set forth herein.
151. Plaintiffs are committed to the vigorous prosecution of this action and have retained competent counsel experienced in the prosecution of class actions. Accordingly, plaintiffs are adequate representatives of the Class and will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the Class.
152. The prosecution of separate actions by individual members of the Class would create a risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications, which would establish incompatible standards of conduct for the defendants in this action.
153. Plaintiffs anticipate that there will be no difficulty in the management of this litigation. A class action is superior to other available methods for fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy. Accordingly, Certification of the plaintiff class is appropriate under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules 23(b)(1), (2) and/or (3).
XVIII. LEGAL AND EQUITABLE TOLLING & ESTOPPEL
154. Plaintiffs legal right to seek compensation for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Second World War is preserved by the Convention on the Non- Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity (26 November 1968) and accordingly, there are no statutory limitations on claims of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.
155. Furthermore, plaintiffs legal right in general to seekcompensation for property seized during the Second World War was deferred by the London Debt Settlement Agreement of 1953 until November 7, 1997 when the German court ruled that the Treaty on the Final Settlement with Germany had lifted the moratorium upon individual claims for compensation for Second World War losses. Accordingly, statutes of limitation upon claims for compensation for Second World War losses were tolled by operation of treaty from 1953 through November 7, 1997.
156. As to the Ustasha Treasury and the related post war claims against the defendant, the earliest date the class members would have been made aware of their potential rights coincided with the publication of the US State Department Eizenstat Report on The Fate of the Wartime Ustasha Treasury in June 1998. Prior to June 1998 class members were unaware of the extent of defendants misconduct, having been denied access to vital information essential to pursue the stated claims as a result of defendants fraudulent, willful, and intentional concealment of its misconduct as well as the classification of vital information by the United States government, without any fault or want of diligence or due care on the part of plaintiffs or defendants victims. Thus the earliest possible date a statute of limitation could apply would be three years from June 1998 for domestic plaintiffs and 10 years from June 1998 for Alien Tort Statute plaintiffs.
157. Evidence of the extent of the defendants participation in wrongdoing has more fully come to light in recent years as a result of the disclosure of archived and declassified documents in the United States, Germany, and other countries, as well as from the reports of several commissions and/or task forces created in the United States, Germany, and other countries, much of which information was not available prior to the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. The 2005-2006 deposition of former Army Counter Intelligence Special Agent William Gowen, who in 1946-1947 investigated the issues contained herein, has also provided many unknown details in the form of his sworn testimony. Additionally, the emerging criminal case against former Croatian General, Vladimir Zagorec, and the so called diamond affair in Zagreb has provided further details as to the dispersal of and whereabouts of the remaining assets of the Ustasha treasury in the 1990s.
158. Moreover, knowing that its behavior violated international law, at no time since the end of Second World War has defendant made any reasonable attempt to compensate plaintiffs and members of the Class for their injuries and losses. Such failure should estop defendants from interposing any time bar defense to these claims.
159. Additionally, no statute of limitations has begun to run on the equitable causes of action stated herein because defendants' misconduct is continuing; defendants have not made any reasonable attempt to disgorge their illicit profits, account for property, return property, acknowledge their wrongdoing or otherwise compensate or make amends to class members. Defendant has continued to reap profits as a result of its actions and has refused all requests by plaintiffs for an accounting of the funds in question. Defendant is therefore estopped from interposing any type of time bar defense to these equitable claims.
XIX. CAUSES OF ACTION
FIRST CAUSE OF ACTION -ACCOUNTING
160. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, the allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
161. Defendant has never accounted for or paid the value of plaintiffs property or the profits which defendants have derived from that property since end of the Second World War.
162. As a result of the value of their property having been forcibly taken from them, against their will and without just payment by defendants, plaintiffs have been unable to use or invest those assets.
163. Defendant has had actual notice of plaintiffs demand for an accounting and refuses to conduct an accounting.
164. As a result of defendants aforesaid wrongful acts and omissions, plaintiffs have been injured and damaged and demand the equitable remedy of accounting.
SECOND CAUSE OF ACTION-CONVERSION
165. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, the allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
166. As a result of defendants failure and refusal to account for, acknowledge and pay to plaintiffs the value of the property taken, defendants, and each of them, have willfully and wrongfully misappropriated and converted the value of that property and its derivative profits into their own property.
167. As a result of defendants wrongful acts and omissions, plaintiffs have been injured and damaged and demand restitution and judgment against defendants, in an amount to be determined at trial.
168. Defendants conduct described herein was undertaken by the defendants officers, agents, or co-venturers. The aforesaid conduct of said managing agents and individuals was therefore undertaken for and on behalf of defendant. Said defendant further had advance knowledge of the actions and conduct of the individuals whose actions and conduct were ratified, authorized and approved by defendants managing agents and by other officers, directors or managing agents.
THIRD CAUSE OF ACTION -UNJUST ENRICHMENT
169. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, the allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
170. Defendant received, retained and made use of stolen property given to them by members of the Ustasha Regime, which rightfully belongs to plaintiffs.
171. Defendant has failed to account for and/or pay to plaintiffs the value of their property and profits derived therefrom.
172. As a result of defendants wrongful acts and omissions, defendant has been unjustly enriched to the detriment of plaintiffs.
173. Plaintiffs therefore demand restitution and judgment against defendants in an amount to be determined at trial, together with interest, attorneys fees, and the costs of this action.
FOURTH CAUSE OF ACTION -RESTITUTION
174. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, the allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
175. Plaintiffs goods and property have been taken, thus denying plaintiffs the use and enjoyment thereof; defendants have wrongfully used and profited from that property; and compensation in damages is inadequate in that the property taken cannot be replaced and the harm inflicted cannot be undone by mere compensation.
176. As a result of defendants wrongful acts and omissions, plaintiffs have been injured and damaged and demand equitable remedies including restitution.
FIFTH CAUSE OF ACTION-VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
177. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, the allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
178. Defendant, by dealing in property looted by the Axis and as agent of a Axis nation, violated customary international and treaty law actionable in this Court as federal common law and the law of nations as evidenced by various sources including but not limited to: The Hague Convention of 1907, The Treaty of Versailles (1919), The United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Multilateral Declaration on Forced Transfers of Property in Enemy Controlled Territory of 1943, London Declaration, 943 U.S.T. LEXIS 188; 3 Bevans 754; and the Multilateral Gold Policy of 1944 between the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union, 1944 U.S.T. LEXIS 149; 3 Bevans 889.
179. As a result of the value of their property having been forcibly taken from them, against their will and then converted, concealed, and utilized without just payment by defendants, plaintiffs have been unable to use or invest those assets.
180. As a result of defendants aforesaid wrongful acts and omissions, plaintiffs have been injured and damaged and demand the equitable, declaratory, and such other relief which is available to them under the applicable principles of international law. Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgement setting forth the violations of international law by defendant and that the defendant had scienter that its actions were wrongful.
SIXTH CAUSE OF ACTION -REPLEVIN & SAFEKEEPING
182. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate herein, as though fully set forth, allegations of all preceding paragraphs of the Complaint.
183. To the extent plaintiffs unique personal property is still readily identifiable and in the wrongful possession of defendant, plaintiffs request the property be restored to them along with the costs of restoration and that such property be immediately delivered up to the Court for safekeeping until the conclusion of this litigation.
184. To effect safekeeping by the Court during the pendency of this litigation, plaintiffs request a preliminary list of moveable property in the possession of OFM, its agents and subdivisions with its provenance in wartime Yugoslavia, be provided immediately and a list of any diamonds, gold or gems transferred by OFM to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zagreb by OFM since 1945.
XX. PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs pray that the Court:
1. Certify this action as a class action pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, and designate named plaintiffs as the class representatives and counsel for plaintiffs as Class counsel.
2. Declare that defendant had scienter of the origins of the Ustasha Treasury as the fruits of genocide which had been obtained through systematic persecution, torture, slave labor, looting, and murder of Serbs, Jews, Roma and others and defendant, by trafficking in, laundering, retaining, hypothecating, profiting from, disposing of and concealing assets looted from persecuted targets of the Ustasha Regime, violated international treaties and customary international law and treaty law enforceable in this Court as federal common law, the law of the nations and international law.
4. Declare that the defendant by concealing, converting, and laundering the Ustasha treasury for the partial benefit of the Ustasha exiles and fugitive war criminals, defendant became a co-venturer with war criminals.
5. Order defendant to make available all information relating to the Ustasha Treasury including the inflows to the defendants and outflows from the defendants of such assets; with a particular view to establishing the existence and/or ultimate disposition of assets held by defendants belonging to Holocaust Victims; and in order that an accounting of assets may be realized.
6. Direct defendants to catalog and return all remaining identifiable property looted from plaintiffs and received by defendants.
7. Award plaintiffs the value of any identified property or their aliquot share of property deposited by, or looted from, Holocaust Survivors and received by or transferred to defendants, plus interest compounded annually since received by defendants but in no event earlier then June 1, 1945.
8. Award plaintiffs compensatory and punitive damages arising out of defendants unlawful behavior in trafficking in, retaining, disposing and concealing Looted Assets or profits of the Ustasha Regime with knowledge that the assets or profits were the fruits of Ustasha violations of international law and were used to assist war criminals to evade justice and propagandize on behalf of the Ustasha exiles.
9. Order defendant to disgorge any profits earned by trafficking in, disposing of, or concealing the Ustasha Treasury which were the fruits of violations of international law.
10. Order replevin of any identifiable personal property of plaintiffs still in possession of defendant.
11. Grant plaintiffs a jury trial on all issues so triable.
12. Award plaintiffs the costs of this action, including attorney and expert fees; and other reasonable expenses,
13. Grant such other and further relief as shall seem just to the Court.
DATED: April 14, 2009. Respectfully submitted...
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