Chairman of firm that built battleships for Hitler to head Vatican bank

Last Updated: Sat, Feb 16, 2013 11:00 hrs

The Vatican authorities have appointing as the new head of its bank a German Catholic who is chairman of a company that used to make warships for Adolf Hitler.

Filling the vacant post was one of the last major acts of Benedict XVI's papacy, but there was dismay when it was revealed to be Ernst von Freyberg, the chairman of a Hamburg shipyard that makes frigates and destroyers.

Not only this, his company, Blohm+Voss Group, was a major producer of battleships and U-boats for Hitler's regime, the Telegraph reports.

According to the paper, Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said von Freyburg was a committed Roman Catholic, a member of the Knights of St John of Malta chivalric order that was founded during the Crusades, and had been chosen from among 40 candidates.

He initially claimed that Blohm+Voss was involved only in civil engineering projects.

But he later released a statement acknowledging that the company made warships, and was currently building four frigates for the German navy, the paper said.

The Vatican bank, formerly known as the Institute for Religious Works, has been leaderless since its former head, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was unceremoniously sacked last May, for reasons that are still murky. (ANI)

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