While suspected war criminal Ratko Mladic has been captured in Serbia after fifteen years on the run, another group of war criminals from seven decades ago escaped justice through the help of some unlikely benefactors.

According to a new book, the Vatican helped thousands of Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann and Dr. Josef Mengele, escape justice after the end of World War II.

Gerald Steinacher, a research fellow from Harvard University, makes the accusations in his new book Nazis On The Run: How Hitler's Henchmen Fled Europe.”

According to media reports, Steinacher based much of his research on unpublished documents held by the Red Cross which discussed a chaotic scenario in a devastated Europe in which millions of people became homeless and displaced – a perfect environment for Nazis to flee.

He estimates that about 8,000 members of the dreaded SS fled to the UK and Canada by using travel documents inadvertently issued to them by the Red Cross. However, the largest number of Nazis escaped to Spain (ruled by the Fascist Francisco Franco) or to South America (where Mengele and Eichmann and many others ended up).

The Vatican, which has never publicly discussed its wartime activities, was far more culpable.

The book speculates that perhaps due to a desire to maintain and Christian Europe (and of a grave fear of Communist Russia), the Vatican provided Nazi criminals with false identity documents through its refugee commission.