News / Europe

Italian Jews Laud Protests Against Nazi War Criminal Burial

Anti-fascist demonstrators shout as an Italian police van carries the coffin of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, in Albano Laziale near Rome, Oct. 16, 2013.
Anti-fascist demonstrators shout as an Italian police van carries the coffin of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, in Albano Laziale near Rome, Oct. 16, 2013.
Reuters
The head of Rome's Jewish community praised Italian protesters who blocked the funeral of a convicted Nazi war criminal as Italy marked on Wednesday the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Jews from the Rome ghetto.
 
Erich Priebke's final resting place is now unclear after the protesters forced a suspension of his funeral on Tuesday in the Italian town of Albano Laziale. His body is lying at a military airport near Rome pending a decision from the authorities.
 
The former German SS officer died aged 100 last week in Rome, where he had been serving a life sentence under house arrest for his role in the killing of 335 civilians in 1944 in caves near the capital, one of Italy's worst wartime massacres.
 
At a ceremony in Rome's main synagogue, the head of Rome's Jewish community drew loud applause as he lauded the citizens and mayor of Albano Laziale for resisting Priebke's funeral.
 
“For this we feel proud to be Romans,” President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Pacifici, said at the event to mark the anniversary of the Nazis' rounding up of 1,000 Jews from Rome's centuries-old ghetto and their deportation to Auschwitz. Only 16 of them survived.
 
“I do not even want to say his [Priebke's] name, not to profane this sacred place,” said the head of Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna.
 
“He never repented of his crimes and repeated the most incredible arguments denying the Holocaust.”
 
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who attended the ceremony wearing the traditional Jewish cap, the kippah, said the event showed “great solidarity... between Catholics, Muslims, Jews, believers and non-believers”.
 
Priebke's body was moved to the military airport after anti-fascist protesters clashed with neo-Nazis on Tuesday in Albano Laziale outside the Italian headquarters of the Catholic Society of St Pius (SSPX), which had organized the funeral.
 
Christian burial
 
On Wednesday the SSPX, a fringe right-wing group which has strained ties with the Vatican, defended its decision to agree to hold the funeral for Priebke, saying a baptized Christian has the right to a proper burial “no matter what his sins”.
 
“We hereby reiterate our rejection of all forms of anti-Semitism and racial hatred,” the Italian branch of SSPX said.
 
The arch-traditionalist SSPX has been criticized for the extreme views of some of its members, including its former Bishop Richard Williamson, who embarrassed the Vatican by publicly denying the Holocaust.
 
Argentina, where Priebke lived after the war, has refused to accept the return of his body to be buried beside his wife.
 
Rome's mayor Ignazio Marino said his burial in the capital would be an “insult” and said he may seek help from the German government to find a solution.
 
Priebke's hometown in Germany has resisted a grave there, fearing it could become a neo-Nazi pilgrimage site.
 
A German foreign ministry spokesman told a regular news briefing on Wednesday he knew of no laws preventing a German citizen who had died abroad being buried in Germany, adding such matters were usually for the family of the deceased to sort out.
 
“It is in our interests that this case does not become something it shouldn't, namely an argument about the life of this man,” he added. “It would be nice if Mr. Priebke's remains could be laid to rest somewhere without it being used by anyone for political ends.”
 
Priebke was in charge of SS troops in March 1944 who executed civilians in the Ardeatine Caves in retaliation for the killings of 33 German soldiers by a partisan group.
 
Priebke was deported from Argentina to Italy after he was interviewed on U.S. television and admitted his role in the massacre, which he said had been conducted against “terrorists”.
 
He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy in 1998.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid