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

Sunni-Shi’ite Divide Threatens Middle East Stability

Analysts say ancient dispute that traces back to Islamic Revolution is fueling modern day unrest More

Shifting Demographics Lie Beneath Racial Tensions in Ferguson

As Missouri suburb morphed from majority white to majority black, observers say power structure remained static More

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Restriction is toughest since Soviet era, though critics reject move as patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid