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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid