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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More