Italians rioted and shouted “murderer” as the hearse carrying the body of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke made its way to a Rome church for his funeral.
The funeral was held Tuesday after the local police chief overruled an order by Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino banning a funeral in the city for Priebke, who died there last week at 100.
The funeral was held by the Society of St. Pius X, a Catholic order whose representatives have charged contemporary Jews with deicide and whose bishop, Richard Williamson, has made statements denying the Holocaust. Priebke’s body was to be cremated.
Earlier Tuesday, Jorge Priebke said his father can be buried in Israel, “so that they will be happy,” referring to Jews.
Priebke, reacting to the rejections by Rome’s mayor to provide a venue for the funeral — as well as by Argentina and his father’s hometown in Germany — told the Italian news agency Ansa that his father was “a victim.”
“The case against my father is a forgery made by the Jews,” he said in a call to the newspaper from Buenos Aires. “Where should he be buried? To me Israel also would be good, so that they’re happy.”
Asked who “these people” were, he answered, “the same as we have been talking about,” meaning Jews.
Erich Priebke had served 15 years of a life sentence in Rome under house arrest for his involvement in one of Italy’s worst World War II Nazi atrocities — the March 1944 massacre of 335 men and boys, including about 75 Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome.
“It’s unfair,” Priebke added, referring to the controversy over the funeral. “Why don’t these people pay attention to what’s happening in the Middle East, in Syria, in Iran or even to the poor people of Lampedusa who die in the Mediterranean? But no, they always pick on someone [for things that happened] during wartime more than 60 years ago.”
A fringe Catholic organization decided this week to hold the funeral of Priebke at its church near Rome.
The Society of St. Pius X, a Catholic order whose representatives have charged contemporary Jews with deicide, and whose bishop, Richard Williamson, has made statements denying the Holocaust, announced that it would hold a funeral for Priebke at the Pius X Institute in the Italian town of Albano Laziale outside of Rome.
Rabbi Riccardo Pacifici, Rome’s chief rabbi, suggested Priebke be cremated and his ashes dispersed in the air, “like those of our grandchildren,” The Times of Israel reported.
“The Society of St. Pius X never fails to shock and this latest decision to honor Priebke with a funeral just reinforces their history of anti-Semitism,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor in a statement. “First they denied the Holocaust, and now they’re denying the acts of a perpetrator.”