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 burial by the fringe Catholic organization that stepped up to do the deed when several governments refused Priebke’s body.
One of those governments was the city of Rome, whose mayor, Ignazio Marino, banned a funer for Priebke, who died there last week at 100. But a local police chief overruled Marino’s order, and a funeral procession took place on Tuesday under the supervision of the Society of St. Pius X, a Catholic order whose representatives have charged contemporary Jews with deicide.
The service, however, did not take place, because police prevented those who wanted to attend from entering the church, according to reports. Priebke’s body was to be cremated.
Last week. after several venues refused to accept the former SS officer’s body for burial, Priebke’s son joked mordantly that his father be buried in Israel.
Priebke died Oct. 11 at 100 in Rome, where he had lived under house arrest since 1998 and where he, as an SS officer in 1944, was responsible for the massacre of Jewish 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Caves.
Argentina, where he fled after World War II; his hometown in Germany; and high-ranking officials in Rome’s government and the Vatican refused permission to serve as the site of Priebke’s burial, according to The Times of Israel.
“Where should my father be buried?” The Times of Israel quoted Priebke’s son, Jorge, as saying. “For me, even in Israel. That way they’d be happy.
“Why do they continue … to pick on someone from a war era that ended more than 60 years ago?” Jorge Priebke asked, according to the Times of Israel. “They should stop being such a pain in the neck; they are resentful; they’ve been a pain in the neck to the world since before Christ.”
Preibke, a captain in the SS, was convicted of war crimes in Italy for his role in the March 24, 1944 massacre, which was ordered in retaliation for an attack by Italian partisans that killed 33 German soldiers. The victims were killed inside the caves in groups of five, their hands tied behind their backs while they were shot in the neck.
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. “First they denied the Holocaust, and now they’re denying the acts of a perpetrator.”
JTA also contributed to this report.