Controversy Over Nazi War Criminal, Erich Priebke, Who Died at 100 Years Old

Protesters show their anger during Erich Priebke's Funeral Procession
Protesters show their anger during Erich Priebke’s Funeral Procession

Italian officials seized the coffin of 100 year old Erick Priebke, the war criminal who was under house arrest in Rome. The coffin was taken to a military base for the time being. The funeral which was to be held in Albano Laziale, just south of Rome; however, it was cancelled due to growing conflicts between protesters and nazi sympathizers.

Priebke had previously lived in Argentina for 50 years until 1994, when Priebke was tracked down in Argentina by an American journalist. He was then extradited to Italy. In 1998, he was sentenced to life in prison due to the crimes he committed.

Priebke implored the Italian Government to change his sentence because he was too old and too sick to go to jail. The courts relented and subjected the man to be under house arrest. Upon his death, Argentinian government denied Pribke’s wish to be buried next to his wife. His German home town refused the body also, in fear that his grave may become a gathering point for Neo-Nazis. Despite this news, a member of the German foreign ministry stated that there was no laws that prevented a German who had died abroad to be buried in Germany. However, it was generally left to the next of kin to the deceased to decide.

On the day of his death, Priebke’s lawyer released a video interview. In this video, Priebke admits to the role he had in the slaughter of 335 Italian civilians in 1944. In his defense, he said he was merely following orders given by Hitler. It was said that if he did not execute the civilians, then he would have to join them and be executed as well.

The Vatican had placed a ban on any Catholic Church to conduct the funeral for the war criminal, but a Catholic splinter group, Society of St. Pius has since offered to hold the funeral.

Source and read more: BBC

Evette Champion

Evette Champion is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE