Erich Priebke: Nazi Criminal, Funeral Sparks Protest


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Erich Priebke, a German Nazi war criminal, died last week. His body was being transported in order to hold a funeral for him, and was forced to be called off, due to the amount of controversy that surrounds the case. He recently died under house arrest, while serving a life sentence for the killing of more than 300 civilians. He was living out his sentence in Italy.

He was involved in very serious crimes, and many people were offended by his funeral taking place. There was a funeral planned for him in Albano Laziale, south of Rome, but it was called off on Tuesday. His body has already been denied by both Argentina, where he lived for nearly 50 years before being relocated to Italy, and his hometown in Germany.

Priebke was one of the SS officers who were in charge of overseeing the killing of men and boys at Rome's Ardeatine Caves in 1944. The event has been viewed as one of the worst massacres in Italy during World War II. The attack was a retaliation which resulted in Nazi forces killing 335 civilians, avenging an attack by resistance fighters that killed 33 members of a Nazi military police unit a day earlier.

Before his death, he admitted to shooting two people and rounding up victims, but like much of the other Nazis at the time, he claimed to have been simply following orders. He also never expressed any remorse for the victims or the crimes he committed.

The Vatican had issued an unprecedented ban on holding the funeral in any Catholic church in Rome, but the Society of St Pius X offered to hold the ceremony. The Society of St. Pius X likely agreed to do the ceremony in order to further distance themselves from the Vatican. When his coffin was being transported, protesters all around began chanting things like "murderer" and "executioner."

Erich Priebke's lawyer, Paolo Giachini, said that the ceremony had been stopped because the authorities had prevented friends and family entering, while Giuseppe Pecoraro, a senior official in the province asserted that "We had to cancel the funeral yesterday because there was a risk that it could have become a neo-Nazi demonstration."

He was 100 years old when he died.

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