(JTA) — 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 procession 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 to be 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. But the funeral service did not take place, as police prevented those who wanted to attend from entering the church, according to reports.
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.”