Saturday, 12 October 2013

Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke is dead

Erich Priebke, a captain in the Waffen SS convicted of participating in the Andeatine caves massacre in Italy, has died under house arrest in Rome. He was 100.

After helping to co-ordinate the execution of 335 Italians on the outskirts of the Italian capital in 1944, Priebke fled to Argentina at the end of the war and lived for decades in Bariloche. He was "found" there in the '90s by a US film crew.* I say "found" because it doesn't seem to have been that hard. According to the Telegraph, he was listed in the phone book!

Watch this clip (above), it's truly extraordinary. Priebke (speaking quite good English; it was his language skills which got him sent to Italy in the first place) shows little surprise and openly admits his involvement in the killing of civilians. However, he claims to have been just following orders and denies anti-Semitism. He concludes by accusing the journalist, Sam Donaldson, of not being a gentleman.

Argentine journalist Uki Goñi documented the case of Priebke in his book, The Real Odessa. He tweeted yesterday that Priebke attempted unsuccessfully to sue him twice over the material. He describes the case in more detail here. Priebke was also the subject of a documentary, Pacto de silencio, which you can see here.

Foreign minister Hector Timerman apparently says that Priebke's body will not be welcome back in Argentina, to be buried next to his late wife.

For judgement on Priebke, a clear and dignified statement - cited in the Guardian - from
Riccardo Pacifici, president of Rome's Jewish community:
"Over Priebke's death there will be no tears and there will be no laughter because neither of these will bring the victims back to life.... There remains bitterness towards a person who never repented for what he did and who dirtied his hands with blood like all the Nazi troops. Now his victims are waiting for him up there in the hope that there will be divine justice."

Erich Priebke (The Telegraph)
Nazi SS captain Erich Priebke dies at 100 in Rome (The Guardian)
Argentina refuses body of Nazi war criminal Priebke (BBC)
El criminal nazi Erich Priebke murió a los 100 años (Telam)
Murió Erich Priebke, ex oficial nazi que se ocultó en Bariloche (La Nacion)
Desde Bariloche a Roma y de ahí al infierno (Pagina/12)

*Apparently an Argentine writer found him there before the US interview.

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