ROME – The body of convicted Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke was buried in the long-abandoned cemetery of a prison in Rome.
La Repubblica reported Thursday that the former Nazi SS captain, who died Oct. 11 at the age of 100, was buried late last month in a grave marked only by a number on a simple cross. The name of the prison was not disclosed.
Priebke had been serving a life sentence for his role in one of the Nazis’ worst World War II atrocities in Italy, the March 1944 mass execution of 335 civilian men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves near Rome in reprisal for a partisan attack that killed 33 German soldiers. About 75 of the victims were Jews.
Both the city of Rome and the Catholic Church barred a public funeral service in Rome for Priebke, and his body was held at a military airport near Rome. Italy and Priebke’s native Germany opposed his burial in a public place, fearing that it could become a place of pilgrimage for neo-Nazis.
Priebke’s death sparked waves of outrage in Italy’s Jewish community because, in a final statement issued by his lawyer upon his death, Priebke denied that Jews were gassed in Nazi death camps.
In a separate video statement, Priebke also defended his actions at the Ardeatine Caves, saying the orders to shoot the civilians came from Adolf Hitler himself and that members of his SS unit were told they would be shot if they didn’t obey.
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