Clashes Halt Nazi War Criminal's Funeral

Catholic extremists offer to hold service for Priebke
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2013 2:44 AM CDT
Clashes Halt Nazi War Criminal's Funeral
In this November 1995 file photo, former SS Capt. Erich Priebke waves to friends as he boards a plane in Argentina.   (AP Photo/Peter Franke, File)

(Newser) – The corpse of a Nazi war criminal is far from resting in peace in Italy: A hearse containing the body of Erich Priebke, who died last week while under house arrest for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 Italian civilians, was attacked by protesters yesterday as it approached the church of a Catholic splinter group that had agreed to hold a funeral for him, the Guardian reports. Riot police moved in as clashes broke out between protesters and Nazi sympathizers, and Priebke's lawyer later said the funeral had been delayed because family and friends had not been allowed to enter the church.

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A spokesman for the ultra-conservative Society of Pius X—which has often been accused of racist and anti-Semitic leanings—described Priebke as "a friend of mine, a Christian, a faithful soldier," reports the BBC. The group offered to hold a funeral for the war criminal at its headquarters on the outskirts of Rome after the Vatican banned every Catholic church in the city from holding it. It's not clear what will happen to Priebke's body after the funeral: Rome won't let him be buried there, Argentina, where he lived peacefully for nearly 50 years after the war, has refused to take his body, and his hometown in Germany says it doesn't want him back. (Read more Erich Priebke stories.)

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