Evil from beyond the grave: Nazi war criminal shows no remorse for 1944 massacre of 300 Italian men in video shown after his death

  • Eric Priebke was serving a life sentence 1944 massacre of Ardeatine Caves
  • Claims he would have been killed if he had not killed the men and boys
  • Says carrying out the execution style murders was a 'terrible' experience

By Hannah Roberts

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The Nazi war criminal, who died aged 100 last week, has spoken from beyond the grave in a video released posthumously by his lawyer.

Former SS captain Eric Priebke was serving a life sentence in Rome for his part in the 1944 massacre of the Ardeatine Caves.

Nazi officers rounded up and shot more than 300 Italian men and boys in a reprisal attack for the killing of German soldiers by resistance fighters.

It is considered the worst atrocity of World War II on Italian soil.

The Nazi war criminal, who died aged 100 last week, has spoken from beyond the grave in a video released posthumously by his lawyer.

Spoken from the grave: Eric Priebke the Nazi war criminal, who died aged 100 last week, has spoken from beyond the grave in a video released posthumously by his lawyer

The tape will bring little solace to the relatives of those who died.

 

In the footage, recorded before he died, Priebke continues to show no remorse, claiming instead that if he had refused to follow the orders he would have been executed alongside his victims.

Incredibly, Priebke even attempts to solicit pity, by describing the reality of having to carry out the execution style murders as a ‘terrible’ experience, for him more so than others who had more experience with death.

He said: ‘Like for anyone else it was terrible to have to do such a thing. Captain Schultz the organiser, had fought in Russia against the Red Army, so he was more used to death, but for others like me and my colleagues it was a terrible thing.’

It would have been unthinkable to refuse the direct order from the Fuhrer, Priebke claimed. ‘Naturally it was impossible to refuse. Schultz said it was an order from Hitler and we had to carry it out. He said if anyone didn’t want to do it they may as well line up with those who were to be executed. There was no other way.’

Removed

The coffin of Priebke was taken to a military airport near Rome after the funeral was halted

Transferred:

Transferred: The van with Erich Priebke's coffin leaves from the town for the airport

Refusing to make any apology for his crimes, Priebke instead blamed the resistance fighters, for provoking the attack.

The partisans were fully aware of the consequences, he said. ‘What happened in Via Rasella was that the CAP the communists attacked a troop of German police. They did this knowing there would be a reprisal.

'The commander when he arrived in Rome had put on the wall warnings that any attack against Germans would meet with a reprisal. They knew that and they did it anyway.’

The tape was released, as an extract of much more extensive footage, by lawyer Paolo Ghiachini as a battle raged over Priebke's final burial place.

Violent protests by Jewish and anti-fascist groups had disrupted his funeral in Italy.

And Priebke’s birth town of Hennigsdorf in South Germany had claimed they only offered burial to residents.

Undecided:

Undecided: The Pratica di Mare military airport, near Rome, where the coffin of the German war criminal Erich Priebke has been taken

nger: People protest as the car with the body of Erich Priebke arrives at the church of Lefebvriani

Anger: People protest as the car with the body of Erich Priebke arrives at the church of Lefebvriani

Violence: Locals and anti-fascist protesters show their disgust as the car with the body of Erich Priebke arrives at the church in Albano Laziale, Italy

Violence: Locals and anti-fascist protesters show their disgust as the car with the body of Erich Priebke arrives at the church in Albano Laziale, Italy

Anger: Hundreds of people shouted 'murderer' and 'executioner' jeered the coffin of Priebke as it arrived for a funeral Mass in the Roman suburb

Anger: Hundreds of people shouted 'murderer' and 'executioner' jeered the coffin of Priebke as it arrived for a funeral Mass in the Roman suburb

Argentina’s foreign minister said accepting the body would be ‘an affront to human dignity’

Priebke’s coffin was on Friday awaiting a decision at the a military airport in Rome. Ghiachini said that it was ‘possible’ that the corpse would be buried in Germany.

The former Nazi was casually dressed for the interview at his home in an open necked blue shirt and black waistcoat.

Priebke who speaks in fluent Italian appears lucid and articulate.

It is not clear when the tape was recorded.

Text that flashed onto the screen at the beginning says the subject of the interview is his autobiography Vae Victis (Woe to the Vanquished) which was published in 2003.

Justice served: The former SS captain died on Friday aged 100, serving a life sentence after his 1996 conviction(pictured)

Justice served: The former SS captain at his 1996 conviction

Former SS Nazi officer Eric Priebke died at his home in Rome this week

A row has raged for days over the officer's last burial place after because authorities fear the grave could become a site of pilgrimage for his neo-Nazi fanbase

Italian King Victor Emanuel III, (right) Adolf Hitler (centre) and Benito Mussolini (left)

Fascist followers: Italian King Victor Emanuel III, (right) Adolf Hitler (centre) and Benito Mussolini (left)

Priebke started his career as a teenage waiter working all over Europe including the Italian Riviera and a happy stint between 1933 and 1935 at the Savoy.

He later told friends of the exhilaration of watching the Silver Jubilee of George V.

He joined the Gestapo as a translator where he was swiftly promoted and posted to Rome. At the end of the war he was captured by Allied troops but escaped from a British POW camp on New Year’s Eve 1947.

He fled to Argentina where he ran a delicatessen and lived openly until tracked down and interviewed by an American journalist.

In 1995 he was deported to Italy and given a life sentence. Because of his age he was allowed to serve his time under house arrest at the home of his lawyer.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

May he rot in hell. His corpse should be cremated & his ashes scattered over the sea

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Maybe he didn't show any remorse because he thought he was doing his duty, just like bomber Harris who liquidated 150,000 civilians in 2 nights of bombing over the city of Dresden. I guess it's all a matter of perception.

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It was a war, and he was following orders.

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How many British and US soldiers have stood up against he outrages they have carried out over the years........very few.

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I'll say it again RIP Erich.

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He is completely correct. He would have been shot if he refused his orders. He was in the German Army not the Women's Institute.

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I support him 100%, it was him or them. If he did not carry out orders he would have been shot - he had a hard decision to make - but I would have done the same thing. It was a WAR - how on earth can you have war crimes - its not a board game.

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