Monday, October 21

Captain Priebke: like Captain Phillips but in the Garbage Barge

If it's true that 'Only the good die young', well then former Nazi and clearly not-so-good Christian Erich Priebke who died on October 11th, 2013 at the ripe old age of 100 is the poster boy for that sentiment.  I first learned of Priebke when visiting the Fosse Ardeatine - the Ardeatine ditches, the site of a WWII massacre conducted under the direction of a certain Captain Priebke.  I always take people there - it's the closest you can come to feeling the horror and randomness of war.  I really never gave much thought as to whether the man responsible was still alive.  Not only was he alive, he was clearly well-off, imbibing in fine Italian wines compliments of the countrymen that he had slaughtered.  
Although he'd been extradited to Italy from Argentina only in the late 1990s (following a US News report), he'd been shuttling in and out of courts while claiming he was merely following orders ever since.  Because of his age, he more or less got a slap on the wrist for his efforts.  And so I thought it was peculiarly astounding when, in death, the Vatican (the very country that gave him his 'Get out of Jail Free' card; issuing him a passport to Argentina back in 1946, with an Argentinian Pope would have refused a funeral and burial in the church. The story gets even stranger when a priest of Jewish origin and 'friend of the good Christian soldier, Priebke' decided he would hold a funeral for him in Albano -- in the shadows of the Pope's summer residence. 
Priebke had requested to be buried back in Argentina with his wife.  But the Argentines wouldn't hear of it.  The coffin seemed to be going from one town to the next, rejected here, rejected there.  One day, he'd be sent supposedly to Germany; the next, the German Embassy would report they had not been contacted at all.
All the shenanigans started to remind me of New York City's 1987 Garbage Barge...the little tugboat that couldn't -- aimlessly wandering from port to port, with no one taking the trash.  It's an amazing story now being re-examined on the New York Times' RetroReport - a fantastic look into the stories of our day (at least the days of those of us born before the 1980s, that is).  While Priebke claimed he was being blamed for all of the Nazi atrocities of WWII, it is true that from an Italian point of view, he did command thousands to their demise.  The last time I checked into the news, his body was in a hangar at Rome's airport, with his family saying he had been sequestered.
While Fascist sympathizer scuffled with anti-fascists, one person tweeted about the hypocrisy.  Let's face it-how many hundreds of thousands did Bush/Cheney kill in their quagmire of Iraq?  Or how many innocents have perished under President Obama's drones?  Why, indeed, draw the line on a 100 yr old former Nazi?  
Or to 'InHouse arrest' in a Central Roman villaPhoto Credit:  Urban MediaLab Waste
I thought he might be better off with a Burial at Sea, since Italy didn't want any memorials that would attract fascist worshippers. The compromise, is that Priebke will be buried in an 'undisclosed location'.  

Dan Rather called the Barge to Nowhere travails "The most-watched load of garbage in the memory of man."  We've since been outdone in that department, what with the Great Pacific Garbage patches, the Naples garbage overflows, and the closing of Europe's largest landfill, Rome's Malagrotta [with no announcement of new candidates for openings...].  As for Priebke, he will be gone, but hopefully not forgotten to the scrap heap of war crimes.  

For some cool pics of Garbage Barges floating up & down the East River in NYC, click here.

5 comments:

Dave514 said...

"Let's face it-how many hundreds of thousands did Bush/Cheney kill in their quagmire of Iraq? Or how many innocents have perished under President Obama's drones? Why, indeed, draw the line on a 100 yr old former Nazi?"

What about condemning all Germans for the 30,000 plus thousands killed in the Blitz. What about blaming FDR Churchill and De Gaulle for the thousands killed in Dresden etc.

You Socialist have much to learn. Your parents and grand parents were doing all of the above.

You really piss me off with your screwed up comparisons.

Francesca Maggi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave514 said...

So you would have gone after Bomber Harris would you? On what basis?

Dave514 said...

On what basis would you charge Bush and Cheney?

Dave514 said...

You really must read and learn history. There were a number of massacres by the Germans for which they were held accountable.

I do hope you're not equating the loss of civilian life in war as the same as that of Pribke.

Collateral Damage, ie civilian deaths are not the same as deliberate retaliation against civilians, that's why we had the Neurenberg Trials.