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|
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.