leading Nazi-hunter at a Jewish rights group said on
Tuesday that the body of an ex-SS captain at the center
of a diplomatic wrangle should be cremated.
Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, said
the body of Erich Priebke should “share the fate of millions
of the Nazis’ victims, who have no grave to cry to.”
Priebke died at age 100 in
Rome last Friday while serving a life sentence under
house arrest. His body has become something of a diplomatic
His birthplace in Germany
became on Tuesday the third place, after Rome and Argentina,
to reject the idea that he could be buried there, fearful
it would energize neo-Nazi sentiment.
But Zuroff -- who compiles a yearly list of the “most wanted” living Nazis and
attempts to bring them to justice -- said the solution
“Burn the body and scatter the ashes,” he said.
“The last thing anyone wants
is for his grave to turn into a shrine for the neo-Nazis,
and we have to remember he was a totally unsympathetic
Nazi who showed no remorse for the murders he committed.
“Why shouldn't he share the
share the fate of millions of the Nazis' victims, who
have no grave to cry to and no place to grieve?”
Priebke was serving a life sentence under house arrest for his part in the killing
of 335 civilians in 1944 near Rome. He admitted his role
in what was Italy’s worst wartime massacre and never
He also claimed the Holocaust was an invention by Western powers to cover up
their own human rights atrocities.
Priebke’s lawyer, Paolo Giachini,
told Reuters on Sunday that the family would be seeking
a burial in Rome as soon as possible.
But authorities in the Italian
capital were quick to reject this, with left-leaning
mayor Ignazio Marino saying it would be an insult to
the city, according to several reports.
Argentina, where Priebke lived
after the war and where his wife is buried, has also
refused to allow his body to be buried there.
This prompted growing speculation
that Priebke could be buried in his German hometown of
Hennigsdorf, near Berlin.
Martin Schaefer, a German
foreign ministry spokesman, told the Associated Press
that the family has not yet put in a request to bury
Priebke in Germany. But officials in Hennigsdorf said
on Tuesday that they have rejected any suggestion he
could be laid to rest there, following fears his grave
could become a shrine for neo-Nazis.
To mark Priebke's 99th birthday
last year around 40 neo-Nazis wearing masks of his face
held a torch-lit ceremony in his hometown.
"We don't have
to bury Priebke in Hennigsdorf and we will not do it," a town hall spokeswoman told Reuters.
They added that as there was
no evidence that members of his family were buried there,
the town had no obligation to take him.