Adelaide Institute






Erich Priebke


Anti- Germanism


“Justice left the court room and was replaced by Vengeance.”

Erich Priebke speaks on the background to his unlawful imprisonment in Rome

Deutsche Stimme, Nr. 1 Januar 2005. Translated by Fredrick Töben.


DS: Mr Priebke, wherefrom do you get your moral strength, unbroken and entering your 11th year of deprivation of liberty?


Priebke: I feel myself innocent of the charges laid against me because I considered the commanded retaliation to be legal – a severe war measure that all leading war powers during war have executed. Knowing that I am innocent gives me strength.


 DS: The impetus to your persecution was to have come from a teacher. Who was he? Is that so?


Priebke: Yes, that’s true. It was the secondary teacher Fritz Küper, whom I employed for our German-Argentinian School, and – contrary to our practice – I terminated his two-year contract. In anger to that and upon his return to Germany he defamed me and the whole school administration. His letter to Beate Klarsfeld is reproduced in full in our book.*


DS: The successive trials were initiated against you until the desired result was obtained. How do those three judgments differentiate themselves in their verdicts?


Priebke: The first trial lasted three months with 25 hearing days. Here the state counsel for the prosecution and the 20 lawyers acting on behalf of the co-plaintiff had ample opportunity to interrogate me, and especially to accuse me of the most diverse offenses, without offering any evidence whatsoever. They defamed and insulted me and a clique of useful idiots was always present to applaud them. On 1 August 1996 in the name of the Italian people three judges declared me a free man. At once the Jewish co-plaintiffs organized a massive protest action for many hours until the Italian Justice Minister, not having anything better to do, had me re-arrested. The following trials were conducted under the pressure of my persecutors – Justicia had left the courtroom and was replaced by Vengeance.


DS: Were you not a few years after the war ended – just like your earlier comrades at the branch office Rome of the same, lower or higher rank, and the same charge – acquitted by an Italian military tribunal? Didn’t the officer who led the shooting of the hostages in the Adriatic caves later resume his police duties and retire as a criminal investigation commissioner?


Priebke: Yes, in the trial against our commander Kappler, my five co-accused were acquitted of all charges, because they had to obey orders from above, and they held the revenge acts as legal. All accused of the Commando Rome were acquitted because we all had to follow the same orders. It is also true that the former officer appointed by Kappler returned after the war to his duties.



DS: As an ex-Hauptsturmführer, i.e. a former captain who received orders in the second last row you quasi advanced to the Führer's substitute.  How do you feel about that?



Priebke: You may perhaps know that here in Italy the judgment against me is hotly disputed. Often I am named as the “scapegoat” for what crimes the Germans are to have committed as chosen by my persecutors. They invented, organized and orchestrated the Case Priebke. As I soon as I recognized this I was determined not to let them get the better of me.


DS: If one recalls how they rage against you, then one recalls the dark Middle Ages – while the pronouncements of the powers-that-be in the third millennium drip of humanity, freedoms and Orwellian new-speak. Do you also see it like that?


Priebke: Yes, and I am sad that here in Rome, the centre of Catholic Christianity, in my case  “la misericordia”, Christian  mercy does not exist anymore.


DS: In the middle of the year you will be 92 years old. Your persecutors long ago had hoped for “the termination of the case Priebke” through the “biological final solution”. What are you doing to reach 100 years of age?


Priebke: For many years my wife and I lived according to the rules, which we thought were best for our health. When on 20 November 1995 I was forcefully separated from my beloved Alice, she was just as healthy as I was, but the separation hit her hard so that she suffered a shock that robbed her of her memory. When she recently died she did not have any physical frailties.  She died of despair on account of our separation at our advanced age and our family tragedy. I keep fit as best I can.


DS: You are still a German citizen. The federal Republic of Germany owes you a duty of care. What have the highest holders of office and their deputies done to get you released or to be amnestied?


Priebke: I have written this in many letters to my friends: Neither Kohl-Herzog nor Schröder-Rau lifted a finger for an old German citizen who without blame finds himself in distress in a foreign country.


DS: A few months ago your wife died in Argentina with whom you were married for 65 years. You did not see her again. Can you comment on that?


Priebke: It was my greatest wish once again to embrace my loyal partner for life. This wish was not to be fulfilled. Anyone can obviously imagine what I think about this and about my persecutors.


DS: Your first defence counsel, Avvocato Velio Di Rezze characterized you in one sentence: “E’  Signore – he is a gentleman”. You call your co-author Dr Giachini your “guardian angel” – in a sentence or two can you describe him using a profane concept, similarly to how your lawyer portrayed you?


Priebke: Many people say there are no coincidences, and everything has its reason. When Dr Giachini first tried to visit me in the military prison at Forte Boccea, I had already refused many applications for visits. I didn’t wish to see any of these people, who out of curiosity or for other personal reasons wished to see this “Ex-Nazi”. Not so Dr Giachini – he wrote out of “humanitarian grounds”, something I appreciated and that made me curious. In this way I found my guardian angel and my life saver – my faithful friend Paolo. What he has done and is doing for me cannot be conveyed in a few words.


DS: You live in the capital city of Christianity; the highest representative of this religion of charity and forgiveness, Pope John Paul II, is also the Bishop of Rome, that means he is also your Bishop because you are a Catholic. It appears he has never interceded on your behalf. Did anyone during Christmas offer to light up your dark imprisonment?


Priebke: In 1997 together with a priest friend of mine I wrote a letter to Pope John Paul II, and the friend also wrote a letter. Though we knew that both letters arrived safely, we never received a reply. Christmas cheer and happiness arrives in the form of the hundreds of letters and greeting cards that I receive from my many friends all over the world, but especially from Austria and Germany, and those many letters from my Italian sisters and brothers nearby.


DS: Mr Priebke, we thank you!




* Erich Priebke: Vae Victis. Autobiografia, now in German: Vae Victis. Die Autobiographie, 800 pages. Available from DS-Verlag, Postfach 100068, D-01571 Riesa, Germany.



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