A German SS-officer, Erich Priebke, had been captured in an Italian prison Regina Coel and since that he has been in house-arrest, without any sort of human rights – 13 years.Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke was condemned of a “crime” when he served as a legal German army officer, true to his oath he had given for the Deutschen Reich. As a soldier he followed the orders, according to the legal rights under the reign of martial law.

So did – and still do – the soldiers of other countries in combat. But Erich Priebke’s crime was that he was on the opponent side to the winning forces of war, on the side of the defeated. None of the winners had ever been punished, although they did the same, and even more, what in Priebke’s case, since defeated, was regarded as a crime – not by justice, but by hateful revenge.

In March 1944, Marshall Kesselring ordered the so called retaliation of Ardeatine and punished the criminals who committed a terrorist strike against German soldiers. Marshall Kesselring was not punished after the war, neither were other. But most of all: Remember honestly and seriously what happens right now in our days in the name of “war against terror”!

It is pure injustice and nothing but a hateful shame and a disgrace for any civilised nation to punish only one soldier of a “crime” and keep him as a prisoner – now, that it’s been 61 years since the end of war, now, that this brave and truthful man is turning 93 years old! We still have to remember that Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke did nothing but follow his given orders, which again followed the laws of the Deutsche Reich as well as they followed the international martial law.

After the war Erich Priebke moved to Argentina, where he lived with his wife and children a honourable and honest life. After 50 years he was deported to Italy.

Hauptsturmführer Erich Priebke never denied his part in Ardeatine, but take it on consider, he acted as a soldier when he filled the orders, and he acted according the proven rights by martial law. Erich Priebke is still a prisoner of war by the Allied forces; He is Europe’s last prisoner of war and Europe’s oldest prisoner.

It is unreasonable and a cultural disgrace to keep some 93 years old man as prisoner and stop having him a possibility for honourable life. Most of all it is a shame for Italy, as far as Italy regards itself as a civilised country.

Remember how many German soldiers shed their blood and sacrificed their young lives fearlessly and bravely not for Germany, but for the interests and for the sake of Italy, which got itself in trouble in Africa and the Balkans – and Germans died there one by one for Italy! Now Italy displays it’s very “special style” of honour and thanks by keeping a 93 years old German soldier in captivity, more than 60 years after the war. Is this really the true face of the nation which is considered heir of the great Romans the world admires for culture and style?

As a young, 20 year old Finn, I’m fully aware that also my country got help from Germany, from the Wehrmacht and it’s soldiers, when it was in heavy troubles, in danger for it’s existence and the lives of our people. And just like Italy we eventually became “enemy” with Germany, but only by terms a weird and wicked twist in the fates of war and politics brought along.

Still it is not forgotten and never will be that Germany stood bravely and true on our side, scarifying their young soldiers’ lives, when Finland was in trouble. Unlike Italy, Finland never would sink that low, keeping a German soldier in captivity, one of them who risked their lives for ours and who’d done nothing that was not legalised by military orders and by martial law.

And never forget that the political tables of the world may turn quickly and thoroughly at any time soon. What if all the Italian soldiers who took part in the invasion and military operations against Iraq will be brought to court and are going to be sentenced as war criminals? Since now we know that the war against Iraq was based on pure lies and therefore was and is a solid war crime. That also means: unlike Erich Priebke this Italian soldiers were not legalised neither by martial law nor by any other international law. Think of that!

I hope this petition affects you in the way that you are willing to have an influence for Erich Priebke’s freedom and returning his honour. Remember that this man is going to turn 93 years old on July 29th – to see Erich Priebke set free by this day would most of all and after all turn out a benefit for the sake of Italy which otherwise surely is going to have a certain stain on it whenever the eyes of history look back onto our times. The hateful injustice against a 93 (!) year old man who’d done nothing but follow his given orders – just like all proper soldiers did and do anywhere at any time, also Italians – according the rights of martial law, and even over 60 years ago now, this injustice might please very few hateful but influential minds somewhere in the backgrounds now, but it surely will turn out a remaining shame for Italy in the countless eyes of all oncoming generations.

A friend of Erich Priebke,

H. E. H.

7th of June in 2006

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