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Nazi war criminal’s Argentine grandson allowed to drop surname

world Updated: Nov 17, 2015 10:47 IST
Nazi war criminal

A 1996 file photo, showing former Nazi officer, Erich Priebke, attending an hearing of his trial at the tribunal in Rome. The ex-SS captain was sentenced to life for the 1944 Ardeatine caves massacre in Italy.(AP Photo)

An Argentine grandson of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke has been granted permission to drop his grandfather’s surname from his official documents, media reports said on Sunday.

Tomas Erick Ramon Priebke Ortiz — who has now officially dropped the “Priebke” — began the process of changing his name two years ago, shortly after his grandfather’s death caused an international crisis over what to do with his body, which no country wanted.

Ortiz, 25, said at the time that the name itself “hurts people” and “has nothing to do with me”.

A judge in the southwestern resort city of Bariloche, where Ortiz lives, granted the request.

Priebke, who died in 2013 at the age of 100, was convicted of taking part in the 1944 massacre of 335 people — almost all of them innocent civilians — in the Ardeatine caves near Rome.

He was under house arrest in Rome when he died.

Fearing his grave could become a Nazi pilgrimage site, Italian authorities tried unsuccessfully to get Argentina or Germany to take his body, before finally having him buried in secret in a prison cemetery.

The Nazi was unrepentant to the end, and his grandson said he had no contact with him after he was extradited in 1995, then sentenced to life in prison three years later.

Numerous Nazi fugitives fled to Argentina after World War 2, including Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann and death camp doctor Josef Mengele.