33 of the Day: ARDEATINE CAVES MASSACRE
ROME (AP) — Italy on Wednesday marked the 70th anniversary of the roundup and deportation of Jews from Rome's ghetto amid turmoil over the late Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke and his Holocaust-denying final statement.
Priebke died Friday in Rome, where he was serving a life term for his role in the 1944 massacre of 335 civilians at the Ardeatine Caves outside the capital. It was one of the worst atrocities of Germany's World War II occupation of Italy.
His death unleashed a torrent of emotion because he left behind a testament in which he not only defended his actions but denied that Jews were gassed in Nazi concentration camps.
More on the cave massacre here. Seems like the Nazis were into 33...
On the following day, March 24, 1944, personnel from the headquarters of the Security Police and SD in Rome, led by SS Captain Erich Priebke and SS Captain Karl Hass, assembled 335 Italian male civilians near a series of man-made caves on the outskirts of Rome on the Via Ardeatina. The Fosse Ardeatine, or Ardeatine Caves, were the remnants of ancient Christian catacombs, and served as a convenient venue to carry out the reprisal shootings in secrecy and to conceal the bodies of the victims. Priebke and Hass had received orders to select the victims from prisoners who had already been sentenced to death; but the number of such prisoners fell well short of the 330 deaths required to meet the quota of the German reprisal plan.