As the hunt for escaped Nazi war criminal, Herbert Kappler, continues, there's been strong emotional reaction in Italy to his escape.
As the hunt for escaped Nazi war criminal, Herbert Kappler, continues, there's been strong emotional reaction in Italy to his escape. Already, a scheduled meeting between Italy's Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti and West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has been called off. Italian newspapers have roundly condemned the escape as a humiliating scandal, and some Italians have staged a protest march in Rome.
SYNOPSIS: The march was to end here, at the monument erected in the memory of three hundred and thirty-five Italians killed under Herr Kappler's orders during the German war-time occupation of Rome. Before the march began passers-by were handed petitions and information leaflets, telling them why they should join the protest. Newspapers have joined the outcry by running front-page editorials labelling kappler's escape as a humiliating scandal.
Police motorcyclists escorted the Mayor of Rome to the march-off point. He was to be joined there by the Mayor of the northern Italian town of Marzabotto. In 1944, withdrawing German troops. Another convicted Nazi war criminal, Walter Reder ordered a reprisal similar to Kappler's and over eighteen hundred people from Marzabotto were massacred. With the escape of Kappler, Reder is the only Nazi war criminal still in an Italian gaol. The two mayors walked slowly side by side as the massive wreath was carried towards the monument, which stands on the Via Ardeatina, the place where the killings ordered by the escaped Kappler were carried out.
While these people remembered in silence, diplomatic manoeuvres aimed at getting Kappler's return from West Germany ran into a stumbling block.
The West German constitution forbids the extradition of German citizens to any foreign country. Kappler could possibly be brought to trial in his homeland. But it's unlikely he would live to be sentenced. Kappler has cancer. Still, the Italian government has officially asked for his extradition, on the grounds that West Germany signed a 1957 European Extradition Convention. This plaque remembers those massacred, and some Italians are determined that Kappler will pay for that for ever.