Italian outrage after Germany closes file on 1944 Nazi massacre

ROME -- Italian survivors of a wartime Nazi massacre expressed outrage Tuesday, a day after a German court declined to prosecute the alleged perpetrators - who have already been convicted in Italy.

An Italian military court sentenced to life 10 members of the Nazi party's military arm, the Waffen SS, for the 1944 killing of 560 residents of the hill town of Sant'Anna di Stazzema in Tuscany. Italy's highest appeal court upheld those convictions in 2007.

But on Monday prosecutors in Stuttgart said the evidence to try in Germany the eight SS suspects who are still alive would only have sufficed for lesser charges, which were barred by the long elapse of time.

Italy convicted them in absentia, since Germany's constitution bars extradition of its own citizens.

"Germany always says that we must do our homework on the economy. But also our German friends should do theirs on history," 75-year-old Enio Mancini told the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"There is no logic in this, it is not fair," 86-year-old Cesiria Pardini was quoted as saying by the left-wing Il Fatto newspaper. Her mother and two sisters were among the victims of the Nazi massacre.

Mancini's relatives and childhood friends were also killed. He was saved by a German soldier who fired in the air instead of shooting him. After the war, he was given a medal by German authorities.

"I will now give it back to the (German) federal government because this acquittal is a scandal," he said.

The secretary general of the Italian foreign ministry spoke about the matter with German Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Georg Link, who is in Rome to attend celebrations for the anniversary of Germany's reunification.

Link, a statement said, was told that "while respecting the independence of the German justice system," it was not possible "to ignore that such a decision causes deep dismay and renewed suffering to Italians, not just survivors and relatives of the victims."

At least 107 of those killed in the August 12, 1944 atrocity were children.

Under Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, Italy was an ally of Nazi Germany in World War Two. But after Mussolini was deposed and Italy switched sides in 1943, Germany invaded the country and fought savagely against both partisans and the advancing Allies.

The 2008 film Miracle at Sant'Anna by US director Spike Lee also referred to the atrocity, sparking controversy over the suggestion that it was an act of retaliation against a partisan attack, rather than a premeditated massacre.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Join the conversation and share your voice.

Show Comments