No money for victims of 1943 Roccaraso massacre

A scene from the documentary film "The Blood of Limmari."

ROME - The Italian Foreign Ministry has sided with Berlin on the decision not to compensate victims in Roccaraso for atrocities committed by the Nazis in World War 2, according to news sources.

 From Nov. 16 to 21 1943, under the orders of the SS federal marshal Albert Kesselring, the entire village, bar one child, of Roccaraso was killed in the Limmari woods. The residents of the town were tortured, shot and burned alive. Only one child survived, seven-year-old Virginia Macerelli, hidden behind her mother’s body.

 On Nov. 2, 2016, the Italian Constitutional and Supreme Courts found Germany, as the host country of the Third Reich, guilty of war crimes. The Court of Sulmona, and the judge Giovanna Bilò, ruled that Germany should compensate the town with of the 128 victims, due to their murder by “hideous methods.” It was decreed that 1.6 million euros should be paid to the City of Roccaraso, with 5 million euros going to the heirs of the victims.

 The Court ruled that the massacre was carried out “by the leaders of the Germany army of such acts of murder, extermination, deportation, and violation of private life to the detriment of the civil population and with the declared aim of stopping any danger to German supremacy.”

 The German government has refused to pay heed to this outcome, and, the Italian Foreign Ministry has decided to side with them. Their reasoning is that this decision violates a 2012 Hague ruling that no state can be prosecuted from jurisdictions in other countries. However, this ruling is void if fundamental human rights have been violated. Arguably, the horrific killing of 128 people in a village could be said to be denying those people of their right to live.

 There is a reason why the Italian government would not want to receive compensation for the victims. This decision would set a precedent, that the Italians could be prosecuted, and forced to pay compensation, for war crimes committed by the Italian army during the war. This outcome, obviously, is to the detriment of the families of the victims in Roccaraso, and of other victims across the world. 

 Two professors have spoken to the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano, and expressed this opinion. Professor of International Law Dino Rinoldi said that “the government fears unpleasant treatment in Germany. It protects itself: it does not want tomorrow to be brought to trial elsewhere.” Professor of European Law Bernando Cortese agreed with this sentiment. “There are so many things that explain our reticence. Obviously, we are not just on the side of the victims.”