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Nine ageing Germans sentenced over Nazi massacres in Italy

The Local · 7 Jul 2011, 08:08

Published: 07 Jul 2011 08:08 GMT+02:00

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The convicted men were part of the "Hermann Göring" division which had tried to break the back of the Italian resistance and indiscriminately slaughtered civilians, including 140 in the Modena region alone, they said.

The sentences were also for massacres carried out in other parts of the Emilia Romagna region and near Arezzo in Tuscany.

The trial began in November 2010 after a five-year investigation. The accused were sentenced in absentia.

"Finally there has been justice for the victims and their relatives and a bloody page of history can be closed," plaintiff Demos Malavasi from Modena told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera. "Sixty-seven years have passed, but at least they didn't pass in vain," he added.

Judge Vincenzo Santoro, who read out the sentences in court, said charges had been dropped against three other men, now deceased.

But 90-year old Wilhelm Karl Stark, a sergeant at the time, was given a life sentence along with 93-year old Ferdinand Osterhaus, an second lieutenant, and 91-year old Helmut Odenwald, then a captain.

Herbert Wilke, 92, Erich Koeppe, 91 and Hans Georg Karl Winkler and Karl Friedrich Mess – both in their 80s – were also handed life sentences.

Story continues below…

Relatives of the victims who had travelled to the Verona court house along with local mayors, sat in the public gallery as the court ruled that the convicted men also pay them compensation, the Corriere reported.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

10:14 July 7, 2011 by Traveler33
So after 67 years they are going to convict these men? I'm not saying that people shouldn't pay for crimes they commit but lets be honest, 67 years have passed by and what credible evidence could their possibly be that these men actually committed the crimes they have been accused of. Just because someone served in a military unit in a region that this happened in doesn't mean all people in that unit are guilty.

It was WWII, a lot of crimes and murders were committed on both sides. I think Germany has paid its dues and should be allowed to move beyond its past.
10:41 July 7, 2011 by melbournite
These are individual people, not a country. Presumably the courts followed the correct legal procedure. Excusing yourself of a crime because someone else, somewhere else committed another crime is not really a legal defence that I know of.
14:29 July 7, 2011 by lunchbreak
So 67 years have passed so its alright then? Maybe we should give them flowers.
16:14 July 7, 2011 by catjones
@Traveler33. Apparently 'credible evidence' was presented since the men were found guilty. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes and the indictments were against men, not countries. Read up on the rule of law.
20:26 July 7, 2011 by Englishted

Germany has paid its dues and should be allowed to move beyond its past.

I and the three above agree on that but not the individuals who committed these timeless crimes.
15:41 July 8, 2011 by HistoryProffessor
Englishted, you are a smart man.

Agreed, those who did not and will never commit the atrocities of the NAZI regime should not still have to live under the shadow the gernations before them created. But like you said, war crims are timeless crimes especially mass killings of innocent people. Any NAZI who still lives should most definitely still be prosecuted. 67 years does not bring back 6 million jews or the countless others who were indiscriminately executed.
06:55 July 12, 2011 by agalland
History prof....not to start a big discussion,nor make excuses for the nazis,but I believe the number of 6 mill has been found to be inaccurate and confirmed by the jewish authorities themselves

Not trying to imply that a tragdy did not occur because the numbers differ,but I feel that when dealing with history which is rife with inaccuracies,it is best to avoid continuing to quote the inaccuracy.

A holocaust did occur, no doubt, but "correct"facts should matter if only for the sake of accurate history.

Cat Jones...we dont know that "credible evidence "was presented as I highly doubt that a "motivated counsel" was in court to refute what evidence was offered.

Pretty easy to convict someone when most witnesses are dead, or infirm, and the accused isnt even in the courtroom.

Show trial...period..so someone can say they were doing something.

Napolean said it best.."What is history but a fable agreed upon"

I am with you traveller 33...germany has paid more than its share in shame,and contrition.

Most everyone who held a gun in that war is dead and still everyone beats the "nazi" drum and continues to make people who werent even born continue to feel as if they are guility by being born in Germany.

Stalin and Mao easily put Hitler in 3rd place as a mass murderer,but I dont hear any outrage about that...ever...apparently the russians and the chinese get a pass....guess history really is written by the victors.
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