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Germany not responsible for Nazi-era crimes

The Local · 3 Feb 2012, 13:58

Published: 03 Feb 2012 13:58 GMT+01:00

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The Italian republic "violated its obligations to respect the immunity which Germany enjoys under international law by allowing civil claims based on violations committed by the German Reich between 1943 and 1945," International Court of Justice judge Hisashi Owada told a public hearing.

"The Italian republic must, by enacting appropriate legislation, or by ... other methods, ensure the decisions of its courts infringing the immunity which Germany enjoys under international law cease to have effect."

The two European Union members have been locked in a legal battle since December 2008, when Germany filed an application before the ICJ after an avalanche of lawsuits by Italian relatives and widows for abuses by Adolf Hitler's Third Reich.

The cases sought compensation for deportations of Italians and other acts by German troops in Italy after Rome quit the Axis and joined the Allies in September 1943.

Berlin said that by permitting claims for abuses that occurred between September 1943 and May 1945, Italy "failed to respect the jurisdictional immunity" that modern-day Germany enjoys under international law.

Italy on the other hand, argued that the cases were admissible as abuses committed by German troops that amounted to "international crimes," which have precedence over state immunity.

During the hearing at ICJ headquarters in The Hague, Owada said "practice showed that immunity among states generally proceeded on the basis of international law."

"The court considers the rule of state immunity plays an important role. It is a fundamental principle of international legal order," he added.

Germany on Friday welcomed the ruling, with its main representative Susanne Wasum-Rainer telling AFP: "We think it is a very important decision for all states to have a judgement on state immunity."

But Italy's Paolo Pucci di Benisichi said he was "concerned, surprised and regretful," adding "this case would not have taken place here in The Hague if the compensation issue had been dealt with in a good way."

The row between the two countries began when Luigi Ferrini, who was deported as a forced labourer to Germany in August 1944, claimed compensation from the German government.

A 2004 Italian Supreme Court decision in his favour led to a flurry of claims by relatives and widows of Nazi war crimes victims, which Germany has refused to meet.

Also before the ICJ as a non-party state was Greece, because of victims of a 1944 German massacre at Distomo, in which 218 people were killed.

Relatives of the Greek massacre victims refiled a case before Italian courts, after a Greek court failed to enforce a ruling for Germany to pay €28.6 million in compensation to the plaintiffs.

Berlin has also consistently refused to compensate the Distomo claimants, saying the case had been settled between the two countries in 1960.

Story continues below…

The ICJ concluded decisions by Italian courts in the Distomo case constituted "a violation by Italy to respect Germany's jurisdictional immunity."

Established in 1945, the ICJ is the UN's highest court and settles disputes

between states.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:41 February 3, 2012 by zeddriver
If Italians had been successful in suing Germany. Wouldn't that have exposed Italy it self to litigation from their Axis activities from 1937-1943?
14:43 February 3, 2012 by raandy
Good decision, when is enough ,enough? if you want compensation from the Nazi's you will need to bring a shovel.
15:03 February 3, 2012 by derExDeutsche
Isn't being granted immunity from those seeking financial compensation is a little different than 'Germany not responsible for Nazi Era crimes'. Seems the headline is missing a 'Financially' between 'not' and 'responsible'.

Just as German's love to blab on about American's for things like ancient 'Jim Crow Laws', 'Racism' 'Slavery' and 'Imperialism', Germany's perceived Responsibility is sure to hang around a little while longer.
15:54 February 3, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Italy, time to move on, dont you think?
16:05 February 3, 2012 by 1TruthTeller
Finally, the beginnings of some judicial common-sense, for a change. neither morally or financially is modern Germany responsible for Nazi-era crimes in Italy.

The judgement was insufficient, as it should have included the words, "or anywhere else."

As raandy so wisely pointed out, a shovel would be the best tool to use to extract compensation for actions of that era.Pretty much nobody born since has any legal, financial or moral responsibility at all. None. Zip. Nada.

So now, it's high time that two other events occur; (1) The US should take its forces and go home. Permanently. (2) ALL reparations paid by German taxes should be stopped today to all claimants for grievances of that era. There is now no legal grounds for another pfennig to be handed out.

The free, dignified and un-cowed BRD should throw off all of the chains of long-since unwarranted guilt, apology and shame. That time s over.

Germany can, and should, stand with the other civilized nations and push back against the monster child of WWII, the state of 'israel' and demand that it behave better than the Nazi's did. Or else, with the other civilized nations of the world, it should join the BDS movement and force it to change. This legal judgement absolves German in peretuam, and this is a perfect opportunity for Germany to echo, "Never Again!" To anyone.
16:15 February 3, 2012 by boopsie
There is a reason that germany was responsible for 2 enormous wars in the last century. It may be time to draw a line on the country's financial obligations for WWII but the german willingness to visit destruction on other people for their own gain will always bear close watching.
16:20 February 3, 2012 by 1TruthTeller
Go back and read your history again, boopsie. I mean source documents, not the approved version that Big Brother lets you read. "Visiting destruction" was initiated by others, not Germany under either ruler. I know, it's not conventional wisdom, but it's true. Do a little digging....and then the events of today will all fall into perspective.
17:40 February 3, 2012 by Englishted

I don't think your title is accurate, your second comment claiming the Nazis were not "Visiting destruction" and were not integrators of ww2 is unsubstantiated by all know facts.
17:46 February 3, 2012 by MyOpaWasFromBayern

While youa re correct for WWII, Germany did not start WWI and cannot be "responsible" for the events in that conflict. See Serbia - Austria - France - Russia.


What planet are you from claiming the Nazis didn't start the "visiting destruction" on others?
18:15 February 3, 2012 by 1TruthTeller
@MyOpaWasFromBayern: Your parentage is irrelevant.

In the first instance above you are simply factually inaccurate.

In the second you simply confirm your lack of knowledge of history, whether willfully or otherwise.

So, rather than continue to validate Kruschev's premise about opening one's mouth and proving it correct, I would suggest that you do as many informed scholars have done: go and search the source material, and peruse the now public archives from the times. Insulting me does nothing for your argument. Repeating the same meme over and over does not increase its veracity. My statement stands. Look up the facts yourself. I am not your research assistant. Please discuss this intelligently, or not at all.
18:51 February 3, 2012 by Costas
Case was mainly targeted on claims made by the Greek Distomo massacre victims. Lets see the facts to understand what was playing so long.

11/2000.. there is a final decision by the Greek Highest court for Germans to compensate the Distomo massacre victims, which however failed by in purpose delaying to enforce the ruling

2002..Germany suceeded to have a court decision refuting and stopping the enforcement of previous Highest court decision

on 2002 Prime Minister in Greece was mr K.Simitis with his heavily corrupted goverment by the Germans and especially by Ziemens. what a coincedence brother of Prime Minister is mr Spiros Simitis a very high official in German Goverment. wikipedia...as Data protection officer, chairman on national Ethics counsil etc.

Don't want to insinuate something but whole case stinks for those speaking greek and supposed to be greeks. shame on them.
19:31 February 3, 2012 by Landmine

Let us know when you wake up....
19:45 February 3, 2012 by Kennneth Ingle
What is Germany, who are the Germans?

Looking at the Germany of today and comparing it with the Germany which lost WW2, it can be be seen, that almost a quarter of its area has been confiscated. Legacy laws however would indicate that if the Bundes Republic inherits the blame for 3rd Reich crimes, it also has the right to claim all illegally removed properties and territories. Inheritance, when accepted, includes both positive and negative components. Despite these facts, the newer smaller Germany has paid billions of Euros for victims of the Nazi atrocities. Further payments would be fully unjustified because the responsibility for the fact that such funds have not always reached those who really suffered often dwells by other governments and organisations.

In many cases, the first people cash in are lawyers. a second group who make money are the Pseudo-victims. There are even authors ( for example Binjamin Wilkomirski), who have written extremely successful books about their experiences in concentration camps which were later found to be fiction.

The population of today is also no longer of purely Germanic nature, with up to a third of the younger people having at least one migrant parent. To expect payments from such current citizens, who on the whole have nothing whatsoever to do with the historical conflicts is quite honestly absurd. In my opinion, to misuse the victims of Europe's twentieth century madness for financial purposes, is disgusting and shows a complete lack of respect for those who died.
20:13 February 3, 2012 by raandy
Kennneth Ingle I can see your point ,looking at Germany today the demographics are totally different than 70 years ago. The society has changed and moved on and so should the world.
22:05 February 3, 2012 by carlm
As long as Germany continues to entertain idiotic judgements like this, it will continue to be bled by bloodsuckers for reparations, for at least the next thousand years. Germany did horrendous things during the war, but that was a long time ago. One day, when they get some brains and guts, they have to stand up to the blackmailers of world and say, enough.
22:25 February 3, 2012 by Gustav Jung
1TruthTellers first post was right on. Nazi Germany has gone. It has now been replaced by the warmongering US & israel. We now have to fight to get rid of their war crime committing governments.
23:30 February 3, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Germany is an example to the world for its business model. That is the reason others want to bring up the past. They want money without having to work for it.

Whenever I hear about the old Jim Crow laws or slavery you can wait 3 minutes and you will hear a request for free money here in the States.
03:56 February 4, 2012 by boopsie
1TruthTeller has a lofty ambition but is successful here only as a comedian. Germany was responsible for causing WWI because of the "blank check" given on June 6th, 1914 which allowed Austria-Hungary to attack Serbia with Germany's support. They also pushed Austria to go to war. On the other hand the Nazis were peaceful folk who meant no harm to anyone. To bad their peace march into Russia bit off more than they could chew. To bad for them and very fortunate for us.
11:12 February 4, 2012 by Darryl
All I can say is, that I hope the Italian Government has offered financial compensation to the people of Ethopia, who they invaded and gassed in the 1930s. Or is that a forgotten war now and maybe third world dark skinned people don't really count.
12:34 February 4, 2012 by ECSNatale
TruthTeller, sorry but your quote attributed to Kruschev was uttered by many before him including Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamen Franklin and even Socrates. The quote in the Bible "Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. -- Bible, 'Proverbs' 17:28 was probably never read by Kruschev.....

Yet I find another Mark Twain quote that fits many here: "Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."
13:20 February 4, 2012 by Horace87
Should the mayor of Rome compensate all of Europe and Northern Africa for the massacres committed by the Roman Empire?
13:26 February 4, 2012 by boopsie
That would be a start.
15:19 February 4, 2012 by Bruno53
But it is still a legacy you cannot escape. Neither the rest of the world. "Those who don't remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana
16:20 February 4, 2012 by Landmine

If the families of those killed by the Romans were still around, yes, the the Mayor of Rome should pay up. Are the families of the people killed by the Germans still around? Hmmm, that is a yes. And does Germany pay to those who are dead? Thats a no.
02:36 February 5, 2012 by Redwing
@boopsie #19 Can you please give me the title of the history book from which you learnt what you asserted in your #19 statement, i.e. that Germany "pushed Austria to go to war". I quote from the Oxford Encyclopedia of World History, OUP 1998,"The assassination at SARAJEVO caught the empire (German Second Empire 1871-1918) unawares. After some debate it was decided that the 1879 alliance with the AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE must be honoured even if it meant war against Russia and France." Germany stood by her ally, Italy twice betrayed hers.
10:40 February 5, 2012 by Yah right

Do you know how to talk without being such a brazen, negative @sshole?
01:22 February 6, 2012 by boopsie
For Redwing:


"On 28 July, the conflict opened with the Austro-Hungarian invasion of Serbia,[ followed by the German invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and France."

" Germany stood by her ally, Italy twice betrayed hers."

For which the world owes Italy a debt of gratitude.
13:51 March 3, 2012 by Eric Best
@boopsie. Re WW1. The German government felt it had little choice but to declare war following Russia's mobilisation against Germany. (Germany's efforts to cool things down were too late.) They also knew that the declaration would bring in France due to her treaty obligations with Russia.

Nevertheless, they did not have to violate Belgian and Luxemboug's neutrality - they could have fought a defensive war against France on German soil. But the military gambled on defeating France quickly so they could then focus on defending against Russia - and that meant going through Belgium. Unfortunately, Germany's weak democratic protocols meant that there were no political checks to the military, so military logic prevailed over other considerations. Even the Kaiser could not alter the course of things, though he tried.
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