War Crimes Report Explores World War II Nazi Brutality in Italy
Some 165 murders a day. That is the horrifying conclusion reached by an historical commission assigned the task of exploring the full extent of Nazi war crimes committed in Italy in World War II. The identity of many of the murderers has long been known, but to this day little has been done to bring them to justice.
Roberto Oligeri still lives in the small village in Toscana where his family was murdered. The killers marched into the hamlet on Aug. 19, 1944. Held at gunpoint, his father, who ran a small inn, was forced to serve Sturmbahnführer Walter Reder and his underlings a meal. As they dined on roast chicken and regional wine, soldiers from the 16th SS Mechanized Infantry Division combed through the village and surrounding area and rounded up women, children and a handful of old men. When Reder had finished his meal, he gave the order that all of them be killed.
“On that day, 160 people in our village were muredered, including my five siblings — two brothers and three sisters. The oldest was 19 and the youngest just three,” says Oligeri.
Neighboring villages experienced the same fate as SS troops beat, murdered and burned men, women and babies in that August of 1944. Some 560 people died in the mountain village of Sant’Anna di Stazzema on August 12 alone.
The crimes have never been atoned for nor have they been adequately addressed by the judiciary. An Italian court did sentence 10 of the SS thugs involved in the Sant’Anna di Stazzema massacre to life in prison in abstentia, but Germany never extradited them. And just recently, a court in Stuttgart refused to pursue the case, saying that murderous intent could not be proven.