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Sins of memory: reflections on the lack of an Italian Nuremberg and the administration of international justice after 1945

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Abstract:

This article reconstructs the history of the major trial that the Allies planned to institute against the entire military command of the Nazi armies operating in Italy from 1943 to 1945. The trial was prepared on the same juridical and technical bases as the Nuremberg Tribunal, but it never took place. The reason was that it would have jeopardized the re-integration of the Federal Republic in the European community, and would also have risked placing the Italian government in the embarrassing position of having the Italian army prosecuted for crimes committed in the countries occupied by the Rome - Berlin axis. For those reasons, the trial was abandoned and instead only legal proceedings were taken only for some marginal cases, creating the impression that these were simply isolated cases of individual responsibility. The enigma of this missing trial and an explanation of the limits of international justice can only be understood in terms of the political situation in post-war Europe, the relations between Italy and the Allies and the double game played by the Italian government. These events served, however, to give rise to highly selective memories of totalitarianism and the war.

Keywords: Nazi crimes; Nuremberg Tribunal; Second World War; fascism; war crimes

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1354571042000254764

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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