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60 Years Later, Germans Tried for Atrocities in Italy

Enrico Pieri stands in the village's church square next to a monument for victims of the August 1944 massacre. Pieri, who was 10 at the time, survived by playing dead.
Sylvia Poggioli, NPR
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Enrico Pieri stands in the village's church square next to a monument for victims of the August 1944 massacre. Pieri, who was 10 at the time, survived by playing dead.

In Italy next week, five Germans go on trial in absentia for war crimes committed 60 years ago. As German troops retreated from the Allied invasion, they often adopted a "scorched earth" policy, destroying infrastructure that the Allies could use. German troops razed the village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema in three hours, killing about 560 people -- including women, children and elderly. The atrocity, along with many others by the Germans, was well-documented, but the Italian government hid the files in the 1950s. By then, West Germany was an ally of the United States and the Cold War was under way. The files were discovered in 1994, leading to trials. The survivors of the attack on Sant'Anna remember it vividly, as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.

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