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Man set to get over £110,000 in compensation after great-grandfather hanged by Nazis

Relatives of six Italian men hanged by German troops during World War Two are set to receive hundreds of thousands of euros in compensation for their families’ trauma.

All but one of the civilians’ family members alive when the killings happened in Fornelli in October 1943 are now dead, but under Italian law, damages owed to them can still be passed to their heirs.

This means that 80 years after the atrocity, Mauro Petrarca, the great-grandson of victim Domenico Lancellotta, is due to receive €130,000 (£111,000) following a 2020 ruling by an Italian court that awarded a total of €12m (£10.3m) to loved ones.

“We still mark the event every year. It hasn’t been forgotten,” said Mr Petrarca.

The Italian town of Fornelli where six civilian men were hanged

Following a government decree in July, the first compensation should be made to local people in Fornelli by January, even though the town insists their legal case was about much more than cash.

“This wasn’t about the money. It was about seeking justice for a war crime, a question of pride,” said Fornelli mayor Giovanni Tedeschi.

The six men were hanged on a hillside as German troops listened to music on a gramophone that was stolen from a house.

More on Italy

The group died as punishment for the killing of a soldier, who had been looking for food.

The hangings happened a month after Italy signed an armistice with the Allied forces, ending its involvement in the war and abandoning the Nazis, who immediately began occupying the country.

A memorial at the site where the men were killed
A memorial at the site where the men were killed

However, it will be Italy rather than Germany which pays the compensation, after it lost a fight in the International Court of Justice over whether Berlin could still be liable for damages linked to World War Two crimes and atrocities.

Jewish groups in Italy believe Berlin should be paying to acknowledge their historical responsibility.

But victims’ groups also fear Rome is dragging its feet in dealing with a deluge of claims that could weigh on state coffers.

A deadline for presenting new legal claims ended on 28 June and the Italian Treasury, which is handling payouts, said it had been told of 1,228 lawsuits.

Each legal action is likely to involve multiple plaintiffs, meaning the €61m euros earmarked for the reparations might not be nearly enough to cover all the expected payouts, lawyers say.

Read more:
Germany ‘should pay £1.3trn in WW2 reparations to Poland’
Ex-Nazi guard charged with 3,330 counts of accessory to murder
Survivor describes horror of watching Nazi death squad kill mum

In 1962, Germany signed a deal with Italy whereby it paid Rome 40m Deutsche mark, worth just over €1bn euros in today’s money.

The two nations agreed the money covered damages inflicted by the Nazis on the Italian state and its citizens.

Italy gave pensions to those who had been politically or racially persecuted during the conflict, and to their surviving relatives. However, it did not offer reparations for war crimes.


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