Karl Wilhelm Stark was accused of various massacres committed in ’44 in various locations in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines. Alfred Stork in September ’43 was part of one of the firing squads that killed the Acqui soldiers in Kefalonia
Rome – The last two surviving German war soldiers definitively sentenced to life imprisonment for the indiscriminate killing of Italian soldiers and civilians have died: this is the centenary Karl Wilhelm Stark, accused of various massacres committed in ’44 in various locations in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines and in Alfred Stork (97 years old), who in September 1943 was part of one of the firing squads that slaughtered the Acqui soldiers in Kefalonia. They both died in their homes in Germany, and neither of them has ever served a day in jail or home detention.
“A judicial page closes. And it closes badly, in truth”, comments the military attorney general Marco De Paolis, the magistrate who in ten years – from 2003 to 2013 – has instructed dozens of investigations on the Nazi-fascist massacres after the discovery, in ’94, of the Cabinet of Shame, where the judicial files had been hidden in 1960. “Over 500 investigations, 17 trials, 57 life sentences and no one has served the sentence imposed by the judge”, explains the magistrate, who – “with bitterness” – can only take note that the mass impunity of the Nazis responsible for the worst massacres committed in Italy is now a fait accompli (the only ones to atone for the sentences were former SS captain Erich Priebke and corporal “Misha” Seifert , the “executioner of Bolzano”).
Germany and Austria have never granted extradition, nor accepted the requests to carry out house arrest sentences. But the problem, De Paolis points out, “is not just one of unexecuted convictions: it is above all a question of unsuccessful investigations, when, again in 1999 and 2001, there were those who said that everything was over, that it could no longer proceed” . The magistrate does not mince words, speaks of a “sort of misdirection”, which in 2014 prompted him to write to the President of the Republic Napolitano to express “the discomfort of this neglected and unfinished justice”. The journalist Franco Giustolisi, who discovered the story of the files covered up in 1960 and exhumed in ’94, repeatedly denounced the hesitations of the military judiciary of the time and, years later, also spoke of a “Cabinet of shame 2”, with reference to the lack of investigations carried out, this time, on the crimes committed by the Italian military in the occupied territories. In Greece, for example.
In the book “Domenikon 1943. When the Italians kill” (Mursia), the worst massacre of civilians – 140 dead – carried out by Mussolini’s army is reconstructed: also in this case the investigations were late and no culprit was punished. Former Sergeant Stark, framed in the ‘Hermann Goering’ Armored Division of the Wehrmacht, he died on 14 December last. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for some of the massacres committed on the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines in the spring of ’44, in particular those of Civago and Cervarolo, in the Reggio area, two villages where on 20 March a total of about 30 people were slaughtered, including the parish priest, and that of Vallucciole, in Aretino, where over 100 men, women and children were killed in retaliation.
In 2018 a Tg1 troupe found him in his home in a suburb of Munich: the elderly man, exchanging a few words at the door, said he could not regret “something never done” and that the trial had been “a farce” . Of Stork, whose criminal execution was still pending in 2020, it was only recently known that he died on October 28, 2018. The former corporal of the Mountain Hunters (Gebirsgjager), was convicted of killing “at least 117 Italian officers “on the island of Kefalonia, in September 1943. Stork had confessed in the past to the German investigators that he had been part of one of the firing squads active at the ‘Little Red House’, where the entire staff of the Acqui division. “They told us we had to kill some Italians, considered traitors,” he said. A testimony, full of chilling details, which Stork will refuse to repeat to the Italian magistrates. The shootings went on from dawn to dusk: “The bodies were piled up in a huge pile one on top of the other … first we searched them by removing the watches, in the pockets we found photographs of women and children, beautiful children” . Stork has always ignored the Italian trial and has not even challenged the first instance sentence: the sentence to life imprisonment has thus become definitive.