Ex-Nazi commander jailed for Italy massacre

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2009
Follow Jessica on Twitter
Josef Scheungraber, an ex-Nazi commander has been jailed for life in Munich

Josef Scheungraber, an ex-Nazi commander has been jailed for life in Munich

A 90-year-old former Nazi commander has been jailed for life in Munich for ordering the deaths of 14 people in an Italian village during the second world war.

Josef Scheungraber, as a 25-year-old Wehrmacht lieutenant, ordered the massacre of the civilians in 1944 in the Italian village of Falzano di Cortona in Tuscany.

He denied he explicitly told the military police to kill the victims, 11 of whom were locked into a farmhouse which was set alight.

He lived for 65 years as a free man in Germany, where he served on the Ottobrun town council and received a municipal award, despite previously been sentenced to life in prison in absentia by an Italian military court.

I heard a scream, and that was it then. They were all dead

Gino Massetti

Scheungraber said he handed the victims over to the military police but did not know what happened to them.

But the state court in Munich found Scheungraber had ordered the killings in revenge for the deaths of two German soldiers by the Italian resistance.

The military police killed four victims in the street, including a 74-year-old woman.

They then forced 11 other civilians into a farmhouse which they blew up.

The only survivor, Gino Massetti, then 15 years old, gave evidence against Scheungraber at the trial.

"I heard a scream, and that was it then. They were all dead," he told the court.

Mr Massetti said he saw an officer on a motorcycle and give an order to the troops.

But he could not describe the officer and did not understand the order which was spoken in German.

Mr Massetti survived because a heavy beam and a man fell on top of him during the explosion which shielded him from the blast.

    Last updated: 11:05am, August 11 2009