Germany plans to contest an Italian court ruling to head off new claims for damages arising from Nazi atrocities during World War II, officials in Berlin said Saturday.
The Casaglia cemetery in Italy where some victims of a Nazi massacre were buried in 1944
"The government intends to obtain a clarification on the issue from the International Court of Justice," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said in Berlin.
German news magazine Der Spiegel said Berlin planned to argue before The Hague court that sovereign actions by countries, including those of their armed forces, are protected under international law by sovereign immunity.
Diplomats fear that the floodgates would otherwise be opened for "legal claims against historical injustice," in other countries as well. That would lead to "legal uncertainty around the globe," Der Spiegel quoted diplomats as saying.
Germany says verdict "unacceptable"
The German move relates to a October 21 ruling by a Rome court that Germany should pay nine families damages of 1 million euros ($1.3 million) for relatives killed when Nazi soldiers massacred 203 people at Civitella in northern Italy in June 1944.
The news magazine said 51 similar cases were pending in Italy.
Germany earlier called the verdict "unacceptable" and said it would not pay personal damages for Nazi atrocities, because it has already paid reparations to Italy as a nation.
Modern Germany accepted moral responsibility for war crimes committed in the name of Germany in Italy by the Nazis and desired a dialogue with survivors and relatives, foreign ministry spokesman, Jens Ploetner said.
However, financial compensation claims were closed under a 1961 treaty between Germany and Italy under which the German government paid 40 million marks to settle claims.