Conference to Examine Nazi-Era Crimes

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On Tuesday Germany and Italy's foreign ministers announced a joint historical commission that will investigate Germany's treatment of Italian prisoners during World War II.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini said that historians from both countries would meet next year to discuss the countries' "collective history."

The two men visited La Risiera di San Sabba, the site of the only Nazi concentration camp near Trieste, where between 3,000 and 5,000 Jews and resistance fighters were killed between 1943 and 1945. They laid a commemorative wreath in honor of the victims and Seinmeier solemnly noted that the "apalling things that happened here in the name of Germany are a part of our collective history." He called the concentration camp one of the "places of memory which represent the betrayal of civilization by Germany."

Steinmeier and Frattini then announced the plans for a joint historical commission which would focus the treatment of the more than 600,000 Italian prisoners who who were deported to Nazi Germany and used as slave laborers. Italian and German historians will meet next summer at Villa Vigoni, a 19th-century estate on Lake Como that has been converted into a German-Italian cultural center.

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