German president visits site of Rome’s WWII-era massacre

May 3, 2017
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, flanked by his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella, shakes hands with Rome's Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni during a visit to the Fosse Ardeatine Memorial Cemetery in Rome, built on the site of a mass killing of 365 civilians during World War II by the occupying Nazis as a reprisal for a partisan attack the previous day, Wednesday, May 3, 2017. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

ROME (AP) — German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid his respects Wednesday to the victims of one of the worst massacres in German-occupied Italy during World War II.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella accompanied Steinmeier to the Ardeatine Caves on Rome’s outskirts. In 1944, 335 people were shot to death there as a reprisal for an attack by a group of partisans that killed 33 Nazi soldiers on a street in the center of Rome.

Steinmeier and Mattarella stood silently before a memorial that reads: “Here were slaughtered victims of a horrendous sacrifice; from our sacrifice may there grow a better country and peace between peoples.” The two men then paused between rows of tombs.

Steinmeier said what took place at the caves must be remembered in both their countries.

“Together we laid a wreath at the Ardeatine Caves, which is the place of a cruel crime that was committed against Italian civilians by Germans,” he told reporters later Wednesday.

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