Postwar Accountability: The Italian Legacy examines violations of International Humanitarian Law against civilian populations in Europe during World War II. Moving from Eric Hobsbawm’s “twilight zone” of later-stage reflections on original experience, the aim is to construct a digital prototype in support of the “cold record” of history. Because Italy’s highest court has placed special importance on jus cogens principles in the legal record, this project invites broad scrutiny of how governments seek to address wartime atrocities, whether through the courts, reparations, or symbolic forms of public apology or commemoration. Elements of particular, legal interest include the discursive features of victim and witness testimony, the varying treatment of “obedience to orders” defenses in different postwar legal systems, differences in the narrative structure of in-absentia as compared with in-person criminal trials, and differences between “show trials” versus technical and essentially non-public in-camera proceedings.

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