The Case of Italian Military Internees (“IMI”)

The Case of Italian Military Internees (“IMI”)

During World War II, following the armistice of September 8, 1943, Italian soldier were faced with a difficult choice: continue to fight alongside Nazi Germany or face deportation to prison camps and forced labour.

Those among them who had the courage to refuse to fight with the Nazis were immediately disarmed and captured to be subjected to inhumane treatment in German prison camps.

The title of IMI (“Italian Military Internees”) was conferred by Hitler on September 20, 1943, on Italian soldiers personnel who were opponents of Nazi Germany.

This qualification was aimed at excluding Italian soldiers from the Geneva Convention, thereby depriving them of the rights accorded to war prisoners.

In the prison camps, internees suffered humiliation and human rights violations: they were deprived of all personal belongings except their uniforms, the only garment they would wear until liberation.

Living conditions in the camps were inhumane: the IMIs could not wash themselves, did not have enough food to survive, and were subjected to forced labour in the Reich’s industries, mines, and factories.

With the introduction of Article 43 of Decree Law No. 36 of April 30, 2022, converted by Law No. 79 of 06/29/2022, the Italian government established a fund for the compensation of damages suffered by victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed on Italian territory – or against Italian citizens – by the forces of the Third Reich during the period between September 1943 and May 8, 1945, thereby offering the possibility for IMIs and their heirs to obtain financial compensation.

Those harmed by the war crimes described include:

  1. IMIs and surviving internees who suffered imprisonment;
  2. the heirs of the IMIs and internees who inherited the right to compensation they had against Nazi Germany;
  3. relatives of IMIs and internees who died in captivity and suffered the premature loss of their beloved ones.

Delex is currently representing 235 families of internees and soldiers. It has filed four lawsuits against the Federal Republic of Germany, seeking compensation for damages suffered by the IMIs, their heirs and families for a total value estimated at more than 10 million euros.


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