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Germany

Nazi Convicts: A Visit With Two Germans Just Sentenced For 1944 Tuscany Massacre

Convicted last month for their involvement in a massacre of civilians during World War II, two former Nazi soldiers lead a peaceful life in Germany. And they don’t want to be disturbed.

Niccolo Zancaninviato

KAUFBEUREN - The former Nazi sergeant Johann Riss has a good life, living in a tidy detached house in the residential area of this town 60 miles southwest of Munich. On an average day, this 90-year old man wakes up early, and drives his wife Irene to Kaufbeuren's grocery store. Then he will typically spend the afternoon in his garden, watering the flowers, removing weeds, and picking the vegetables that he will later cook for dinner.

He seems to be in good shape physically, even if he recently claimed poor health in order to avoid attending the trial against him in Italy. Last month, a military tribunal in Rome sentenced Riss, and two other former soldiers of the 26th division of the German Army, to life imprisonment for the August 1944 massacre of 184 civilians, including children, elderly, women and farmers in the small Tuscan town of Padule di Fucecchio.

When approached, he said he does not want to speak about his part in the atrocities committed by the Nazis during the World War II. He looks at the legal documents with his name on them, and photos of the victims, as if they pertained to someone else. "I've never been a Nazi. I don't have anything to say in Rome," he says. Riss gets angry in front of a photographer. "We went to speak in Munich," his wife Irene says. "They told us not to tell anything to the Italians."

The couple has been living in this farming area for the last 57 years, without legal troubles of any kind. Before he retired, Riss was a manager at the local Olympia typewriter firm. He has two sons, a doctor and a chemist, who live far away.

For decades, Riss has been hiding from his own history. "He has never spoken about his past. He is a silent fellow, spends all his time in the garden," says a neighbor who gave her name as Ms. Haible. " Once, he told me what his biggest regret was: no longer being able to go skiing in Saint Moritz."

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Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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