Law and History Review


Judicial “Truth” and Historical “Truth”: The Case of the Ardeatine Caves Massacre

Giorgio Resta c1 and Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich c2

It is frequently claimed that adjudication before a court of law and historical adjudication are two entirely different tasks. The methods and techniques employed by judges and historians contrast sharply. The judge faces many constraints, in terms of choice of subject matter, the arguments to be considered, the evidence to be evaluated, the procedural steps to be followed, the substantive rules to be applied, and the time available to reach a decision; historians, by contrast, are relatively free to choose their field of research, manage their own time, gather the evidence, evaluate it, decide when findings are ready to be published, and reexamine them.

Giorgio Resta is associate professor of comparative law, University of Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy) <>.

Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich is full professor of comparative law, University of Roma Tre (Italy) <>.


  This article is the result of joint research and reflection. In the breakdown of the text, Sections 2–7 are written by Vincenzo Zeno-Zencovich; the rest is by Giorgio Resta. Financial support for this research was provided by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (PRIN 2008: “Le ferite della storia e il diritto riparatore: un'indagine storico-comparatistica”). The authors owe special gratitude to Marcus Moore for his assistance in revising the text; this article has greatly benefited from his thoughtful input. They also thank Daniel Boyer, Luigi Cajani, Antoon De Baets, Helge Dedek, Filippo Focardi, Pieter Lagrou, Helena Lamed, Paolo Pezzino, Giuseppe Tucci, and the anonymous reviewers of Law and History Review for their suggestions and comments on earlier versions of this article. The usual disclaimer applies.