The German-Italian dispute over the scope of sovereign immunities and claims of reparations for war crimes committed by German armed forces during World War II in Italy is in many ways specific and historically contingent. At the same time, it touches upon a number of fundamental challenges which the international community has to address in the interest of furthering the international rule of law. In this working paper both authors adress the question whether the current law of sovereign immunities should be changed or interpreted in a manner as to allow for exceptions from State immunities in cases of grave violations of human rights. While the first part of the paper focusses on the perspective of general international law the second part adresses the question through the lense of European law. Both authors agree that unilateral efforts to push for what many consider a progressive development of international law actually may entail adverse effects for the international rule of law and thus may even contribute to a broader crisis of the international legal order.