DOCUMENTARY: Italian American Internment During World War II

Michael Angelo DiLauro presents the documentary “Prisoners Among Us Italian American Identity and WWII”, narrated by Tony Lo Bianco. This excellent film focuses on the historical events and experiences of the Italian diaspora in America up to and throughout World War 2. It covers the Italian American Internment, and includes interviews with those Italian-Americans who experienced living through enemy alien status. Tom Brokaw supplies excellent commentary on pivotal events.

The Italian American Internment began in mid-1941, as FBI agents siezed civilian Italian sailors and held them without due process. By February 1942, these individuals would be joined by US citizens and residents of Italian ancestry, who were seen as enemy aliens by the US government. They too would be held without due process. In all, 600,000 Americans of Italian descent would experience civil rights violations that included forced relocation for over 10,000 people, loss of businesses or employment, seizure of assets, arrest without warrant, investigation without benefit of legal counsel, travel restriction and for some, internment. This event caused massive economic and societal damage to the ethnic Italian communities.

Related Reading: Injustice Ignored: The Internment of Italian – Americans during World War II by Paula Branca-Santos (Pace International Law Review, Spring 2001).