DOCUMENTARY: Italian American Internment During World War II

Fort Missoula MT Alien Detention Camp
PHOTO CREDIT: International News Photo. Licensed for editorial/news use. Location: Ft Missoula, MT. Date: 6-15-1941 at 11:15 AM.
Original Title: “General View of Federal Detention Camp for Aliens”. The original printed image with caption slug and copyright licensing stamps is part of our collection.

The History Channel’s Arthur Kent presents the documentary “Italian American Internment: The Detainment of Italian Americans During World War II” with detailed commentary by Gloria Ricci Lothrop, a historian at Cal State Northridge, and Researcher/Curator Rose Scherini of Una Storia Segreta. This documentary includes interviews with many surviving internees, as well as extensive documentation of how the US Government used Executive Order 9066 to strip the civil rights away from over 600,000 Americans of Italian descent.

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.