16 May 2009

Civilian Internment in the Second World War

Internment is the imprisonment of people without trial. Were any of your relatives interned during World War Two?

See the Wikipedia article about internment

For family reasons, I have a particular interest in the unjustified incarceration of non-combatant civilians in Australia and elsewhere. I'm especially interested in those classed as "enemy aliens" even though they had long been naturalised British subjects (Australian citizenship did not exist in law until 1949).

See the Wikipedia article on Australian nationality law

The National Archives of Australia have quite a lot of information about internment in this country. Find out more here.

When I became a permanent resident in Australia, I was classed as an alien. Have you ever been classed as an enemy alien?

The policy of internment during the 1940s

The detention of innocent people more recently

I often wonder if any of my relatives in Britain were interned because their Belgian surnames might have been thought to be German. My main interest is in the internment of people of Italian ancestry, especially as Italy was on the side of the allies in the First World War.

The internment of people with Italian ancestry in the United States

British policy on internment under Churchill

Internment of Italians in Canada

More about the history of Italians in Australia

Tatura museum

Loveday camp

There are quite a few articles by academics on the experiences of Italian internees. Here are just two:

Anti-Fascism and Internment: The Case of Francesco Fantin - by Paul Nursey-Bray

The Proletarian migrants: Fascism and Italian Anarchists in Australia - by Gianfranco Cresciani

The only "crime" my family member had committed was to help raise funds so that the children of Italian immigrants in Australia could receive Italian language lessons on Saturday afternoons during the mid 1930s. Internment caused him to lose the business he had built up over twenty years.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.