12 August 2011

Internment in Australia during World War Two

Some time ago, I mentioned the topic of civilian internment.  It is important not to confuse internment with internship, though similar words can often cause confusion.  Do you know the difference between the two?

Here is my previous blog post on that topic
(16 May 2009)

If English is not your first language, you probably know what it is like trying to make yourself understood in English, and trying to understand others.  I know plenty of people who have English as their first language but have similar difficulties, myself included!

I doubt that many readers of this blog post will have Latin as their native tongue, though they may have a first language related to Latin in some way.  Most societies use Latin to some extent these days, through scientific terms and legal terms.

Have you heard of habeus corpus?

My husband's grandfather was interned in Australia in the Second World War, as you will know from my earlier blog post introducing the topic.  He had been born as an Italian citizen but he became a naturalized British subject in Australia in 1921.  He was, in today's terms, an Australian citizen during the Second World War.  At the time of his internment he had been an Australian businessman for over twenty years.

Many people are unaware that there were Australians of Italian origin in Australia before World War Two.   In relation to internment, I am especially interested in those who first arrived in Australia before World War One.  Do you have an ancestor who comes into that category?

You may know that there is an Italian Historical Society in Australia, based in Melbourne, which now also has an Italian Museum associated with it.

My husband's Italian forebears all came to Australia before the Second World War.  They were culturally - and historically - quite different from those who came afterwards, just as many people who came to Australia from other countries between the 1950s and 1970s may consider themselves culturally - and historically - different from those who live in their places of origin now.

A few weeks ago, I received some very interesting information from Dr Paolo Baracchi of the Italian Historical Society.  He forwarded to me an email from a member of the South Australian Parliament, Mr Tony Piccolo, who is the member for Light.

Mr Piccolo is the National Convenor of the Forum of Italo-Australian Parliamentarians. Here is part of what he has to say:

I am undertaking some research into the experiences of people of Italian origin who were interned in Australia during World War 2. While I am focussing on the Loveday, South Australia camps, I am keen to hear the stories of any person who was interned.

Tony Piccolo
June 2011

Unfortunately, I was overseas visiting family in the UK when the email reached me, so I was unable to put my mind to the task of contacting Mr Piccolo to provide some assistance to him, especially without my extensive documentation to hand.

Another reason for delaying my response is that I am keen to maintain my anonymity as "Via".  My father-in-law is now in his 90s and no longer wishes to be reminded of unpleasant past experiences.  He wants a quiet life in his old age, like many people of his generation who do not want to be reminded of emotionally upsetting events.

I plan to contact Mr Piccolo today, about the motion he will be presenting on 20 October 2011 to the House of Assembly of the State Parliament of South Australia  regarding "the internment of people of Italian, German and Japanese (amongst others) background in Australian camps during World War Two".

Mr Piccolo is keen to hear from anyone in the meantime who "can make a contribution to raising awareness of the impact that internment had on internees and their families".

If you can assist, please visit tonypiccolo.org for the contact details.

You are, of course, also welcome to leave some comments here.

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I especially appreciate historical insights.