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Enemies Within

Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad

Franca Iacovetta
Roberto Perin
Angelo Principe
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 432
  • Book Info
    Enemies Within
    Book Description:

    Bringing together national and international perspectives on Italian and other wartime internees, the essays in this book assess the differing interpretations offered of Italian internment in Canada, the UK, the USA, and Australia during WWII.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7446-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction Italians and Wartime Internment: Comparative Perspectives on Public Policy, Historical Memory, and Daily Life
    (pp. 3-22)

    This book is concerned with a crucial issue confronting modern liberal democracies: how to achieve a balance between the civil liberties of minorities and the needs of majorities. Such a balance is imperfect at the best of times. The ability to maintain its essence, however, is tested to the breaking point by crises such as wars and economic, social, or political breakdowns.

    We focus our attention here on the Second World War, when, in the interests of national security, democratic governments enacted measures against particular groups within their borders. As a result, certain racial, ethnic, and political minorities earned a...

  5. Part One Italian Canadians, Fascism, and Internment:: Black Shirts or Sheep?

    • [Part One Introduction]
      (pp. 23-26)

      Earlier histories of Canada in the Second World War focused on what historians considered to be the key national issues of the day: French–English relations, military matters, the political crisis surrounding conscription, and the countryʹs ʹcoming of ageʹ on the world stage. In more recent years, womenʹs and social histories have enlarged our wartime lens by considering the equally important changes that war brought to the daily lives of ordinary Canadians both on the homefront and in the battlefields. Such studies have highlighted, for example, the impact of war production on job opportunities, trade unions, and labour protest; the...

    • 1 A Tangled Knot: Prelude to 10 June 1940
      (pp. 27-51)

      The events of June 1940 are the most tangled in Italian-Canadian experience. Because of its complex political and ideological undertones however, the tangle is ignored and the struggle leading to it is forgotten. This paper presents a different interpretation from the one put forward by the Italian Canadian Redress Committee – an interpretation too hastily embraced in 1990 by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.¹ It attempts to untangle the knot formed by those sad events, which still trigger extreme emotions among elderly Italian Canadians. The decision in the summer of 1940 to intern Italian Canadians, I argue below, was the result...

    • 2 Exporting Fascism to Canada: Torontoʹs Little Italy
      (pp. 52-75)

      Throughout the 1920s, fascism was as foreign to Torontoʹs Italians as it was to the cityʹs non-Italians. But from 1929 to 1940, the ideology developed an intimate relationship with the cityʹs residents of Italian origin. Such an association evolved because Benito Mussolini decided that all Italians were to be members of Fascist Italy. Working through diplomatic representatives from vice-consuls to ambassadors, he exported fascism to the Italians residing abroad. Diplomats carried out their task by, first, supporting fascist organizations; second, seizing control – though not without opposition – of the social and political life of the Italian communities in which...

    • 3 The Internment of Italian Canadians
      (pp. 76-98)

      In a recent volume on the history of ethnic groups in Canada during the Second World War,On Guard for Thee: War,Ethnicity,and the Canadian State, 1939–1945,¹ some of Canadaʹs experts on ethnic minorities and wartime devoted their attention to the central problem of this period – the relation between the internal security of the state and the treatment meted out to residents whose origins were with enemy nations, whether they had become naturalized Canadian citizens or had retained their original citizenship.

      Except for the article by J.L. Granatstein and G.A. Johnson,² the authorsʹ views inOn Guard...

    • 4 ʹUneasy Neighboursʹ: Internment and Hamiltonʹs Italians
      (pp. 99-120)

      The discussion of the Canadian internment of civilians during the Second World War has focused primarily on wartime bureaucracies and formal policy-making. As Harold Troper writes, the ʹinternal history of [the] ethnic communitiesʹ affected has been largely neglected.¹ In Hamilton, Ont, the enactment of the Defence of Canada Regulations (DOCK)² and the subsequent internment of Italians had a profound impact of the cityʹs Italian-Canadian enclaves. The social and economic repercussions affected the communitiesʹ relationship with the host society and their very sense of identity as ʹethnic communities.ʹ The Italian Canadiansʹ integrity as ʹloyal Canadiansʹ came under attack, as we see...

  6. Part Two Other Canadian Internees:: Drawing Distinctions

    • [Part Two Introduction]
      (pp. 121-127)

      Why should the internment of Italians be compared with that of any other group? The obvious answer is that such comparisons have already been drawn. When the Japanese redress campaign succeeded in securing an official apology together with financial compensation, it triggered similar efforts among other aggrieved immigrant organizations that were eager to equate their groupʹs experience with the Japanese. The politics of redress therefore began as a comparative exercise. Apart from their political use and misuse, however, comparisons are a fundamental tool for advancing understanding. The Italian-Canadian experience acquires deeper meaning when compared to other groups in Canada such...

    • 5 A War on Ethnicity? The RCMP and Internment
      (pp. 128-147)

      The story of internments during the Second World War can be told from various points of view. One of these is from the perspective of the security service of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the agency charged with developing the intelligence base for identifying those considered, according to government criteria (to which the RCMP itself contributed), sufficiently dangerous threats to national security and the war effort to require internment. How did the ʹMountiesʹ view the internment process? What did their performance reflect of their strengths and weaknesses as a security intelligence force? What lessons did they draw from the...

    • 6 The Curious Case of Female Internees
      (pp. 148-170)

      The history of state surveillance, repression, and, most recently, internment has undergone a rapid expansion. Access to previously restricted documents has helped leftist labour and social historians in particular to tackle subjects such as RCMP spy networks, traditionally the domain of political and military historians. This growing literature, notably on internment, has largely been a history of men or of organizations and communities treated as genderless subjects. Even the much-studied evacuation of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War has not really considered the differential impact that state policies and camp life had on the men and women involved.¹ The...

    • 7 The ʹCamp Boysʹ: Interned Refugees from Nazism
      (pp. 171-193)

      One of the more bizarre stories of Jewish survival during the Holocaust occurred in prisoner of war camps in Canada between 1940 and 1944. The odyssey of the interned refugees from Germany, Austria, and Italy took them from the brink of death in Europe, through refuge in England, to incarceration in refugee internment camps in Canada, construction of a semblance of normality there, and a long struggle for release. It is a tale of both comic and tragic proportions – a Holocaust story with a happy ending.

      Many German and Austrian Jewish men sent to Nazi concentration camps in the...

    • 8 Political Prisoners: The Communist Internees
      (pp. 194-224)

      Among Canadaʹs internees during the Second World War was a curious group of about 100 men interned as Communists. They stood apart from most of the other internees. Although the Canadian state labelled them ʹenemy aliens,ʹ they had no ties to the countries against which Canada declared war. Indeed, the Communistsʹ international links were to the Soviet Union, which from June 1941 was one of Canadaʹs allies. Neither were they aliens; they were all Canadian-born or naturalized. Furthermore, in contrast to many of Canadaʹs internees, Communists did much to publicize their plight, both at the time of their incarceration and...

  7. Part Three Italians Interned Abroad:: Three Case Studies

    • [Part Three Introduction]
      (pp. 225-226)

      As Richard Bosworth observes in this part (chapter 9), ʹinternment was not an invention of the Second World War.ʹ Nor did the restrictions imposed on Italians and other ʹenemy aliensʹ differ markedly in English-speaking countries with large immigrant enclaves. But though commonplace in wartime, internments elicited varied responses from the targeted minorities, as well as the mainstream majority. They have also generated a variety of personal recollections and scholarly assessments.

      The contributions in this part contain a cross-section of both. By offering in-depth case studies of Italians in three nations with historic links to Canada, they illuminate the similarties and...

    • 9 The Internment of Italians in Australia
      (pp. 227-255)

      The Second World War had many faces. Indeed, it is best approached, at least at a preliminary level, as a multiplicity of wars. Both in the actual history from 1939 (or 1940, or 1941, or ... ) to 1945 and in the history writing that has gone on since, many separate and sometimes diverse conflicts can be located. Though certainly not the most significant or visceral, among them, from 10 June 1940 there was an Italo–Australian war.

      In this war, Italians and Australians came into contact in four ways. First, they fought each other in battle, notably in North...

    • 10 The Internment of Italians in Britain
      (pp. 256-279)

      This chapter begins with the story of one not-untypical Italian immigrant family in wartime Britain. The second section deals with the British governmentʹs hurried and shifting wartime policy towards members of the Italian community as ʹenemy aliens,ʹ just before and then after Mussoliniʹs declaration of war in June 1940, followed by their gradual release. The focus is on the muddled and controversial ways in which that policy was carried out and on the ensuing debate and criticism that it aroused within government departments. The third section deals with the internees themselves: their life in the camps, their work outside the...

    • 11 When Italian Americans Were ʹEnemy Aliensʹ
      (pp. 280-306)

      Nineteen forty-two, the first full year of the war for the United States, was devastating for many Italian families, part of the largest immigrant group in the nation. For all ʹenemy aliensʹ – Japanese, Germans, and Italians – this was a time of fear and uncertainty. New regulations required the 600,000 Italian ʹresident aliensʹ to carry photo-identity cards, restricted their freedom of movement, and forced an estimated 10,000 Italians along the west coast to relocate. Local police searched many homes to enforce prohibitions against aliensʹ possession of guns, cameras, and short-wave radios; within six months, 1,500 Italians were arrested for...

  8. Part Four Memory and Redress:: The Uses of the Past

    • [Part Four Introduction]
      (pp. 307-311)

      While the politically minded might urge others to heed the lessons of history, especially its tragedies, the past probably does not resonate strongly with most people on a day-to-day basis. On occasion, however, the discovery of previously unknown incidents, or public disclosure of events long held as forbidden topics, can fuel the passions of todayʹs citizens, even provoking them into political and social action. History thus becomes alive, as something to be collectively recorded, commemorated, protected, and passed on to subsequent generations.¹

      An intimate relationship between past and present has emerged in present-day redress campaigns protesting the wartime mistreatment, of...

    • 12 Actor or Victim? Mario Duliani and His Internment Narrative
      (pp. 312-334)

      Mario Duliani was not an average Italian immigrant to Canada. After arriving from France in 1936, he rapidly integrated himself into Quebecʹs cultural life by becoming director of the French-language section of the Montreal Repertory Theatre (later the Mont-Royal Théâtre français) and a journalist with the recently established dailyLʹIllustration nouvelle. These and other activities – he was a well-known and spirited public speaker – put him in contact with intellectual, political, and literary figures in the host society. Arrested in June 1940, Duliani spent forty months in internment camps at Petawawa, Ont, and Fredericton, NB – almost twice as...

    • 13 Images of Internment
      (pp. 335-354)

      A chance encounter with a collection of photographs preserved by an Italian Canadian who was interned during the Second World War led me to reconsider the iconography that has been created around this event. In examining these photographs, most of which had never before been released to the public, I realized that they raised interesting questions about the individuals and the internment event that they portrayed. The collection also prompted me to consider the various images that emerge in both scholarly and popular accounts of the internment of Italian Canadians. An analysis of how these images have been constructed, interpreted,...

    • 14 The Politics of Redress: The Contemporary Ukrainian-Canadian Campaign
      (pp. 355-378)

      Since the recent success of the Japanese-Canadian redress lobby, Canada has witnessed the rise of other ethnic movements aimed at correcting historical wrongs perpetrated by governments against minorities. Two highly visible campaigns have been the Italian-Canadian and Ukrainian-Canadian redress lobbies. The Italian-Canadian campaign (which, like the Japanese one, demands compensation for actions committed during the Second World War) has been partially successful.

      This three-part essay examines the origins and contemporary politics (section II) and then the reverberations in Canada and in the community (section III) of the partially successful Ukrainian effort, which began in 1980, to focus attention on Canadaʹs...

    • 15 Redress, Collective Memory, and the Politics of History
      (pp. 379-412)

      When Mussoliniʹs Italy declared war on the Allied powers, Benny Ferri, an Italian-born Canadian citizen, became an enemy alien. By late July 1940, he was sent to the internment camp at Petawawa, Ont., along with several hundred Italian Canadians for their alleged association with Fascism. He was twenty-four, single, employed, and law-abiding – a model immigrant. Recalling the episode fifty years later, Ferri noted: ʹIt was very frustrating ... All they told us was that we could be enemies, that maybe weʹd sabotage something.ʹ¹ Ferri was not a ʹfifth columnist,ʹ and he did not pose any other threat to Canada....

  9. Contributors
    (pp. 413-416)
  10. Illustration Credits
    (pp. 417-418)
  11. Index
    (pp. 419-429)