Publication Details

Rando, G, Italo-Australians during the Second World War: Some perceptions of internment, Studi d’Italianistica nell’Africa Australe/Italian Studies in Southern Africa, 2005, 18(1), 20-51. Journal information is available here.


The entry of Italy into the second world war brought considerable disruption to the over thirty thousand strong Italian Australian community whose presence was seen by the Australian authorities as a serious potential threat to national security. About 4,700 mainly male Italian Australians were incarcerated in internment camps while women and children were left to fend for themselves in a highly hostile environment. Although a significant social-historical phenomenon, very few and at best highly partial studies (such as Bosworth and Ugolini 1992, Cresciani 1993, Martinuzzi O’Brien 1993, 2002, in press) have been produced on the subject. Many Italian Australians, however, have tended to reflect, often from a victimological viewpoint, on the internment experience in their memoirs and reminiscences. This paper proposes to provide an additional dimension to the topic by examining oral and written accounts produced by some Italian Australian protagonists of the internment experience with a view to considering how their albeit subjective perceptions provide a particular viewpoint of one way in which Australia reacted to the events of war.