Soldiers of Italian origin in the Allied Armies
Even in Brazil, despite the presence of a large and well-integrated Italian community, the government of Getulio Vargas did not hesitate to arrest those suspected of being Mussolini agents after the country went to war on the side of the Allies ("Il Progresso Italo-Americano", New York, 27 August 1942)
During the war years, Italian Canadians experienced severe discrimination. This included the detainment of innocent people, as recounted in the TV miniseries "Il Duce Canadese" ("The Canadian Mussolini") broadcast in Canada by CBC (Cine Tele Action, 2003). Picture: the cover of the book by Bruno Ramirez based on the film of the same name (Toronto, Guernica 2007).
The Italian-Canadian Antonio (Tony) Basciano (second from left) leaving the training camp of Camp Borden in 1940, Europe bound. After a period in England, Basciano would be sent to fight in Italy. This destination caused him to have mixed feelings: on the one hand, the privilege of being able to fight for the liberation of his homeland, on the other, the fear of having a military clash with his countrymen. In addition, Basciano knew that his half-brother was drafted into the Italian army. In Italy, Basciano took part in the battles of Ortona and Cassino (courtesy of Gina Martin Basciano).
Italian-Brazilian Corporal José Militelo was among the soldiers who began fighting in Italy in 1944 with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (Força Expedicionária Brasileira). His father, Antonio, sent a greeting from Brazil through the newspaper in February (from: "O Globo Expedicionário", Rio de Janeiro, September 7, 1944)
Cássio Abranches Viotti, an Italian-Brazilian soldier who fought in Italy with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. His great-grandfather, Francesco Viotti, had emigrated to Brazil in the mid-nineteenth century from Genoa, (Cássio Abranches Viotti, "Crônicas de Guerra. A Força Expedicionária na Itália", O lutador, Belo Horizonte 1998)
The Italian-American Lieutenant Fred J. Olivi, co-pilot aboard the B-29 bomber "Bockscar", which dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Olivi was born in Pullman, near Chicago in 1922, but his parents were natives of Corsanico near Viareggio, in Tuscany. Until his death in 2004, Olivi always defended the choice of the American command to drop the atomic bomb on Japan, a decision considered necessary to quickly end the war (Fred Olivi, "Nagasaki by choice or by force. The new story of the Italian-American pilot who dropped the second atomic bomb", Milan, FBE, 2009)
Already during the war, John Hersey's novel "A Bell for Adano" (winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1945) paid tribute to the experiences of war of Italian-Americans. The novel narrates the story of Major Victor Joppolo during the Allied occupation of Sicily (John Hersey, "A Bell for Adano" Rome, Castelvecchi Editore, 2013)
The experience of the war remains alive in the memory of veteran Miguel Garófalo. The son of Avellinesi immigrants in Brazil, Miguel served in Italy with the Brazilian Expeditionary Force. Garófalo still actively participates in celebrations of the Brazilian military contribution to the fight against fascism (courtesy of Miguel Garófalo).
Antonio (Tony) Basciano in uniform as a veteran of the Canadian army. After the war ended, Basciano returned to Italy many times with his family and with the veterans of the Royal Canadian Legion. On those occasions, he visited the battlefields on which he fought, as well as his town of origin (courtesy of Gina Martin Basciano).
Eugene (Gene) Giannobile, one of the protagonists of the documentary by Marco Curti "Fighting Paesanos". Having fled with his family to the US from Italy to escape the persecution under fascism, Giannobile enlisted in the US Army during the Second World War and was sent to fight in his homeland (snapshot of the documentary "Fighting Paesanos", courtesy of Marco Curti)
This exposition and the collected material is the result of a broader research developed by the Historical Institute of the Resistance in Tuscany on a project by Consulta dei Toscani all'Estero (Toscani nel Mondo) - Tuscany region.
Curators of the exhibition: Matthew Pretelli, Francesco Fusi