In WW II, were Italians in America victims of prejudice because of Italy's alliance with Germany?

+7 votes
I was looking over some profiles for my wife's Italian family, and it occurred to me, why were there no internment camps for them like there were Japanese? (I've never heard of them if there were.) If there weren't, was it because Italians were European rather than Asian? Against the background of BLM, it made me wonder if prejudice against whatever group is, at bottom, mostly zenophobia.
WikiTree profile: Stefano Cozzaglio
in The Tree House by Bob Scrivens G2G6 Mach 2 (21.4k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

Great article. Thanks! One thing it explains is why I never heard of this before. "But though most Italian-Americans recovered from the order, the rule itself remained. Executive Order 9066 was never successfully challenged during the war. It stayed on the books for more than three decades until 1976, when President Gerald Ford rescinded the order. Its effect on Italian-Americans remained largely unknown until 2000, when Congress passed a bill that directed the attorney general to conduct a full review of the treatment of Italian-Americans during the war. That report was issued two months after 9/11."

Earl Warren, of Watergate fame, was an interesting enabler, too.

Italian Lives Mattered, but security mattered more during the war hysteria. I can see why many Italians are upset about the Christopher Columbus statues being removed against this backdrop.

One final note. If any of you remember Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone, there was a famous episode about  an alien invasion named The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street  where one neighbor was attacked for having a short wave radio, like the one mentioned in this article. So what exactly is an "alien"? Anyone being different, I guess.

Bob S.

So what exactly is an "alien"? Anyone being different, I guess.

Bob S.

commented by Bob Scrivens

Anyone a particular government decides is an alien, which usually means someone not born there, and who had no parents born there.  (I think having one "native born", or properly naturalised, parent classifies one as "native born", even if one is born overseas.  Note: different countries have different rules/laws about this, as many a grandson has found when visiting their ancestral homeland and finding themselves conscripted into a foreign military.) 

Legally, I am an alien.  My residency papers say so.  I just happen to not be an "enemy alien".

1 Answer

+2 votes


To answer your final point would take us into dangerous territory within the new G2G rules.  So, I'll avoid that area.

As Kathie's linked article points out in depth--the Italian-American community did face many challenges at that time. 

Some direct results for my family were that my 1st gen. father joined the military at age 17, that he spoke very little (if ever) about his/our extended family (many still in Italy) and that he never taught or allowed any of his children to learn or speak either Italian or the Arbereshe dialect that he grew up with.

His goal was to disconnect and distance himself and his children from all things 'immigrant-ish'......

Through my genealogical addiction laugh, I have learned so much and reconnected with my Italian cousins and am proud of my heritage!

Side note (and not to go off topic and derail your original post) but you MAY want to update your wife's ancestor's older female's profiles. IF they were born in Italy and died in Italy--they should never use a 'married name'. Italian women were born and died with the same surname--it's only for emigrant/immigrant women that the married name would become used.


by Nick Andreola G2G6 Mach 8 (88.5k points)
A note on Italian dialects. Every region of Italy had its own micro-language or dialect, and a lot of Italian immigrants to the US (and presumably other countries) did not speak "proper Italian". I've heard from a couple different friends of mine that their grandparents and parents refused to teach them their dialect, saying, "You should learn proper Italian instead." They perceived speaking these dialects as being shameful, as marks of being uneducated country people.
My wife's mother sometimes spoke of some Italians not speaking the "mother tongue," which, in her case, was Tuscana. They spoke the dialect that was spoken in Rome, and that was what proper Italian sounded like. People with other dialects, like Sicilians or Calabrese, were regarded askance.
Good advice on keeping the maiden name for women instead of using the married name. I checked ours, and I think they're OK. Generally, I do entries with maiden names because it helps keep lineages clearer.


Tell me what you meant when you wrote: "take us into dangerous territory within the new G2G rules." It looks like I'm missing something! 

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