The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, June 08, 2004  

Italian-Americans During World War II

Did you know that 600,000 Italian-American citizens of the United States were deprived of their civil rights during World War II and that 10,000 Italian-Americans were placed in “relocation camps” during the war?


Don’t worry, I won’t blame you, because I didn’t know that myself.

I learned of this outrage, some 60 years after the fact, by way of a June 3 article, “From History, A Mystery,” by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter/columnist Tanya Barrientos.

Barrientos’s characteristically excellent piece was not an examination of this sorry aspect of American history. Instead, the writer offered this historical non-nicety in comments about the latest novel from Philadelphia lawyer and writer Lisa Scottoline, Killer Smile.

Both Scottoline, in the article, and Barrientos, in an e-mail to The Rittenhouse Review, were at least as surprised as I to learn of this odd chapter in American history.

Let it be said here that I, as one who is half Italian-American, am not trying to encroach upon the greater tragedies inflicted by the U.S. government and the American people upon Japanese-Americans and German-Americans (the latter another little-documented history) during the same period. I only ask and wonder why I had not, until last Thursday, heard word one about this indignity.

Obviously, there is much more research to be done.

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