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Space, Violence, and Creativity: Italian POWs in East Africa (1940-1947)


May 1, 2019
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
May 1, 2019
4:30pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall

By September 1943, half a million Italian soldiers were taken prisoners by the Allies and interned in prisoner of war (POW) camps in Africa. Most of them were not repatriated to Italy until 1946–1947 and Italy chose to efface this part of its history right at the end of WWII. In its reconstruction as a Western democracy, only the POWs returning from the Eastern Front could be memorialized. No room was left for those imprisoned by the Allies, particularly for those kept in East Africa.

This presentation investigates how Italian prisoners detained in British camps in East Africa between 1940 and 1947 escaped the trauma of captivity through the performing and visual arts, teaching and discussing authors like Machiavelli and Dante, writing journals, building theaters, and staging opera productions, musical theater, and plays.

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