Love Lasts Forever
In 1943, as the Allied U.S. and British forces rolled across North Africa, Italian soldiers, who had been without food and supplies for months, outnumbered, exhausted and virtually abandoned as cannon-fodder by their German allies, almost eagerly surrendered in large numbers.
The Italian prisoners were sent to internment camps, some under British authority and some under American responsibility. Over 50,000 Italian POWS were sent to camps across the United States - in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Utah, California, Indiana and elsewhere.
Due to the shortage of labor, with American young men of fighting age having left the farms, fields and factories, a program of prisoner of war labor was established with rules and standards to which those receiving the labor assistance had to adhere. Many local communities resisted "the enemy" working in their midst. But eventually the close contact between the two sides began to break down barriers and long lasting freindships - and romances developed.
Following D-Day, as more German soldiers were taken prisoner and after the fall of Mussolini, the Italian prisoners were offered the chance to enlist in an Italian Service Unit, working in non-combat assistance to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Italians almost universally signed up for the service and were soon replaced in the camps by German POWs.
Following the war, while most Italian prisoners returned to an Italy shattered by war, many others returned to where they had been held captive in the United States and settled to make new lives in their new found home. Many married the local sweethearts they had met.
At many of the prison camps where they had been held, the Italians built chapels and churches in which to worship, unsatisfied with the bland military standard construction huts. Some of these structures of hope and faith still remain.
RED GOLD is inspired by the recollections and memories of those Italian prisoners of war and the events surrounding their internment at different camps and at Camp Atterbury in Indiana, where the Chapel they built still stands today.
©Copyright 2016 Alessandro di Gaetano