by Mark Markov
Brooklyn College, Archival Studies and Community Documentation Minor
Intern at the Brooklyn College Archives and Special Collections
Prigionia (Imprisonment) contains the diaries and notes of Vincenzo Marini, an Italian Cavalry Captain who was a prisoner of war during World War II. Vincenzo Marini was captured in East Africa in 1941 and remained a POW until 1944. The collection is composed of a notebook and 23 loose pages. The notebook contains the description of the surrender of the Italian forces, their imprisonment and transport as well as drawn maps showing Marini’s transport from Africa to India to America and finally back to Italy. The loose pages contain diaries written during imprisonment in India and lists of officers. Conservator Slava Polishchuk constructed a protective box for the collection.
In East Africa, Marini served as Liaison Officer to General Gazzera. The war was not going well for the Italians in 1941 as city after city was falling to the British and Ethiopian rebels. On April 6, the Allies took the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa. Gazzera’s forces in southern Ethiopia were forced to flee their stronghold of Jimma and try to organize a mobile defense. However, due constant British bombing and lack of supplies, the Italian forces were forced to surrender to pursuing Free Belgian forces. The terms of the surrender (in French) were copied by Marini in his diaries.
By the end of 1941, the British had captured hundreds of thousands of Italian servicemen in both North and East Africa. Many were sent throughout the Empire to the India, Australia, South Africa and the United Kingdom itself. Marini was sent first to India, where he was moved from camp to camp. Many soldiers did manual (especially agricultural) labor for the Allies during the war. Officers, such as Marini, were kept separately. After the United States joined the war, Britain asked that America take in some captured Germans and Italians, as there were too many for the British to handle. A couple thousand Italians, including Marini, were sent to US before Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943 and became a co-belligerent against Germany. Slowly, Italian POWs were transported back to Italy. Marini himself arrived in Naples on February 6, 1944.
Related materials at the Hess Collection
Great Britain. War Office. The Abyssinian campaigns … The official story of the conquest of Italian East Africa. London: H. M. Stationery Off., 1942. Hess – D766.84 .G7 1942h
Mockler, Anthony. Haile Selassie’s War. New York: Olive Branch Press, 2003. Hess – DT387.8 .M53 2003
Amedeo, duca d’Aosta. Da Addis Abeba a Nairobi. Pozzuoli: Arti grafiche D. Conte. Hess – D766.92 .A55x 1942ah
Barker, A. J. Eritrea 1941. London, Faber, 1966. Hess – D766.84 .B3h
Tedone, Giovanni. I ricordi di un prigioniero di Menelik dopo il disastro di Adua. Roma: Il Sottufficiale italiano, 1915. Hess – DT387 .3 .T436x 1915h
Del Boca, Angelo. The Ethiopian War, 1935-1941. Chicago, Univ. of Chicago Press, 1969. Hess – DT387 .8 .B5513 1969h
Keefer, Louis E. Italian Prisoners of War in America, 1942-1946: Captives or Allies? New York: Praeger, 1992.
Moore, Bob, and Kent Fedorowich. The British Empire and Its Italian Prisoners of War, 1940-1947. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave, 2002.
Moore, B. “Turning Liabilities into Assets: British Government Policy towards German and Italian Prisoners of War during the Second World War.” Journal of Contemporary History, 1997, 117-36.
Bersani, Ferdinando. I Dimenticati: I Prigionieri Italiani in India : 1941-1946. Milano: Mursia, 1975.
Ceragioli, Leone. Uomini soli, impressioni vissute di un prigioniero di guerra. Milano, E. Bestetti, c1946.