A dark chapter in Australia’s wartime history has often been minimised or overlooked in mainstream history books. This collection of five scholarly essays, and 15 testimonials, offers new insights into the deeply personal experiences of Italian Australians whose families experienced World War II on the home front. It is the first such compilation by authors originating from northern, central, and southern Italian provinces, and from five Australian States. Although each story is unique, the authors share many Italian cultural values, language, history, and a profound sense of Italianness, as well as a connection to their Australian selves. These essays and narratives consider the often-unintended negative consequences of war, describing our commonalities through their personal struggles and a fundamental human resilience.
Hidden Lives is a valuable addition to Italian Diaspora history, joining Una Storia Segreta (USA) and Enemies Within (Canada) to tell the stories of those immigrants who experienced detention during World War Two as enemy aliens in these allied nations. The combination of emotionally charged personal narratives and well-researched scholarly essays create new history, one that fills a long neglected void in Italian Diaspora Studies, enabling us all to know now what few knew, and even fewer talked about, then.
– Fred Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of Italian/American Studies, Queens College, City University of New York
Hidden Lives offers new, accessible insights on a significant period in Australia’s history. But beyond mere historical account, it urges the reader to consider these events in light of modern Australia’s ongoing debates about multiculturalism, refugees, defence, and political leadership.
– Susan Carland, Director, Bachelor of Global Studies, Monash University
Not many of those Italians, Germans and Japanese that suffered unjustly during that terrible period of world history are amongst us today, but their stories and the memory of those events need to be told and retold. These stories need to be told because history needs to be set right; it needs to be told to do justice to those that were caught in the vortex of war and became victims of “nationalistic” hysteria; their stories need to be told in the hope that we will not repeat these atrocities to new events and to other communities presently or in the future.
– Joseph A Caputo OAM (JP), Hon. President, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia
The first-hand testimonies will not fail to move all who read Spizzica’s volume, which reveals the extent of the travesty of wartime policies.
– Catherine Dewhirst, University of Southern Queensland