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Transcript: Mr Domenico Scuglia discusses restrictions on Italians in Australia during WWII

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Mr Domenico Scuglia was born in Italy in 1924, came to Liverpool in 1937, and was [media]interviewed in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900 to 1960.' He discusses here the restrictions placed on free movement of Italians in Australia during World War II, due to Italy's membership of the Axis Powers.


DOMENICO: During the war you couldn't go out of Liverpool, a certain distance. If you planned to go anywhere on business you had to get a permit, to let you go. Provided that you didn't get into trouble, and we carried on like that, we had no problems

INTERVIEWER: That was because you are Italian?

DOMENICO: Yes, that was for the war years.

INTERVIEWER: Did your family resent that at all?

DOMENICO: No, you're there and that's it; you had to do it. My father used to never go out or cause trouble or anything and everybody could see that. We had no problem.

INTERVIEWER: You didn't get any harassment from the local people during the war?

DOMENICO: No, no, not here because as I said we knew nearly everybody; small town. Tell you what, they did intern some naturalised [Italians]; it all depended on political involvement. But the majority wasn't naturalised. We applied for it, and they refused our naturalisation during the war years. After the war we applied again and got it through. Actually, we weren't interned but [we were] in the area, in the town itself. If you wanted to go anywhere you asked for a permit and they gave you a permit. You behave yourself and you can get it again.

INTERVIEWER: Who did you have to go to?

DOMENICO: The police.

INTERVIEWER: The Liverpool police?


INTERVIEWER: And what were they like?

DOMENICO: They were alright. As I said we used to know everybody, we used to know the sergeant in charge because his kids and us go to school together, friendly, you know.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever have to request to go out further than the seven miles [limit]?

DOMENICO: If you had to go on business they would give you [a permit]; but if not, if it was just for pleasure, 'no'. They'd say 'What do you want it for, what are you going to do over there?' and if you say 'visit a friend' well, 'no'. If I had to look for something to do with the farm, then 'yes'. That was fair enough, I think. They used to call us 'aliens', enemies, see? Not the Greeks, not the Russians because they were Allies; but we had nothing to do with the war, they started the war over the other side [of the world]. If you had crook neighbours, and they kept reporting you every day, you had a headache, I tell you.

INTERVIEWER: And what were your neighbours like?

DOMENICO: Very good. Once in a while they used to go there [the police station] every week, they told us long afterwards; always told them [the police] '8 o'clock [Scuglia family] turn the lights out and they're in bed.'

INTERVIEWER: So they would report on you once a week?

DOMENICO: They [the police] were checking up, to see our movements, thought we might be spies or something. We had none of that, we got on all right. [1]


Catherine Johnson (ed). Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900–1960 (Liverpool: Liverpool City Council, 1986). http://mylibrary.liverpool.nsw.gov.au/Electronicbooks/Lookingbackatliverpoolanoralhistory-1900-1960.pdf


[1] Mr Domenico Scuglia interviewed for Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900–1960 project, Liverpool City Library, audio, Liverpool, 1986, http://liverpool.spydus.com/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/ENQ/OPAC/BIBENQ?BRN=25453