Koopman, Catharina: Campo 78 – the WWII Aussie camp in Abruzzo

Catharina Koopman*

Campo 78 – the WWII Aussie camp in Abruzzo‘, Dante Alighieri Society, Canberra, 29 June 2016 updated

libroA review of the bilingual book, Campo 78: The Aussie Camp, by Gabriella Di Mattia (Accademia degli Agghiacciati, Sulmona, Italy, 2015). The book tells the story of the Australian soldiers detained during World War II in the prisoner of war camp near Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy. ‘The book’, says Koopman, ‘provides personal, often emotional accounts, based mainly on interviews with family members or diaries kept by some of the men, rather than official records, as very little was documented’.

Not enough has been written about Australian POWs in either of our wars, although the collection edited by Joan Beaumont, Lachlan Grant and Aaron Pegram goes some way to redress the balance. Di Mattia’s little book adds to the literature.

The review is on the website of the Dante Alighieri Society of Canberra. The Society was ‘first established in Italy in 1889 with the primary objective of promoting Italian language and culture throughout the world … The Canberra branch of the Society has been actively promoting Italian language and culture continuously for over 40 years.’

Update 23 October 2018: a video on escaping from wartime prisons in this area of Italy.

* Catharina Koopman is a retired Canberra public servant, who regularly visits Abruzzo, where her Italian-born husband and his family still own a house.

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