8/19/2000 • Book Reviews, Franklin Roosevelt

BELLA VISTA: AN UNSEEN VIEW OF WWII (KSPS Public Television, $24.95).

This video, originally produced for the PublicBroadcasting System, relates a little-known incident of World War II that began inMarch 1941, less than three weeks after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signedinto law the Lend-Lease program that allowed the United States to providearmaments and other war mat?riel to a beleaguered Great Britain. At that time,the U.S. Coast Guard seized 28 Italian ships and their crews, then in Americanports and territorial waters. This documentary program–through archival filmfootage, government documents, and interviews with several of those sailors andothers charged with overstaying the sixty-day on shore limit then allowedseamen–recalls how about two hundred Italian crewmen were jailed when theydestroyed the ships’ engines rather than risk their vessels’ use by the Allies.Highlighted is the story of the internment of these seamen at a 32-acre camp theynamed Bella Vista at Fort Missoula, Montana. There, in addition to the “beautifulview,” they enjoyed weekend soccer tournaments and concerts, as well as languageclasses, that were organized by the almost self-governing community, untilSeptember 1943, when Italy surrendered to Allied forces. One former interneenoted, it was “the best two-and-a-half years of my life.” This video is availableonly by calling 800-735-2377.