BELLA VISTA: AN UNSEEN VIEW OF WWII (KSPS Public Television, $24.95).
This video, originally produced for the Public Broadcasting System, relates a little-known incident of World War II that began in March 1941, less than three weeks after President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the Lend-Lease program that allowed the United States to provide armaments and other war materiel to a beleaguered Great Britain. At that time,the U.S. Coast Guard seized 28 Italian ships and their crews, then in American ports and territorial waters. This documentary program–through archival film footage, government documents, and interviews with several of those sailors and others charged with overstaying the sixty-day on shore limit then allowed seamen–recalls how about two hundred Italian crewmen were jailed when they destroyed 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 they named Bella Vista at Fort Missoula, Montana. There, in addition to the “beautiful view,” they enjoyed weekend soccer tournaments and concerts, as well as language classes, that were organized by the almost self-governing community, until September 1943, when Italy surrendered to Allied forces. One former internee noted, it was “the best two-and-a-half years of my life.” This video is available only by calling 800-735-2377.