Refugees had to wait in any of the numerous camps in different locations across Italy, until all necessary papers were processed and passage on a ship to a desired destination could be obtained. Conditions at the camps, although very basic, were bearable, compared to conditions that had been endured and which they wanted to leave. Plentiful food was available, paid work was able to be found outside of the camp walls and spending money was given for private purchases such as cigarettes or lollies.

Link to Refugee Camps

Lucija tells:

‘….Over the Italian border, we were to stay at the camp called San Sabba, where we were inspected-every part of us, and interrogated.

We were in that camp for 3 months and it wasn’t that bad. My husband was able to get a job on the gate, letting only camp people in or out. We lived in a downstairs room which we had to ourselves. Conditions weren’t bad at the camp. All the food was supplied. An international American organisation took care of refugees’ needs. At the camp, there was a communal dining room where everyone came to eat.

The camp was full of people and when it was completely full, the ones who had been there the longest were moved on to a different camp. We went to Cremona which was between Trieste and Napoli. It was in winter and it was very cold when we were moved. We were there for a couple of months, not very long. We couldn’t complain about the food.                                                                  We were then shifted to Bari, another camp. We were there for 4 months.’

Vida remembers:

‘….We went to the commission and we went to a camp in Napoli. We waited with all our documents to go to Argentina. My husband, because he was a communist, wasn’t accepted to go to Argentina. We stayed in Italy until ’48. Others went on to Argentina. Those who weren’t accepted in Argentina were sent to Germany. There, we were accepted but had no rights. We remained there with papers until we were accepted for Australia.’

Hinko recalls:

‘… We had to wait at the camp in Napoli for one year. . We went from Trieste and were sent down to the camp at Bari, which is down, very close to Sicily. We were there for six months. There we had another interview for going to Australia.’

Liliana Eggleston-Tomažič

More about Internment Camps in Austria and Italy

Displaced Persons Camps in Italy and Austria: AcerraBagnoli, St VeitViktring-Vetrinje

Slovenian Migrants Reminiscing


Life in European Internment Camps