In World War II more than fifty thousand Italian prisoners of war were sent to the U.S., where they received the best treatment among all the Italian prisoners in allied hands. Several factors contributed to that: the high living standard of the American society; the activity of the international and national welfare agencies; the Catholic Church, which played an intense and effective role as far as the Italian prisoners were concerned. Through the Catholic American religious hierarchy and organizations, the U.S. military chaplains, the American and Italian priests, and with the crucial support of the Italian-American communities, the Catholic Church operated non only in the religious assistance to the prisoners, but also in relation to the material treatment, the correspondence with the families, the recreational and educational initiatives. This capillary action enabled the Church to influence the prisoners’ political orientation towards a moderate attitude, to the purpose of favoring the reintegration of the veterans in a new democratic Italy, part of the western block.
Keywords: Italian Prisoners of War, United States, World War II, Catholic Church, Italian-Americans.