Italian military service and emigration

Over 25 million Italians have emigrated between 1861 and 1960 with a migration boom between 1871 and 1915 when over 13,5 million emigrants left the country for European and overseas destinations.
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jwazevedo
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Italian military service and emigration

Postby jwazevedo » 27 Jul 2011, 18:48

My grandfather came to the U.S. in 1906. I've been able to locate his military records from the Archivo di Stato, and he's listed as a "deserter" for failing to report for military service. I understood that a young man of that era could not get out of the country without some proof of military service. I'm wondering if anyone has a clue about how this requirement was circumvented by emigrants.

Grazie,
Jerry

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KarenChristino
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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby KarenChristino » 27 Jul 2011, 19:58

Hi Jerry,

How old was your GF when he left Italy and how does that compare with his missing from service date? Perhaps he escaped beforehand. I imagine that the strictness of the regulation varied from place to place. My GGF in Avellino served in the late 1880s, but seems to have actually gone back to the province to get clearance to leave as his military record shows that he went to NY in 1895. On the other hand, my GGF in Basilicata registered but was passed up for service at around the same time and there is no annotation that he left 10 years later for the U.S.

I'd guess it was pretty easy in some places just to leave. When you think of all the people that still come in and out of this country today despite all the increased security, it certainly seems possible at a time when communications were less advanced.

Karen

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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby Italysearcher » 27 Jul 2011, 21:12

What port did he leave from? I understand you could leave from France without documents.
Ann Tatangelo
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ANNOYING THE SAINTS - Stories of my Life in Italy. http://www.lulu.com/content/paperback-b ... ly/7731505

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jwazevedo
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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby jwazevedo » 28 Jul 2011, 07:27

Thanks for your thoughts, Karen and Ann.

My grandfather was not quite 18 when he immigrated. His military record shows that he was called to service the following year, but was given an extension because he was out of the country. The next year, having not reported, he was listed as a "deserter".

He emigrated from La Havre, so maybe it's true that the proof of service wasn't required if leaving from France. It's just that I hear that emigrants needed a passport and proof of service, so I've been surprised to find neither. Or maybe "surprised" is not the right word. I'm simply trying to understand his life and what he went through, mentally and physically, to get to the States.

Best,
Jerry

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KarenChristino
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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby KarenChristino » 28 Jul 2011, 15:03

If he hadn't been called to service yet, I think he would have been allowed to leave, no? If he was 15 or 16, no one would keep him from leaving as he was too young to be expected to serve. I'd guess the same would apply at 17. If he left with his family and didn't stay in touch with relatives in Italy, I wonder if he even knew that they called him up, gave him an extension or listed him as a deserter!

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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby mler » 28 Jul 2011, 18:50

My husband emigrated in his mid teens and naturalized five years later. Approximately 25 years after his emigration, he received a telephone call from the consulate then serving our jurisdiction informing him that he was wanted in Italy for draft evasion. A visit to the consulate with his naturalization papers took him off the "Most Wanted" posters. :D I'm guessing that this is what happened to your gf. He legally emigrated, naturalized as an American, and never gave it another thought. Italy, of course, had no idea that he became a citizen of another country and, unless your gf informed them of this fact, he would continue to be perceived as a draft evader.

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Re: Italian military service and emigration

Postby jwazevedo » 28 Jul 2011, 19:55

This is all starting to make sense to me now. My GF was 17 when he arrived in the States, alone. It seems that it's possible the government might not have stopped a youth from emigrating, even if he was nearing military age. I had thought that Italy wouldn't issue a passport in those circumstances, but maybe that's not true. I still haven't found a passport and don't imagine that I ever will.

An interesting note on the military service record. After several entries in the 20s confirming that he was a deserter and not entitled to any benefits, there's a final note, from 8 Jan 1946 to the effect that he was given a "congedo assoluto per proscioglimento dal servizio a senso dell'Art. 165 del T.U.", which I interpret to mean that he was discharged from military service. He had naturalized as a U.S. citizen six months before, and whether he told the Italians and this was the result, or whether this was simply a coincidence, I don't know. I do know that he never returned to Italy after immigrating.

Thanks for all your thoughts on this,
Jerry


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