Liverpool is to celebrate its 800 year birthday (received the charter 1207 AD) in 2007 and will celebrate becoming European Capital of Culture in 2008 so we have a couple of big years coming up. In response to these important dates, National Museums Liverpool is building a new museum and in being an employee I am involved in discussing what the content will be. One of the areas I have pinpointed is the different ethnic communities that have coexisted within Liverpool. For those who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t know much about the cultural makeup of Liverpool, in its capacity of a port and its close geographical location to Ireland it has developed distinctly different than anywhere else in England. Amongst other factors because of its large Irish population, which is reflective in the dialect/local accent.
Back to my point. There have been and still are many other cultural communities residing in Liverpool, which have and do contribute to the culture. But for obvious reasons it has been the Italian community in Liverpool, which has most interested me. It was a small community to the north of the city centre. They started to arrive during the1860Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s onwards, probably to board ship for the AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s because Liverpool was the gateway at that time.
Similar to many Irish settlers they could not raise the funds to cost the trip so ended up settling up in Liverpool and later bringing their families to their new community. The area they settled in was predominantly Irish but they coexisted without any rivalry, in fact Italians developed a very good reputation for being hard working and honest in Liverpool, which is no easy feat with Celtic types such as Irish and to a lesser degree Scots and Welsh who were the main identities in Liverpool, oh I forgot the English as well.
However, during the Second World War because of the ItalyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s allegiance to Germany anyone who was remotely linked to being Italian were packed off to interment camps to the Isle of Mann and I believe initially to Canada as well, not so sure this lasted because there was a ship sank by I think a U boat off the coast of Ireland heading to Canada where many Italians lost their lives to the sea.
The funny thing is that the camps to begin with were in Liverpool and there was no hostility towards them from the locals. I think this reaction to put anyone remotely Italian into camps stemmed from the reaction of locals (better known as Scousers) during the First World War to German people living in the city. Whenever their was a ship sank such as the Lusitania the people took it personally (We have always loved all our registered ships, such is the nature of a seafaring folk), so rioted each time, destroying anything remotely German.
At last, my question: Does anyone else have similar or different stories of Italian communities from their countries during the wars? I think it would be good to compare LiverpoolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Little Italy with similar Italian communities elsewhere