Italy Bestows Medal Of Honor On 2 Local Italian Americans Interned In WWII

Italy posthumously bestows Medal of Honor on two local Italian Americans for suffering Nazi internment in World War II

Medal Honors Long-Overlooked Sacrifice of Italian Military Internees (IMIs)

Fabrizio Di Michele, Consul General of Italy in New York, will posthumously bestow Italy’s Medal of Honor on Rosario Castronovo of North Bergen, NJ, and Giuseppe Maurantonio of Bronxville, NY, on Monday, July 11. Castronovo’s widow, Paola, 96, and daughters, Pietra Carboneri and Mary Ann Fusco, will accept his medal. Maurantonio’s medal will be received by his children, Nicholas, Catherine Blanco, Michael, and Joe. All live in the New York-metropolitan area. The presentations will begin at 10:30 am at the Consulate General of Italy, 690 Park Avenue, New York, NY.

Since 2006, the Medal of Honor has been issued to Italian Military Internees (IMIs), servicemen who had been deported to and interned in Nazi prison camps between 1943 and 1945. “It was belatedly instituted by the Italian authorities as a moral recognition of the sacrifices suffered by civilians and military personnel in the concentration camps,” explains retired Gen. Maurizio Lenzi, son of a former IMI and director of the National Internment Museum in Padua, Italy.* Yet the IMI story is still “virtually unknown,” according to the Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center in Berlin-Schöneweide.

After Italy’s September 8, 1943, armistice with the Allies, 650,000 Italian soldiers were imprisoned in Germany and its occupied territories for refusing to collaborate with the Wehrmacht. Labeled IMIs, they were denied Geneva Convention rights and Red Cross assistance afforded POWs, starved, and put to hard labor. Estimates of the number of IMIs who died in captivity range from 40,000 to 50,000. At war’s end, survivors were largely left to find their own way home.

A native of Sicily, Rosario Castronovo was imprisoned at Stalag IVB outside Dresden, Germany. A native of Puglia, Giuseppe Maurantonio was imprisoned in the Ludwigshafen area of Germany. Both were subjected to forced labor. They eventually emigrated and became U.S. citizens. Maurantonio operated a successful shoe repair enterprise in the Bronx and Yonkers. Castronovo was a longtime employee of L & L Painting of Hicksville, N.Y.

American descendants of IMIs struggle to explain a WWII experience not mentioned in textbooks. Mary Ann Fusco learned of the Medal of Honor while interviewing more than 20 descendants of IMIs in the United States, Canada, and Italy seeking to piece together the puzzle of their relative’s wartime experience. There are still ex-IMIs living in Italy, and she continues to search for survivors here.

“The IMIs were repeatedly tempted with promises of food and freedom in exchange for collaboration, but they persevered in their unarmed resistance,” says Fusco. “Those who survived eventually were liberated from captivity; now their story needs to be rescued from oblivion.”

Monday, July 11, 2022, 10:30 am

Consulate General of Italy

690 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10065

For more information contact:

Mary Ann Fusco – [email protected] | T: (201) 615-6569

Banner Image: Italy Medal Of Honor. Image Credit – Wikipedia

Italian American Museum

Logo A NEW HOME IN THE HEART OF LITTLE ITALY New Exterior The new Italian American Museum (IAM) will serve as a cultural hub and community nexus for Italian Americans and the Little Italy neighborhood. Through permanent and temporary exhibits, robust educational and cultural programming, and collaborations with the community, the IAM will become the preeminent center for learning about and engaging with Italian as a platform for sharing Italian American voices and celebrating Italian American achievements, the IAM will be interesting to both Italian Americans and non-Italian Americans, bringing Italian American culture and heritage to younger generations and a wide range of new audiences. The Italian American Museum preserves, promotes, and celebrates the culture and history of Italian Americans, serving as living record of their contributions to America and a bridge between the remarkable past and the evolving future of the community. By allowing Italian Americans to share their story in their voice, the Italian American Museum will encourage a full appreciation of what it means to be Italian American. News Progress Photos Building Update / Annual Appeal Dear friends, We are pleased to report that we have topped off our new building and the new brick facade is being applied. Below please find pictures of the new building and the brick facade. Topping off the building Close up of the new brick facade View of the brick facade on our building Due to COVID-19 we have postponed all of our fundraising activities for the year including our annual Golf Classic and Ambasciatore Awards dinner. However, we ask that you be as generous as possible during this time of our Annual Appeal since it will be our sole fundraiser for 2021. Please know that we sincerely appreciate your contributions and that funds raised will be used to support the construction for the new building. We do so look forward to seeing you again at the reopening of the “New” Italian American Museum in Fall 2022. We will be bigger and better than ever before. Thank you for your continued support of our Italian American Museum. Andrà tutto bene! Respectfully, Uff. Prof. Joseph V. Scelsa Italian American Museum 19th Annual Golf Classic to be held on Monday, June 6th at North Hills Country Club. North Hills Country Club Exhibitions The New Italian American Museum: Architectural renderings and model for the forthcoming newly designed museum. OUR STORY FROM COLUMBUS TO CUOMO From our beginnings in Little Italy The IAM is located on Mulberry Street in the heart of what was once the largest Italian community in the United States in the first quarter of the 20th century. We became aware of the need for our own Museum in 1999, with the launch of the first major exhibition on Italians in America at the New York Historical Society, “The Italians of New York: Five Centuries of Struggle and Achievement”. The exhibit was a great success and we realized that in order to be part of the cultural dialogue in America, we needed our own Museum. So in 2001, we were chartered in New York State as the first Italian Museum in America. In our Museum, we seek to tell our whole story from Columbus to Cuomo and everything in between, our struggles and our accomplishments through hard work, ingenuity and perseverance. It has not always been easy but we have much to be proud of, for our contributions to American society are enormous. Now we will have a secular cathedral for all to see, experience and appreciate where we came from and what we have achieved.

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