Industrialization and World War II
Bagnoli was one of the sites of Naples' industrialization in the early 20th century, with the construction of a steel mill. During World War II Bagnoli was damaged as a result of the bombings of Naples.
After World War II, Bagnoli was overbuilt by virtually uncontrolled construction and then suffered urban decay. The first decade of the 21st century saw the removal of the steel mill and some improvement in the physical and visual landscape of the area, including the construction of a public educational facility and convention center called Città della Scienza ("Science City") as well as the conversion of the long ex-steel-mill industrial pier to a public promenade.
Bagnoli Displaced Persons Camp
Between 1946 and 1951 Bagnoli was the site of a Displaced Persons camp run by the International Refugee Organization. The complex occupied by the camp was originally built to provide a home for young people in need by the Bank of Naples Foundation on the occasion of the four hundredth anniversary of its foundation. The facility, "Collegio Costanzo Ciano", was a novelty in the field of social architecture in that it responded to the need to "ensure intellectual and political education, physical training and gymnastics". It contained schools, dormitories, infirmaries, workshops, sports building, a church and the theater, all set in a pleasant landscape setting.
The project, designed by Francesco Silvestri, was divided into a series of terraces facing south which required substantial earthworks. The area chosen extended about 320 thousand square meters and was located between the district of Bagnoli, the slopes of the adjoining hills and the boundaries of site of the Triennial Exhibition of Overseas Italian Territories (Italian: Triennale d'Oltremare) at Fuorigrotta. The complex was designed to house approximately 2500 students of both sexes.
The work lasted a little over a year and was completed in April 1940 to coincide with the completion of the exhibition. On May 9, 1940 Victor Emmanuel III officially opened the College and the Triennial Exhibition.
The facility was occupied by the Italian War Ministry until 1942 when it was turned over to Gioventù Italiana del Littorio, the youth movement of the Italian Fascist Party, later, to the Germans for an Officer Candidate School until 1943.
In 1944 it became an Italian orphanage. In mid-February 1944, the 765th US Squadron occupied the site.
After World War II, it was used as a Displaced Persons camp, housing between 8,000 and 10,000 refugees, mainly from Eastern Europe, who were being processed for immigration to various countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, and the USA. At one time there were complaints about disease and children dying.
An appalling atrocity by the Western Allies was knowingly committed at the refugee camp after World War II as part of "Operation Keelhaul" which was the last forced repatriation from Bagnoli as well as other refugee camps at Aversa, Pisa, and Riccione, of about one thousand displaced people who were categorized correctly, or incorrectly, as ex-Soviet citizens. Their ultimate fate was execution or imprisonment in the Gulag of Soviet Russia.
Relocation of Allied Forces Southern Europe (AFSOUTH) to the area previously occupied by the camp at Bagnoli started in January 1953, and the new complex was formally activated on 4 April 1954, the day of the 5th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty.
Notes and references
- "Le opere pubbliche" — a web site about the history of Fuorigrotta, the adjoining suburb to Bagnoli. (Italian)
- Veltri, F. (undated) AFSOUTH, 1951-2004: Over fifty years working for peace and stability
- Post World War II — Refugee Camps and Holding Stations
- The Canberra Times. Monday 21 November 1949, p.1
- Tolstoy, N. (1977). The Secret Betrayal. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 360. ISBN 0-684-15635-0.
- "Bird's eye" view of the Bagnoli DP Camp complex today
- Image 1, Image 2 of Bagnoli DP Camp
- A personal account of life at Bagnoli refugee camp at istrianet.org - People, Memories
- Post World War II — Refugee Camps and Holding Stations at istrianet.org
- Example of a Displaced Person who was processed at Bagnoli migrant camp and who migrated to Australia.
- Example of an Italian Displaced Person who was processed at Bagnoli refugee camp and who migrated to Australia.
- Images of the former DP Camp in use by AFSOUTH.