Immigration and Urban History Seminar The "Coddling Controversy": Italian POWs on Boston's World War II Homefront 28 February 2012.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:15PM Anne Marie Reardon, Brandeis University Comment: Stephen Puleo, author of The Boston Italians: A Story of Pride, Perseverance, and Paesani, from the Years of the Great Immigration to the Present Day

In early 1944, Italian POWs arrived in Boston to serve in Italian Service Units (ISUs), wearing simplified American military uniforms and doing essential wartime work locally in exchange for increased liberty. Their presence, and more specifically, their level of freedom, led to a local (and eventually national) outcry, accusing the U.S. Army of "coddling" the enemy. Yet the content of these accusations and their rebuttals, couched starkly in the terms of "friends" vs. "enemies," reveals larger ethnic and racial conflicts within the city's fractured wartime social structure over who was fully "American" and deserving of that identity's perceived "rights" in terms of quality jobs, adequate housing, and free personal association.