Prisoners of Jan Smuts by Karen Horn

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Thanks for listening to this episode of Pagecast, brought to you by Jonathan Ball Publishers. 

Today’s podcast features the remarkable Karen Horn speaking about Prisoners of Jan Smuts

Equally skilled in different trades than in the art of love, the Italian prisoners-of-war who were incarcerated in South Africa during the Second World War are a source of great fascination to this day.

The first Italian POWs arrived in the Union of South Africa in early 1941, most of them being held in Zonderwater Camp outside Cullinan or in work camps across the country. The government of Jan Smuts saw them as a source of cheap labour that would contribute to harvesting schemes, road-building projects such as the old Du Toit’s Kloof Pass between Paarl and Worcester and even to prickly-pear eradication schemes.

Prisoners of Jan Smuts recounts the stories of survival and shenanigans of the Italian POWs in the Union through the eyes of five prisoners who had documented their experiences in memoirs and letters.

Many opted to remain in South Africa once the war had ended, forging quite a legacy. These included sculptor Edoardo Villa, who left an important mark in the local and international art world, and businessman Aurelio Gatti, who built an ice-cream empire whose gelato was to delight generations of South Africans.

In this episode, Karen is in conversation with Monique Verduyn author and literary reviewer.

Enjoy!
15 Apr English South Africa Books · Society & Culture

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