South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

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pangloss
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South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by pangloss » 13 Mar 2020 17:18

Dear friends,

I am an Italian documentary filmmaker and international researcher.

I'm currently writing an essay on a Fascist propaganda movie called "Harlem" shot in Rome in which South African prisoners of war (Native Military Corps) were used as extras.

I'm trying to find any kind of record about this story and the camp no.122 near Cinecittà (film studios based in Rome) where these South African POWs were detained from the Spring 1942 to Spring 1943. Before "Harlem", South African POWs were used for a nazi propaganda movie called "Germanin - Bayer 205", filmed in Cinecittà and Babelsberg in Berlin.

I was wondering if maybe someone of this forum did research about this topic.

I already have several reports written by the International Red Cross with the name of two camp leaders: Henry Suestane and Bernard Rakeepile.

To be specific, I'm looking for memoirs or war diaries about the making of the movies written by South African soldiers.

The following source is the only one so far I found out:

LANCE CORP
NZAMO NOGAGA
AN AFRICAN SOLDIER'S EXPERIENCES AS PRISONER OF WAR
THE SOUTH AFRICAN OUTLOOK 75.894
october 1, 1945

In this camp no.122, there was another special South African prisoner or war. His name was KAY MASAKI (REAL SURNAME: MAYAKE) and an article published on Time Magazine (August 1944) tells about the boxing match between the former heavyweight champion Italian Primo Carnera and the prisoner Kay Masaki for propaganda purpose. It seems there is another source about this match: "Spingobok" (South African Veterans' Journal, 71, march/apil 1988). Someone knows other details about this story?

Thank you.

Luca Martera

Eligor
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Eligor » 19 Mar 2020 11:20

Hello, maybe I can help you, have you already found the necessary information? :welcome:

pangloss
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by pangloss » 19 Mar 2020 11:43

Actually I'm stiill looking for original sources from South African Military archives and memoirs written by South African POWs in Italy related to the camp 122. I already have the list of prisoners and just two reports from the Red Cross that don't mention the making of films. It seems very difficult to do research in the South African archives. Thank you in advance for your help.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2020 12:15

Hi pangloss,

I have nothing to offer, but find your subject interesting and will follow your thread with interest.

Has "Harlem" survived? Have you seen it?

Happy hunting,

Sid.

P.S. From memory, I think the non-white South Africans captured at Tobruk included a good number of mixed-race "Cape Coloureds", rather than Africans.

pangloss
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by pangloss » 19 Mar 2020 12:25

Yes, I wrote an essay on the original version of the movie, before the cuts made by the Allies (PWB) in 1946. The other Nazi movie "Germanin" with South African extras is available on DVD.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2020 12:28

Hi pangloss,

Have you seen this for general background: https://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.z ... ad/285/327

Cheers,

Sid.

pangloss
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by pangloss » 19 Mar 2020 13:39

Dear Sid,

I already read this essay and I tried to contact the author who is probably one the of the most informed person about this topic. Unfortunately she didn't answer me yet but I don't hide you I'm having some problems to gather information. Maybe it's still a taboo topic.

Anyway thank you for your link.

Luca

Sid Guttridge
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Sid Guttridge » 19 Mar 2020 14:50

Hi pangloss,

The British wrote extensive regimental histories about the Royal West African Frontier Force and Kings African Rifles in WWII and the Rhodesians about the Rhodesian African Rifles, but these we all combat units.

However, the native South African units were non-combatant and so lacked the same glamour. Indeed, nobody seems to write much about their construction units.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Waleed Y. Majeed
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Waleed Y. Majeed » 19 Mar 2020 16:02

You probably already know of this link which mentions south africans and “Bayer 205”. Unfortunately my italian is limited to only a few words. It might be of some help for you. http://campifascisti.it/scheda_campo.php?id_campo=379

Waleed

pangloss
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by pangloss » 19 Mar 2020 16:04

Indeed, Waleed. I'm alreadyin touch with the administrator of campifascisti.it

I think I covered the Italian side. My problem is wih South African military achives. I don't know yet if they kept something about this sensitive topic.

Ksenia7771
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Re: South African POWs used as extras in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Post by Ksenia7771 » 01 May 2020 16:12

Extremely fascinating topic. Unfortunately all I could find is Italian Prisoner of War Camp Records.

It's here if you need it: https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/bl ... taliano726cs

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