The hidden life of imprisonment and marriage

Being in war leaves a mark on anybody’s life. They are forever changed as a person. But what would the side effects of being imprisoned be? 9 years after his death, his son Pasquale Brizzi and granddaughter Lidia Brizzi sit down to recount the stories of Vincenzo’s life.

World War II. Imprisonment. And simply having a smart mouth towards his superiors, left Vincenzo Brizzi in months of torturous imprisonment. The 21-year-old was forced to protect his country in WWII, alongside many of his childhood friends. During the 6 month period they fought, Australian soldiers captured many Italians, himself included.

The aftermath of World War II left Italy with a destroyed economy, and a divided society. Anger flourished as well over Italy’s embarrassment of being occupied by the Germans and then by the Allies.

After his return to Italy, Vincenzo left after the controversy of the aftermath from the war. His life in Australia begun properly and he found a home with a friend he met in the war. Years were spent building his home and trying to find jobs that could keep him stable and his newly wedded wife, who he was yet to meet.

Vincenzo’s life with his wife Paola Baggetta officially begun 5 years after escaping from the war. Their wedding was held in Italy, where both of their family members were involved as well as 200 guests. The only problem was that Vincenzo was still in Australia and his brother met his bride at the aisle.

Proxy marriage became a solution for many men who wished to marry women from their own cultures and villages. The women would be part of a marriage ceremony in their home countries, with family members standing in—as a proxy—for the groom, before migrating to join their husbands in Australia.

A year later Vincenzo was no longer looking at a photograph at the woman, but retaking photographs with his wife in her wedding dress. As Pasquale retold the story of his parents life, his daughter sat there, just as shocked as I was.

“Like hell I knew any of this” She said “How do I even look at Zio Pepe the same knowing he married Nonna”

From WWII imprisonment to allowing his brother to marry his wife on his behalf, Vincenzo Brizzi lived the life of many normal Italian men. The only difference was that besides the 200 guests at ‘his’ wedding, he intended to keep their proxy wedding a secret, in fear of embarrassment