An Italian-American and native New Yorker, Spinelli is the only United States prisoner of war known to have taken photos while in captivity. Sergeant Angelo Spinelli was captured in North Africa by the Germans on Valentine's Day 1943, and shipped to Stalag IIIB near Furstenburg, Germany.
Using cigarettes obtained from the Red Cross, Spinelli bribed a camp guard to procure a Voitlander camera and film. His more than one thousand photographs document prisoners trading with the guards, combating vermin, preparing meager rations on ingenious cooking contraptions, fighting off boredom by playing baseball, soccer, and football, putting on musical and dramatic theatre presentations, and worshiping in a chapel the prisoners built themselves.
In addition, Spinelli captured dramatic shots of liberation from Stalag IIIA, where he and some 38,000 other Allied prisoners had been moved during the final months of the war. Angelo Spinelli became a decorated combat photographer in the Signal Corps. Born in the Bronx, New York, he now lives in Hallandale, Florida.