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A Land on the Threshold

South Tyrolean Transformations, 1915–2015

Edited By Georg Grote and Hannes Obermair

Among the many commemorations of World War I, little was made of the 100th anniversary of the secret Treaty of London between Italy and the Western War Allies in April 1915, which sealed the fate of South Tyrol for the duration of the twentieth century by passing it from Austria to Italy. In May 2015, a symposium was held in the medieval Prösels Castle in the Italian Dolomites to mark this historical moment. Contributors set out to explore the political, social and cultural impact of South Tyrol’s existence «on the threshold» during the twentieth century.

Individually and collectively, the essays in this volume challenge the simplistic reading of South Tyrol as merely a geographic region torn between Germanic and Italian cultures; instead, they explore the dynamic effects of its geographical, political and cultural history since 1915. South Tyrol, as a modern regional state in Europe, faces many of the same problems as other European regions, be they individual states or sub-state regions. Most of the contributions in this volume are from academics and intellectuals within the Province of Bolzano/Bozen who negotiate and discuss these issues through their native languages: German, Italian and Ladin. By making their research accessible through English translations and abstracts, this volume seeks to bring their work on historical and contemporary developments in South Tyrol to a wider European and global audience.

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Part I: History

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part i History Rolf Steininger 1 1918/1919. Die Teilung Tirols abstract Rolf Steininger sets the stage for the story of South Tyrol as we know it today, which began at the end of World War I, describing in detail the effects of the ceasefire and the ensuing Treaty of St. Germain agreements on the population and political life in South Tyrol. He also analyses the initially ambivalent Italian rule over its new province while Tyrolean politicians north and south of the Brenner Pass protested vociferously against the perceived injustice resulting from the partitioning of the country, despite Woodrow Wilson’s political ideals. Die militärische Niederlage der Mittelmächte besiegelte auch das Schicksal Tirols. Alle Versuche von Seiten Österreichs und Tirols, die Einheit des Landes zu retten, schlugen fehl. Am Ende der Friedensverhandlungen in St. Germain wurde Südtirol als „billige“ Kriegsbeute Italien zugeschlagen und am 10. Oktober 1920 offiziell annektiert. Bei allen Untersuchungen über dieses Thema steht ein Mann im Mittelpunkt, der letztlich für diese Entscheidung verantwortlich gemacht wird: der amerikanische Präsident Woodrow Wilson. Er galt seit den von ihm im Januar 1918 verkündeten 14 Punkten als Garant für das Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Völker, das Grundlage künftiger Friedensverhandlungen werden sollte. Am Ende waren die von der Missachtung dieses Prinzips Betroffenen zutiefst enttäuscht und voll Verachtung für diesen Mann. Das betraf nicht nur Österreich und Tirol, sondern auch Deutschland. Als Wilson 1924 starb und in Washington auf den Botschaftsgebäuden die Fahnen auf Halbmast...

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