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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 II: Historiography


part ii Historiography Markus Wurzer 5 Genesis of the South Tyrolean Iconic Figure Sepp Innerkofler: Actors, Narrative, Functions abstract In 1915 Sepp Innerkofler, a famous mountain guide from South Tyrol, died in battle on the Italian front. Shortly after his death he was glorified as a war hero. In this chapter Markus Wurzer seeks to answer the following questions: Who constructed the war hero? Through which practices did the actors create the heroic narration? How was the narrative configu- rated? And finally, which were the motives that promoted the genesis? When you visit the Messner Mountain Museum, which is located at Castle Sigmundskron nearby Bozen, you will discover six sculptures of 230cm height placed within the circular wall. They had been created by the Tyrolean sculptor Alois Fasching on behalf of the owner of the museum, the famous mountaineer Reinhold Messner. The sculptures represent important figures of the Tyrolean history from the fourteenth up to the twentieth century personally chosen by Messner: First of all, you will recognize the poet Oswald von Wolkenstein (1376–1445) and the rebel Michael Gaismair, who led the peasants during the German Peasants’ War (1524–1525). In the second place, you will detect Andreas Hofer, Josef Speckbacher and Father Haspinger, who became leaders of the Tyrolean Rebellion against the French and Bavarian occupation forces during the War of the Fifth Coalition (1809). Accompanying these Tyrolean heroes, Fasching also created a sculpture of the mountain guide and innkeeper Sepp Innerkofler. During World War I he fought...

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