Today Italianisation not only was the cause to

two surrounding autonomous provinces in the north of Italy, South Tyrol and
Trentino constitute an autonomous region called Trentino-Alto. Before 1919 both
provinces belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian empire’s region of Tyrol. Even under Austrian control Trentino(Southern) was
always completely Italian-speaking, while South Tyrol was practically populated
with German-speaking inhabitants (‘South Tyrolese’ is still used today to refer
to the local German speakers). With the end of World War I, Trentino and South
Tyrol were integrated into the Italian state by the 1919 Peace Treaty of Saint Germain despite the vast majority of
German-speaking inhabitants in South Tyrol.                                                                                           In
the succeeding years the Italian government issued executive decrees and
legislation that subjected the inhabitants of South Tyrol to forced
Italianisation, in an attempt to end the presence and influence of
German-speakers economically politically and in cultural life, and so schools, trade
unions, political parties and names in the German language were all banned. This
forced Italianisation not only was the cause to a deep historical trauma and
distrust for future Italian policies, but also increased German nationalism.               After
Germany took over Austria in 1938, Hitler and Mussolini agreed in offering the
German-speakers of South Tyrol the options of German citizenship in the
condition that they would emigrate and resettle in the German empire otherwise
they would have to accept the Italianisation. 85% percent chose to resettle in
Germany but only about one third truly left during the times of war and the
vast majority of those returned right after 1945.              

the end of World War II a peace conference took place in Paris where the Allies
emphasize on the autonomy for South Tyrol, to be negotiated by both parts,
Italy and Austria. When invited to the conference to submit its view on the
peace treaty that was going to be discussed with Italy the Austrian government
asked the South Tyrolean People’s Party – the overall representation of the
German-speakers in South Tyrol ever since – to send 3 representatives as consultants
in order to make sure that any agreement would have international guarantees. From
those negotiations was born the 1946 De
Gasperi-Gruber agreement between Austria and Italy, named after two foreign
ministers, Alcide De Gasperi and Karl Gruber, also known as The Paris Treaty. This
treaty defends and makes sure:

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1.     “German-speaking inhabitants
will be assured complete equality of rights with the Italian-speaking inhabitants
within the framework of special provisions to safeguard the ethnical character
and the cultural and economic development of the German- Speaking element.”

populations will be granted the exercise of an autonomous legislative and
executive regional power. The frame within the said provisions of autonomy will
apply, will be drafted in consultation also with local representative German-speaking


This agreement was the foundation for
negotiations on autonomy and Austria’s interest to reach what was on the
agreement because they wanted to work as a ‘protecting power’ for the minority’s.

But this was for sure not an easy task, as the treaty had a lot of misleading
wording in crucial parts and so the success of this treaty was relying on Italy’s
good will and respect of the treaty. Furthermore, it was understandable that
Italy tried to get around this contract because Italians didn’t get what they
most wanted from it, particularly Austrian abdication of South Tyrol. For the
Austrians, the fact that this was the second failed attempt in 30 years to
obtain what they wanted for the South Tyrolese people led them to believe that an
agreement was the only solution. Of course they wouldn’t renounce South Tyrol
but instead they would make a temporary agreement with Italy but in the
Italians’ minds this meant that the territorial stability of an area where they
were in minority would still be in danger. The result of this agreement was called
the Autonomy Statute which was purely interpretive of the Paris-Agreement, and exceptionally


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