Faces of autonomy

The architect

Silvius Magnago
(1914 – 2010)

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Alcide Berloffa

(1922 – 2011)

Representative in South Tyrol of the Christian Democrats, long the governing party of Italy: he strove to achieve understanding for South Tyrolean politics. 

Berloffa, Alcide: Gli anni del Pacchetto, Bolzano/Bozen 2004.
Peterlini, Hans Karl: “Eine Zigarette, Berloffa”, Interview mit Alcide Berloffa, ff – Südtiroler Wochenmagazin Nr. 29, 18.07.2002.
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Joseph Gargitter

(1917 – 1992)

As Bishop of Brixen/Bressanone (1952-1964) and the Diocese of Bozen/Bolzano-Brixen/Bressanone (1964-1986), he was an important mediator between the different language groups and parties to the conflict.


Gelmi, Josef: Bischof Joseph Gargitter: (1917-1991); der Friedensstifter; einer der bedeutendsten Bischöfe unseres Landes, Bressanone/Brixen 2016.
Frenes, Alfred: Al servizio della fede: Vescovo Joseph Gargitter, Bolzano/Bozen 1997.

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The long road to autonomy.
Pioneers, aides and protagonists

Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Paris, also known as the Gruber-De-Gasperi Agreement, was concluded on 5 September 1946 under the peace negotiations after the Second World War that aimed to settle the South Tyrol question. It did not meet the hopes of the population for a return to Austria, but Italy promised “measures to protect the ethnic character and cultural and economic development of the German-speaking part of the population”. The Ladin language group was not mentioned: it was nevertheless later included in the autonomy measures. As an annex to the Italian peace treaty with the victorious powers, the agreement possesses high status in international law. The signatories for Italy and Austria were:

Alcide De Gasperi
(1881 – 1954)

Long-serving Prime Minister of Italy.


Giovanni Bernardini (a cura di): L’Accordo De Gasperi-Gruber. Una storia internazionale, Trento, 2016

Karl Gruber
(1909 – 1995)

Tyrolean politician and Austrian foreign minister at the time.


Gehler, Michael (ed.): Gescheiterte Selbstbestimmung. Die Südtirolfrage, das Gruber-De Gasperi-Abkommen und seine Aufnahme in den italienischen Friedensvertrag 1945–1947. Akten zur Südtirol-Politik 1945–1958, Bd. 1, Innsbruck/Vienna/Bolzano/Bozen 2011.
Bernardini, Giovanni (ed.): L’Accordo De Gasperi-Gruber. Una storia internazionale, Trento 2016.

First Autonomy Statute

The Treaty of Paris formed the basis of South Tyrolean autonomy. However, the autonomy of 1948 was extended to the entire region of Trentino-South Tyrol, where the Italian parties were in the majority. The growing unease about the inadequacy of the measures to protect the German-speaking population led to the policy of “Away from Trento”, accompanied by protracted and difficult negotiations, and even bombings, before the second Autonomy Statute was agreed in 1972. The major South Tyrolean personalities of this first phase included:

Erich Amonn (1896-1970)
A critic of the 1939 agreement between Hitler and Mussolini on the emigration of the South Tyrolean population to Germany (the “Option”), he campaigned for resistance to the Nazi occupation during the Second World War – a necessary precondition when negotiating with the Allies to establish the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), of which he was the founding chairman. His commitment was first to self-determination, then to the first Autonomy Statute.

Heiss, Hans/Lechner, Stefan: Erich Amonn. Bürger, Unternehmer, Politiker. 1896-1970. Ein Porträt, Bolzano/Bozen 2019.

Karl Tinzl (1888-1964)
A former Member of Parliament in the Kingdom of Italy and from 1943 to 1945 Prefect of the Province of Bozen/Bolzano, he served as the SVP’s chief lawyer and from 1954 to 1956 as its chairman; from 1953 to 1963 he represented South Tyrol in the Italian Parliament. In 1958 he was the first signatory to introduce a draft Autonomy Statute that would solely affect South Tyrol.

Trompedeller, Annuska: Karl Tinzl (1888-1964). Eine politische Biografie, Innsbruck/Vienna/Bolzano/Bozen 2007.

Friedl Volgger (1914-1997)
Deported to Dachau concentration camp in 1944 as a member of the anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi group known as the “Andreas-Hofer-Bund”, he was a member of the South Tyrolean delegation at the peace negotiations in Paris after the war, then served for many years as an SVP functionary.

Volgger, Friedl: Mit Südtirol am Scheideweg: Erinnerungen eines KZ-Häftlings, Journalisten und Politiker (überarbeitete und ergänzte Neuauflage), Bolzano/Bozen 2014.

Canonico Michael Gamper (1885-1956)
An important representative of the peaceful anti-Fascist and anti-Nazi resistance, as head of the “Dolomiten” daily newspaper he exerted great influence on South Tyrolean politics. His 1953 editorial on the “Death March of the South Tyroleans” is considered a signal for a political change.

Steininger, Rolf (ed.): Ein Leben für Südtirol. Kanonikus Gamper und seine Zeit, Bolzano/Bozen 2017.
Hillebrand, Leo: Medienmacht & Volkstumspolitik: Michael Gamper und der Athesia-Verlag, Innsbruck/Vienna 1996.

Otto von Guggenberg (1887-1971)
Member of the Austrian delegation to the peace negotiations in Paris, SVP chairman from 1952 to 1954, and a member of the Italian Parliament from 1948 to 1958. He led a demonstrative storming of the prefecture in Bozen/Bolzano that eventually led to improvements in the first Autonomy Statute.

Guggenberg, Carl von: L’Altro Adige. Dableiber e optanti per la nascita della Stella Alpina, Bolzano/Bozen 2022.

Palace revolt

Hans Dietl (1915-1977)
From 1952 he was the regional councillor for agriculture and forestry. Demonstratively resigning from the regional government in 1955, he initiated the policy of “Away from Trento” and the SVP’s new line on autonomy, with whose results he was ultimately not however satisfied.

Peterlini, Hans Karl: Hans Dietl. Biografie eines Südtiroler Vordenkers und Rebellen. Mit Auszügen aus seinen Tagebüchern, Bolzano/Bozen 2007.

Franz Widmann (1921-2012)
As a long-serving SVP functionary, he was significantly involved in preparations for new elections to the SVP leadership, the so-called “palace revolt”.

Widmann, Franz: Es stand nicht gut um Südtirol. 1945-1972. Von der Resignation zur Selbstbehauptung. Aufzeichnungen der politischen Wende, Bolzano/Bozen 1998.

The growing discontent over the failure to implement the autonomy measures led to upheaval, with almost the entire party leadership being replaced at the SVP’s regional convention in 1957. This “palace revolt” was followed in 1957 by the slogan of “Away from Trento”, proclaimed by the new SVP chairman Silvius Magnago on the occasion of a major rally held at Sigmundskron castle.

The Night of Fire

In 1956-57 a group led by Hans Stieler carried out attacks to demonstrate against the attitude of the various Italian governments. At the same time, the Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol (South Tyrol Liberation Committee or BAS) was formed around Sepp Kerschbaumer, a shopkeeper from Frangart/o. Beginning as political actions, these were gradually widened to include attacks. A series of bombings on the night of 11-12 June 1961 saw 37 electricity pylons blown up. This was followed by arrests, severe maltreatment and an escalation of violence, but also by the establishment of the “Commission of Nineteen” to negotiate a political solution for South Tyrol.

Sepp Kerschbaumer (1913 – 1964)
The symbolic figure of the South Tyrolean attacks, he had previously tried to draw attention to the South Tyrol problem with (among other actions) a hunger strike and the forbidden hoisting of the Tyrolean flag. After the “Night of Fire” he was arrested: at the Milan trial he impressed even the Italian media with his straightforward and determined manner. Sentenced to almost 16 years in jail, he died in prison in 1964.


Fontana, Josef/Mayr, Hans: Sepp Kerschbaumer, Eine Biographie, Bolzano/Bozen 2011.
Peterlini, Hans Karl: Feuernacht. Südtirols Bombenjahre. Hintergründe, Schicksale, Bewertungen, 3th edition, Bolzano/Bozen 2021.


The SVP’s harder line led the old leadership to criticise what they saw as overly radical and economically damaging policies. As the so-called Aufbau (“Reconstruction”) group, they made a public appeal that was seen as an attack on Magnago’s policies. Their most vocal exponent was Canon Michael Gamper’s successor at the helm of the “Dolomiten” newspaper:

Toni Ebner (1918-1981)
A co-founder of the SVP, a member of the Italian Parliament from 1948 to 1963, director of the Athesia publishing house from 1951, chairman of the South Tyrolean People’s Party in 1951-1952 and again in 1956-1957 and, until 1969, representative in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

Steininger, Rolf: Toni Ebner 1918–1981. Südtiroler Politiker, Journalist, Unternehmer, Bolzano/Bozen 2018.
Baratter, Lorenzo: Toni Ebner 1918–1981. Con la Heimat nel cuore, Bolzano/Bozen 2020.

The Package

With the significant involvement of Silvius Magnago, the so-called “Package” was agreed with the Italian government: it became the basis for the second Autonomy Statute in 1972. Containing 137 measures, 25 sub-measures and 31 footnotes, the Package was discussed throughout South Tyrol in local groups of the SVP, with two almost equally strong groups crystallising. Fiercely pointed discussions ensued, especially from 1967 onwards. In retrospect, however, even opponents of the Package described these as “great moments for democracy”. At the provincial assembly held on 22-23 November 1969, the supporters gathered around Silvius Magnago achieved a narrow majority of 583 votes in favour, with 492 voting against and 15 abstentions. His defeated opponent, Peter Brugger, shook hands with Magnago following the announcement of the election result and, like most opponents of the Package, subsequently campaigned for its implementation.


Stocker,Martha: Die Paketschlacht. Ringen um die richtige Entscheidung in der Südtirolfrage, Bolzano/Bozen 2019.
Advocates for the Package
At the decisive provincial assembly of 22-23 November 1969, 52 men and one woman, Margit Schwienbacher from the Burggrafenamt district, spoke out. The main issue was whether it was possible to trust a state – i.e. Italy – that had so far not kept its word. Silvius Magnago and his supporters were in favour of this leap of faith: they included the district chairmen Robert Kaserer and Toni Kiem, the parliamentarians Karl Mitterdorfer, Roland Riz and Friedl Volgger, as well as the provincial councillors Franz Spögler and Toni Zelger.
Opponents of the Package
The opponents of the Package mainly emphasised its shortcomings and were of the opinion that more could be achieved. They also distrusted the Italian government to varying degrees. Among the best-known faces, apart from Magnago’s main opponent, Peter Brugger, were the provincial councillors Alfons Benedikter and Joachim Dalsass; the parliamentarian Hans Dietl; the deputy mayor of Bozen/Bolzano Hugo Gamper; and the district chairmen Hans Karl Neuhauser from the Pustertal Valley and Erwin Walcher from Bozen/Bolzano.

Peter Brugger (1920 – 1986)
The most prominent opponent of the Package, from 1952 to 1967 he was a member of the Regional Council and the South Tyrolean Provincial Assembly, serving as provincial councillor for agriculture; from 1956 to 1964 he was spokesman for the SVP’s parliamentary group in the Regional Council and from 1967 until his death the representative for South Tyrol in the Senate in Rome.


Brugger, Oktavia (ed.): Peter Brugger. Eine politische und persönliche Biographie, Bolzano/Bozen 1996.

In the name
of regional unity

South Tyrol was also a heartfelt political issue in Austrian Tyrol: the South Tyrol question was for decades a fixed item on the agenda of meetings in the federal state of Tyrol. The driving force behind this was the notion of regional unity, which was also deeply sensed by the population at large.

Viktoria Stadlmayer (1917 – 2004)
Head of the South Tyrol department of the Austrian federal state of Tyrol from 1957 to 1985 and an influential expert in Austrian diplomacy in regard to South Tyrol.

Riedl, Franz Hieronymus (ed.): Tirol im 20. Jahrhundert. Festschrift für Viktoria Stadlmayer zur Vollendung des 70. Lebensjahres in Würdigung ihres Wirkens für das ganze Tirol, Bolzano/Bozen 1989.

Franz Gschnitzer (1899 – 1968)
A university professor and politician from Tyrol: as State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Federal Chancellery (1956-1959) and in the Foreign Ministry (1959-1961), he was significantly involved in Austria’s policy towards South Tyrol.

Barta, Heinz/Kohlegger, Karl/Stadlmayer, Viktoria (ed.): Franz Gschnitzer Lesebuch. Anläßlich des 25. Todestages von Franz Gschnitzer am 19. Juli 1973, Vienna/Innsbruck 1993.

Eduard Wallnöfer (1913 – 1989)
Originally from South Tyrol, he served as governor of Tyrol for the entire period 1963-1987 and, as such, was a weighty advocate for South Tyrol in Austrian politics.

Humer, Hanns: Eduard Wallnöfer. Eine Biographie, Innsbruck/Vienna 1999.

At national
and international level

Bruno Kreisky
(1911 – 1990)

As Austrian foreign minister from 1959 to 1966, he pioneered the internationalisation of the South Tyrol question at the United Nations. From 1970 to 1983 he was Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria.


Pfeifer, Gustav/Steiner, Maria (ed.): Bruno Kreisky und die Südtirolfrage /Bruno Kreisky e la questione dell‘Alto Adige, Veröffentlichungen des Südtiroler Landesarchivs/Pubblicazioni dell’Archivio provinciale di Bolzano, Bolzano/Bozen 2016.

Aldo Moro
(1916 – 1978)

Influential and formative in the Christian Democrats, long the governing party of Italy, he served as Prime Minister from 1963 to 1968 and from 1974 to 1976 and had a key role in the positive outcome of negotiations on the Package for South Tyrol.

Moro, Aldo/Fondazione Aldo Moro (ed.): L’intelligenza e gli avvenimenti. Testi 1959–1978, Milano 1979.

Giuseppe Saragat
(1898 – 1988)

A co-founder of the Italian Social Democratic Party (PSDI), as Italian foreign minister from 1963 to 1964 and as President of the Republic from 1964 to 1971 he played a decisive role in the positive course of negotiations.


Indrio, Ugo: La presidenza Saragat. Cronaca politica di un settennio 1965-1971, Milano 1971.

and course corrections

The 1972 Autonomy Statute meant that new and complex areas of administration had to be built up, sometimes from scratch. Decisive roles were played in this regard by (among others) Waltraud Gebert (social policy, housing), Anton Zelger (German and Ladin schools and culture), Franz Spögler (economy, tourism), Joachim Dalsass (agriculture), Giorgio Pasquali (landscape, nature and environmental protection, subsequently Mayor of Bozen/Bolzano), Giuseppe Sfondrini (Italian schools and culture, subsequently industry and vocational training), Remo Ferretti (Italian schools and culture) and Valentino Pasqualin (among other roles, deputy provincial governor, subsequently Mayor of Bozen/Bolzano). As a regional councillor, Klaus Dubis rendered outstanding service in the introduction of German-language TV and radio programmes and the setting up of the South Tyrol Broadcasting Corporation (RAS). Also important was Hans Rubner as a long-serving provincial councillor for public works, fire services and civil defence and, from 1987 on, as a senator. Other outstanding personalities in the implementation, critical support and further development of autonomy were:

Peter Brugger (1920 – 1986)
1951–1967 deputato al Parlamento altoatesino e assessore provinciale all’agricoltura, 1967 fino alla morte rappresentante altoatesino al Senato romano.

Alfons Benedikter

As a member of the provincial assembly from 1948 to 1998 and for many years a provincial councillor, he was one of the most influential personalities in the history of autonomy. Despite his opposition to the Package, he was Magnago’s most important associate and his chief negotiator in the implementation of the second Autonomy Statute.


Benedikter, Thomas: Den Grundsätzen treu geblieben. Alfons Benedikters Wirken für Südtirol im Spiegel der Erinnerung, Appiano/Eppan 2012.

Alexander Langer

Founder of the inter-ethnic movement in South Tyrol and a fierce critic of the policy of protecting South Tyrolean minorities through the establishment of separate language groups. Over time, this also resulted in certain course corrections.


Baur, Siegfired/Sbarba, Riccardo Dello (ed.): Aufsätze zu Südtirol – Scritti sul Sudtirolo 1978–1995, Merano/Meran 1996.
Langer, Alexander: La scelta della convivenza, Roma 1995.

Eva Klotz

She is the daughter of freedom fighter Georg Klotz and was a member of the provincial assembly from 1983 to 2007. The leading advocate of the right to self-determination for South Tyrol and secession from Italy, in her opinion autonomy can only offer insufficient long-term protection for minorities in South Tyrol.


Klotz, Eva: Georg Klotz. Freiheitskämpfer für die Einheit Tirols. Eine Biographie, 4th edition, Egna/Neumarkt 2010.

Pietro Mitolo
(1921 – 2010)

The most important representative of the neo- and post-Fascist party known as the Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), he criticised the provisions for minority protection, perceived by the Italian-speaking population as a painful loss of privileges.


Gatterer, Joachim: Aus den Kriegstrümmern zur Demokratie. Zum politischen Werdegang von Alfons Benedikter, Pietro Mitolo und Egmont Jenny, in: Pallaver, Günther (ed.): Politika 11. Jahrbuch für Politik/Annuario di politica/Anuer de politica, Bolzano/Bozen 2011, p. 325-338.
Ignazi. Piero: Il polo escluso. Profilo storico del Movimento sociale italiano, Bologna 1998.

Luis Durnwalder

The successor to Silvius Magnago as provincial governor (1989-2014), he was pivotal in the policy of openness towards the Italian-speaking population, modernisation in terms of economic policy and the further expansion of autonomy into a dynamic form of autonomy.


Asam, Robert: Der Luis. Luis Durnwalders Aufstieg zur Macht. Die Biographie, Bolzano/Bozen 2001.
Durnwalder, Luis/Gehler, Michael: Luis Durnwalder. Erinnerungen. Im Gespräch mit Michael Gehler, Innsbruck 2021.

Wendelin Weingartner

The governor of Austrian Tyrol from 1993 to 2002, he offered decisive new perspectives on cross-border cooperation between Tyrol, South Tyrol and Trentino as well as the development of the Euregio idea.

Föger, Gerhard: Wendelin Weingartner: Skizzen eines Landeshauptmanns, Hall in Tirol 2000.

Concluding the Package

Alois Mock
(1934 – 2017)

Austrian Vice-Chancellor and foreign minister at the time of the conclusion of the Package, he was an important mediator in the clarification of open issues and the settling of the dispute between Austria and Italy as regards the South Tyrol question, which had been pending before the UN since 1960.


Mock, Alois: Standpunkte, Graz, Cologne 1982.
Eichtinger, Martin/Wohnout, Helmut: Alois Mock. Ein Politiker schreibt Geschichte, Vienna/Graz/Klagenfurt 2008.

Giulio Andreotti
(1919 – 2013)

As a colleague of Alcide De Gasperi he was already familiar with the South Tyrol question. Serving in 33 different governments between 1945 and 1999, seven times as Prime Minister, he was one of Italy’s most influential politicians and played a decisive role in clarifying important issues in favour of South Tyrolean autonomy when the Package was concluded.


Andreotti, Giulio: De Gasperi visto da vicino, Milano 1986.
Monzali, Luciano: Die Lösung eines europäischen Minderheitenkonflikts: Giulio Andreotti, Italien und die Südtirol-Streitbeilegung vor der UNO 1989-1992, Europe Talks, Institute for History, Foundation University of Hildesheim, Hildesheim 2017

Roland Riz

With one interruption, he represented South Tyrol from 1958 to 1987 in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, serving as senator from 1987 to 1996. As Magnago’s successor at the head of the SVP, he played a vital role during the decisive years 1991-1992 in the delicate negotiations to conclude the South Tyrol Package.

Dubis, Klaus (ed.) Roland Riz 75: Festschrift, Bolzano/Bozen 2002.
Michele, Andrea Di/Palermo, Francesco/Pallaver, Günther (ed.): 1992. Fine di un conflitto. Dieci anni dalla chiusura della questione sudtirolese, Bologna 2003.