The road
to autonomy

Has South Tyrol achieved the best possible results with its autonomy? Or could more have been obtained?  

What is certain is that the road to autonomy has been long, often with higher interests in play, with setbacks and even suffering. That the road would lead to peace was far from self-evident.



The Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain

The peace treaty at the end of the First World War seals the division of Tyrol and the transfer of the southern part to Italy. South Tyrol hopes in vain for self-determination or autonomy.


The March on Rome

Fascists march on Rome as their leader, Benito Mussolini, takes over the government. Fascism comes to power in Italy. It oppresses linguistic minorities and promotes immigration from other regions with the aim of full Italianisation of the “new provinces”.


The option

Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany present the German and Ladin-speaking populations of South Tyrol with a choice: emigrate to the German Reich or remain in Italy, but without any protection for minorities. More than 85 % opt for Germany: some 70,000 emigrate between 1940 and 1943.


Allies occupy part of Italian territory

The Allies invade southern Italy. On 8 September 1943, following the fall of Mussolini, a new government in Rome signs the act of surrender. The German Wehrmacht occupies northern Italy and declares the provinces of Bozen, Trento and Belluno to be its Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills.


A new phase

The end of the Second World War permits a new, democratic beginning. On 8 May 1945 the Allies approve the establishment of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) and recognise it as representing the German and Ladin-speaking communities in South Tyrol.


The Paris Agreement

The hope of self-determination is again not fulfilled in 1946. The Allies support the continuation of Italian rule over South Tyrol. Under the Gruber-Degasperi agreement, however, Italy must grant concessions with protection for German speakers and the authorisation of the return of those who had opted for Germany.

First Autonomy statute

A first autonomy statute for the region of Trentino-South Tyrol is introduced. The political representatives from South Tyrol are not satisfied: autonomy for various competences lies with the region (which has an Italian-speaking majority), rather than with the province of Bozen (which has a German-speaking majority). Nor does the statute make any mention of the Ladin minority.
1948 – 1957

Autonomy disregarded

The Italian-speaking population represents the majority in the region so that the demands of the German and Ladin minorities are rejected. In the eyes of the South Tyrolean population, the basic points of the Degasperi-Gruber agreement have not been put into practice. Discontent is also growing because of internal migration of the Italian workforce and families.

Silvius Magnago becomes chairman of the SVP

In 1957 Silvius Magnago becomes chairman of the SVP. Supported by the hard-line wing of his party, he calls for a rally at Sigmundskron Castle to protest against Italy’s approach to South Tyrol. Some 35,000 demonstrators attend and demand autonomy for South Tyrol.

The event at Castel Firmiano

Sigmundskron Castle sees 35,000 people come to a rally organised by the SVP under pressure from the party rebel, Hans Dietl. The demonstrators call for autonomy for the province of Bozen and accuse Rome of furthering the migration of Italians into South Tyrol.


The UN resolution

The new Austrian Foreign Minister, Bruno Kreisky, succeeds in bringing the South Tyrol problem to the UN, which calls on Italy and Austria to solve the problem together: initial negotiations offer little hope of success.


The Commission of the Nineteen

The Italian government sets up the so-called Commission of Nineteen (11 Italian speakers, 7 German speakers, 1 Ladin speaker). After three years they submit a first draft for a new autonomy statute: autonomy is to be transferred to the two provinces of Bozen and Trento.


The Night of Fire

It is the climax of a long series of attacks that had begun in 1956. The perpetrator of the attack is the separatist group BAS Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol (Liberation Committee for South Tyrol). “The Night of the Fires” draws the attention of Italian and European public opinion to South Tyrol.


Yes to the Package

After lengthy negotiation, Italy, Austria and a small group led by Silvius Magnago all agree on a “Paket” (package) of measures to be implemented according to an Operation Calendar. The SVP only accepts this package by a narrow majority.


The second Autonomy Statute

The second Autonomy Statute enters into force. Many details are yet to be clarified by the so-called Commission of Six over the following years, with both supporters and opponents working together. Key figures include Alcide Berloffa, Roland Riz and Alfons Benedikter.


Alcide Bwerloffa becomes chariman of the Commission of Six and the Commission of Twelve

Alcide Berloffa continued to play a central role in the implementation of autonomy. From 1972 to 1994, he was chairman of the Commission of Six and the Commission of Twelve. From 1977 to 1994 he was a member of the Council of State. He also contributed to the establishment of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, becoming its vice-president in 2002. Alcide Berloffa died on 25th February 2011. He was married to Vanda Segato, with whom he had two children, Paolo and Giovanna.

Acquittance release

The Italian Government adopts the latest provisions in the “package”. Italy and Austria report to the UN that the long-standing international dispute over South Tyrol has been settled. Negotiations between South Tyrol and Rome on “dynamic” autonomy however continue.