A proper depiction of the sorrowful years of the "South Tyrol Conflict"

The actual purpose of exhibitions is to open a “window” for the visitors to the given theme. The visitors must then open the “door” in order to delve more deeply into the given theme.

It was precisely for this reason that the long-time Chairman of the South Tyrolean Heritage Association (SHB), the late Sepp Mitterhofer – who was himself a victim of the sorrowful years of the “South Tyrol Conflict” – gathered together memorabilia and other items of historical value from his old friends, the activists of the “Liberation Committee of South Tyrol” (BAS). In implementing this project, he received significant assistance from Prof. Dr. Erhard Hartung, M.D., who was himself involved in the events of the “South Tyrol Conflict.” Thus, beginning in 2012, a sort of “committee” was formed with the goal of establishing a “BAS Exhibition” in the provincial capital of Bozen. Besides Dr. Hartung, for the most part former BAS activists like Klaudius and Herlinde Molling or Helmut Golowitsch – who himself was forced to endure a term of imprisonment in Italy – were also members of this committee. Beginning in 2014, the subsequent curator of the exhibition, Dr. Hubert Speckner, was invited to join this initial “exhibition committee” on the basis of his research work on the subject of the “South Tyrol Conflict.” In the autumn of 2017, Dr. Speckner, together with his wife, Sylvia Speckner (M.A.), the exhibition designers Martin Dorfmann and Thomas Pomarolli (DP-Art), and the graphic designer of the exhibition, Elmar Thaler (Effekt!), then implemented the project.

Despite his already advanced age, the original initiator, the late Sepp Mitterhofer, was nonetheless able to witness, in May of 2018, the inauguration of the exhibition “BAS – Sacrifices for Freedom” in Bozen. The second initiator, Dr. Erhard Hartung, was unable to attend the festivities because the state of Italy still refuses to rehabilitate or amnesty him for the sentence of life imprisonment imposed upon him – in absentia – in 1970 in Florence. Italy has steadfastly refused to do so in spite of the latest historical research which has been carried out and forensic expert opinions prepared by the Austrian Forensic Expert for Explosives and Military Physicians which rule out, with a “probability bordering on certainty,” that he, together with co-conspirators, could have committed the crimes – the bombings of the “Porze Gap” (Eastern Tyrol / Belluno) in June of 1967, which took the lives of four Italian soldiers. Thus, a substantial part of the exhibition is devoted to the brief portrayal of the “strange occurrences” of the ” Bombing Years” in South Tyrol. These occurrences are still attributed by official agencies in Italy to the BAS activists – although intensive scientific investigation of the available archive material and especially of the photographs made at the crime scenes clearly indicate that they could not have possibly been involved.

Important research work has already been conducted, but there is still a great deal more work which must be done in order to properly portray the sorrowful years of the “South Tyrol Conflict.” The “BAS – Sacrifices for Freedom” exhibition which can be visited in the “Haus der Tiroler Geschichte” can make a contribution towards achieving that goal!

Andreas Schwaighofer (M.A. Jurisprudence)
Chairman of the “Association of South Tyrolean History” and member of the Committee for the Exhibition “Haus der Tiroler Geschichte”