The “South Tyrol Problem”

Helmut Golowitsch

November 1918

The Austro-Hungarian Empire – hungry and exhausted – collapsed and broke into fragments. Most of the non-German troops left the front and returned to their respective homelands – newly-born nations. In accordance with the Terms of Ceasefire imposed by Italy, the Austro-Hungarian troops retreated to behind the so-called “Brenner Line.” Italian troops then occupied South Tyrol without a fight. On October 10, 1920, Italy annexed the region – a situation which today is still described and celebrated as a “glorious” victory of the Italian state. An estimated 230,000 Tyrolese suddenly found themselves in Italy. About 300,000 of their countrymen remained on Austrian territory.


April 24, 1921 The “Bloody Sunday” in Bozen

Italian fascists attacked a procession held in traditional local costume held during the Bozen spring trade fair. They fired shots and lobbed hand grenades into the crowd. Some 50 South Tyrolese were wounded, and the teacher Franz Innerhofer was murdered.


October 28, 1922 The March to Bozen

The Fascists seize power in Italy.


1923 to 1939 “Measures” to Italianize South Tyrol

Ettore Tolomei, the Fascist who masterminded the ethnic transformation of South Tyrol and the founder of the Italian names for South Tyrolean towns and geographical features, made an announcement on July 15, 1923 on behalf of the “Duce” Benito Mussolini in the municipal theater of Bozen. He proclaimed the Italianization of South Tyrol – a process which was soon quickly implemented.


1939 The “Option”

In accordance with an “Option” agreed upon by Hitler and Mussolini, South Tyrolese had to decide between either German or Italian citizenship. The terrible alternative was to either lose their homeland or lose their national identity. With a heavy heart, approx. 74,500 South Tyrolese left their homes and farmsteads. Rumors claimed that those who opted to remain would be “transferred” to the south of Italy.


1943 The “Alpine Foreland Operational Zone”

Italy’s switching sides and the establishment of German supremacy over South Tyrol in the context of the “Alpine Foreland Operational Zone” meant the end of emigration. At first, the German-speaking inhabitants of South Tyrol rejoiced when the German Army marched in. It appeared as though they were now liberated from the Fascist oppression and that the relocation of South Tyrolese from their homeland had come to an end. But the hope for a better future soon faded.


1945 The return of Fascism in a democratic disguise

Again, Italy had changed to the winning side at just the right time, and had thus received from the Allies South Tyrol as a final “war booty” and “consolation prize” for the loss of its African colonies, the Dalmatian coast, and the larger portion of Istria. The year 1945 did not mark a truly democratic new beginning in South Tyrol. The Christian-Democratic administration under Alcide De Gasperi had announced the goal to retain South Tyrol under Italian rule at all costs.

De Gasperi was a member of the Christian-Democratic Party. In 1923, he had personally supported the seizure of power by the Fascists. After the end of World War II, many prominent persons who had compromised themselves during the Fascist era now presented themselves to the world as “Democrats” and “Christian-Democrats” (i.e., they joined the “Democrazia Cristiana” or “DC” party). This included such prominent politicians as Giovanni Leone, Amintore Fanfani, Fernando Tambroni, Giulio Andreotti, Paolo Taviani, and Giacinto Bosco.

The DC Minister of the Interior Mario Scelba played a special role in post-war Italy in that he authorized the bloody suppression of the independence movement in Sicily and Communist unrest. In doing so, he made use of tried-and-true Fascist thugs, and was supported by Rome’s vassals in the provinces, the prefects. In 1960, 62 of the 64 Italian senior prefects and all 241 vice-prefects were former Fascists. All 135 questors (provincial police presidents) and their 139 deputies were likewise former Fascists. [1]


The reestablishment of a Fascist South Tyrol and further measures to undermine democracy

In South Tyrol, the so-called “epurazione” or “purification” (= “purging”) of Fascist elements from the Civil Service carried out in 1945 and 1946 descended into farce. The majority of the Fascist functionaries and civil servants were rehabilitated by the “Purification Commission” and were mostly allowed to remain in office – especially in the judicial branch. South Tyrol mutated into a secure port for Fascists who had to live in fear of discovery in other provinces. In addition to this, there were numerous refugees from Dalmatia and Istria and the state-directed transfer of people from Italy’s impoverished south. The migrants were immediately given state-subsidized dwellings of which thousands had been built but of which only about six percent were assigned to South Tyrolese. The migrants were quickly given public sector jobs or, through the Employment Office, otherwise assigned positions in the private sector – jobs which were denied to native South Tyrolese. As a consequence of this, thousands of young South Tyrolese left their homeland each year – 7,000 in 1959, alone. Furthermore, Rome also undermined or prevented the return (agreed upon in the 1946 Paris Treaty) of the approx. 75,000 South Tyrolese who had emigrated in the context of the coerced “option” of 1939. Because of the delaying tactics of the Italian state, only about 20,000 to 25,000 later returned to their homeland. The goal of this “51% policy” was to attain an Italian majority in the land as quickly as possible, and thus to forever confound efforts for South Tyrolean self-determination.


A falsified treaty

During a rally held on April 22, 1946 in Innsbruck, a resolution with 155,000 secretly collected signatures of German-speaking and Ladin South Tyrolese – practically the entire adult population of South Tyrol – was handed over to the Austrian Federal Chancellor, Leopold Figl. The South Tyrolese had signed a resolution stating: “It is our unshakeable wish and will that our homeland of South Tyrol from the Brenner Pass to the Salurn Close be reunified with northern Tyrol and Austria!” Rallies were held in all of the cities. On April 30, 1946, the Victorious Powers rejected Austria’s petition for the self-determination and return of South Tyrol, but on September 5, 1946, due to the insistence of the Allies, an Austro-Italian treaty was signed: The Paris Treaty – also known as the “Gruber-de Gasperi Treaty” (after the two “main negotiators”). This treaty provided for an autonomous legislature and administration for the “province of Bozen” and the “neighboring bilingual communities of the province of Trient” (i.e., communities of South Tyrol’s “Unterland” area which had been ceded to the province of Trient during Mussolini’s Fascist rule). However, in the First Autonomy Statute of 1948, this “right to self-administration” was transferred to the region of Trentino – South Tyrol in which the provinces of Bozen and Trentino had been forcibly joined together and in which the South Tyrolese suddenly found themselves in the minority vis-à-vis the chiefly Italian population and in whose joint regional parliament for “Trentino – South Tyrol” they face a two-thirds majority of Italian delegates to this day.


“It is a death march…”

In the meantime, “democratic” Italy continued its Fascist immigration policy. In 1910, 2.92% of the population of South Tyrol was Italian. By the year 1953, this had risen to 33.55%. “People’s residential dwellings” were built to house the immigrants from southern Italy who had been brought here on state subsidies. Between 1946 and 1956, 4,100 “People’s residential dwellings” were built in Bozen, alone – of which 3,854 were issued to Italians and only 246 to South Tyrolese. On October 28, 1953, the spiritual leader of the German-language ethnic group, the priest and publicist Canon Michael Gamper wrote in the publication “Dolomiten:” “The deliberate infiltration of our people is continuing. After 1945 and after the signing of the Paris Treaty, many tens of thousands immigrated here from the southern provinces. At the same time, the return of several tens of thousands of our relocated compatriots was prevented… We South Tyrolese are on a death march unless salvation finally comes.” [2]


Initial attacks by the “Stieler Group”

Between September of 1956 and January of 1957, a group of young men assembled by the printer Hans Stieler and his two brothers carried out initial “demonstration attacks” for the purpose of drawing European attention to the happenings in South Tyrol. Hans Stieler and his colleagues were arrested in January of 1957 and in part severely mistreated (torture methods developed during Fascist era were employed).


Formation of the “Liberation Committee of South Tyrol” (BAS)

Together with other patriots, the businessman Sepp Kerschbaumer (from Frangart) secretly founded the “Liberation Committee of South Tyrol” (“Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol” = BAS). Initially, only non-violent methods – including handbills, circulars, and petitions) were used to protest. When, on October 1, 1957, the Italian Labor Minister Guiseppe Togni announced the construction of a new residential area with 5,000 units in Bozen for Italian immigrants, “Dolomiten” published an impassioned protest on its title page, with the headline: “German Culture Strangled in Bozen – Rome Spares No Costs to Relocate New Italians.” On November 17, 1957, a good 35,000 South Tyrolese assembled at the Sigmundskron Castle to form an enormous protest demonstration. While the Chief of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), Dr. Silvius Magnago, held a speech under the motto “Separation from Trient!” demanding that the Paris Treaty be fulfilled and true autonomy for South Tyrol be granted, BAS flyers authored by Sepp Kerschbaumer were distributed in the crowd. The flyer read:

“Compatriots! In the almost 40 years of Italian rule, our people had never found itself in such a dangerous situation as today. That which almost 20 years of Fascism failed to achieve with its violent methods of suppression, democratic Italy has nearly achieved in almost ten years. Despite the Paris Treaty! Just ten more years of “Christian-Democratic” rule in South Tyrol, and they will have attained what was their goal from the very beginning: To make South Tyrolese a minority in their own land… Compatriots! It is five minutes to twelve… South Tyrol, Awake! Arm yourselves for a struggle! The struggle for our existence. The life or death of us as a people is at stake! Our children and grandchildren are at stake! We want to once again live as free men in our land – free like our forefathers for over a thousand years in German South Tyrol!”

The assembled people had brought along numerous banners and placards on which their demand for self-determination and freedom were written. In a press release issued a day after the rally, Magnago himself appealed directly to Rome: “But those who still refuse to understand should not be surprised when the people’s patience finally comes to an end!”


Fascist methods of oppression

In South Tyrol, the native population was constantly subject to state-instigated repression, scornful treatment, provocations, and defamations. Fascist thugs disturbed meetings held by the German-speaking populace. And the Italian justice authorities also made rigorous use of the Fascist laws (the “Codice Rocco”) still on the books allowing the state to curtail the right to free political expression. The painting of window shutters in the Tyrolean national colors was prosecuted, as was the hoisting of the Tyrolean national flag. There were countless “vilipendio” trials in which South Tyrolese were found guilty of allegedly slandering the state or the “Italian nation.” The people were to be muzzled – which government “law enforcement officers” were quick to ensure.


Cudgel Sunday

On February 21, 1960, after Mass in the Bozen Parish Church, in front of the monument dedicated to the memory of Peter Mayr, the famed freedom fighter of 1809, a wreath was placed and the “Andreas Hofer Song” sung. Immediately, policemen belonging to the “Celere” (rapid deployment) force attacked the church-goers with wooden clubs. Some of the parishioners were arrested, thrown in chains, brought before the courts, and sentenced to many months of incarceration as “agitators.”


Spring of 1961 The flaming words on the wall

After Austria, which considered itself the guardian and guarantor of South Tyrol, had turned to the United Nations and the U.N. passed U.N. Resolution No. 1497 of October 31, 1960 – which called upon Italy and Austria to enter into negotiations – Rome still believed that it would be able to avoid making concessions, and let the negotiations fizzle out. The “Liberation Committee of South Tyrol” (“Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol” = BAS) under the leadership of Sepp Kerschbaumer then arrived at the conclusion that it had become necessary to undertake a spectacular measure to make the world aware of the unsolved South Tyrol Problem. With the help of their Austrian friends, the men of the BAS – most of them simple farmers, workers, and small tradesmen – made thorough preparations. In the meantime, the BAS had established an organization in Austria, too. The Austrian friends and fellow fighters procured funds, explosives, and also weapons for self-defense. In the Austrian part of Tyrol, covert training sessions were conducted to instruct members in the use of explosives. One of the most-active supporters was the Innsbruck businessman Kurt Welser, an outstanding mountain-climber and a passionate Tyrolean patriot. Further, Austrian politicians like Foreign Minister Bruno Kreisky (SPÖ) and the Tyrolean State MPs Aloys Oberhammer (ÖVP) and Rupert Zechtl (SPÖ) as well as a number of other prominent persons were more or less “in the know.” They approved of and supported the plans of the BAS activists, whose goal was only to damage property. Persons were expressly to be shielded from harm. In South Tyrol, the SVP Deputy Party Chief and State MP Hans Dietl, the SVP State MPs Friedl Volgger and Peter Brugger as well as numerous other SVP functionaries were taken into the confidence of the BAS. Later, when activists were arrested, the names of these supporters were kept secret, despite torture. The Party Chief and Provincial Prime Minister Silvius Magnago had been taken into confidence with regards to the overall plan of action since the BAS activists Sepp Kerschbaumer and Georg Klotz had made it quite clear to him that they were going to commit acts of resistance. Nor did Magnago dispute this, decades later, though he did state that he had advised Kerschbaumer and Klotz to refrain from illegal activities. Be that as it may: Magnago was indeed not informed of the specifics of the impending actions. The BAS did not want to compromise him or endanger the party. In the night from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, freedom fighters from the northern and southern parts of Tyrol detonated an explosive charge attached to the so-called “Aluminum Duce” – a giant Mussolini monument located in front of the power plant in Waidbruck. During the Fascist era, this monument had still borne the dedication “Al Genio del Fascismo” (“To the genius of Fascism”).

On February 1, 1961, the BAS activist Josef Fontana (from Neumarkt in the “Unterland”) blew a hole in the wall of the villa of the deceased Fascist senator Ettore Tolomei, the inventor of the Italianization and suppression measures against the German-language population of South Tyrol. Tolomei’s house had been converted into a Fascist place of pilgrimage. Additional detonations were carried out against other buildings under construction in which Italian migrants were to be housed.


Planned expatriation law

On November 25, 1959, “L’Adige,” the official party publication of the “Democrazia Cristiana” (DC), published an article accusing the South Tyrolese of having violated the Paris Treaty on account of their demanding provincial autonomy. Because most South Tyrolese who had formerly opted for German citizenship had been given back their Italian citizenship by virtue of this treaty, the Italian state had the right (according to the DC party publication) to impose sanctions upon them. On February 6, 1961, some Italian senators submitted to the Roman Senate the draft of a bill for an expatriation law under the title “On the expatriation of Italian citizens who have shown themselves disloyal towards the Republic.” This law would have made possible the arbitrary revocation of the citizenship of South Tyrolese by purely administrative means. The Roman daily newspaper “Il Tempo,” with close ties to the government, wrote that the simple deportation of a mere 10,000 “Nazi-like agitators” would reestablish peace and order in South Tyrol. According to the paper, it would thus not at all be necessary to undertake the mass deportation of 200,000 German-speaking South Tyrolese. On April 27, 1961, the proposed bill was passed by senators of the “Democrazia Cristiana.” It only remained for the Lower House to confirm the bill for it to become law.


The last South Tyrol negotiations prior to the “Night of Flames” end without results

On May 25, 1961, during the negotiations dealing with the “South Tyrol Problem” in Klagenfurt, Austrian Foreign Minister Kreisky spoke on the planned expatriation law and told the Italian Foreign Minister straight out: “The Austrian and South Tyrol population would become unimaginably excited if this bill were to actually become law. It would mean that South Tyrolese could be deprived of their Italian citizenship on the basis of a mere administrative act. I can tell you that that would have tragic consequences… If this bill becomes law, it will result in a very serious situation… I tell you most earnestly that, if this bill becomes law, there will be no further negotiations.” Segni then made an evasive answer, saying that this issue was not in his remit as Foreign Minister, and that rather it was in the purview of the Italian Minister of the Interior. Further, he said that he did not believe “that the bill is intended as a reprisal against the South Tyrolese.” However, he “would follow the issue with the utmost attention.” Segni himself refused to state his own position on the matter.

The negotiations broke down on that very day, because the Italian side was not willing to discuss a modification of the existent, inadequate autonomy statute. The Italians maintained that an expansion of the powers of the “Province of South Tyrol” on the basis of a federal law or even a constitutional resolution would be inconceivable because the Italian Parliament would never consent to such a solution.

The path leading to the “Night of Flames” was thus set. And the “Night of Flames” would also result in the bill on the revocation of Italian citizenship to be thrown onto the garbage pile of history – it was never confirmed by the Roman Lower House.

Night of Flames

June 11/12, 1961

In the Sunday of the “Heart of Jesus Night” (also known as the “Night of Flames”) from June 11 to June 12, more than 40 high-tension power poles were destroyed or severely damaged by explosive detonations.

One June 22, 1961, Minister of the Interior Scelba presented a damage report to the Roman Parliament: 37 high-tension power poles were destroyed, one power plant was severely damaged, and eight power plants shut down. Of nine overland power lines, only two remained intact. Several industrial undertakings in the industrial zone of Bozen had to shut down completely, while others were forced to reduce production. All of the train stations were forced to temporarily shut down.

Franz Widmann, member of the leadership of the SVP, described his experiences on the “Night of Flames:” There was a continual thundering in the night from June 11 to June 12 of 1961. Shortly after midnight, the area around the
Bozen Valley basin was rocked with heavy explosions for almost two hours. The explosions occurred in short intervals, momentarily lighting up the sky each time, after which the city was again plunged even deeper into darkness. Windows burst, many panicked townspeople dashed into the streets. It was the same way through the region – especially in the Vinschgau, in the Meran area and in the Burggrafenamt, in the Ulten Valley, and in the Unterland. The ‘South Tyrolean freedom fighters’ as they called themselves in their letters, had done as they had promised and staged an impressive demonstration.” 

Besides South Tyrolean activists, BAS activists from the Austrian state of Tyrol had likewise participated in the attacks. The freedom fighters selected their targets so as to ensure that, as far as humanly possible, no persons would be endangered. That’s what Sepp Kerschbaumer had demanded of his comrades, and everyone was in agreement: The fight for freedom was not to result in bloodshed.

Nevertheless, on the next day, there was a tragic occurrence: The street maintenance worker Giovanni Postal discovered an undetonated explosive charge attached to a pole in the Salurn Close. Its timer had failed. Postal attempted to remove the charge from the pole by himself – thus triggering an explosion and dying as a consequence.


State of emergency, shoot-to-kill orders, and awards for shooting

With the “Night of Flames,” the BAS had attained a major political goal: The world’s attention turned to South Tyrol, a center of conflict in the heart of Europe. Rome quickly dispatched a host of carabinieri, police forces, and army units to South Tyrol, which soon resembled a military camp. An estimated 40,000 men were stationed there at one time. There was almost one armed official in uniform for every fifth South Tyrolean.

A secret order required the officials to immediately open fire if civilians approached public structures. This order became public knowledge only after the two young South Tyrolese Josef Locher (near Sarnthein) and Hubert Sprenger (in Mals) were shot dead. On June 28, 1961, the Austrian Secretary of State Franz Gschnitzer announced that Italian soldiers had been promised an award of 20,000 Lire and 14 days of special vacation for every “terrorist” they shoot dead.


Torture and death

In the meantime, the Italian government prepared itself for a “solution” to the problem: Immediately after the “Night of Flames,” the Christian-Democrat Minister of the Interior Mario Scelba had had a select unit of carabinieri transferred to the secluded loneliness of the barracks at the Monte Bondone. There were about 200 men in 80 vehicles with 20 dogs who were apparently all sent there to take part in a special course of training. After a month, the mysterious troops vanished as they were split up and assigned to various different South Tyrolean carabinieri barracks.

Exactly one month after the “Night of Flames,” the rifle club major Franz Muther was arrested in Laas and subjected to a two-day “special treatment” in the carabinieri barracks of Meran until, under torture, he revealed the names of his co-conspirators. More arrests followed, with torturing, including the rifle club major Jörg Pircher of Lana and also Sepp Kerschbaumer himself. Locals and even vacationers were appalled to hear the screams of the prisoners being tortured in the carabinieri barracks.

A wave of arrests ensued, enveloping South Tyrol. Until the end of September of 1961, more than 140 people were arrested. Torture was also unscrupulously used during interrogations. The torturers sneeringly explained to their victims that they had received “carte blanche” from the Minister of the Interior himself, and were thus free to do as they pleased with the arrestees.

The methods used – including the notorious “Cassetta” method used for Mafia interrogations – were terrible and have been well documented in numerous reports by the torture victims. In those days, Provincial Prime Minister Silvius Magnago received reports from many arrestees about torture, but (for political reasons) undertook nothing to prevent it – and so the torturing continued unabated. The South Tyrolese Franz Höfler, Anton Gostner, and also the founder of the BAS, Sepp Kerschbaumer, all died of the injuries they sustained under torture. Other torture victims suffered life-long health impairments, and some died prematurely.


Humiliation of the torture victims

Since political authorities had done nothing to stop the torture despite dozens of reports, 44 South Tyrolean arrestees filed charges of torture against 21 carabinieri who were known by name. Only seven charges were taken to court, and ten of the “torturer carabinieri” were brought before a judge – in 1963 in Trient. All of the others were given amnesty. In legally questionable trials, two of the carabinieri were found guilty and immediately amnestied; the other torturers were pronounced not guilty. They were then received in Rome by the Supreme Commander of the carabinieri, the General and later neo-Fascist parliamentarian Giovanni De Lorenzo, and commended, cited, and in part even promoted for their “exemplary dedication.”


The great South Tyrolean trail in Milan

On December 9, 1963, the trial of 94 South Tyrolese began in the Palace of Justice in Milan. It developed into an unsparing reckoning with Italian policies insofar as the accused freely confessed their acts and put Italy – politically, morally, and with respect to Human Rights – into the dock. Sepp Kerschbaumer asked the President of the Court, Dr. Simonetti: “I would like to ask if Italy – which has demanded self-determination for Trieste – is entitled to punish the South Tyrolese for the same demand?” For two days, Kerschbaumer depicted a clear picture of the political crimes of the Italian state and the of the legal rights and claims of the South Tyrolese: “If the Italian state had granted us South Tyrolese the rights we deserve, the whole tragedy wouldn’t have happened, and we would be at home with our families right now.” The accused South Tyrolese gave an unadorned account of the mistreatment they had suffered. The course of the trial changed public opinion in Germany, Austria, and in part Italy. In Europe, an awareness for the issue in South Tyrol was growing. On July 16, 1964, the in part draconian sentences passed after an almost eight-month trial showed that the accused had profoundly shamed the Italian state.

More trials were held in which the Italian state also sat in the dock.

The freedom fight forced a political solution

In spite of the mass arrests conducted after the “Night of Flames,” some of the freedom fighters remained unidentified. Others were able to escape at the last minute – usually via the border to Austria. Among them were the rifle club major Georg Klotz (1919 – 1976) from Walten in the Passeier Valley, the rifle club lieutenant Luis Amplatz from Bozen-Gries (1926 – 1964) and the “Pusterer Buibm” Siegfried Steger, Sepp Forer, Heinrich Oberlechner, and Heinrich Oberleiter. They fled to Austria and, when the occasion called for it, came either alone or with Austrian friends back over the border to continue their fight. After the grisly tortures became known, they now armed themselves when fighting. That’s because they were firmly resolved to rather die in a fire-fight than fall into the hands of the torturers. Further armed actions took place, and there were victims on the part of the Italian military.

In the province itself, new resistance groups soon sprung up after the BAS had been more or less completely disbanded in the autumn. The Innsbruck composer and professor of music Günther Andergassen – who had taken over where Austrian BAS activists who had been identified had left off, and who himself carried out attacks until he was betrayed and fell into the hands of the carabinieri in the spring of 1964 – organized the supply of explosives from Austria.

The Italian state was unscrupulous in selecting its methods. More and more arrests were made, arrestees tortured, large-scale trials held, and people sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. The authorities had no qualms about continuing the tortures because the important political figures in Austria and South Tyrol were silent – for reasons of domestic as well as international politics. Notes describing the misdeeds were being smuggled out of the jails but were held back in order to avoid poisoning the climate for discussion in Rome.

The Italian intelligence agency – which had a very respect for legal niceties – had an especially unsavory role in these matters. In the night preceding September 7, 1964, in a hay loft at the “Brunner Mahdern” in the Passeier Valley, Luis Amplatz was shot in his sleep by an assassin hired by the Italian intelligence agency (later SID, SISDE, SISMI). At the same time, Georg Klotz was gravely injured, but was miraculously able to escape on his own power over the border to Austria. The assassin, Christian Kerbler – if he’s still alive – is still in hiding.

On September 24, 1966, an uninvolved young man named Peter Wieland from Olang was stopped on his way home from a music audition by a military patrol and, according to reports of eye-witnesses which were even reprinted in “Dolomiten,” practically “executed” at close range – without consequences for the uniformed miscreants.

Alleged accidents in the course of which Italian soldiers were injured or died were explained away as “sophisticated assassinations” – sometimes using the most absurd logic. Spectacular court trials were then conducted and freedom fighters sentenced in absentia to long terms of imprisonment. In this case, a carabiniere actually appears to have been the victim of a private feud. According to a former comrade, Vittorio Tiralongo, who had been shot in the back on September 3, 1964 in Aussermühlen, was shot by his boss with whom he had had a dispute.

The Italian state was unable to break the resistance of the BAS until a provisional political solution for South Tyrol was found through negotiations.


A political solution had become unavoidable

The West expected Italy to finally enact reasonable measures in order to pacify this conflict zone in the heart of NATO. On July 4, 1961, Austria issued a verbal note declaring that – due to Rome’s obstinacy – the wearisome and fruitless autonomy negotiations between Austria and Italy had come to an end. Pressure which had been building up because of the attacks then energized the issue. The Italian Minister of the Interior Scelba commenced direct negotiations with the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) and set up a negotiating commission – the so-called “Commission of 19,” of which SVP Party Chief Silvius Magnago was also a member – to search for an autonomy solution. In a memorandum classified as “secret” sent to the provincial government of the Austrian state of Tyrol as well as to the federal government of Austria, the head of the “Department for South Tyrol” with the provincial government of Tyrol, Dr. Viktoria Stadlmayer stated, on August 18, 1961, immediately after the attacks in June and July of 1961: The Italian negotiating partners “seem to be prepared to talk with the South Tyrolese not only ad hoc on individual points of their demands, but also to remain in constant contact with them to eliminate points of dispute. This demonstrates […] that Rome takes the recent incidents in South Tyrol significantly more serious than the Italian press lets on, and that Rome clearly understands that mass arrests will in no way break resistance, but rather exacerbate the problem and cause it to spread to sections which had previously rejected it.” [4]


The resistance was the
cause of the international pressure on Rome

In the United States, too, the acts of resistance committed by the South Tyrolese generated alarm, and promoted the application of diplomatic pressure on Rome to seek a political solution to the South Tyrol Problem and to pacify this delicate point of NATO. The “Cold Ware” was then at its apex, and could have broken out into a “hot war” at any time. In 1961, the regime in East Germany) – which was loyal to Moscow – built the Berlin Wall. In 1962, the Cuba Crisis almost unleashed World War III and the possible use of nuclear weapons. In the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact, NATO viewed the region of northern Italy as indispensable. Local unrest here could not be tolerated. On August 29, 1961, the Permanent Representative of Austria at the United Nations in New York, Franz Matsch, reported that the American Ambassador to the U.N., Adlai Ewing Stevenson Jr., had explained to him: “In Rome, he had attempted to make clear to Mr. Fanfani [the Italian Prime Minister; author’s note] and Mr. Segni [the Italian Foreign Minister; author’s note] that, in his personal opinion, that a solution to this problem, which stands in the way of a European concept, could be reached only by radically conciliatory measures, and not through the use of half-measures as he had recommended to the French in regards to the Tunisia Issue in evacuating Bizerta.” [5]

In 1960, Austria had achieved a U.N. resolution calling upon the parties to the dispute to undertake negotiations, and this had further increased the international pressure on Italy. In an explanatory memorandum to the United Nations dated September 15, 1961, Austria made explicit mention of the attacks carried out by the BAS activists and how they would make a political solution indispensable. “Unfortunately,” the Austrian memorandum continued, the negotiations had yet “to yield concrete results… In the meantime, the local situation had become critical… In view of the lack of positive results in solving the problem on the bilateral level, and in view of the tense situation in South Tyrol, the Federal Government of Austria, as a signatory of the repeatedly mentioned treaty [Paris Treaty; author’s note], sees itself honor-bound and compelled to submit a request that the issue be dealt with at this year’s General Assembly.” [6] 

Whenever the negotiations and consultations in the “Commission of 19” autonomy commission ran into trouble, attacks carried out by the BAS forced Rome to put aside its obstructionism.

Meanwhile, in the mid-1960s, the following situation had developed: Now, whenever negotiating results were to be expected in particular due to the insistence of the Italian government head Aldo Moro, stranger and stranger attacks involving more and more human victims took place. And while Italian official sources always blamed BAS activists for these attacks, all evidence pointed instead to Italian intelligence agents and especially members of the “Stay Behind” organization “Gladio.”

In the end, this all led to the autonomy solution of the “South Tyrol Package” which was accepted by the provincial assembly of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) in 1969 with a narrow majority. Italy had to grant autonomy: Though the region “Trentino –
South Tyrol” was retained, South Tyrol as the “Autonomous Province of Bozen” did obtain a very extensive measure of provincial autonomy. In 1972, the new autonomy statute came into effect. The German and Ladin ethnic groups could gradually employ peaceful methods to strengthen their respective positions. The German speakers and Ladin speakers had thus survived Fascism and the neo-Fascist denationalization policies of the post-war era, though at high cost – ultimately, on all sides. It is now up to the young generation to continue down the path of freedom and achieve the goal of democratic self-determination.


The freedom fight put an end to infiltration

On January 2, 1965, the “Salzburger Nachrichten” reported: “At present, immigration has been practically totally stopped. No one wants to immigrate to an area in which bombs explode and insidious attacks are carried out.” The number of Italians in South Tyrol was continually expanded by state-promoted immigration from about three percent at the time of the annexation in 1920 to about 36% in 1960. All of the efforts based on political means to stop state-promoted immigration had failed up until then. The South Tyrolese were able to easily figure out that the relatively linear immigration they had been experiencing would, in the medium range, lead to an Italian majority. The violent resistance which had flared up then changed everything. Demographic developments showed that immigration had come to a virtual stop. In 1971, Italians represented 33.3% of the population. In 1981, it was 28.7%, and in the year 2011, it had dropped to 26.5%.


The implacable state

To this day, Rome has yet to admit that its policies aimed at infiltrating and denationalizing South Tyrol were thwarted by the struggle of the BAS activists and that their sacrifices helped avert the planned expatriation law. Further, Rome never for a moment considered publicly admitting that the state had employed “dirty methods,” including torture, in pursuing its goals. To this day, not a single Italian politician has distanced himself from the monstrous crimes of the 1960s – let alone called for awarding the tortured BAS activists financial reparations. While some South Tyrolean activists were “pardoned” a few years ago, the “Pusterer Buibm” and other former BAS activists living in Austria or Germany are still waiting vainly for the Italian president to rehabilitate them – even for alleged activities which, on the basis of the documentary evidence now available, they couldn’t possibly have been responsible for!

A retrospective: The slandered freedom struggle

Italian politicians and most Italian media – especially those with a neo-Fascist background – reacted to the “Night of Flames” by slandering the freedom fighters as “Pan-Germanics” and “Nazis.” Some Austrian and German media adopted this choice of words uncritically.

When, in 1964, the South Tyrolean BAS activists led by Sepp Kerschbaumer appeared in court during the “First Milan South Tyrol Trials” and succeeded in placing Rome’s paleo-Fascist policies into the dock as well as in giving the entire European press corps a lesson in history, the whole “Nazi smear campaign” against the South Tyrolese should have fallen right apart. It became obvious to the whole world that the saboteurs were not ideological madmen and extremists, but rather honest, law-abiding people with a Catholic background, most of whom identified with the more or less conservative worldview of the “South Tyrolean People’s Party” (SVP), had acted literally in desperation to defend their ethnic group, and who were opposed to a continuation of the Fascist policies of a so-called “democratic Italy.”

For this reason, most Italian and some Austrian media continued the campaign against the Austrian BAS members. In this context, the Viennese “Arbeiterzeitung” (“Worker’s Paper” – the party publication of the SPÖ) distinguished itself in primitive name-calling and insults. It conceded that the “men of the first hour” had assiduously observed the injunction against taking life. But then it argued that, after the “Night of Flames,” quite different forces – especially from “right-wing” groups – had jumped on the bandwagon and committed acts that deliberately endangered human life. This assertion was raised even though virtually all of the persons smeared by the media in this way had either already been involved in the “Night of Flames” in 1961 or had, together with South Tyrolean friends like Luis Amplatz and Georg Klotz, gone to South Tyrol to join the struggle. To the credit of the BAS activists subjected to this ideological attack, they did not inform the public that the socialist politicians Dr. Bruno Kreisky and Rupert Zechtl were among those “in the know” and that they were, in a certain sense, co-conspirators of the BAS. If only one of them had been so undisciplined as to let slip such a vital fact, the government in Rome would have certainly pounced upon it with glee. In actual fact, the Austrian members of the BAS came from all sides of the political spectrum – with the exception of the far left.

There were members of Catholic student fraternities like the “Cartell-Verband” and of fraternities with a more conservative political outlook like the “Burschenschaftler.” There were functionaries in farmers’ organizations like the ÖVP as well as Social-Democratic workers. And they were all working together. Some of the BAS members like the publicist and ethnologist Wolfgang Pfaundler, the university professor Dr. Helmut Heuberger, or the farmer Hans Dzugan had been in the anti-Nazi resistance during the Fascist era. The leading BAS man from Tyrol and former resistance fighter against the Nazi regime, Helmut Heuberger, had denounced the distinction made by certain media between “good” and “bad” activists: “Especially in preparing the events of 1961, everyone concerned placed more importance upon acting in unison than upon discussing differing political views – which by all means existed within the groups. The goal – to help the South Tyrolese and undertake joint actions with them and thus draw attention to their worsening situation – was never in question… What would it have profited the cause if those whose help the South Tyrolese welcomed had instead bickered amongst themselves and attempted to expel each other because of political differences of opinion? Anyone who has ever been involved in a similar enterprise –  one in which it’s often a matter of life or death – understands just how unlikely that is. [7]

And those in South Tyrol who were already incarcerated were of course very much in favor of a continuation of the resistance. In 1966, the South Tyrolean activist Jörg Pircher of Lana composed a secret letter. In this letter – which was smuggled out of jail – Pircher appealed to those comrades of his who were still in freedom: “There is no other way than to continue the freedom fight, through it be long and wearisome. It is the only means of shaking off the yoke of oppression, of ending colonial rule, preventing assimilation in the last minute, and preserving German culture in the South… If we should fail this time, then South Tyrol shall be lost forever. And only those who have been tortured by these brutal thugs will be able to imagine what will become of us.” [8] 

The comrades to whom Jörg Pircher addressed this appeal continued the struggle up until the provisional “Package Solution” of 1969 was reached. In view of the mortal danger they were in, the threat to their careers, and the very real possibility of arrest and torture, it was the least of their worries that some journalists might libel them or that some later historians might adopt and disseminate the Italian point of view: That their struggle was useless or even counterproductive; that the BAS activists had, so to speak, “bombed away” self-determination for South Tyrol (the original demand of the BAS).

A closer examination and a clearer interpretation of the available literature on the “South Tyrol Problem” yields a completely opposite conclusion: Without the work of the BAS activists and the resultant political “entanglements” on the domestic and international fronts – leading all the way up to the so-called “Strategy of Tension” – Italy would have hardly been willing to grant South Tyrol the autonomy promised it by treaty in 1946 (a treaty which, after all, the officially encouraged migration of Italians into the artificial region of “Trentino – South Tyrol” had, in any event, made moot)!

Contemporary witnesses and their views

Most contemporary witnesses, people who at that time stood in the public spotlight, and likewise modern Tyrolean politicians have reached similar conclusions.


Anthony Evelyn Alcock
Historian, expert for South Tyrol, professor at the New University of Ulster

“Admittedly, the South Tyrol policies pursued by the various Italian governments of the 1950s were clear and stable – namely: the restriction of the South Tyrolean minority in order to eliminate the danger it posed to the Italian populace of the province and to state security. But the bombs of the ‘Herz-Jesu-Nacht’ shattered these policies.” [9]


Gerd Bacher (1925-2015)

Journalist, General Superintendent of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), Austrian BAS activist of the first hour

“The bomb attacks carried out south of the Brenner Pass have accomplished in just a few weeks that what more than four decades of moderate South Tyrol policies have failed to do: World public opinion has become aware of the problem. Arguments don’t count. The injustices that have been committed don’t draw attention. The ‘good cause’ doesn’t attract adherents. The voices calling for moderation, patience, and reason are drowned out by day-to-day political issues until a crashing sound wakes everyone up. Suddenly, everyone is rubbing their eyes in wonderment because that event has finally transpired that had been in the making for years and years.” [10]


“Almost without question, the so-called ‘Package’ and thus the situation of the South Tyrolese wouldn’t have come about without the drastic phase of those years. [11]


Luis Durnwalder

Governor for many years of South Tyrol

“We must fight daily… for the preservation of our homeland, exhorted the Provincial Governor. Nothing is for free. Rather, one must live these thoughts and act upon them… In the 1960s, too, there were people who followed these ideas [editor’s note: the concept of freedom formulated by Andreas Hofer]. We have them to thank for the current situation of our homeland, stressed the Provincial Governor.” [12]

“[…] ‘the support of Austria and the work of the freedom fighters’ contributed to the fact that the negotiations on self-administration, autonomy, yielded results ‘in so short a time.'” [13] 

After, in April of 2009, the “South Tyrolean People’s Party” (SVP) approved a motion in the South Tyrolean Provincial Parliament on “Freedom for South Tyrol” – which demanded the pardoning of the former South Tyrolean freedom fighters – Provincial Governor Durnwalder and Provincial MP Berger (both of the SVP) defended their actions at a press conference:

“Provincial Governor Durnwalder and Provincial MP Berger denied having misused the expression ‘freedom fighters’ in April. ‘I regret nothing. For some, Garibaldi is a hero, and for other, he isn’t: Everyone is entitled to his own opinion,’ said Durnwalder. Berger was even clearer: ‘When it comes to our South Tyrolese, I am not ashamed to use the expression freedom fighters.'” [14] 


Felix Ermacora (1923-1995)

Former university professor for Constitutional and Administrative Law at the University of Vienna, expert for International Law, member of the European Commission for Human Rights and of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, member of the Austrian National Assembly, Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, author of many standard works on human rights, Constitutional Law, and history

“In the summer of 1961, a new element entered into the South Tyrol Question: Organized and systematic resistance against the authority of the Italian state with the goal of attaining self-determination.” [15] 

It was only due to this resistance that world public opinion even took notice of the South Tyrol Question.


Bruno Hosp
Former Provincial Secretary of the SVP under Magnago, for many years MP for Culture… formerly Federal Major and Provincial Commandant of the South Tyrolean Riflemen, formerly mayor of the community of Ritten

“Those who have experienced up close the difficult and sometimes turbulent times documented in this exhibition have no doubt as to the fact that the courageous actions of and great sacrifices made by the activists of the 1960s yielded a decisive contribution to the achievement of a new and incomparably better autonomy for South Tyrol.” [16] 


Peter Jankowitsch
Austrian diplomat, Chief of Staff of Federal Chancellor Dr. Bruno Kreisky, and Austrian Foreign Minister

“If there had been no attacks, there would have been no Commission of 19!”[17] 


Rudolf Lill

German historian, professor and head of the “Research Center on Resistance against Nazism in the Southwest of Germany” of the University of Karlsruhe, also former Secretary-General of the German-Italian Villa Vigoni Center

“But we also owe this solution [to the South Tyrol Question; author’s note] especially to the attacks carried out in the 1960s. The attacks had a positive effect upon the entire democratization process. The attacks made it clear to the ruling class of Italy that the South Tyrol Problem could not be solved with Fascist principles and forced Italianization. The attacks made a decisive contribution to the process of reevaluation and democratization.” [18] 


Silvius Magnago (1914-2010)
For many years Provincial Governor of South Tyrol and Head of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP)

“The acts of sabotage of that era and the subsequent processes are an integral part of South Tyrol’s post-war history, and represent a significant contribution to this history and to the attainment of an improved autonomy for South Tyrol: It must be acknowledged that, until then, Italy had practically always disputed the existence of a South Tyrol Question, and had averred that the Paris Treaty had already been fulfilled. Further, it had refused to enter into concrete negotiations with Austria (with the exception of various unproductive talks.” [19] 

“The establishment of the Commission of 19 is most certainly the result of the happenings of those times; it is only sad to acknowledge how – as is often the case in this world of ours – states take concrete steps only after violence has been used, instead of seeking justice in a timely fashion and in accordance with their democratic powers and duties.”[20] 

FF-Magazin: “So, were the attacks useful?”
Magnago: “I won’t provide an interpretation. Each person is free to form his own opinion after I have declared how and at what point in time the Commission of 19 was set up.”
FF-Magazin: “Does that mean that it is now time to thank the activists?”
Magnago: “On the basis of the discussion between Magnago and Scelba, one can thank them. In any event, more like ‘Thanks!’ than ‘No, thanks.'” [21] 


Ennio Maniga (1904-1977)
Italian Deputy Attorney-General

“On the international level, too, due to U.N. resolutions, Italy is being subjected to constant pressure which could result in the state losing its resolve. We could reach a point where Italy says: Enough lost lives, money, material, blood, and tears. Take South Tyrol back and leave us in peace!”  [22] 


Harald Ofner
Attorney, MP of the Austrian National Assembly, former Federal Minister of Justice

“The martyrdom of the South Tyrolese reaching back decades now was not only heroic, it was also successful. We mustn’t allow anyone to take that from us. When you look at the statistics, you can see that after the ‘Night of Flames,’ the fear of being sent on a death march disappeared. I know that there is still much to do, but the ‘Night of Flames’ represented the turning point, and it led to all of that which came later.” [23] 


Franz Pahl

Provincial Youth Secretary and Deputy Chairman of the Young Generation of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), Provincial MP, Member of the Regional Council, Regional Assessor, and President of the Regional Council of Trentino – South Tyrol

“With great probability, if there had not been this freedom fight, the Italian side would not have been as ready and willing to engage in negotiations leading to the Package…” [24]

“Even the highest representatives of the People’s Party are not averse to remark that our autonomy was due not only by negotiating efforts, but also to a significant extent to the pressure exerted by dynamite. Historians will one day note this in the history books…” [25] 


Elmar Pichler-Rolle

SVP Party Chief

“‘I regard it as correct that one pay these men the respect they are due,’ said Pichler-Rolle. According to Pichler-Rolle, the men gathered around Sepp Kerschbaumer ‘made a decisive contribution to making our homeland what it is today.'” [26] 


Ernst Trost (1933-2015)
Historian, columnist, and editor of the Austrian “Kronen-Zeitung”

“…until the first high-voltage pylons were toppled, the Italians did not recognize the existence of a South Tyrol Problem. And so they refused to engage in serious negotiations on the fate of ‘Europe’s happiest minority,’ as they called it. In the meantime, much has changed in South Tyrol. Considerable concessions were obtained from the Italians, and the situation of the South Tyrolese was significantly ameliorated. But the men gathered around Kerschbaumer, Amplatz, and Klotz stood at the beginning of this development. Without the acts of terror, the Italians would have never deigned to make concessions.” [27] 


Karl Zeller
Jurist, Senator of the SVP, former member of the National Congress in Rome

“Congressman Zeller, too, viewed the acts of sabotage committed by the ‘bang-up guys’ as the basis for a new willingness of the Italian state to negotiate.” [28] 

Luis Zingerle
SVP MP, former President of the Regional Council of Trentino – South Tyrol and Provincial Deputy Commandant of the South Tyrolean Riflemen

“Franz Höfler and all of the freedom fighters of the 1950s and 1960 paved the way for the world to see the injustice suffered by Tyrol,” said Zingerle. The freedom fighters had performed a “good, appropriate, major, and absolutely necessary service.” “Their dedication and service made a decisive contribution to paving the way to the second Autonomy Statute and thus to end the death march of the Tyrolese south of the Brenner Pass.” [29] 


Friedl Volgger (1914-1997)
South Tyrolean resistance fighter, journalist, and MP for SVP, key person for the attainment of provincial autonomy.

“In my personal judgement, the ‘Night of Flames’ on the Feast of the Heart of Jesus Sunday in 1961 heralded a new phase in the South Tyrol Question. Rome finally decided to devote the appropriate attention to this question. If there had been no attacks, the government would never have had the gumption to establish a commission which was then assigned the task of examining all aspects of the South Tyrol Question and to submit its recommendations to the government. The work of this commission – called the “Commission of 19″ because of the number of its members – represented the starting signal for the new Autonomy Statute. Sepp Kerschbaumer, who died in prison in 1964, and his comrades have made a significant contribution to the achievement of the new autonomy.” [30] 


The South Tyrolean Provincial Government

“The Commission of 19 must also be viewed in the context of the ‘Night of Flames’ in South Tyrol – when dozens and dozens of electrical poles were blown up. These acts of sabotage – during the commission of which great pains were taken to avoid harming human life – suddenly brought South Tyrol into the spotlight of public opinion, and Italy had to deal with that.” [31]

  1. Gianni Cipriani, Lo Stato Invisibile, Milan, 2002, pg. 168 f.
  2. „Dolomiten”dated Oct. 28, 1953
  3. Franz Widmann, Es stand nicht gut um Südtirol. Bozen 1998. pg. 561.
  4. Memorandum of Viktoria Stadlmayer dated August 18, 1961, Tyrolean Provincial Archives, Dept. S, 1961.
  5. Franz Matsch (New York) to Bruno Kreisky (Vienna), Austrian State Archives, Archives of the Republic (ÖStA/AdR), Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs (BMfAA), II-pol, South Tyrol 2 B/A Zl 30.548-Pol/61.
  6. Explanatory U.N. memorandum of Austria dated Sept. 15, 1961, ÖStA/AdR, BMfAA II-pol, South Tyrol 2 B/A Zl 34.057-Pol/61.
  7. Helmut Heuberger, Zur Sache. In: Otto Scrinzi (publisher), Chronik Südtirol 1959–1969. Von der Kolonie Alto Adige zur autonomen Provinz Bozen. Graz-Stuttgart 1996, pg. 16.
  8. Sepp Mitterhofer/Günther Obwegs (publisher), “… Es blieb kein anderer Weg …” Zeitzeugenberichte und Dokumente aus dem Südtiroler Freiheitskampf (“Contemporary witnesses and documents on the South Tyrolean freedom fight”). Meran. Auer 2000, pg. 237f.
  9. Anthony Evelyn Alcock, The History of the South Tyrol Question. South Tyrol since the Package, 1970 to 1980. Vienna 1982, pg. 200.
  10. “Die Presse,” July 18, 1961.
  11. “Die Zeit” on May 18, 1984
  12. “Dolomiten” of February 18, 2002. Report on the speech by Luis Durnwalder at the commemorative celebration for Andreas Hofer on February 17, 2002 in Meran.
  13. „”Tiroler Anzeiger”, April 2, 2005. Luis Durnwalder on the occasion of the anniversary celebration for “60 Years of SVP.”
  14. „Dolomiten,” May 21, 2009
  15. ,,Berichte und Informationen des österreichischen Forschungsinstituts für Wirtschaft und Politik,” No. 1172, 7. February 1969.
  16. Bruno Hosp, “50 Jahre ‘Feuernacht’ – Wendepunkt für Südtirol”. In: “Tiroler Schützenkalender” 2011.
  17. Dr. Peter Jankowitsch during the presentation of the publication of Hubert Speckner, Von der “Feuernacht” zur “Porzescharte” …. Das “Südtirolproblem” in den österreichischen sicherheitsdienstlichen Akten. Vienna 2016 on November 28, 2016 at the Café Landtmann in Vienna.
  18. Univ.-Prof. Dr. Lill while being interviewed about his new book, “Geschichte Südtirols 1918 bis 1948. Nationalismus, Faschismus, Demokratie” by the South Tyrolean magazine “Z – Zeitung am Sonntag” on January 27, 2002.
  19. “Volksbote,” party publication of the SVP on April 8, 1976.
  20. Dr. Silvius Magnago on March 24, 1976 at the Provincial Party Congress of the SVP in Meran
  21. Dr. Silvius Magnago in the June, 2001 issue of the South Tyrolean magazine “FF” on the occasion of
    the 40th anniversary of the “Night of Flames.”
  22. Dr. Maniga in his accusation during the appeal proceedings of the First Milan South Tyrol Trial on May 23, 1966.
  23. Dr. Harald Ofner on March 6, 1999 on the occasion of the reception of a delegation of former South Tyrolean freedom fighters in the Parliament in Vienna.
  24. “Schicksal Südtirol 1945 – 1979”. A brochure published in 1979 by the Young Generation of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP).
  25. Dr. Franz Pahl, President of the Regional Council of Trentino – South Tyrol, in an article titled “Werden nur Tote gefeiert?” (“Are only dead people celebrated?”) appearing in the magazine “Tiroler” published in 1984 in Lana.
  26. Elmar Pichler-Rolle at the Sepp Kerschbaumer commemorative celebrations in St. Pauls. The “Dolomiten” reported on this on December 10, 2005.
  27. “Kronen-Zeitung” in January of 1976. Cited in: Robert. H. Drechsler, Georg Klotz. Der Schicksalsweg des Südtiroler Schützenmajors 1919 – 1976. Wels 1976, pg. 247f.
  28. Report by Peter Seebacher on a panel discussion in Kurtatsch on September 16, 1999 in the South Tyrolean “Tageszeitung” daily newspaper dated September 18, 1999.
  29. Dr. Luis Zingerle on November 18, 2001 in Lana in his commemorative speech for the rifleman Franz Höfler of the Lana Rifle Club. Höfler had died on November 22, 1961 as the result of the tortures he suffered while incarcerated. Article in “Der Tiroler”, No. 53, Issue 1/2001. pg. 19.
  30. Friedl Volgger, Mit Südtirol am Scheideweg. Innsbruck 1984, pg. 250.
  31. South Tyrolean Provincial Government (publisher). Südtirol-Handbuch 1997. Bozen 1997