In October of 1939, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini concluded a treaty according to which the South Tyroleans, the Ladin populace, and the Cimbrians residing in the German-language enclaves in Italy would have to decide if they wished to remain in their homeland – while surrendering their culture and mother tongue – or emigrate to the German Empire.

About 166,000 (86%) of all South Tyroleans opted for Germany, and until 1943, approx. 75,000 South Tyroleans actually emigrated.

After World War II, Italy attempted – without much success – to hinder the reverse option.