Beginning about 1890, the Italian irredentist and Fascist Ettore Tolomei attempted, on the basis of very unscientific methods, to demonstrate that South Tyrol was legally a part of Italy. His efforts resulted in a “rethinking” on the part of Italian nationalists, who revised their original demand for a border south of Salurn to claim a “holy border” at the Brenner Pass.

In 1915, after secret negotiations in London during which it obtained assurances from England, France, and Russia that it would be awarded additional territory – including South Tyrol – after the war, Italy left the “Triple Alliance” (with Germany and Austria). On May 23, 1915, Italy then declared war on the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

During the armistice negotiations at the end of World War I, Italy demanded – on the basis of these territorial demands – that Austro-Hungarian troops retreat to north of the Brenner Pass. Italian troops were then able to immediately seize South Tyrol without a battle.

On July 15, 1923, Ettore Tolomei proposed his “Measures” for the Italianization of South Tyrol:

Provvedimenti per l’Alto Adige

  1. Unification of the provinces of Alto Adige and Trentino to form a single province with Trento as the capital.
  2. Appointment of Italian Community Secretaries.
  3. Revision of the (citizenship) options and closure of the Brenner border crossing for all persons who did not receive Italian citizenship.
  4. Imposition of special restrictions on entry and residency for Germans and Austrians.
  5. Prevention of the immigration of Germans.
  6. Revision of the 1921 census.
  7. Introduction of Italian as the official state language.
  8. Dismissal of German civil servants and/or re-assignment to positions in the old provinces
  9. Dissolution of the “German Association.”
  10. Dissolution of all alpine associations not under the umbrella of the Italian Alpine Association; transfer of ownership of the alpine huts to the Italian Alpine Association.
  11. Prohibition of the name “South Tyrol” and “German South Tyrol.”
  12. Cessation of “Der Tiroler,” a publication appearing in Bozen.
  13. The Italianization of German place-names.
  14. The Italianization of public inscriptions.
  15. The Italianization of street and trail names.
  16. The Italianization of Germanized surnames.
  17. Removal of the Walther von der Vogelweide monument from the Waltherplatz in Bozen.
  18. Reinforcement of the Carabinieri troop and the exclusion of German crews.
  19. Favorable treatment of the purchase of property by and immigration of Italians.
  20. Non-interference by foreign entities in South Tyrolean affairs.
  21. Elimination of German banks; establishment of an Italian land credit bank.
  22. Establishment of border customs agencies in Sterzing and Toblach.
  23. Generous promotion of Italian language and culture.
  24. Establishment of Italian kindergartens and primary schools.
  25. Establishment of Italian secondary schools.
  26. Strict control of foreign certificates of completion issued by foreign institutes of higher learning.
  27. Expansion of the Istituto di Storia per l’Alto Adige.
  28. Alteration of the size of the bishopric of Brixen and strict control of the activity of the clergy.
  29. Use of the Italian language in legal proceedings and before the court.
  30. State control of the Chamber of Commerce of Bozen and of the agricultural associations (Corporazioni).
  31. Comprehensive programs for new railroad junctions in order to facilitate the Italianization of Alto Adige (the Mailand-Mals, Veltlin-Brenner, and Agordo-Brixen railroad projects).
  32. Strengthening of the number of troops in Alto Adige

Source: Alfons Gruber, Südtirol unter dem Faschismus (Schriftenreihe des Südtiroler Kulturinstitutes 1), Bozen 1974, 21f.