From Fascism to Degasperi and Gruber

At the end of the Great War, with the Treaty of Saint Germain, the Tyrol as it was historically known was once again divided, and Trentino, together with Alto Adige-Südtirol, was incorporated into the Italian State. Once again, discussions centred, urgently, on the question of autonomy. Naturally, the people of the Südtirol had to be granted the right to maintain use of the German language, together with all their own traditions; and at the same time it was necessary to revitalise the tradition of self-rule so jealously guarded by these border territories. Initially it seemed that Italy was not insensitive to these requirements; but the advent of the Fascist dictatorship put an end to our hopes of autonomy for more than twenty years, along with any possibility for the ethnic and linguistic minorities of having their own rights recognised. It was not possible to raise the issue of autonomy again until the end of the Second World War. The moment which was fundamental to the rebirth of the spirit of autonomy was the signing, on 5 September 1946, of the Paris Agreement, between the Trentino Alcide Degasperi, the greatest statesman our region has ever produced, who went on to become head of the Italian Government, and the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Karl Gruber. The agreement, which was also a result of pressure on the part of civil society, recognised completely equal rights for Italian and German-speaking citizens and granted wide-ranging legislative and executive autonomy to Trentino and the Alto Adige, within a framework which nevertheless gave greater powers to the Region than to the two autonomous Provinces comprising it.