Today After Germany took over Austria in 1938, Hitler

two surrounding autonomous provinces in the north of Italy, South Tyrol and
Trentino constitute an autonomous region called Trentino-Alto. Before 1919 both
provinces belonged to the Austrian-Hungarian empire’s region of Tyrol. Even under Austrian control Trentino(Southern) was
always completely Italian-speaking, while South Tyrol was practically populated
with German-speaking inhabitants (‘South Tyrolese’ is still used today to refer
to the local German speakers). With the end of World War I, Trentino and South
Tyrol were integrated into the Italian state by the 1919 Peace Treaty of Saint Germain despite the vast majority of
German-speaking inhabitants in South Tyrol.                                                                                           In
the succeeding years the Italian government issued executive decrees and
legislation that subjected the inhabitants of South Tyrol to forced
Italianisation, in an attempt to end the presence and influence of
German-speakers economically politically and in cultural life, and so schools, trade
unions, political parties and names in the German language were all banned. This
forced Italianisation not only was the cause to a deep historical trauma and
distrust for future Italian policies, but also increased German nationalism.               After
Germany took over Austria in 1938, Hitler and Mussolini agreed in offering the
German-speakers of South Tyrol the options of German citizenship in the
condition that they would emigrate and resettle in the German empire otherwise
they would have to accept the Italianisation. 85% percent chose to resettle in
Germany but only about one third truly left during the times of war and the
vast majority of those returned right after 1945.              

the end of World War II a peace conference took place in Paris where the Allies
emphasize on the autonomy for South Tyrol, to be negotiated by both parts,
Italy and Austria. When invited to the conference to submit its view on the
peace treaty that was going to be discussed with Italy the Austrian government
asked the South Tyrolean People’s Party – the overall representation of the
German-speakers in South Tyrol ever since – to send 3 representatives as consultants
in order to make sure that any agreement would have international guarantees. From
those negotiations was born the 1946 De
Gasperi-Gruber agreement between Austria and Italy, named after two foreign
ministers, Alcide De Gasperi and Karl Gruber, also known as The Paris Treaty. This
treaty defends and makes sure:

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1.     “German-speaking inhabitants
will be assured complete equality of rights with the Italian-speaking inhabitants
within the framework of special provisions to safeguard the ethnical character
and the cultural and economic development of the German- Speaking element.”

populations will be granted the exercise of an autonomous legislative and
executive regional power. The frame within the said provisions of autonomy will
apply, will be drafted in consultation also with local representative German-speaking


This agreement
was the foundation for negotiations on autonomy and Austria’s interest to reach
what was on the agreement because they wanted to work as a ‘protecting power’ for
the minority’s.