THE WESTERN MAIL &
SOUTH WALES NEWS, August 23rd 1934
“ENSLAVED” BY ITALY
Flames of Nazi Revolt
IN SOUTH TYROL
Imagine a land
where you would not be allowed to carve a word of your native language upon the
tombstones of your dead relatives where you might be fined £25 for teaching
your tongue to schoolchildren; where you would be persecuted by the police if
you formed a choir.
To British people
this would be a kind of Never-Never-Land visited in imagination by an eighteenth
century satirist. But such a land does exist, and I have just visited it.
It is the South Tyrol, which was taken away from Austria after the Great War and
placed under the rule of Italy.
The peaks of this
region which in the setting sun g1ow a with a fairy orange red, look down on a
grayish-white torrent, the Adige, which clatters down past vineyards and pine
forests and through steep gorges topped by ancient castles and modern military
have bred a sturdy Germanic people who have not forgotten the traditions of the
Tyrolese patriot Andreas Hofer.
It is these
people that the Italian Government is trying to convert into thorough Italians
by the method which has failed almost everywhere - the forceful uprooting of the
national language and customs.
In this area
there are no German schools, German societies are forbidden, and the German
theatre has been abolished.
children acted a German playlet, “Snow Witch,” in a barn, and the governess
who looked after them was summoned before a court of law for encouraging them to
The stones which
the Tyrolese collected to build a war memorial to the fallen Austrian soldiers
have been used as steps upon which folk tread up to the Italian war memorial.
It is the
crushing of the mother tongue which hurts the Tyrolese most. As a man of
religion told me: “It is only through the mother tongue that children can
learn moral teachings, and only it he mother tongue can they truly understand
the lessons of the Bible.” Dollfuss insisted that Mussolini should treat the
Tyrolese Austrians better; but the resulting Italian decree by which children
are now allowed to learn German for four hours a week, has been worded in such a
way that the Tyrolese have no faith in its efficiency.
There is no doubt
that the Austrian Chancellor, Herr Schuschnigg, raised the problem on Tuesday in
his talk with Mussolini; but in spite of the Duce’s zeal for friendship with
Austria there seems little hope that the Italians will introduce a régime of
freedom into the South Tyrol.
Why is this
question important for Europe?
It plays a part
because the South Tyrolese are growing violently Nazi and will be a source of
internal weakness for Italy should Italian troops ever decide to cross the
Brenner Pass into Austria.
It has a profound
influence on Mussolini’s relations with Austria. Austrians state: “If
Mussolini is sincere in his friendship for us, why is he acting as a tyrant
towards our fellow-countrymen in the South Tyrol who are under his sway?”
are growing to hate Italy more bitterly than ever and to despise Schuschnigg,
their Chancellor, for being the minion of Mussolini.
The feeling that
fellow-Austrians are being enslaved by the Italians will fan the flames of
another Nazi rebellion in Austria.
The South Tyrol is the dotted portion
south of the Italian-Austrian frontier.