Gareth Jones

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Fanning Flames of Nazi Revolt





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 fortresses. 

These mountains 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.

Recently some 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 do so. 


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?” 

These Austrians 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.








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


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