Die Situation der deutschsprachigen Minderheit in Südtirol nach dem Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg unter dem Gesichtspunkt der inneren Selbstbestimmung
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Südtirol (South Tyrol) enjoys a high degree of autonomy today, which had been a territory of the Habsburg Empire for centuries before being annected by Italy in 1919 with no regard for its right to self-determination. Before the First World War, 93 % of the South Tyrolean population were German (and just 4% Ladin and 3% Italian). This ratio was actively altered through massive fascist repression under Mussolini: Today, the 500,000 inhabitants of the Province of Bolzano comprise 70 percent German speakers, 26 percent Italian speakers and 4 percent speaking Ladin (one of the Raeto-Romance languages). This reflects years of assimilation through the prohibition of German language schools and the Italianisation of family names as well as the so-called “Option” program, under which German-speaking individuals were forced to choose between remaining in their homeland and accepting complete Italianisation or being settled somewhere in the territory of the Third Reich. The tide slowly began to turn in 1946 with the signing of the Gruber-De Gasperi Agreement. These guidelines (part of the peace treaty with Italy) solidified South Tyrolean autonomy under international law.