THE German South-Tyrol and its people are purely German. Never in history has the Brenner been the frontier of Italy. It can be proved that the following statement made by Mussolini in February, 1926, is not correct: "We shall Italianize this territory, because it is Italian, geographically and historically. The frontier of the Brenner has been traced out by Our Lord. The Germans in the Alto-Adige are not a national minority, but an ethnographical relic." The contrary is true. For fourteen centuries, as at the present day, the frontier between the German-speaking and Italian-speaking populations has been the Gorge of Salurn. It was in the 12th and 13th centuries that German South-Tyrol became a political unit with North-Tyrol, first under the Counts of Tyrol (their castle still exists today, near Meran, now in Italy), and after 1363 under the sceptre of the Hapsburgs. The history of this country was always German, and German was its population, its language, its law, its culture and its art. Andreas Hofer, born in the Passeier valley (now in Italy) was a German hero.[i]
This German country's tragedy in consequence of the Treaty of St. Germain is twofold: first, its annexation by the Kingdom of Italy; second, its present situation within the Kingdom of Italy.
The peace treaties and other treaties concluded in 1919 and 1920 created a system for the international protection of national, linguistic and religious minorities under the guarantee of the League of Nations. But the Great Powers, including Germany and Italy, were not bound by these international obligations, so that the Germans of German South-Tyrol are not to be reckoned among the national minorities in whose favor special conventions exist. In consequence, the normal procedure in dealing with minorities questions (that is, action on the initiative of a member of the Council of the League, or as a result of petitions) cannot be followed.
Italy nevertheless has an international obligation with regard to the rights of the German population of South-Tyrol. When the Austrian Peace Delegation
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