German and Slav Minorities
From Our Central European Correspondent The Ducc has supported the Fiihrer's claim for plebiscites in Czechoslovakia to the full.
But this attitude has caused some anxiety among North Italian Fascists, for there are two areas in Northern Italy that still remain unreservedly anti-Italian and antiFascist.
Hitler has declared that he renounces the South Tyrol for ever. But it would be a great mistake to assume that the South Tyrolese have abandoned their race and their struggle as a consequence.
South of the Brenner Pass there are still over two hundred thousands German Tyrolese. Their main centres are the historic German towns of Bozen and Meran, and they inhabit one of the most beautiful mountain districts in Europe.
Different Treatment Czechoslovakia has been fiercely denounced for alleged ill-treatment of the Sudeten German minority. Yet the Sudeten Germans could speak German with prefect freedom. They had their own schools, their own churches, cultural liberty, their own parties in the Prague Parliament, their own papers—and a free and secret vote,
What of the South Tyrolese? There is not one German school in the South
Tyrol. Not one representative in the Fascist General Council, or any Fascist
representative body. Not one cultural organisation. And but one paper under direct Fascist control that is simply an Italian organ printed in German—and boycotted by the South Tyrolese themselves.
Names Changed The names of all towns and villages have been changed. Likewise the names of a great many of the inhabitants—and the names on the very tombstones! No German notices are allowed. Tyrolese after Tyrolese has been deported to Southern Italy. Thousands of Southern Italians have been drafted in to " swamp " specific areas, and as officials. (No official, of course, ever uses German.) Castor-oil purges and beatings are other Fascist methods that arc well known in the South Tyrol. Leading Tyrolese of former days such as the deputy Reut-Nicolussi have had to fly for their lives.
The introduction of voluntary German teaching outside school hours has been promised. But so far there arc no such classes—and no signs of any in the future!
Slav Minority This tragic situation is, if possible, still more true of the Slav minority in Istria and the north-east corner of Italy. Here there are over 600,000 Croats and Slovenes, around Gorizia, Trieste and Fiume, as well as another small German minority on the former Austrian frontier, near Tarvis.
Every one of the rights enjoyed by these unhappy people in old Austria has been withdrawn. Particularly fierce efforts have been made to impose Italian priests and remove the local Slav priests. Even bishops have been banished and exiled.
A long and tragic list of priests exiled and imprisoned, individual prison sentences, including even death sentences, and seizures of Slav property and institutions, has created one of the most bitter minority problems in Europe.
There is room for plebiscites in many parts of Europe. Nor can there be any doubt as to the result of plebiscites among Italy's German and Slav minorities.