South Tirol and the “Option” of 1939:

Perception, Memory and Rememberance, Presentation in Museums and Exhibitions

In view of the forthcoming 75-year-anniversary of the signing of the “option”-agreement on June 23rd 2014 it is time to take stock of the perception of the “Option” as a unique history of migration in the 20th century. The central question will therefore focus on how these events have deeply shaped the mentality of the people in North, East and South Tyrol, in Italy and Austria. Consequently archival material and literature are equally the subject for analysis as the oral histories of contemporary witnesses, their comparison and analysis with recent research approaches and their localization in today’s living environment. The uniqueness of the primary sources for the chosen geographical framework and the socio-cultural importance of the imminent anniversary press for the preparation of a balance of knowledge as a basis for scholarly research, for exhibitions and educational use.The 75-year-anniversary of the signing of the „Option“-agreement on June 23rd 2014 is going to be the next jubilee celebrated on a larger scale. For this day of commemoration a series of memorial activities – some exploited by right-wing populism – are expected. On the other hand anniversaries and jubilees that arouse attention on a regular basis are often forgotten quite rapidly after the ebbing of interest. In order to prevent this some long-term measures are planned in this project. One of the focusses will therefore explore ways that enable a broad dissemination of Oral Histories, analysis of literature and archival material, images and videos as well as popular music-themes and scholarly research. The spreading of well researched information via Websites, travelling exhibitions in North and South Tyrol and various types of publications such as leaflets, books and journals shall be applied and studied. Central to this experiment is going to be a wide-spread collaboration with schools, teachers and teacher organizations. We see them as important multipliers who should not only contribute to the dissemination of the research-results but should help in creating these results. This pedagogical orientation is necessary because of the growing fascination of right-wing populist parties for younger generations in both in the Land Tirol and the Province of South Tirol. We hope that the project can thus further understanding and tolerance in our globalized culturally diverse societies.

Reference number



Ass.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Eva Pfanzelter

Institute of Contemporary History
Innrain 52
A-6020 Innsbruck

Tel.: +43 512 507-4408
Fax: +43 512 507 2889


Mag.a Elisa Heinrich (Wien/Innsbruck)
Mag.a Sabine Merler M.A. (Innsbruck)
Hansjörg Stecher (Innsbruck)
Julia Tapfer (Innsbruck)


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