History, Department of


Date of this Version



European Yearbook of Minority Issues Vol 10, 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-25634-7. pp. 647-666.


Copyright 2013 Koninklijke Brill NV. Used by permission.


The northern Italian town of Bolzano (Bozen in German) in the western Dolomites is known for breathtaking natural landscapes as well as for its medieval city centre, gothic cathedral, and world-famous mummy, Ötzi the Iceman, which is on display at the local archaeological museum. At the same time, Bolzano’s more recent history casts a shadow over the town. Th e legacy of fascism looms large in the form of Ventennio fascista-era monuments such as the Victory Monument, a massive triumphal arch commissioned by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and located in Bolzano’s Victory Square, and the Mussolini relief on the façade of the former Fascist Party headquarters (now a tax office) at Courthouse Square, which depicts il duce riding a horse with his arm raised high in the Fascist salute. What should happen to the relics and ruins, monuments and statues of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes? Should we preserve shrines to war and dictatorship? The fate of such structures is still a hotly contested issue in Europe and elsewhere, and the answers remain elusive. The stories of the Victory Monument and the duce relief exemplify the complexities posed by the legacies of fascism. In South Tyrol, where monuments hold starkly different meanings for two distinct parts of the population, dealing with Fascist monuments continues to be particularly tricky.