Südtiroler Jugendring – SJR (German- speaking minority in South Tyrol, Italy)


address: Andrea- Hofer- Straße 36

place: I-39100 Bozen

phone: +39 0471 0604 30

fax: +39 0471 970401

e-mail: info@jugendring.it

website: www.jugendring.it



The Südtiroler Jugendring (SJR) was established in 1977 as representation of the youth and the youth work in Bozen. It is the umbrella organisation of the children and youth associations and in it both the German and the Ladin youth are represented. Today the SJR has 10 member organisations, in which around 30.000 members are gathered. Apart from the networking between youth organisations SJR has also a role a the voice of children and youth and for that reason its work also has a political component.

As a working and action community the Südtiroler Jugendring tries not only to work for the associations that are affiliated, but for all young people in South Tyrol. Together with all the actors it tries to solve existing problems. The main focus is on the fields of advice and networking, support for voluntary engagement, youth policy and international youth work. SJR helps the youth organisations, gives information and advice, cooperates in projects, facilitates international contacts and coordinates common actions. A central place in the SJR has the youth information and advisory service “Young+Direct”. This service started more than 10 years ago and has grown into an established place to go for youth in South Tyrol, where they are can drop in anonymously with all their questions, concerns and problems, and where they are helped.


The German minority in South Tyrol consists of about 300.000 people, who live in South Tyrol in the north of Italy, in direct proximity to the Austrian border. After the First World War in 1919 Austria had to give up the southern part of Tyrol up to the Brenner to Italy. A hard period followed, especially under fascism, in which Italy tried to Italianise South Tyrol. Also the end of the Second World War did not bring a reunification of South Tyrol with Austria. In the following decades the German and Ladin minorities of South Tyrol demanded autonomy against the continuing Italianisation. The issue South Tyrol was even brought before the United Nations by Austria and first with the new autonomy statute of 1972 an important step in the direction of minority protection in South Tyrol was set. Till the day of today the rules and competences for minority protection are regularly extended.

Settlement are

South Tyrol, province Bolzano


Until 1918 South Tyrol was Austrian territory. As a result of the lost First World War and the Peace Treaty of Saint Germain (Paris, 1919) South Tyrol was adjudged to Italy. Consequently, the South Tyrolian people became a linguistic minority in Italy. During the time of fascism a strict italianisation was practised. At its peak in 1939, the South Tyrolians were faced with the alternative of emigrating to Germany or taking the Italian nationality and renouncing the protection of their national characteristics. Nearly 86 % chose emigration. But for reasons of warfare the evacuation was not completely executed as intended. After World War II, in 1946 the protection of minorities was determined in the Paris Treaty for South Tyrol. As a result, the first statute of autonomy protecting the whole region was passed in 1948 . However, a large Italian majority lives in the region and the protection of the German and Ladin minority was not guaranteed. Only through mass meetings (Los von Trient) proposing the question of South Tyrol on the UN assembly, and a wave of attacks (Feuernacht 1991) could it come to new negotiations with Italy, leading to success. A package of measures for the realization of self-goverment was arranged. It came into effect in 1972 as the second statute of autonomy protection and is now the basis for the preservation and the linguistic-cultural development of the German and Ladin speaking communities. The population of South Tyrol is 423.000 and composed of 3 language groups: German 68 %, Italian 28 % and Ladin 4 %. (according to the census of 1991) The Ladin are the oldest and at the same time smallest language group in the country. Up to now the Ladin language and culture has been preserved in the Dolomite vallies, “Görden“ and “Gadfertal“. ‘ The Italians in South Tyrol live mainly in the cities of Bolzano and Merano as well as in the larger centres. Before World War I the Italian-speaking inhabitants formed 2,9 % of the population in South Tyrol. The strong increase in the Italian part of the population resulted above from the italisation practised in the fascism in Thirties.

Political Situation

As a collective party the “Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP)“ has represented a large majority of the German and Ladin-speaking South Tyrolians since 1948, and is the strongest party in South Tyrol. Since 1993 the SVP has lost a lot of Ladin voters to the newly founded party of “Ladins“. As an interethnic group, the Green Party (Grüne) was established in the middle of the Seventies The South Tyrolian Italians vote for the nation-wide established Italian parties. In 1993 the panorama in the country changed, because of the upheaval in Italy. Aside from the parties “Forza Italia“ and “Lega Nord“, the “Alleanza Nazionale (AN, the successor to the fascist MSI – Social Movement of Italy)“ has also gained strength. With relation to South Tyrol, the aim of this party is the modification of the autonomous status, especially critizising obligatory bilinguality in the Civil Service, and the ethnic proportion (positions at the Civil Service are distributed into the three language groups according to their part of the population). The AN is backed mainly by Italians. German-speaking opposition parties are the “Freiheitliche Partei Südtirols“ (founded in 1992), with their “Austrian foster-father“ Jörg Haider and the “Union für Südtirol“ strongly supporting South Tyrolian self-determination. South Tyrol is repesented in Rome by 7 parlamentarians, 6 of which are members of the “Südtiroler Volkspartei SVP“ and 1 a member of the “Movimento Social Italiano“ (MSI). The voters send one representative from the SVP and one from the Green Party to the European Parliament.


To save the independent development of each of the language groups, each of them has of a proper administrative and organisational sphere. The Italian ethnic group works closely together with the other Italian Provinces, while the other ethnic groups work with the German and Ladin cultural complex. On the other hand, there are many fields, such as music and graphic art, where close cooperation of the three ethnic groups becomes an enriching experience. Traditionally, the German and Ladin ethnic groups have a lot of cultural associations and organisations. There are, for example, 205 music corps, 304 choirs, 174 amateur theatre groups, as well as a great number of costume-, folkdance- and music associations.


The education at the kindergartens, primary- and secondary schools is given in the mother tongue. The parents have free choice of the school for their children and with that, the teaching language. Every pupil has to learn the second language, Italian or German, and the Ladins must learn both. The introduction of the second language is normally begins with the second class and in 4–6 lessons a week. Currently, school-experiments with so- called “immersion – models“ are taking place, especially at the Italian secondaryschools. This means that the second language is not given as a special subject, but is the teaching language for other subjects. South Tyrol has no regional university, therefore the students visit a university in Italy or in other countries, usually in towns nearby, such as Trent or Innsbruck. At the moment the establishment of a university in South Tyrol is in progress.


The panorama of media is wide in South Tyrol: three daily papers (1 German, 2 Italian), 7 weeklys (5 German, 1 Italian, 1 Ladin), one Sunday paper (German), and a local broadcasting- and TV-program in the three spoken languages. Furthermore, the reception of broadcasting from several foreign stations is possible, as well as of the Italian station RAI and a number of private broadcasting stations. In addition there are many periodicals. The only German newspaper, called the “Dolomiten“, has the highest circulation with about 50 000 copies daily. The largest Italian newspaper, with about 27, 500 copies is the “Alto Adige“. As a special service, this paper has had a German page for years. Weeklys published are the “Katholische Sonntagsblatt“ (church periodical), the “Volksbote“ an organ of the “Südtiroler Volkspartei“, the “Südtiroler Illustrierte FF“, the “Südtirol Profil“ as a magazine with background information, and the economic “Südtiroler Wirtschaftszeitung“. The radio- and TV broadcasting of the “Sender Bozen“ and the RAI is of great local importance. German-speaking broadcasting includes 80 hours a week with news nine times a day. The TV station “Sender Bozen“ broadcasts the news program “Tagesschau“ daily. In total, the German-speaking TV programming comprises up to 11 hours a week.


In agriculture, fruits and wine-making are economically most important. The farmers in the mountains live mainly from stockfarming. About 18, 000 of a total of 27, 000 farms are situated on the mountainside. Tourism in South Tyrol thrives on the beauty of nature in summer and autumn. In the wintertime the many ski areas attract tourists from all over Europe. The sizable industry in South Tyrol is represented by a dozen plants, but there are also a lot of small firms. Building-, wood- and mechanical undertakings are most important. Because of its geographical position, trade is still important in SouthTyrol.


Sports and recreation take a high rank in South Tyrol. 27% of the inhabitants (115, 000) are organized into 520 sport-clubs. The most popular sports are: alpine skiing, football (soccer), ice-hockey, tennis, biathlon, long-distance running, hand-ball, snowboard, luge, table tennis, cycling (especially mountain-biking), track-and-field athletics, and swimming. In the last few years South Tyrolian sportsmen have achieved remarkable success on national and international levels.

Financial situation

Although the country of South Tyrol has no tax sovereignty, nearly the total sum of the taxes collected in South Tyrol are returned by the state of Italy. (A small part goes to the region, 10% goes to the state for the levy of taxes). In addition, the country gets nearly 80% of the value-added taxes from imports. These allocations are freely disposable and the authority of the country can distribute these proceeds autonomously.