A lifetime for the independence of South Tyrol

The parliamentarian Eva Klotz, founder of the German-speaking minority party SüdTiroler Freiheit, is one of the most active persons in the struggle for self determination of South Tyrol. An inherited goal that has marked all her life.

By Beatriz Paúl Naya

Bright eyes and warm look. Friendly appearance with recognizable Central European features and a long braid lying on her left shoulder. She travels everyday by bike to her office in the centre of Bolzano.

The headquarters of SüdTiroler Freiheit, where Eva Klotz spends much of her time, is a true reflection of her intentions. A large map of Europe that covers much of the wall shows with different colors the regions of the continent struggling for self-determination. Opposite to it, a Catalan separatist flag, a gift from the Spanish counterparts.

Profile

Eva Klotz. | By Beatriz Paúl Naya

Name: Eva Klotz

Birth: St. Leonhard in Passeier (Bolzano), 4th June 1951.

Profession: President of Süd-Tiroler Freiheit, Parliamentarian in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano and in the region Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol.

Interests: Walk in mountains, swimming, skiing, classical and popular music, singing and family.

Examples in life: My parents. They educated us in the right to fight.

Dream: South Tyrol free, a future without Italy. We can have good relations as neighbours, but not as a colony.

“I am in favor of the reunification of Tyrol as a region, but as the European Union does not recognize regions as states, I fight for the re-annexation to Austria.” This is the dream of a woman who defines herself as an “old lady, forgetting a lot of things” and with a dictionary at hand she apologizes for her English. “I did not have the opportunity to study English at school; we could only learn Italian, Latin and Greek. So I went to an evening school at the age of 30, but I have not had many opportunities to practice the language.”

Her mother was a teacher in elementary school and his father Georg Klotz, a blacksmith by profession and a prominent activist in the 60s for the independence of South Tyrol. Eva is the eldest of six children and very proud of her parents: “They always said that they could not give us houses, but education”.

After attending primary school in the same valley as Andreas Hofer – hero for the people of South Tyrol because of his fight against Napoleon- Eva went to high school in Merano. There she took her diploma as a teacher, but as she was too young to teach, she decided to go to the University of Innsbruck to study History, Philosophy and European Ethnology. That was followed by a doctorate and the examination to validate his title in Italy, through which he could teach high school for eight years.

From the blackboard to Parliament

The adoption of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)-adopted by the United Nations in 1966 and ratified by Italy and Austria in 1977 – was important for Eva. “Before it was a crime asking for self-determination and it meant going to jail, but since then never again”, Klotz affirms. At the age of 25, Eva began to fight with “democratic and legal methods” in small political groups. Her interest in politics was inevitably linked to the struggle of her father.

She started in politics in the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP) -party governing the region for more than 60 years now- but not as a member, but as the image and spokesperson for political problems.

She started her political career in Heimatbund in 1976. Between 1980 and 1983 she was councilor in Bolzano. “It was a hard political school for me with all fascists and communists. In this German-speaking country is my Italian is not very good. This experience was to learn”, explains Klotz.

Later, Eva Klotz was the leader and founder of the Union für Südtirol. On 5th May 2007 she left the party, with part of the management team, for disagreements with Andreas Pöder. “Not idealist people joint the party and they had different interests”, Eva says. On 11th May 2007, Klotz and the rest of the group founder Süd-Tiroler Freiheit, political party she represents in Parliament nowadays, both in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (South Tyrol) and in the region Trentino-Alto Adige/South Tyrol.

Klotz Family. | By Beatriz Paúl Naya from book 'Georg Klotz. Für die Einheit Freiheitskämpfer Tirols'

An inherited commitment

Georg Klotz (11th September 1919-24th January 1976) was an activist of Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol (BAS) in the 1960s for the independence of South Tyrol.

Born just one day after the Treaty of Saint Germain, what meant the split of Tyrol, he was acussed of bombing, so he fled to Austria to escape from prison. This experience is described by his daughter Eva in a biography about his father, ‘Georg Klotz. Für die Einheit Freiheitskämpfer Tirols‘. “My father ran away with a friend who was killed by the Italians. He had to walk for 42 hours with three shootings in his body to reach Austria. There he showed the bullets to prove that Italian soldiers had tried to kill him”, Eva tells while showing pictures illustrating the book.

“It was a hard time for the family” says Eva. The activism of his father also made ​​the Italian secret services focused on the rest of the family. His wife was charged with possession of explosives and bombing, and was jailed for 14 months and 10 days. During this time they were divided. Finally, they let her free because of the lack of evidence. “My mother was a smart and hardworking woman with 6 children; she would never do such a thing. It was all a strategy of psychological terror to keep my father distracted. An old and effective method of pressure: guilt by association. If you cannot have the father, take the wife or the children.”

History, a tool for fight

In one political party or another, Eva Klotz has always fought for the same goals: self-determination, language, culture and tradition. “We must seize the moment for change, because with the arrival of immigrants in a decade we will be a minority, because 80% of them integrate the Italian group when they come. We have to do it now”.

With regard to culture, Eva shows her discontent: “The Italians think we were barbarians and that they brought us the culture, when 60 years ago Italy had many more illiterate “.

She also shows a sharp opinion about the debate surrounding the fascist monuments in the region: “If Italy is a democratic state they should remove the monuments, as they did in Germany, Russia and Spain”. “The problem is that with the removal, they would recognize that this ideology was not good and the right to take our country would be away. Not for language, not for history, not for mentality. There is no right.”

One of the priorities for SüdTiroler Freiheit is the language. “We want equality for Italian and German at the official level, including the police”.

The language was one of the main elements in the Italianization of the region during the Fascist era, and its main driver was Ettore Tolomei. “They changed not only the names of valleys, mountains and streets, but also family names. My surname was not Klotz, but D’ Algepo Molio Clodi –says Eva while she shows a book with all new italian surnames-. It is a falsification of history”.

However, Eva thinks the key for Rome to worry is the region’s wealth, “we have energy and hardworking people paying taxes.” But Klotz does not think southern Italy is poor, but the “administration is not good.” “Bureaucracy and laws are made for the Italian mentality, always looking for the way to cheat the administration. We can not always pay, they have to work alone and we have the right to have our own administration”, Klotz affirms.

The enemy is at home

Since the adoption of the new autonomy in 1972 South Tyrol has more rights and more powers were given to the Provincial Council. However, in Eva’s opinion there is still work to do: “We have more representatives, but we still cannot decide on important issues like education, finance or administration”, Eva Klotz complains.

“For example, on March 17th we could not decide if we wanted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the reunification of Italy. Schools had to close”, Eva adds.

Klotz thinks that the main obstacle for South Tyrol is the Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP), the party in government, and the president of the region, Luis Durnwalder. “The future of South Tyrol can not be based on policies of 60 years ago. They are free to decide on small things, but they content because they have other privileges such as jobs for friends”, the parliamentarian criticizes.

In this situation, “they have the majority because they tell people they need to be just one against 60 million Italians in order to show Rome that we are united”. In Eva’s opinion they are not realistic and she wonders: “Italy said that Sudan had the right to a referendum, and why not us?”

 

About Beatriz Paúl Naya