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The end of an age


The First World War

The Ladin valleys were also a theatre of war in the First World War. The front stretched from Lagorai to Monzoni, from the Marmolada to Col di Lana, from Lagazuoi to Tofane. The Fodom was divided into two parts by the front. A devastating trench war developed in the Dolomites.
Towards the end of the winter of 1916, Italian soldiers blew up the summit of Col di Lana. In the three following years thousands of Austrian and Italian soldiers died on Col di Lana. That is how the mount came to be known as "Col di Sangue" (Blood Mountain).
In the villages of Corvara (Val Badia) and Penia (Fascia), which were close to the front, Austrian troops set up long range cannons so that they could fire beyond the frontline. At the end of the long 1917 winter thousands of soldiers from both sides had been buried by avalanches or frozen to death.

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The consequences of the war

The war caused a high toll in blood from the Ladins and left a trail of destruction through Fodom. In the winter of 1917/18 the first soldiers began to return home. With patience and persistence they began to rebuild their houses and farm buildings.
After the Armistice at the beginning of November 1918 Italian soldiers marched into the Ladin villages. The Tyrolean flag was taken down and the Italian flag put in its place. The consequences of the First World War led to the break up of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy. For the Ladin valleys this meant the division of the Ladin region.

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The time after the war

As part of the peace treaty of St. Germain 1919 South Tyrol was annexed by Italy: the Brenner Pass became the political boarder between Austria and Italy.
The Ladins requested that they should remain part of Austria and demanded recognition as an inherent ethnic group. Initially the Italian government was benevolent towards the population of the newly acquired region. However, due to the rise of Fascism this period was short.
In 1923 Ettore Tolomei, Commissioner for Language and Culture in South Tyrol, presented a document outlining the "Italianisation" of South Tyrol. Italian, to the disadvantage of other languages, was introduced into schools, place names and in general use.