Katakombenschulen (catacomb schools) were set up in South Tyrol in the mid-1920s during the period of Fascist Italianization when teaching of the German language was banned (Lex Gentile, October 1923) by the authorities of Italy which had occupied the area in 1918. Approximately 30,000 students in 324 schools were affected. German nursery schools were dissolved too as were all higher education institutions.
School teachers in the province were replaced by Italian ones. The population then organized private lessons which were banned in November 1925. Underground education continued illegally. The main organizers were, among many others, priest Michael Gamper and lawyer Dr. Josef Noldin. School books were smuggled from farm to farm and lessons held in living rooms, by the dismissed German teachers and approximately 500 young female volunteers. The Katakombenschulen focused on the teaching of writing and reading in German. People caught educating children faced prison terms and repeatedly caught teachers were deported to South Italy. The 25-year-old teacher Angela Nikoletti died after having acquired tuberculosis during a prison term and Josef Noldin was deported to Lipari in 1927.
- Die Südtirolfrage
- A brief contemporary history of Alto Adige/Südtirol (1918-2002)
- Ein Besuch in Bozen/Italien (Onde 24/2005), Saarbrücken
- Angela Nikoletti
- Villgrater, Maria: Katakombenschule, Bozen 1984
- Ikastolak, the Basque-language schools initially illegal in Spain.
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