Sepp Kerschbaumer (9 November 1913 - 7 December 1964) was a terrorist from Bolzano-Bozen, Italy and a leading member of the South Tyrolean Liberation Committee (Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol (BAS)).
Sepp Kerschbaumer was the son of the merchant Josef Kerschbaumer and his wife Luise of Aldein
, and born in the village of Frangart (Frangarto), which today is a fraction (frazione
) of Eppan (Appiano)
. Kerschbaumer's father was killed on the Dolomite Front
in World War I
when he was four, followed by the death of his mother when he was nine.
After his education in Bolzano and Neustift (Novacella) Monastery, he completed the commercial preparatory school in Brixen (Bressanone) in 1927. In 1933 he was conscripted into military service. In late 1934 Kerschbaumer was banished for two years because of participation in a forbidden political meeting. After Mussolini pardoned him in late 1935, he returned to Bolzano-Bozen. At this point, he was put in charge of his parents' grocery business by his guardian.
had begun a process of Italianisation
of the Province of Bolzano-Bozen
, a predominantly German-speaking area gained by Italy after World War I. Under the Alto Adige Option Agreement
(1939), Kerschbaumer chose to align with Nazi Germany
and Adolf Hitler
. He later realized that no assistance could be expected from Germany. After World War II
he joined the South Tyrolean People's Party (Südtiroler Volkspartei (SVP))
and dedicated himself to local politics. He became local chairman of the party and local council/parliamentary group chief of Frangart (Frangarto).
At the start of the 1950s, he became frustrated at what he felt was the too conciliatory attitude of the SVP. At a large demonstration on 17 November 1957, Kerschbaumer distributed an anonymous leaflet demanding "a free South Tyrol". From then on he began to found and build the new South Tyrolean Liberation Committee (Befreiungsausschuss Südtirol (BAS)), which was at first limited to distributing leaflets and symbolic actions, such as the display of the then forbidden flag of "South Tyrol". On 12 June 1961, the BAS organized the destruction by explosives of 34 electricity pylons supplying power to the industrial zone of Bolzano, later known as the Feuernacht (Night of Fire).
Incarceration and death
In the aftermath of the Feuernacht, Sepp Kerschbaumer was arrested and allegedly
tortured by police. The rumored mistreatment of Kerschbaumer may have contributed to further escalation of events. Being the leading member of BAS, Sepp Kerschbaumer was sentenced to fifteen years and eleven months on July 16 1964
for organizing the bombing. On 7 December 1964
he died in prison in Verona
of a heart attack. More than 15,000 inhabitants attended the funeral on 9 December 1964