Where are we?
We are at the Victory Monument in Bolzano
Built in 1928 to celebrate Italy’s victory over Austria-Hungary, and made a symbol of Fascist nationalism; since 2014, it has been home to the BZ ’18-’45 Museum.
This monument was designed by architect Marcello Piacentini and was built between 1926 and 1928. An expression of Fascist monumentalism, the structure was initially conceived as a tribute to the Trentino irredentist Cesare Battisti. The laying of the foundation stone and inauguration were initially scheduled for 12th July, the anniversary of Battisti’s death. However, the Battisti family’s objection on anti-fascist grounds pushed Mussolini to change the name of the monument, instead opting for a tribute to Victory.
Built upon what remained of the original War Memorial, the arch was designed not only to represent Bolzano’s new status as an Italian city, but also to convey the regime’s vision of war as an event based on heroism, sacrifice, and glorious death. The monument generated tensions, especially among the German-speaking population. It became a key location for Fascist celebrations, parades, and propaganda celebrations.
Proposals to pull down the monument came after the war and were marked by the political will to eliminate any reference to the regime from the city. Following two bombings (in 1961 and 1978) and the constant controversies surrounding influential commemorations promoted by the right-wing, the BZ ’18-’45 exhibition was launched between 2012 and 2014. This finally gave historical context to the monument and explained it through a critical rethinking of Italian Fascism and German National Socialism.
Facility or museum: yes
Geographic location: Bolzano, Trentino-Alto Adige