Making the most of the Ladin language and culture
This page is about the Union Generela di Ladins dla Dolomites, which celebrated its centenary in 2005. The group which is held to be the predecessor of the Union Generela di Ladins dles Dolomites, the Union of Ladins of Innsbruck, was first created in 1905 by a group of Ladins headed by Willhelm Moroder-Lusenberg.
In addition to the union of Ladins of Innsbruck, other groups were formed after WW2 and nowadays they are all joined together in the Union Generela di Ladins dla Dolomites, working towards the same goal, which is to maintain and promote linguistic and cultural unity of the Ladin area, and to try to maintain the traditions, the place names and the Ladin identity. The “Generela” is committed to strengthening the Ladin identity in all sectors, including the mass media, and in particular through its own periodical La Usc di Ladins.
Translator’s Note: In translating this text I have chosen, in the true spirit of Ladin identity, to use Ladin place names for all localities in the Dolomite Ladin territories. I appreciate that these names may be the least well known to people visiting the area. However, any alternative would have proved unsatisfactory. Names given only in German or only in Italian would confuse visitors familiar with the names in the other language. The use of both names together (e.g. Wolkenstein/Selva di Val Gardena) is inelegant. Unthinkable the more democratic expression in all three languages (Wolkenstein/Selva di Val Gardena/Sëlva!).
Readers can consult the map and alphabetical index and begin to familiarise with the Ladin names for their favourite places.
The Uniun di Ladins de Badia
The Uniun di Ladins de Badia was founded immediately after the second world war, as a wing of the Union Generala di Ladins. There followed 20 years of hard work and conviction, and an ideal that the people of the Ladin valleys should take conscience of their unique identity and give it its rightful value. This work was carried out by, among others: Josef Pizzinini, preist at La Val; Lejio Baldissera, teacher and jurist; Silvester Erlacher, head of the high school at Urtjei, and contributor to La Usc di Ladins; Franzl Pizzinini head of the primary school in Badia; Stachio Costa, president of the group for the first 15 years and journalist for newspapers and for RAI Ladina; Sepl Moling, teacher at La Val; doctor Franz Vittur; Tone Tolpeit and Scebio Pescollderungg, both teachers.
In the early years the principle activity of the Uniun di Ladins was to take part in the broadcasts of RAI Ladina , both cultural and factual, and to contribute to the main newspapers of the time, namely Alto Adige, Dolomiten and Sonntagsblatt. The Usc di Ladins a fortnightly newspaper, which at that time was headed by Salvester Erlacher, received most of its articles from members of the Uniun di Ladins, who generally contributed free of charge. The first publications after the second world war were difficult and expensive to produce. The same was true for the early textbooks for teaching Ladin in schools. Most people were against them and contested their production. In this context we can see how much has been achieved in the last 50 years.
In those years a Ladin congress was organised every 2 or 3 years, in the Dolomites or in the Grisons or in Friuli, called Congrès International Ladin, with participants from the 3 communities. The Ladin Unions rotated the organisation of a Ladin day, called Dé Cultural Ladin. It was an occasion to discuss topics such as Ladin identity, literature and history. The afternoons were generally dedicated to folk singing, theatre and processions with traditional costumes and music. In 1955 the Unions di Ladins of Badia and Gherdëina took part in the Ladin congress in Udine, and then in 1958 in Coira. These early meetings served to increase relations between the participants and permitted an exchange of experiences.
On 27th August 1967 there was a general assembly of the Uniun, at the Hotel Crusc Blancia in San Linert. Lois Ellecosta was elected president and a provisional council was formed with 10 members. The council had the mandate to draw up a new statute. It was officially approved on 6th October of the same year, and signed in the presence of a notary in Bruneck, giving the Union official status. The first article of the statute describes the group like this: the Uniun di Ladins of Badia is an organisation whose aim is to defend the interests of the Ladins. It is particularly active in the development of a Ladin identity, protecting the language, customs and traditions. It also aims to collaborate with all other Ladins. The objectives of the Uniun were circulated through the publication Sas dla Crusc, in an article by the president Ellecosta. He wrote: the Uniun di Ladins, like other groups in Badia, is a cultural organisation among Ladins, which aims to support those who strive to keep our language alive, our customs and our traditions. Its entire programme of activities is organised with this aim. We are indebted to our forefathers who have known how to defend this defining aspect of our valley. Are we to be the ones who let go of the Ladin tradition? Our grandparents were derided by neighbouring populations for not speaking the dominant language perfectly, and yet they were happy and proud to be Ladins, and they were moved when they heard their native tongue outside the valley. Nowadays the neighbours have so little to offer that we should be even more aware of conserving our inheritance. For this reason all Ladins have a moral duty to make a contribution to the effort, each one according to his abilities and possibilities. The aims of the Uniun have always been discussed at the numerous meetings of the council. It is important to choose the right path in times of great changes, when technological progress has had such an impact on Ladin language and culture. Right from the start the Uniun has aimed to improve the cultural aspect of the valley. The publication of numerous books, cassettes and CDs, cultural events, music and sports events, entertainment and slideshows are testimony to this commitment , together with support for authors and songwriters. Through its activities it has brought to the attention of the Ladin population the need to conserve its unique identity and language.
The Union di Ladins de Gherdëina since 1945
The Union di Ladins de Gherdëina, or ULG, was founded in 1945 and is a wing of the Union Generela di Ladins dla Dolomites, along with the Unions from the other valleys.
It has 300 members. The founders were Luis Trenker, Leo Demez and Frank Prugger with the backing of 16 other supporters in the valley. Despite this backing it was far from easy for these idealists to spread their ideas on Ladin culture, language and identity.
A preliminary meeting was held on 19th July 1945, during which the statute was approved. The Union was presented to the public on 5th August in a general assembly during which, according to the minutes, there were differences of opinion and lively debate. The aims of the Union have always been and still are: to protect and promote the language, culture, theatre and music, traditions and customs, original place names and also the environment of the valley. Great importance has always been given to strengthening ties between the 5 Ladin valleys and to the development of Ladin literature. The Union provides a stimulus for the people in expressing ideas and developing projects which strengthen the Ladin identity. It works closely with the Ladin Cultural Institutes in order to maintain a genuine Ladin identity which can be passed on to future generations, able to defend itself from globalisation.
In 1946 Max Tosi brought new ideas to the Union, and Franz Prugger was elected first president on 15th July. In 1948 the ULG was officially recognised, and in 1954 it was recognised as a “moral society”. In these years the cultural output of the union increased. The Calënder de Gherdëina, which had been suspended during the war years, reappeared in 1948. The coordinator was Cristl Moroder, and he continued to carry out this task with competence and dedication until 1997. The Calender reaches almost all the families in the valley and is therefore an important source of local information.
The Union, in conjunction with cultural figures from Badia, was also responsible for the first attempts at standardising the written language. In 1948 a grammar book was published by Ferruccio Minach and Teresa Gruber. A pluri-lingual (German/Italian) system was adopted in the schools, which also included some Ladin language teaching. The need for a Ladin schools inspector was expressed, and in 1975 an inspectorate was established.
Franz Prugger was again president from 1958 to 1961. He played an important part in obtaining guarantees for the Ladins in the Statute of Autonomy of the Province of Bozen.
Other notable members of the Union have been: historian Alex Moroder Rusina (1923-2006) and Amalia Obletter da Cudan (1919-2006) founder of the library, which continues to collect books and historical documents.
Bruno Moroder and Alex Moroder were involved in the creation of Radio Ladin. This task is currently in the hands of secretary and librarian Ivana Moroder.
The Cësa di Ladins
The ULG’s greatest financial commitment has been the construction of a Ladin cultural centre. The then president Giuani de Petlin (1948-1958) contributed a large sum from his own pocket, and then went on to obtain contributions from Trento, Bozen and from the parliament in Rome. The wood for the roof was donated by the local authority of Urtijëi. The Cësa di Ladins became the headquarters of the Union di Ladins de Gherdëina and also of the Union Generela. The Cësa was opened in 1954, and since then the building has been progressively enlarged and renovated. The last work was carried out in 1986. The building also houses the local museum of traditions and customs. The museum, which opened in 1960, was a project of the ULG, headed by Robert Moroder, president until 2006.
The first executive council of the ULG elected 17.07.1947
- Franz Senior Prugger (president)
- Leo Demetz dla Cademia (vice president)
- Leo Crepaz da Maidl (secretary)
- Prof. Raimund Mureda (administrator)
- Leo Senior Prinoth
- don Cristl Moroder de Levigi
- Bernhard Demetz dl Faujëina
ULG presidents from 1945
- Cav. Franz Prugger
from 15.07.1946 to 07.08.1948 and from 03.07.1958 to 23.03.1961
- Giuani Stuflesser de Petlin
from 07.08.1948 to 01.03.1958
- Josef (Pubi) Stuflesser de Petlin
from 23.03.1961 to 18.03.1963
- Cav. Heindl Moroder de Doss
from 18.03.1963 to 26.02.1966
- Stefan Demetz de Sulé
from 26.03.1966 to 04.05.1967
- Gilo Prugger dl Dorigo
from 04.05.1967 to 22.03.1969, from 09.05.1970 to 28.05.1972 and from 26.11.1976 to 25.05.1979
- Bruno Moroder
from 22.03.1969 to 09.05.1970
- Vincenzo Peristi
from 28.05.1972 to 26.11.1976 and from 01.04.1985 to 27.02.1986
- Guido Insam “Paladina”
from 25.05.1979 to 28.02.1985
- Dr. Edgar Moroder
from 01.03.1985 to 31.03.1985
- Daniela Moroder
from 26.03.1986 to 03.05.1995
- Egon Vinatzer
from 10.05.1995 to 08.07.2008
- Manuela Piazza
from 09.07.2008 to 25.11.2009
- Stefan Kasslatter
from 12.12.2009 until now
L’Union di Ladins de Fascia
After the second world war the Ladins started to form associations to rebel against the situation left by fascist rule in Italy. In fact fascism regarded the Ladins as a “grey mark to be scratched away”.
The Union Culturèla di Ladins was founded in 1945 in Meran, including two inhabitants of Fascia: Guido Iori Rocia and Father Massimiliano Mazzel. They invited the Ladins of Fassa to defend their identity. In 1946, the year of the meeting on the Sela Pass, Guido Iori brought about the publication of Zent Ladina Dolomites, and at the end of July, Massimiliano Mazzel formed the Union di Ladins de Fascia. It was legally instituted many years later, on 19th May 1955, by the notary Giovanni Rizzi. The act was signed by Rizzi himself, Dr Giacomo Jellici, Dr Simone Sommariva and Father Massimiliano Mazzel, who was nominated president. The Union di Ladins de Fascia was involved in the defence of traditions and the spread of Ladin culture particularly in schools. In Gherdëina and Badia there was a pluri-lingual school system under the province of Bozen, with lessons in German and in Italian, with an hour of Ladin language per week, but in Fascia the young people were encouraged to speak Italian, even by their families, as Ladin was considered worthless.
In the 1960s the Union di Ladins , although lacking in funds, became more active. An Italian-Fascian dictionary was printed and distributed in the schools. A monthly magazine called La Veisc came out. A request was made for itinerant Ladin teachers to circulate in the schools to teach Ladin language and culture. At the time of the revision of the Statute of Autonomy of the province of Trento, the Union called for the same rights for the inhabitants of Fascia as those enjoyed by the Ladins of Gherdëina and Badia under Bozen. After a struggle which lasted many years, an hour of Ladin was finally inserted into the school curriculum. The lessons were held by 2 itinerant teachers, although there were further difficulties and disagreements. After this victory another front line soon presented itself to the Union di Ladins. The province of Trento intended to form a single administrative district of the valleys of Fiemme and Fascia, but the Union insisted on the creation of a separate district of Fascia. The new statute of the province of Trento, which was published in 1972, fell short of the demands of the Union di Ladins and consequently they became more involved in political activity, working towards a future incorporation of Fascia into the province of Bozen. This politicisation led to the resignation of Father Mazzel, in March 1973. However he continued to be involved in the Union, under the new president Remo Locatin. In the following years the Union di Ladins had several successes, including the opening of the Ladin Cultural Institute in 1975, the provincial law number 19 of 1976, recognising the territories of the 7 local authorities of the valley, and finally the creation of the administrative district Comprensorio Ladino di Fassa, separate from Fiemme, in 1977.
In November 1976 Danilo Dezulian del Garber was nominated president of the Union di Ladins de Fascia. In 1983 he was one of the founders of the political movement, the Union Autonomista Ladina. This organisation has so far sent 2 representatives to Rome, the late senator Ezio Anesi and the member of parliament Bepe Detomas.
The Union di Ladins de Fascia supports the political wing, while continuing its cultural and linguistic activities. It staffs the Fascia section of the weekly newspaper La Usc di Ladins, it promotes the knowledge and spread of the Ladin language in all aspects of the community, it organises language courses for adults, it produces texts in Ladin, it supports the need for a standardised Ladin language and indeed all projects which help to bring the people of the Ladin valleys nearer together.
Danilo Dezulian was president of the Union di Ladins de Fascia for 11 years, until 5th November 1987. The baton then passed to Dr Antone Pollam, who has been president for the last 20 years.
Danilo Dezulian was nominated honorary president in recognition of his work for the Ladin cause.
He continued to contribute until his death on 12th April 2005.
The cultural ferment and awareness of the Ladin question led to the founding of sections of the Union in the individual villages, particularly Moena and Vich. The Grop Ladin da Moena was created in 1963, and the Grop Ladin da Vich in the 1980s. The latter had a relatively short life, but the Grop da Moena is still active in its cultural initiatives, most importantly the publication of the periodical Nosha Jent. It is written entirely in Ladin, and is now in its 45th year.
The Union di Ladins da Fodom
The history of the Union dei Ladins da Fodom starts at Christmas 1913, when Father Antonio Pallua received a diploma in Innsbruck for having founded the Union. The association had been formed 8 years earlier and was already well known, particularly for its Calendri Ladins, which were published from 1911. Father Antonio Pallua was born in Ornela, and was priest of Rèba and then became deacon of Cortina in 1913. During WW1 and during fascism the Ladin movement continued to exist, but unable to form an association as such. On 1st February 1965, in the Hotel Alpino at La Plié da Fodom, the Union General dei Ladins-Sezion da Fodom was created. The first president was Bruno Trebo. At that time he was town councillor and later he became mayor of Fodom.
The ULF got off to a good start, supported by the local population who contributed in various ways. In 1967 the periodical El Feral (the lantern) came out, although in 1972 it gave way to La Usc di Ladins. In 1983 the Region of Veneto gave full recognition to the Ladins and agreed to contribute financially to the protection and promotion of the Ladin culture. Since then the Union has published many books: for schools, for enjoyment, of songs, about country life and local history. It has also published 3 editions of the Fodom-Italian-German dictionary, and there have been CDs on local crafts and drama courses. The Union also contributes to the running of the museum, and collaborates with schools, and associations which promote the Ladin language and culture, for example the choirs, the band, folk musicians and the local group Mario & Max. On the15th August every year, the Union and the local authority organise the largest festival of the valley to celebrate Assumption Day.
In conjunction with the Unions di Ladins of Anpezo and Col, there is a council which facilitates collaboration between the various local authorities. In 2005 this favourable situation led to the opening of the Ladin Cultural Institute Cesa de Jan. Another major step has been the historical referendum on 28th October 2007, demanding a return to the Trentino-Südtirol Region, which in Fodom came in with a resounding 86.4 % in favour, showing how the Ladin identity is still alive and requires serious protection.
Members of the community who have contributed to the life of the Union:
Sergio Masarei (1943-2006). Writer. He wrote many books and plays in Fodom, contributed to the SPELL project and wrote for the Usc di Ladins for 30 years.
Nani Pellegrini (1934). Playwright and songwriter. He directed a multivision film about Fodom, and has been at the head of various Ladin institutions.
Luciana Palla (1950). Historian. She has contributed to the study of many questions of recent history.
Franco Deltedesco (1942). Museum curator. He has produced a number of CDs about country life.
The current president of the Unione dei Ladins da Fodom is Maria Cristina Lezuo.
The vice president is Nani Pellegrini and the council members are: Franco Deltedesco (secretary) Giampaolo Soratroi, Lorenzo Soratroi, Daniela Templari, Maria Teresa Crepaz, Sisto Crepaz, Elisa Gabrielli, Manuela Ladurner, Raffaele Irsara. Pierina Foppa represents the Union in the local authority. Bruna Grones is the honorary president.
Presidents of the Union di Ladins da Fodom from 1965:
- Bruno Trebo (1965-1978)
- Bruna Grones (1978-1995)
- Elena Pellegrini (1995-1997)
- Raffaele Irsara (1997-2002)
- Nani Pellegrini (2002-2004)
- Maria Cristina Lezuo & Raffaele Irsara (2004-2005)
- Maria Cristina Lezuo (from 2005)
The Union dei Ladign da Col
The Union dei Ladign da Col was founded in 1982, and since the end of the 1990s has been a part of the Union Generela di Ladins dla Dolomites under the section of Fodom/Col. The Union has always been involved in keeping the Ladin language alive, in particular through the children's theatre. The young actors of the children's theatre have also performed in other parts of the province.
Among those who have been involved in the promotion of the Ladin culture in Col, are the teacher Maria Agostini, Alessandro Pezzei and Paola Agostini, who is the current president of the Union.
The Union dei Ladis d’Anpezo
The Union dei Ladis d’Anpezo (ULd’A) was officially created at Anpezo on 4th December 1975. It was the brainchild of a group of people with a marked respect and love for their cultural roots. The principal aims set out in the statute are the conservation, protection and development of the Ladin conscience in Anpezo, and also the cultural heritage, the language, the history, local customs, folklore, place names, and anything else relative to this matter. It also aims to collaborate with the other Ladin Unions around the Sela mountain group. Our activities range from the publication of texts regarding current affairs, local personalities, crafts, history, art, children’s books, to organising exhibitions, participating in events wearing the traditional costume, and collaboration with local government, and private enterprise and schools. Over the years we have become an important reference point for all aspects of Ladin culture in Anpezo.
Presidents of the Union di Ladins de Anpezo
- Menardi Luigi Malto 1975/1992 (honorary president since 1998)
- Majoni Ernesto Coleto 1992/1999
- Majoni Giulio Coleto 1999/2000
- Bigontina Siro Titoto 2000/2006
- Zardini Elsa Soriza 2006/