Giant parade marks Tirol uprising against Napoleon

21st September 2009, Comments 0 comments

The giant march in the western city of Innsbruck with the Austrian president and government leaders among the huge crowds is only held once every quarter century but again brought out underlying nationalist sentiment.

Vienna -- Tens of thousands of people from the Austrian and Italian Tirolean region took part Sunday in commemorations of an 1809 uprising against Napoleon Bonaparte.

The giant march in the western city of Innsbruck with the Austrian president and government leaders among the huge crowds is only held once every quarter century but again brought out underlying nationalist sentiment.

About 26,000 people, many in traditional costumes with leather shorts or feather caps, took part in a four-hour long parade against a background of triumphant fanfares in honour of Andreas Hofer, leader of the uprising that kept French troops at bay for six months.

Another 90,000 people lined the route with President Heinz Fischer, Chancellor Werner Faymann and the governors of Austria's Tirol province, Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy and South Tirol in Germany.

The Austrian chancellor praised the "participants' commitment to peace within a peaceful and unified Europe." The allotment of Alto Adige and Trentino to Italy with the dismantling of the Austrian empire after World War I remains controversial however.

In banners waved at the parade, one Italian group called for self-determination for Germany's South Tirol, which has had strong autonomy since 1945 which was strengthened in 1992. Others stated: "Goodbye Rome" or "We are one people."

Andreas Hofer is a Tirolean figurehead in Italy and Austria. He raised a 20,000 man army against Napoleon and his Bavarian allies, winning three key battles before they were finally defeated.

AFP/Expatica

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