Momumental bas-relief in Bolzano

From an ideas competition to redesign the façade of the Finance Building, an illuminated Hannah Arendt slogan emerged

The present Court Square (Piazza del Tribunale) in Bolzano dates back to the period between 1939 and 1942, when it was arranged as Arnaldo Mussolini Square. It was already projected in the urban development plan of 1933/34, when a "Greater Bolzano" was planned. The former headquarters of the Italian Fascist Party now houses the Bolzano Tax Office, and its façade is adorned with a huge relief by Hans Piffrader showing Mussolini on horseback in the centre. The entire relief consists of 57 panels of different widths and heights of 2.75 m, covering a total width of 36 metres.

The 95-tonne object is the largest preserved relief from the Italian Fascist era. In 2011, an ideas competition was initiated to redesign this façade. Instead of removing the monumental relief, it was decided to add the overdue references to its origins and to preserve it as a memorial for posterity. The participation was enormous - from the 486 proposals submitted, five winning projects were chosen, including that of the two artists Arnold Holzknecht and Michele Bernardi from the South Tyrolean Val Gardena valley. Six years later, the illuminated letters "No man has the right to obey" were placed above the monumental bas-relief in the three national languages of German, Italian and Ladin. After dusk, the Court Square shines under this slogan attributed to Hannah Arendt, a Jewish German-American philosopher.

It is an incompletely quoted sentence from a radio interview in 1964. With the complete statement "With Kant, no man has the right to obey", she wanted to use the case of Adolf Eichmann, an SS Obersturmbannführer, to show that totalitarian regimes demanded consistent obedience and exercised a bureaucratic "rule of nobody". In this context, she called for learning to act and speak politically, as it is the personal responsibility of everyone. And how can it be reached? The Court Square is located in the district of Gries-San Quirino, bus no. 8 stops here. The relief is a 10-minute walk from the Documentation Centre in the Victory Monument, which also tells of this time.

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