Brenner Pass

Brenner Pass (German: Brennerpass [ˈbʁɛnɐpas]; Italian: Passo del Brennero [ˈpasso del ˈbrɛnnero]) is a mountain pass through the Alps which forms the border between Italy and Austria. It is one of the principal passes of the Eastern Alpine range and has the lowest altitude among Alpine passes of the area.

Dairy cattle graze in alpine pastures throughout the summer in valleys beneath the pass and on the mountains above it. At lower altitudes, farmers log pine trees, plant crops and harvest hay for winter fodder. Many of the high pastures are at an altitude of over 1,500 metres (4,900 feet); a small number stand high in the mountains at around 2,000 metres (6,600 feet).

The central section of Brenner Pass covers a four-lane motorway and railway tracks connecting Bozen/Bolzano in the south and Innsbruck to the north. The village of Brenner consists of an outlet shopping centre (supermarkets and stores), fruit stores, restaurants, cafés, hotels and a gas station. It has a population of 400 to 600 (as of 2011).

Brenner Pass
Brennerpass nordrampe
View between the top of the pass and the village of Gries am Brenner
Elevation1,370 m (4,495 ft)
Traversed byE45 motorway
LocationAustriaItaly border
Coordinates47°0′12″N 11°30′27″E / 47.00333°N 11.50750°ECoordinates: 47°0′12″N 11°30′27″E / 47.00333°N 11.50750°E
Brenner Pass is located in Alps
Brenner Pass
Brenner Pass
Brenner Pass lies along the border of Austria and Italy
Brenner LKW Stau
The Brenner Pass carries a four-lane motorway, one of the most important transit routes between Northern and Southern Europe


Prenner was originally the name of a nearby farm which derived from its former owner. The farm of a certain Prennerius is mentioned in documents in 1288, a certain Chunradus Prenner de Mittenwalde is mentioned in 1299. The name Prenner is traced back to the German word for somebody who clears woodland. A name for the pass itself appears for the first time in 1328 as ob dem Prenner (German for above the Prenner).[1]


Roman Empire

Part of Tabula Peutingeriana around Brenner Pass
Brenner and surrounding Roman road network in Tabula Peutingeriana. Brenner is between Matreio and Vepiteno.

The Romans regularised the mountain pass at Brenner, which had already been under frequent use during the prehistoric eras since the most recent Ice Age.[2] Brenner Pass, however, was not the first trans-Alpine Roman road to become regularised under the Roman Empire.

The first Roman road to cross the Alpine range, Via Claudia Augusta, connected Verona in northern Italy with Augusta Vindelicorum (modern-day Augsburg) in the Roman province of Raetia. Via Augusta was completed in 46–47 AD; the route took its course along the Adige valley to the neighbouring Reschen Pass (west of Brenner Pass at above 2,000 metres or 6,600 feet), then descended into the Inn valley before rising to Fern Pass towards Augsburg.

The Roman road that physically crossed over Brenner Pass did not exist until the 2nd century AD. It took the "eastern" route through the Puster Valley and descended into Veldidena (modern-day Wilten), where it crossed the Inn and into Zirl and arrived at Augsburg via Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

The Alamanni (Germanic tribe) crossed the Brenner Pass southward into modern-day Italy in 268 AD, but they were stopped in November of that year at the Battle of Lake Benacus. The Romans kept control over the mountain pass until their end of the empire, in the 5th century.[3]

Holy Roman Empire

During the High Middle Ages, Brenner Pass was a part of the important Via Imperii, an imperial road linking the Kingdom of Germany north of the Alps with the Italian March of Verona. In the carolingian Divisio Regnorum of 806 the Brenner region is called per alpes Noricas, the transit through the Noric Alps.[4] Since the 12th century, Brenner Pass was controlled by the Counts of Tyrol within the Holy Roman Empire. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa made frequent uses of the Brenner Pass to cross the Alps during his imperial expeditions of Italy.[5] The 12th-century Brenner Pass was a trackway for mule trains and carts.

Modernisation of Brenner Pass started in 1777, when a carriage road was laid out at the behest of Empress Maria Theresa.

Austrian Empire

Modernisation further took place under the Austrian Empire and the Brenner Railway, which was completed in stages from 1853 to 1867. It became the first trans-Alpine railway without a major tunnel and at high altitude (crossing Brenner Pass at 1,371 m). Completion of the railway enabled the Austrians to move their troops more efficiently; the Austrians had hoped to secure their territories of Venetia and Lombardy (south of the Alps), but lost them to Italy following the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859 and Austro-Prussian War in 1866.

Recent history

At the end of World War I in 1918, the control of Brenner Pass became shared between Italy and Austria under the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1919). The Treaty of London (1915) secretly awarded Italy the territories south of Brenner Pass for supporting the Entente Powers. Welschtirol/Trentino, along with the southern part of County of Tyrol (now South Tyrol), was transferred to Italy, and Italian troops occupied Tyrol and arrived at Brenner Pass in 1919 to 20.

Carbone tedesco per il Brennero
German coal entering Italy through the Brenner Pass in the 1930s

During World War II, German Führer Adolf Hitler and Italian Duce Benito Mussolini met at Brenner Pass to celebrate their Pact of Steel on 18 March 1940. Brenner Pass was part of the ratlines that were used by some fleeing Nazis after the German surrender in 1945.

Brenner Pass
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: ZAMG
Imperial conversion
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches


The motorway E45 (European designation; in Italy A22, in Austria A13), Brenner Autobahn/Autostrada del Brennero, begins in Innsbruck, runs through Brenner Pass, Bozen/Bolzano, Verona and finishes outside Modena. It is one of the most important routes of north-south connections in Europe.

After the signing of the Schengen Agreement in 1992 and Austria's subsequent entry into the European Union in 1995, customs and immigration posts at Brenner Pass were removed in 1997. However, Austria reinstituted border checks in 2015 as a response to the European migrant crisis. In April 2016, Austria announced it would build a 370-meter long fence at the Pass but clarify that "it would be used only to "channel" people and was not a barrier.[6]"

The Europabrücke (Europe Bridge), located roughly halfway between Innsbruck and the Brenner Pass, is a large concrete bridge carrying the six-lane Brenner Autobahn over the valley of Sill River (Wipptal). At a height of 180 metres (590 feet) and span of 820 metres (2,690 feet), the bridge was celebrated as a masterpiece of engineering upon its completion in 1963. It is a site where bungee-jumping from the bridge has become a popular tourist attraction.

The ever-increasing freight and leisure traffic, however, has been causing long traffic jams at busy times even without border enforcements. The Brenner Pass is the only major mountain pass within the area; other nearby alternatives are footpaths across higher mountains at an altitude of above 2,000 metres (6,600 feet). As a result, air and noise pollution have generated heavy debate in regional and European politics. As of 2004, about 1.8 million trucks crossed the Europa Bridge per year.[7]


In order to ease the road traffic, there are plans to upgrade the Brenner Railway from Verona to Innsbruck with a series of tunnels, including the Brenner Base Tunnel underneath Brenner.[8] While the official groundbreaking of the tunnel had taken place in 2006 (with survey tunnels drilled in the same year), substantial work did not begin until 2011. Funding issues have delayed the tunnel's scheduled date of completion from 2022 to 31 December 2025.[9]

See also


  1. ^ Egon Kühebacher (1991). Die Ortsnamen Südtirols und ihre Geschichte, Bozen: Athesia, p. 59
  2. ^ Walter Woodburn Hyde (1935). Roman Alpine Routes (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press), p. 194: "the use of the major pass-routes has been continuous from prehistoric times down to the present".
  3. ^ "Geschichte Schwabens bis zum Ausgang des 18. Jahrhunderts" by Max Spindler, Christoph Bauer, Andreas Kraus, 3rd edition; publisher: C.H. Beck Verlag 2001, page 80 ISBN 3-406-39452-3, ISBN 978-3-406-39452-2
  4. ^ Martin Bitschnau; Hannes Obermair (2009). Tiroler Urkundenbuch, II. Abteilung: Die Urkunden zur Geschichte des Inn-, Eisack- und Pustertals. Vol. 1: Bis zum Jahr 1140. Innsbruck: Universitätsverlag Wagner. pp. 51–52 no. 73. ISBN 978-3-7030-0469-8.
  5. ^ Santosuosso, Antonio (2004). Barbarians, Marauders, and Infidels: The Ways of Medieval Warfare. New York, NY: MJF Books. p. 190. ISBN 978-1-56731-891-3.
  6. ^ Scherer, Steve; Pullella, Philip; Jones, Gavin; Roche, Andrew (28 April 2016). "Italy, Austria seek to calm tensions over Brenner border controls". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 2 May 2016. On Wednesday, Austria outlined plans to erect a 370 meter-long fence at the Brenner Pass, which is the busiest route through the Alps for heavy goods vehicles, but Sobotka said on Thursday it would be used only to "channel" people and was not a barrier.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Galleria di Base del Brennero – Brenner Basistunnel BBT SE – Offline Archived 22 December 2005 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "BBT wird Realität - Ministerrat gibt grünes Licht -". 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2013-03-26.

External links

103rd Infantry Division (United States)

The 103rd Infantry Division ("Cactus Division") was a unit of the United States Army which served in the U.S. Seventh Army of the 6th Army Group during World War II.

It was variously assigned to the VI Corps, XV Corps, and XXI Corps. By war's end it was part of VI Corps' dash across Bavaria into the Alps, reaching Innsbruck, Austria, taking the Brenner Pass, and earning the honor of linking up with the U.S. Fifth Army coming north from Vipiteno Italy, joining the Italian and Western European fronts on May 4, 1945.

11th Infantry Division Brennero

The 11th Infantry Division Brennero was a mountain infantry division of the Italian Army during World War II. The Brennero Division was mobilized in October 1939, demobilized in October, 1940, and mobilized again in December, 1940. The only difference between line infantry divisions and mountain infantry divisions was that the latter's artillery was carried by pack mules instead of the standard horse-drawn carriages. Italy's real mountain warfare divisions were the six alpine divisions manned by the "Alpini" mountain troops. It began transformation to motorized division in February, 1943.

It was made up of men from the valley to the South of the Brenner Pass (a rare case of an Italian Infantry Division whose name coincides with the place of residence of its members) and surrounding South Tyrol.

A Woman of Today

A Woman of Today (German: Eine Frau von heute) is a 1954 West German drama film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Luise Ullrich, Curd Jürgens and Carsta Löck.It was shot at the Bavaria Studios in Munich with location footage at the Brenner Pass and around Florence in Italy. The film's sets were designed by the art directors Franz Bi and Bruno Monden.

Autostrada A22 (Italy)

The Autostrada A22 (Italian: Autostrada del Brennero, Autobrennero, German: Brennerautobahn) is an Italian motorway which connects the city of Modena and the A1 motorway to Austria through the Brenner Pass, located in the municipality of Brenner.

The operator of the road was Autostrada del Brennero S.p.A..


Brenner may refer to:

Brenner (surname)

Brenner (crater)

Brenner (TV series), a television series from 1959 to 1964

Brenner, South Tyrol, a municipality in South Tyrol

Brenner, Kansas, a community in the United States

Brenner Pass, a pass through the Alps, linking Italy and Austria

Brenner Base Tunnel, a railway tunnel through the base of the Brenner massif

Brenner Railway

Brenner Regional Council, a regional council in Israel

Brenner tumourBrenner Souza da Silva (born 2000), Brazilian footballer

Brenner Autobahn

The Brenner Autobahn (Italian: Autostrada del Brennero or Italian: AutoBrennero, English: Brenner Motorway) refers to a major European truck route, which connects Innsbruck in Austria to Modena in northern Italy.Numbered as the A13 in the Austrian section, the motorway is relatively short and entirely located within the state of Tyrol. Upon reaching the Italy-Austria border at the Brenner Pass (1,374 m (4,508 ft)), the motorway becomes A22 in Italy and runs to Modena, where it connects to the A1 motorway between Milan and Rome. It is part of the major European route E45.

The historic Brenner Pass is the one of the lowest among the Central Eastern Alps; this favourable location was therefore suitable for building the first motorway crossing among the Alpine main chains. Unlike other higher passes across the Alps, the Brenner Pass remains open all-year round and through the winter months. Construction of the motorway began in 1959 and the Brenner Autobahn, including the Bridge of Europe (Europe's highest motorway bridge then), was partially open in 1963.

Brenner Base Tunnel

The Brenner Base Tunnel (German: Brennerbasistunnel; Italian: Galleria di base del Brennero) is a planned 55-kilometre-long (34 mi) railway tunnel through the base of the Eastern Alps beneath the Brenner Pass. It will run from near Innsbruck, in Austria, to Fortezza, in Italy, replacing part of the current Brenner railway. The line is part of Line 1, the Berlin to Palermo route, of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T).

The Brenner Pass, in the Alps at the border between Austria and Italy, is one of the most important traffic connections between northern and southern Europe, and the motorway going over it is infamous for its frequent traffic jams. Pollution from this traffic is a major concern.The hope is to relieve this situation by greatly improving the railway connection between North Tyrol and South Tyrol with the new tunnel, which will allow trains to cross the Alps much faster. Currently, speeds in the Brenner region barely exceed 70 km/h (43 mph) due to the steepness of the existing tracks, which cross the pass at an elevation of 1,371 metres above sea level.The travel time from Innsbruck to Bolzano will be reduced from 2 hours to 50 minutes.The project is funded by Austria and Italy, and a contribution by the European Union. Due to the magnitude of the project (it will be the world's second-longest tunnel, after the Gotthard Base Tunnel), the funding promised so far will not suffice for the estimated costs. The tunnel was scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Brenner Railway

The Brenner Railway (German: Brennerbahn; Italian: Ferrovia del Brennero) is a major line connecting the Austrian and Italian railways from Innsbruck to Verona, climbing up the Wipptal (German for “Wipp Valley”), passing over the Brenner Pass, descending down the Eisacktal (German for “Eisack Valley”) to Bolzano/Bozen, then further down the Adige Valley to Roverto/Rofreit, and along the section of the Adige Valley, called in Italian the “Vallagarina”, to Verona. This railway line is part of the Line 1 of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T). It is considered a "fundamental" line by the state railways Ferrovie dello Stato (FS).


The Eisack (German: Eisack; Italian: Isarco [iˈzarko]; Latin: Isarus or Isarcus) is a river in Northern Italy, the second largest river in South Tyrol. Its source is near the Brenner Pass, at an altitude of about 1990 m above sea level. The river draws water from an area of about 4,200 km². After about 96 km, it joins the Adige river south of Bolzano. At first the river flows through the Wipptal and after the village of Vahrn through the Eisacktal. Its source is sung of in the Bozner Bergsteigerlied as the northern frontier of the South Tyrolean homeland.

The major towns and villages along the course of the river are Sterzing, Franzensfeste, Brixen, Klausen, Waidbruck and finally the capital city of the province. In Brixen it merges with the Rienz. Several smaller creeks are tributaries, including the Ridnauner Bach, the Pflerscher Bach, the Pfitscher Bach, the Villnößer Bach, the Derjon, the Braibach (also known as Tierser Bach), the Eggentaler Bach and the Talfer flowing from Sarntal.

The Eisack is used extensively for the production of electricity; it is dammed near Franzensfeste, Klausen and Waidbruck.

Gonars concentration camp

The Gonars concentration camp was one of the several Italian concentration camps and it was established on February 23, 1942, near Gonars, Italy.

Many internees were transferred to this camp from the other Italian concentration camp, Rab concentration camp, which served as equivalent of final solution in Mario Roatta's ethnic cleansing policy against ethnic Slovenes from the Italian-occupied Province of Ljubljana and Croats from Gorski Kotar, in accord with the racist 1920s speech by Benito Mussolini, along with other Italian war crimes committed on the Italian-occupied territories of Yugoslavia: When dealing with such a race as Slavic - inferior and barbarian - we must not pursue the carrot, but the stick policy.... We should not be afraid of new victims.... The Italian border should run across the Brenner Pass, Monte Nevoso and the Dinaric Alps.... I would say we can easily sacrifice 500,000 barbaric Slavs for 50,000 Italians....

The first transport of 5,343 internees (1,643 of whom were children) arrived two days after its establishment, on February 23, 1942, from the Province of Ljubljana and from the other two Italian concentration camps, the Rab camp and the camp in Monigo (near Treviso).

The camp was disbanded on September 8, 1943, immediately after the Italian armistice. Every effort was made to erase any evidence of this black spot of Italian history. The camp's buildings were destroyed, the materials were used to build a nearby kindergarten and the site was turned into a meadow.Only in 1973 a sacrarium was created by sculptor Miodrag Živković at the town's cemetery. Remains of 453 Slovenian and Croatian victims were transferred into its two underground crypts. It is believed that at least 50 additional persons died in the camp due to starvation and torture. Apart from the sacrarium no other evidence of the camp remains and even many locals are unaware of it.

High Tauern

The High Tauern (pl.; German: Hohe Tauern, Italian: Alti Tauri) are a mountain range on the main chain of the Central Eastern Alps, comprising the highest peaks east of the Brenner Pass. The crest forms the southern border of the Austrian states of Salzburg, Carinthia and East Tyrol, with a small part in the southwest belongs to the Italian province of South Tyrol. The range includes Austria's highest mountain, the Grossglockner at 3,798 metres (12,461 ft) above the Adriatic.

In the east, the range is adjoined by the Lower Tauern. For the etymology of the name, see Tauern.

Operation Cold Comfort

During World War II, Operation Cold Comfort was a failed SAS raid that began with a parachute drop north of Verona on February 17, 1945. It was later renamed Zombie.

The 12 man ski team under Capt. Littlejohn, and their equipment were widely scattered in the drop, and thereafter found themselves among hostile locals of essentially German origin. Their mission was to block by landslide the main rail lines through the Brenner Pass, thus having a dramatic effect on German reinforcements moving south.

The men spent most of their time in hiding and attempts to supply and reinforce by air were unsuccessful. Capt. Littlejohn and Corporal Crowley were captured and executed under Hitler’s Commando Order. Eventually on 31 March the situation had worsened to the point exfiltration was ordered.

Roderick Stephen Hall

Captain Roderick Stephen Goodspeed Hall (August 1915 – February 20, 1945) was an American military officer and agent of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II. Hall was betrayed and captured behind enemy lines during a self-proposed sabotage mission in the region south of the Brenner Pass in January 1945. After one month of captivity he was executed by the Schutzstaffel (SS), who covered up his murder as a cardiac arrest. His murderers were put on trial by a US military tribunal after the war, in 1946, and three of them sentenced to death and executed while a fourth one was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Seventh United States Army

The Seventh Army was a United States army created during World War II that evolved into the United States Army Europe (USAREUR) during the 1950s and 1960s. It served in North Africa and Italy in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations and France and Germany in the European theater between 1942 and 1945.

Originally the I Armored Corps under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton, it made landfall at Morocco during Operation Torch as the Western Task Force, the first all-U.S. force to enter the European war. Following successful defeat of the Wehrmacht under General Erwin Rommel in North Africa, the I Armored Corps was redesignated the Seventh Army on 10 July 1943 while at sea en route to the Allied invasion of Sicily as the spearhead of Operation Husky.

After the conquests of Palermo and Messina the Seventh Army prepared for the invasion of France by its Mediterranean coast as the lead element of Operation Dragoon in August 1944. It then drove a retreating German army north and then west toward the Alsace, being absorbed into the newly created Sixth United States Army Group in mid-September. In January 1945 it repelled a fierce but brief enemy counter-offensive during the German Operation Nordwind, then completed its reduction of the region by mid-March.

In a lead role in Operation Undertone launched March 15th, the Seventh Army fought its way across the Rhine into Germany, capturing Nuremberg and then Munich. Elements reached Austria and crossed the Brenner Pass into Italy by May 4th, followed shortly by war's end on VE-Day, May 8, 1945.

Sill (river)

The Sill is a 43-kilometer river in Tyrol, Austria. It is one of the larger tributaries of the Inn in the Austrian Tyrol. It flows north through the Wipptal (Wipp Valley) to Innsbruck. Its source lies east of the Brenner Pass. At the "Sillzwickel" - the name of the point where it meets the Inn at Innsbruck - there is a recreation area with cycling trails.

The Viggarbach merges with it in Schönberg.

The natural river basin is 853 km²; 31.6 km² are covered in glacier ice.

The water power generated by the river flow is used for three power plants providing the city and environs with electricity.

Waterfalls on the river include Sill Fall, which has a height of 4 metres, and from where water is taken out for urban use. In the fall basin, fish such as trout can be found. The Bretterkeller waterfall is located at the bottom of the Paschberg in the city area of Innsbruck.

The Sill features prominently in the stories Amras and Der Wetterfleck by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard.

Stubai Alps

The Stubai Alps (in German Stubaier Alpen; in Italian Alpi dello Stubai) is a mountain range in the Central Eastern Alps of Europe. It is named after the Stubaital valley to its east. It is located southwest of Innsbruck, Austria, and several summits of the range form part of Austria's border with Italy. The range is bounded by the Inn River valley to the north; the Sill River valley (Wipptal) and the Brenner Pass to the east (separating it from the Zillertal Alps); the Ötztal and Timmelsjoch to the west (separating it from the Ötztal Alps), and to the south by tributaries of the Passer River and Eisack.


Timmelsjoch (Italian: Passo del Rombo), (elevation 2,474 metres (8,117 ft)) is a high mountain pass that creates a link through the Ötztal Alps along the border between Austria and Italy.

The Timmelsjoch connects the Ötztal valley in the Austrian state of Tyrol to the Passeier Valley in the Italian province of South Tyrol, as it bridges the saddle point between the Jochköpfl (3,141 metres (10,305 ft)) and Wurmkogl (3,082 metres (10,112 ft)) peaks to its northeast and southwest, respectively. The pass is sometimes called the "secret passage" because it is little-used compared to the much easier and lower Brenner Pass some 25 kilometres (16 mi) to its east, and Reschen Pass some 60 kilometres (37 mi) to its west.

Via Imperii

Via Imperii (Imperial Road) was one of the most important of a class of roads known collectively as imperial roads (German: Reichsstraßen) of the Holy Roman Empire. This old trade route ran in a south–north direction from Venice on the Adriatic Sea and Verona in the Kingdom of Italy across the Brenner Pass through Germany to the Baltic coast passing the following cities:

Innsbruck in the County of Tyrol

Augsburg in the Prince-Bishopric of Augsburg

the Imperial city of Nuremberg

Bayreuth, Berneck, Münchberg and Hof in the Principality of Bayreuth

Plauen, Mylau and Reichenbach in the Vogtland region

Zwickau, Altenburg, Regis, Borna, Markkleeberg and Connewitz in the Margraviate of Meissen

Leipzig – intersection with east–west Via Regia

Wittenberg in Saxe-Wittenberg

Cölln/Berlin, capital of Brandenburg

Bernau bei Berlin

Stettin in the Duchy of PomeraniaThe cities on the route held the privilege of staple right, merchants were obliged to use the toll road and in turn enjoyed protection by the Imperial authority under the terms of the Landfrieden.

Parts of the historic route are today marked by the Italian Strada Statale No. 12, the Austrian Landesstraßen B 182 and B 177 and the German Bundesstraße 2.


The Wipptal (Wipp valley) is an Alpine valley in Tyrol, Austria and in South Tyrol, Italy, running between Innsbruck and Franzensfeste. The Brenner Pass (1,374 m) at the Austro-Italian border divides it into the northern, Austrian Unteres Wipptal and the southern, Italian Oberes Wipptal. The Unteres Wipptal extends along the river Sill southward from Innsbruck, where the Sill meets the larger river Inn, up to the Brenner Pass. South of the border, the Oberes Wipptal stretches along the Eisack river by way of Sterzing to Franzensfeste. It forms the Wipptal District of the province of South Tyrol.

The Brenner Autobahn (motorway) (A13 in Austria, A22 in Italy) passes through the valley, beginning with the Europabrücke (Europe bridge) near Innsbruck. It is an important road connection across the Alps, forming part of the connection between Munich and Verona. The inhabitants of the Wipptal have been complaining for years about the volume of traffic. The Brenner railway also runs through the valley. The proposed Brenner Base Tunnel would remove all long-distance trains from the valley.

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