“I long for you and the mountains.” Under this quote, from Rosa Hofmann, a communist resistance fighter murdered by the Nazis, authors Thomas Neuhold and Andreas Praher aim to offer a new perspective on the Alps and their history in their newly published book “Widerstand – Verfolgung – Befreiung. Zeitgeschichtliche Wanderungen” offer a new perspective on the Alps and their history.
A review by Matthias Schreckeis. Translated by Hilde Mayer
The Alps have long been a place of longing for a wide variety of needs and a crystallization point for identity constructions and demarcations. As an idyll and vacation paradise, the mountains long served as an apparent parallel world in which the bourgeoisie and the working class could temporarily escape the economic and political upheavals of the interwar period. This imagined dividing line broke down in the 1930s. “Survival instead of experience characterized the years into the postwar period,” write Neuhold and Praher. The Alpine region became the scene of extermination, expulsion and exclusion. Victims and perpetrators alike found refuge in the mountains and made their escape routes over impassable passes to freedom. The cruelty of the Nazi regime was also confronted by courageous anti-fascists in the Alpine region who used the mountains for their own purposes.
The memory of anti-fascist struggles is carried on and gets an additional quality through the own “hiking oneself”.
The 35 described walking and hiking routes are almost all located in the province of Salzburg. At the beginning, the historical as well as ideal context of each hike is presented in a few pages. The introductions are all very fluent and exciting to read. The comprehensive bibliography invites further research. After that, route descriptions as well as requirements for constitution and equipment are presented in concise but precise details. In combination with maps and pictures, orientation is easy.
With their great hiking guide, Neuhold and Praher succeed in creating awareness for the historicity of the Alpine region. They make it clear that history is alive and shapes places as well as people. The memory of anti-fascist struggles is carried forward and gets an additional quality through the own “hiking oneself”. This book should not be missing in any “hiking enthusiast” bookshelf!
Information on the author: Matthias Schreckeis studies history and Slavic studies in Graz and is a board member of APC.
Infobox: Widerstand – Verfolgung – Befreiung. Zeitgeschichtliche Wanderungen, by Thomas Neuhold and Andreas Praher was published in 2020 by Anton Pustet Verlag. 248 pages. 24 euros