Lost Mountains and the Violence of Alpine Anti-Semitism
Although the 1918 armistice established a military truce, culture wars continued to rage on the peaks for the next two decades. The tense situation in South Tyrol, now property of Italy, resulted in restricted or closed access for Germans and Austrians to the Dolomites. Fierce debates erupted over who had rights to the Alps. After the war, several Austrian chapters of the Alpine Association adopted the so-called “Aryan paragraph” in their statutes, which banned Jews from membership. The uproar that followed transformed Alpinism. Most Austrian mountaineers, led by Eduard Pichl, focused their attacks on Section Donauland, a predominantly Jewish chapter in Vienna, and successfully fought to have the chapter banned from Alpine Association. Although the Alpine culture wars made little direct material impact on the mountain environment, they fundamentally shaped how Germans and Austrians perceived the heights in the early twentieth century. The peaks became a hallowed sanctuary for some, sheltering and strengthening dreams of empire. Others blamed the Alps for cultivating the reactionary forces that later hastened the demise of the republics. In both cases, anti-Semitism had become a defining facet of Alpinism.
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