Nature Lovers and Nazi Desperadoes on the Alpine Frontier
This chapter narrates the story of the Alps under the Nazi dictatorship. Many mountaineers flocked to Hitler’s banner, praising his strong will, vision, and apparent desire to protect the Alps. But not all alpinists had cordial relations with the Nazi party. Their sense of rugged individualism clashed with Nazi notions of collectivity. The construction of the Alpenstrasse (Alpine Highway) frustrated mountaineers who had believed the Nazi’s empty rhetoric of nature conservation. The mountains’ position on the borderland made the Alpine Association’s Gleichschaltung (synchronization) with the Nazi state in Germany challenging, which allowed the Alps to be sites of both resistance and collaboration. Political antagonisms and border closures along the Alpine frontier added to the growing hostility between Austria and Nazi Germany. Only with the Anschluss in 1938 did the Alps become monuments of Hitler’s new order.
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