The Retreat of Nations
The conclusion follows the developments in the Eastern Alps during and after the Second World War and discusses how mountaineering illustrated the dichotomy of individuality and collective identity that informed views of nature and nationhood in Germany and Austria. The Alps had become a repository for the hopes, fears, and longings held by many Germans and Austrians. Alpinism’s evolving meaning reflected the various notions of nationhood that converged on the peaks at different times. While post-war tourism helped decouple the mountains from a nationalistic past, Alpine tourism’s quandary of consumption versus conservation remained unresolved. International cooperation among states along the Alpine Arc attempted to address the dilemmas of tourism. Just as Europe moved towards an ever closer union, so too did national parks in the Alps. In 1991, the Alpine countries and the European Union ratified the Convention on the Protection of the Alps that coordinated management efforts and linked the reserves into a single network. Yet if the attraction of the Alps is as alluring as ever in the new millennium, their ambiguities are still equally confounding, particularly concerning the relationship between tourism and nationhood on the Alpine frontier.
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