Adventures this week included a wander around central Innsbruck, Austria and a visit to Das Geigenbaumuseum (violin museum) in Mittenwald, Germany. 

In Innsbruck, Rachel took note of a plaque that honoured the Allied soldiers who liberated the city and Austria itself. ‘There’s a difference,’ she said, ‘between liberation and defeat.’ In the 30s, two of the main parties vying for control of the Austrian parliament with the Christian Socialists (also known as the Austrofascists) and the Nationial Socialists. When it looked like the National Socialists were going to win 40% of the vote in Innsbruck, Engelbert Dollfuss and the Austrofascists banned state and municipal elections. While Dolfuss was against reunification with Germany as long as the Nazis were in power, he was allied with Mussolini. His successor Kurt Schuschnigg (1934–1938) also maintained an anti-unificaiton stance, while also maintaining Dolfuss’ Catholic corporatist policies. Yes, the Nazis marched on Austria in 1938 and installed a puppet governmnent, but did so to cheering crowds. (Note: while all this info is nicked from Wikipedia, I’m entirely open to especially this last generalisation being shown as incorrect.)

So what are we doing in Germany and Austria? Our plan this year was to holiday in Scotland – enjoy a week of the Fringe and maybe drive about and taste some whisky. When the euro crashed, we decided to stay in the eurozone. We wrapped our holiday around my desire to re-visit Fussen, home of two of Mad King Ludwig’s crazy castles. In advance of that, we’re spending a week in Seefeld, Austria mostly hiking, taking in the spas, and enjoying the fact that mountains exist somewhere (just not in the Netherlands, where we spend most of the year. 

Back to Mittenwald and the museum: Interesting exhibits, but a dearth of postcards. The museum provides a history of the town by way the families who established the town as an instrument-making center in post-Renaissance central Europe as well as by description of the town as a trading centre between Italy and points north.

Rachel wasn’t interested in the violin museum, and I wasn’t keen on the Leutasch Geisterklamm (Leutasch Spirit Gorge) walk that she wanted to do. Metal walkways anchored several hundred feet up the side of a mountain – not so keen, me. I’d done a chair lift the day before and feel I have appeased the deities of my acrophobia for this trip. So I left Rachel at the entrance to her walk and drove the four kilometres to Mittenwald where we planned to meet a few hours later. 
  The museum is on Ballenhausgasse – as far as I can figure, Ballenhaus is the local equivalent of a customs warehouse where trade goods are stored until duties are paid. This makes some sense as the Ballenhaus is about 80 metres down the lane (Gasse) with a plaque on the wall. Both the house in which the museum is located and the balllenhaus are about 300 years old. 

The museum takes up two floors. The upper floor displays are concerned with the actual instruments, their makers, and the various processes used to create them. The ground floor’s are mostly concerned with the town’s and the museum’s history and are punctuated with banners containing text in German and in English. My interest in the entire experience took a dive with one particular text covering the history of museum. It was founded in 1930 and moved to its current location in 1960. Apropos of little, the display indicates that until 1938, Ballenhausgasse had been called Judengasse. Does that mean what I think it means? The word wasn’t translated on the English column of text. Yes. Jews Lane. 

Perhaps no explanation, beyond the year of the change, is really necessary. On the other hand, towns, villages, and cities all over this part of the world had thriving Jewish communities. And then they didn’t. The obliteration of the people in these places is a matter of established record. I don’t believe it’s been long enough to excuse with a mere, ‘Well, naming the street for the building just made more civic sense.’ The grafitti artists of Seefeld, 20 kilometres away know that fascism and its attendant horrors are a continuous threat.