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Discussion: Mauerhaken Streit: The Great Piton Debate of 1911

  • Started: 8 weeks ago on Wed 30th Sep 2020

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started this discussion 8 weeks ago.

Mauerhaken Streit: The Great Piton Debate of 1911

Jim Erickson wrote a nice article about "The Great Piton Debate" of 1911 for climbing.com. Legends like Paul Preuss †, Tita Piaz † and Hans Dülfer † discussed the climbing ethics of their time.

Lamπ[tm] replied 8 weeks ago.

I do not like making people heroes for joining the "Club 27"

replied 8 weeks ago.

Lamπ[tm] In my opinion that has not a lot to do with that discussion. After all, the article doesn't take on a suicidal attitude, but rather the opposite, and even the original "Mauerhakenstreit" debate had relatively balanced opinions flowing in. In the end, I think people don't make Preuss a hero (at least not for his untimely death …), but rather a victim of his strict ethics. Objectively, his ethics for the most part weren't "wrong", and I think all of the participants of the old debate had to admit that. Nowadays, looking at it with a critical eye can help us to find our own, modern, middle ground, also taking into consideration removable gear for example.

viceionic replied 8 weeks ago.

Hmm that is interesting, that new to me

Lamπ[tm] replied 8 weeks ago.

Did U know that there is a "Paul Preuss Award"?

replied 8 weeks ago.

Lamπ[tm] I don't get what you want to say? The award doesn't go to people killing themselves early in the mountains, does it? They honour climbers who took Preuss' ideas and put them into modern perspective.

Konrad replied 8 weeks ago.

Preuss was also a jew. The german speaking alpinism scene already had nationalist and antisemitic tendencies during his lifetime, which became stronger after his death, with most clubs expelling their Jewish members in the 20s and 30s. A large number welcomed the National Socialists with open arms.

This lead to Preuss' legacy effectively being buried shortly after his death. It took until the 70s for his contribution to the sport to be recognized again.

Maybe something to think about when you hear 'Berg Heil'.

replied 8 weeks ago.

Konrad I agree that recognising Preuss as a Jewish mountaineer might be something relatively recent. However, his ideas were highly regarded also some time after his death, despite antisemitism becoming even more aggressive than it already was at the time of his death. At least, in 1933, an article in "Deutsche Alpenzeitung" remembered him as "one of us", and in the 1940s, the italian Severino Casara wrote several chapters about him in his books. But maybe it was indeed Casaro's biography of Preuss (published in 1970) that sparked renewed interest in the person.

As for "Berg Heil", I wouldn't go that far. Just like "Petri Heil" and "Weidmannsheil", these salutations have an origin far predating national socialism and not linked to antisemitism in any way.

Konrad replied 8 weeks ago.

I don't know if 2 mentions in the 30s and 40s necessarily counter my point, since Preuss pushed boundaries and was one of the most famous alpinists of his day.

As to 'Berg Heil' - I don't know of any direct links to antisemitism either (aside from the obvious), but it makes my skin crawl.

PS the swastika and the roman salute also have origins predating the 20th century. It's about context.

replied 8 weeks ago.

Sure, I don't blame anyone for not using it if it leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Those 2 mentions alone certainly don't counter your point (and as I said, I agree that he as a person was probably swept under the carpet under the NS regime, and it's of course a fact that the alpine clubs aren't blameless in their acceptance of antisemitic ideas), but I'm not sure I would be able to procure more than a handful of mentions in the literature about, say, Hans Dülfer, or Angelo Dibona, who were contemporaries of Preuss and arguably also some of the most famous alpinists of their day. It's hard to pinpoint the impact they had on the ideals of the people by just referring to written testament, anyway.

Lamπ[tm] replied 6 weeks ago.

I am so sorry, I NEVER INTENDED to start an NS debate. Hopefully, it will cum 2 an end soon.

I did not even know that Preuss was a Jew. Religion is not relevant at all for me.

Mark Gamble replied 6 weeks ago.

This post was an absolute joy, a breath of fresh air in a week of bad news.

Thanks Kai.

replied 6 weeks ago.

Lamπ[tm] No worries!

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