Archive for October, 2012

Travel: AUTUMNAL SALZBURG (Satis Shroff)


Salzburg is a wonderful Austrian city on the banks of the Salzach river, on the northern border of the Alps. The alpine peak Untersberg (1972m), with a commanding view of Salzburg, is located only a short distance from the city centre.


German is the official language of Austria, with a typically Ossie slang, but you hear English a lot too. How do you pay in Austria? In euros. And tips? It’s customary to give a bakshish of 10% in restaurants, bars and taxis.


Most people know Salzburg’s greatest composer son as Mozart, but his name was officially ‘Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart. Mozart is a Latinised variation of Theophilus. The famous composer signed in later years as Wolfgang Amade and called himself ‘Amadeus’ when he was in a jovial mood. Falco, a pop-star in the 1980s sang a hit with ‘Ah-ah-Amadeus’ in which the singer referred to Mozart as a superstar.


Who was Mozart? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27,1756-.December 5, 1791) was a prolific and talented composer of the Classical Era. He composed over 600 works and his popularity is enduring, and showed prodigious capabilities since early childhood.


After crossing the footbridge into the Baroque city centre, you arrive at the birthplace of Mozart at the Getreidegasse 9 (Cereal Lane), now a hubbing shopping street, which has been turned into a museum and has become a cultural venue, drawing thousands of visitors from around the world. You are conducted through the original Mozart rooms which have historic documents, memorabilia. There are also portraits hanging on the white walls painted during his lifetime. You can also see the unfinished oil painting with the title ‘Mozart at the Piano.’ The exhibits include the violin that Mozart played on as a child.



Some hundred metres away from the birth-house of Mozart, is his residence, which became his family home for seven years from the year 1773 till 1780. The Mozart museum has also been transformed into a museum and a permanent exhibition about the Mozart family. It’s easy to reach by bus and is located at the Market Square No.8. Mozart composed some of his famous works here, especially his great symphonies and masterpieces such as ‘Re pastore’ and ‘Idomeneo.’ The Magic Flute House, actually a hut, is located on the grounds of the Mozarteum Foundation in Schwarzstrasse 26. Mozart wrote parts of the Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute). You can listen to the Mozart Sound and Film Collection at Mozart’s Residence, as well as compositions and movies of contemporary Salzburger composers. I liked hearing WA Mozart’s piano sonatas at the Mozart Residence. It’s good to have time at your disposal during such a significant visit to Mozart’s world, so that you can seep in everything with your senses. During my sojourn in Salzburg I heard Mozart’s music over my MP3 to share and get the Mozart feeling.



It was a rainy morning in Salzburg and a lady I met from Vienna, who was on a visit wearing the traditional trachten said to me with a smile, ‘This is typical Salzburger weather.’


Salzburg was a state ruled by Archbishops for centuries and they lavished great wealth and bestowed exquisite architecture on the city, which had many churches and cathedrals.


At lunchtime I met a young man from Salzburg and I mentioned the many beggars and drunks near the railway station and in the lanes of the city and he replied laconically, ‘It’s not like Vienna. Vienna is very different.’



On another day I went on a lovely ride to the top of the Untersberg on a spacious cabin of the cable car. You have a magnificent view of the RosittenValley and the surrounding mountains. When you reach the top you have chance to hike to the Geiereck (1805m). Another possibility is to walk up to the mountain-climbers’ memorial. I chose this route because I was fascinated by the story of the mountaineers. You can also walk to the Salzburg Hochthron peak (1856m). At the summit you’re rewarded with a beautiful view of the Salzburg Lake District.



One should never forget that one is in an alpine country, which demands that you wear proper clothing and shoes when you take a walk in the countryside.The weather can change fast.


A legend has it that the Emperor Charlesmagne never really died. Instead, he’s sleeping in the Untersberg along with his loyal knioghts. The legend says that he will awaken when the empire needs him the most. That will be the day when no ravens will fly around the mountain’s summit. When this happens, Charlesmagne who is also known as the Father of Europe and his men will come again to help his people.


An interesting story, isn’t it? As I climbed up to the summit there were a lot of Bergdollen, these black birds, flying about the summit. They weren’t shy and would love to swoop to your shoulder and take a bite of your apple which you were eating.


Salzburg is also called ‘The Rome of the North’ because of the fortresses, pleasure palaces cathedrals and churches and statues.

Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart it’s also called the City of Music.


You promenade in the footpath zones of the modern Austrian city, you’re fascinated by its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture and artistry. If you’re in a hurry you can take the bus to the Mirabelleplatz, get off there and let yourself be astonished by the sights that unfurl before your eyes at the gardens of the MirabellePalace. The many fountains and sprouts with Greek mythological themes, the well-placed and cut green lawns leading to the fountains in shades of green, scarlet and yellow flowers forming exquisite designs, with rows of tall green hedges. And beyond the garden, a magnificent view of the fortress Hohensalzburg, which happens to be one of the oldest fortresses in Europe.



If that’s enough, you can go to Hellbrunn and visit the famous, enchanting, BaroquePalace and its PleasureGarden (Lustschloss), which is full of surprises and pranks. The pavilion of this palace was used in the making of ‘Sound of Music.’  The PleasureGarden is a delight with its hidden fountains and sprouts. Even when you think you’re clever and can dodge the water that shoots at you from nowhere, this garden visit makes all visitors laugh, and a frivolous garden atmosphere develops. You stay behind a ‘safe’ wall, laughing at the others trying to dodge the water, and suddenly you have the feeling that you’ve wet your pants or skirt, as the case may be. It’s hilarious and a must-see place, if you are with your friends and want to give them a special treat.


Imagine being invited to take part in a sumptuous dinner, and while you’re eating and chatting with your neighbour the fountains suddenly start sprinkling all around you and you get soaked. Mischievous, eh? You can’t cry, so you laugh. This palace garden with its trick-fountains was a hit in the old days (even today), for it was the epoche of melancholy. After all, laughter has always been the best medicine.


In Salzburg, you take a red London double-decker, built in 1962, and drive past the old city with Baroque buildings. Natural landscape crops up, then the exclusive residential area. You can see the majestic Hagen and Tennen mountain ranges.


When you’re in Salzburg don’t forget to visit the Confiserie or Café Sacher at the Hotel Sacher Salzburg for the original Sacher-torte. It’s a must do. The Sacher-torte dates back to 1832, baked according to his own recipe by Franz Sacher. Another favourite souvenir is the famous Mozart Kugel, a chocolate delight. They are small nuggets of best dark and light nougat, immersed in fine marzipan and have a chocolate cover. Traditional trachten costumes also make excellent presents abroad. At the Europark Shopping Centre you get products with names like such as: H&M, C&A, Esprit, Hilfinger,Zara, Marrionand etc.


If you haven’t yet got acquainted with the original Salzburger Nockerl’ it’s high time you did at S’Nockerl Restaurant. A Nockerl is a delicious egg-vanilla soufflé.´ The Viennese Schnitzel is made of bread crumbed veal or pork.

















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Mining in the Kappler Valley (Satis Shroff)

In an old German song there is mention of the flood of silver-ore from the Schauinsland hill, of Kappel’s small church, where the traveller finds rest and peace. The stream, and the green meadow, and the song of the shepard boy. The hill-stream flows, the wooden mill-wheel creaks and moves, and the pine forests echo with the chirps and tweets of the bird songs. The countryman struggles on the steep hill, the hard-working mountain man uses his drill to dig for ores in Schauinsland. The baskets, heavily laden with ores moved down to the valley along the ropeway. In the deep Black Forest the axe was swung and giant trees felled. The son of Kappler Valley sojourns afar and has longing for his home. His eyes become ultimately tired and close. The Kappler Valley should be his last home of rest and he greets it a thousand times.But today, the poisonous depotits from the mining industry is causing a lot of protests from the people who live in the vicinity of the olde mining area in Kappel and Neuhäuser. 


Mining in the Kappler Valley (Satis Shroff)

The Kapplerlied tells us about the hamlet of Kappel, which lies below the crescent of Black Forest peaks.

O lovely Vale of Kappel,
I think of you.
O my Heimat,
I greet you
A thousand times.

There is mention of the flood of silver-ore from the Schauinsland hill, of Kappel’s small church, where the traveller finds rest and peace. The stream, and the green meadow, and the song of the shepard boy. The hill-stream flows, the wooden mill-wheel creaks and moves, and the pine forests echo with the chirps and tweets of the bird songs. The countryman struggles on the steep hill, the hard-working mountain man uses his drill to dig for ores in Schauinsland. The baskets, heavily laden with ores moved down to the valley along the ropeway. In the deep Black Forest the axe was swung and giant trees felled. The son of Kappler Valley sojourns afar and has longing for his home. His eyes become ultimately tired and close. The Kappler Valley should be his last home of rest and he greets it a thousand times. 

The first historical certificate to prove that there was a mining area in the Kappler Valley dates back to April 24, 1452 in which a certain Heinrich Knöringen from Imrenbach is mentioned.

It was Emperor Maximilian I who introduced the Hill Mining Order for Hofsgrund in 1517 and its modification in the years 1520,1523 and 1525. During the Thirty Year War the mining activity in the Schauinsland and Kappel came to a stop.

After 1731 the silver was brought from the hills to the Münzamt in Hall. Melting huts, and other houses were built and a colony of workers was settled, which led to protests from the local farmers because the melting ovens led to more use of wood, and the miners began using the meadows which resulted in court cases.

As early as 1751, the Community Administration Kappel finalised an agreement to avoid the damage to the soil in the concerned area. In 1754 the Kappler farmers sought the solicitor’s assistance in Oberried, and delivered a complaint about the negligence in the handling of protective measures on the part of the mining workers. The Letter of Complaint was addressed to the local Austrian government .Another major argument was about the poisonous substances that damaged the soil and endangered the farm-animals. In a directive addressed to Caspar Berger (Mining Judge) by the directors of the Hill Mining Society in Schwaz stated that in no case should the washed-water containing arsenic and other ‘wild’ elements. 

Nevertheless, there were a lot of differences between the miners and the farmers. On July 18, 1761 the silver mining industry had to pull its brakes because a fire a fire destroyed the houses and a nearby forest. The following year Beroldingen fired the mine-workers. The miners had to look for jobs elsewhere.

In the early days, the mining activity centred on excavating and exploiting lead and silver ores. Lead was used for rifle cartridges and cannon-balls, and the silver in lieu of currency, and as jewellery. Freiherr von Roggenbach, a silver-mining engineer trained in the USA and who fought in Mexico, started mining for zinc-blende in 1876 with success.

The mine-workers lived under the poverty-level in those days, as they didn’t have many rights. Many of them were from Tyrol, Austria and went home when they lost their jobs.

When you cross the bridge where the river Brugga flows in Kappel, and walk towards Maiers’ Hill, you’ll see a sign with the word: Erzwäscherei. After the washing, the ores were transported by train and the railway-station of Kappel was a mere 500 metres.

There used to be an administrative office at the Neuhäuser Strasse, near the railway-station. 120 miners used to live above the Herder-hut and they had to pay 3 Marks per month for bed, towels, electric light and water.

On March 1, 1900 the first ropeway was put to use from the Leopoldstollen to the ore-washing unit below the north spur of the Bannwald.

The first miners who died in an accident on January 21, 1902 were the Italian bachelor Luigi Marzada and Domino Fozza (married). They were the victims of a stratigraphic movement in the hill, which illustrated that the hilldside wasn’t, and still isn’t, stabile.

In recent times, the Storm Lothar is still in our minds, when the pine trees in the Black Forest were destroyed as though they were made of match-sticks. The damage it caused was enormous. 

Another Italian, who lived in Kappel, met with an accident and died while he was about to ignite a dynamite fuse. In the home for Hill Miners, most of the workers were from either Italy or Tyrol.

Whereas Mr. Baumann from Freiburg reported on September 15, 1903 about a flourishing mining industry in Schauinsland, by 1905 the price of the ores sank and hard times began.

It was in 1908 that the Oberrieder Stollen produced 1444 tonnes of Zinc ores, 325 tonnes lead and transported them to Stolberg.

World War I needed raw-stuff and as a result the price of metal shot up in Germany. The extraction of ores in Schauinsland began to bring profit. The wagons on rails were drawn by horses then. A lot of miners had to join the War Service and this was compensated by the use of prisoners-of-war (POW). The metal-price plummeted at the end of the war in 1918.

In 1920 there were 223 miners working in the ore-washing lines. Only silver was worth digging for. The silver-content then was 400g / tonne.

Stolberger Zinc AG Aachen (1934-1956):

It was decided in the days of the German Reich that the enormous joblessness and deficiency of raw materials could be solved by financially supporting the hill-mining industry. The Stolberger Zink AG located in Aachen showed interest in buying the mine at Schauinsland from Bergbau AG (Lothringen) and an agreement was finalised on May 31, 1935. The Stolberger Zink AG was obliged to pay a sum of 100 000 Reich Marks.

Since Stolberger Zink AG had financial resources, it introduced a new ore-washing method using the pneumatic flotation principle. The ore-mixture was brought together with chemicals in the flotation-baths.

The ambitious Third Reich needed the ores and metals for its armaments industry. The railway reduced its rates for the ore transport. At the end of 1938 there were 314 miners and office-staff.

On the side of the Neuhäuser street new Schlamm-ponds were set up. Today, you see only wild grass and flowers in this place. In winter, when the leaves fall and the trees and bushes are deprived of their foliage cover, you see the mess left behind by the ore and mining industry. Even small children play and do ice-skating gleefully on the frozen ponds, underneath which lies a pool with cadmium, lead, arsenic and zinc. How carefree is this world.

The World War II commenced on September 1, 1938, a fateful day. Besides the ore-mining, all work was brought to a standstill. If you weren’t a miner, you had to join the Armed Forces. The mining work was started when the first POWs arrived, and later the so-called East-Workers. The deeper mine shafts reached a depth of 2000 metres in 1941, and the people were numbered at 360-men. 

Among them were many Italians, French, Russian and Polish POWs. The Third Reich lost the war. The work had to be stopped in May 1945. The Allies were victorious and the foreign workers and the POWs returned to their home countries.

In the autumn of 1946 the mine-workers commenced work with 52 miners and 11 office-staff.

In 1950 the price for lead and zinc fell and the workers lost their jobs.

In 1952 the price for the ores of Kappel and Schauinsland reached a new low, probably as a result of the Korean War. Plastic was the new product in the world market which replaced metal to a certain extent. The industry reacted fast and switched over to plastic product manufacture.

On the night of September 15, 1956 a major fire broke out and destroyed an important part of the mining works and caused a damage of 400,000 Deutsche Marks. On November 1958 the last mine-worker and craftsmen lost their jobs.

‘What’s left of this historical mining industry?’ you might ask.

What you find today are old tumbled walls to the northern part of the Bannwald, the Steiger house, the old transformator-tower, and remains of the tracks at Bremsberg. The store-building and the saw-mill building still exist. The barracks and tracks in the Neuhäuser strasse were stripped away. A lot of old buildings were removed and new ones built.

Where the hill-pond was in the Neuhäuser strasse, you see flowers, thick bushes upto the Kappler hillside. The White Farmer’s House was been sold. Most of the outlets of the mine-shafts leading to the mining area have been closed.

The Stolberger Zink AG brought money to the community in Kappel in the former days, between 250,000 to 280,000 German Marks in taxes. Today, the main problem is the poisonous depots of the ore-cleaning ponds in the Neuhäuser strasse and Sternenpeterhof. 

In this context, I’d like to mention Mr. Ernst Ehemann, a Kappler gent who was instrumental in starting a Bergbau Museum at the town-council in Kappel, and one day it is hoped that the visitors can see the exhibits in a real museum, which is of historical and pedagogical value for the people of the Dreisam valley and beyond.


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