There is a reason everything is so green, it rains alot, although there was a break in the clouds and I took some pictures of the Alps. The next day I walked up the hill in the township of Berchtesgaden
. While having an ice cream at a cafe, there he was, Heidi's beloved grandfather . I asked him where was Heidi. He explained after the movie Heidi became a big hit, she moved to Hollywood, changed her name to Shirley Temple and became a big star who forgot her beloved grandfather. He also tells me the Von Trapp family took a wrong turn when climbing the Alps to escape Nazi persecution, leaving their beloved Salzburg and instead of going to Switzerland, they wound up near the Eagles nest and liked it so much they decided to stay and started an umfpa band which played for tourist in Berchtesgaden. I saw them play, they were very good.
The next day I went to visit the Eagles nest or Kelsteinhaus in German, a house on the top of the mountain with the best view around. It is perched on top of a rugged granite mountain and was built by Martin Borman, a Nazi official who gave the Eagles nest to Hitler as a present for his 50th birthday. They had to build a huge tunnel after which a long elevator shaft took people to the top where the Eagles nest building lies and is now a restaurant with a spectacular view. you can see Salzburg from here. There are many pictures of Hitler at the top of the Eagles nest, and he greeted foreign visitors like Mussolini there. But this was mostly ceremonial, he had a home in Obersalzburg, a small village further down the mountain which served as his second headquarters after Berlin
. It was another cloudy day , but I tried to take pictures when there was a break in the clouds. You can see Salzburg Austria, Lake Konigsee where I was yesterday, and many Alps mountain tops and villages when the weather clears. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, if not the most beautiful. It compares to Yosemite and Canadian Rockies and lake Konigsee reminds me a bit of lake Louise, but looked a bit like Milford Sound, NZ, but this was freshwater.
At the base of the mountain where you catch a bus to eagles nest is the documentation museum. This museum did an excellent job documenting the rise of Hitler and national socialism and confronted the holocaust including gruesome pictures of emaciated victims and prisoners being executed point blank by the Nazis. It gave a much more honest picture of this history than the museum in Berlin and was dedicated to telling the truth about this history to help understand how such a tragic event that killed so many could be understood so it does not happen again.
They also discussed Hitlers history with Berchtesgaden. Hitler spent much time in this region even before he rose to power. In the early days he was very approachable and people could go to his house, or talk to him on the street
. When he became fuhrer, he became a big tourist attraction. Propaganda made him out to be a man of the people who appealed to the peasant farmers and claimed to share their same simple values. The reality was very different. Once he gained power ordinary people could not talk to him and all events were stage. There were interviews with locals who describe how their farms that had been in the family for generations were taken over for little compensation to make room for Hitler. Those who resisted were sent to Dachau concentration camp. Hitler was not universally loved but was feared. The remains of Hitlers bunker at his summer home is mainly intact, although his home took 2 direct hits from allied bombing. Many young men from Birchtesgaden lost their lives in the war having a profound impact on the local population.
I am staying a bit outside Birchesgaden and most of the guest are German couples my age or older. They are extremely friendly, and being the rare English speaking person at this hotel, I am getting the sort of celebrity treatment I got in Belarus. The view from my hotel is beautiful and when it is clear, I can see the Eagles nest perched high on the mountain. I am glad my last days of my trip are spent here, it is truly the highlight for me to be in one of the most beautiful places in the world with friendly people.
The Bavarian Alps near Berchtesgaden looks like where they filmed the movie Heidi. Maybe I can find grandfather, he must know where Heidi is. So I took the local bus to Konigsee lake in Berchtesgaden national park. The water is crystal clear fed by snow and rain from the Alps. Maybe Heidi is helping grandfather take the cattle to higher ground for summer. I took an electric boat down the lake, they only use electric boats so they don't pollute the water, it is very pristine. Maybe Heidi is at St Bartholomew's church where the boat took me. I kept an eye out for a little girl with curly hair wearing a dirndl, but I did not see her at the church. I was a bit hungry, so I got some smoked fish caught in the lake and it was good.