MuseumHinterPasseier - Bunker Mooseum

New Stone Age

6–3 thousand years B. C.

Hunters established themselves as farmers and animal breeders in the 6th millennium B. C. The high forests were cleared to create wide pasturelands for the animals. The Stuller Mahder at 1,870 m was cleared by burning in 4990–4720 B. C. – thus creating the first pastures, which are still used for grazing or as hay meadows today.

The arrowhead from the Stuller Mut (2,171 m) dates back to the 5th millennium B. C., other arrowheads found in high altitude around the Seeber Lake, Jaufenpass and Krumpwasser date from the 4th to 3rd millennium B. C.

“Ötzi”, the Man from the Ice was murdered: The point of an arrow, used to kill a fellow man, is still embedded in his shoulder.

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Sunken Land

Approx. 20,000 years ago, the Alps lay under ice and snow. 2,000 meters thick. Only the highest peaks and ridges jutted out oft he great sea of ice.

Life- fort he most part extinct, was banished from the mountains.

But the stillness is deceptive. The glaciers are moving. Enourmous forces press upon the land, forming slopes and valleys.

The post- glacial age

A new era is beginning

The ice begins to melt and withdraw, exposing the land: Naked rock, wide fields of gravel and sand. Life returns. Pioneers settle the virgin land- mosses, lichens, the first blossoming plants, birds, butterflies.

In just a few millennia- mere moments in the historyof the Earth- those habitats were formed which now characterize the landscape of South Tyrol.

Humans, Too, return. As hunters, wanderers, shepherds. They settle down, build houses, aund shape the landscape. Natural landscapes. Cultural landscapes. A place in which to live and thrive.

Iron Age

1st millennium B.C.

Ancient sources refer to the Alpine peoples as Rhaetians, with “Venostes” and “Isarci” given particular mention. The Rhaetians lived in fortifi ed villages, houses have been discovered in Riffi an-Burgstall.

In Stuls, the Bartlbichl and the rocky Obersilberhütt- Heache were inhabited from the 3rd century B. C. until the turn of the millennium, as evidenced by ceramic finds and grindstones of the Mediterranean handoperated mill type.

Clearance by burning on the Stuller Mahder around 900–790 B. C. and C14 dating to 210–40 B. C. on the Stuller Mut indicate the use of pastures at 600 m above Stuls.

A bronze fibula from the late La Tène Era (2nd century B. C.) indicates the use of the Timmels joch (2,450 m) as the pass leading to the Ötz valley.

The Roman Era

15 B. C.–500 A. D.

The Romans conquer the Alpine region in the year 15 B. C., romanising the locals. The victory monument (Tropaeum Alpium) of Augustus near Monaco recalls the subjection of the Rhaetian tribes, whose settlements such as Riffian-Burgstall or the Stuller Heache are abandoned at the time of the Roman occupation. The few Roman traces in the Passeier valley supposedly included Roman coins, which have however turned out to be modern forgeries. Only a provincial Roman fibula from St. Martin has proved to be genuine. Two C14 dates (Krumpwasser 2,226 m, Ulfaser Alm 2,050 m) on the other hand indicate continuous alpine dairy farming between the 2nd and 4th centuries A. D. during the optimum climate conditions that characterised the era of Imperial Rome.


“Quippe uterque e diversis partibus Raetos Vindelosque adgressi, multis urbium et castellorum oppugnantibus nec non derecta quoque acie feliciter functi gentes locis tutissimas aditu diffi cillimas, numero frequentes, feritate truces maiore cum periculo quam damno Romani exercitus plurimo cum earum sanguine perdomuerunt.”

Velleius, II, 95.

“The two (Drusus and Tiberius) attacked the Rhaetians and the Vindelici from diff erent directions and, after conquering many cities and fortifi ed villages and winning fortune on the battlefi eld, they defeated those manyheaded multitudes, wild and cruel races whose settlements were protected by nature at places that were accessible only with diffi culty, causing bloody losses to them and extreme risks for the Roman army.”

Velleius, II, 95.

Middle Ages and Modern Era

The Early Middle Ages are evidenced on the Andelsböden (2,350 m) in Pfelders between 250 and 1160 A. D. The fi nding of a decorated bronze bell on the upper Ulfaser Alm from the Early Middle Ages indicates grazing activities. There are numerous medieval written sources from the Passeier valley. In the chronicles and documentation from 1288 onwards (Meinhard II), many farmsteads are named that substantially remain today.

The Schmiedhof (1,684 m) was converted to a farmstead in the 14th century. The present-day building is dated 1613. From Himmelreich (2,500 m) on the Schneeberg come Passau ceramics from the 15th century, while the Obere Gostalm (1,935 m) near Rabenstein was first used in the Modern Era.

In the Passeier valley border on each other the three bishoprics Chur, Brixen and Trento. The river Passer was not only the boundary between diff erent parishes, but also between diff erent counties and dioceses.


Lake “Kummer” 1401–1774

In 1401 following a landslide south of Rabenstein, the Passeier Lake was formed. Because of repeated flooding it became known as the Lake “Kummer” or the lake of Worries.

Almost 2 km long, up to 300 m wide and 40 m deep, over the centuries it posed a threat both to the Passeier Valley and to the city of Meran. Numerous historical sources document a total of eight major floods, recounting the devastation caused by the waters and describing the efforts to tame the lake and protect thesettlements.

A failure to take due to precautions during works being carried out in 1774 led to the largest and last breach. The dam was partially swept away, the lake completely emptied in twelve hours and since that time it simply ceased to exist.

Bronze Age

2nd millennium B. C.

In the Late Bronze Age, during the cultural blooming of the Laugen culture (12th–9th century B. C.), the upper Ulfaser Alm (1,950 m) was used seasonally. Early use of the pastures is evidenced by excavated ceramics. Alpine dairy farming was abandoned due to the worsening of the climate in the 8th century B. C. The finds are broken pieces of decorated ceramic jugs, a globe-headed pin, silex vessels and some round porphyry stones from outside the area.

Several generations of shepherds inhabited a hut some 3,000 years ago, which was then destroyed by fire.

On the Seeberalm was found a perforated stone disc, presumably a lomm weight. Ceramics have also been found in St. Hippolyth/Glaiten.

Moors- Archives of Botanical History

Moors are formed by sedges and mosses which decay and are converted to peat in the abscence o fair.

Layer by layer, the moos increases in thickness.

Year by year, pollen is trapped in these layers and sois preserved for thousands of years. -every plant has its own characteristic pollen.

Moors and Swamps

Water and ice have left their mark upon the landscape. The glaciers left behind moraines and gouges in which little moos have formed with the passage of time.

Raised bogs are especially nutrient-poor habitats in which specialized plants thrive. Peat moors from mossy hummocks which die in deeper layersand are converted to peat in the absence of oxygen. Thus, the moor grows upwards and increases in thickness.

The delicate Sundew is a carnivorous plant which secretes a sticky juice on ist tentacles in which small insects can become stuck. The juice digensts the insects on the surface.

The small swamps are important spawning grounds fort he Grass Frog and the Alpine Newt.


oft he mean temperature (in °C) from the average global temperature of 15°C in the last 10.000 years.

Each layer corresponds to a certain period of time. The oldes layer is at the bottom, the younges at the top.

By taking drill cores and analyzing the pollen, it´s possible to identify the species of plants and their prevalence (pollen diagram). This archive of plant history provides valuable information about the climate since the end oft he last ice age- but also about the settlement oft he area by humans.

During the Second World War

Losses in Russia

“After training in Salzburg we went via Oslo to Reval in Estonia, and from there we marched 14 days to Leningrad. The first action for us combat engineers was to take out some Russian bunkers. By the end of the first day, of our 80-strong combat unit, there were just 16 men left uninjured… all so horrible and senseless…” (S. P.)


“In January 1942 we embarked in Palermo on a large destroyer for North Africa. A major made a fiery speech: ‘All of you men going to fight in Africa will either get the iron cross or a wooden one while you’re over there’.” (K. A.)

on patrol

“After the French campaign I fought in Yugoslavia and Greece before I was transferred to the Arctic front near Murmansk in 1941. In this static positional warfare we were sometimes sent out on small reconnaissance patrols. Once we were surrounded by Russian troops and ordered to surrender. But we wanted at all costs to avoid being captured and we defended ourselves. A bullet went through my right upper arm in close combat and a shot grazed me, injuring me in the belly. I defended myself with my gun in my left hand and fortunately the Russians suddenly withdrew.” (A. E.)

The plane crash

Bombs jettisoned

“One Sunday after mass eleven bombs fell all at once. Nine exploded and two were duds. It was enormous good fortune that no-one was hurt. Two holes were blown in our meadows, and the rest fell between Pichl and Pastl. The buildings were a picture: all of the window panes and the roofing were gone. There was a large bomb fragment in mother’s bed.

The craters were so large that you could have got a house in there. The unexploded bombs were defused, but no grass grew there for 15 years.” (N. N.)

Prisoner captured

“An American bailed out and came down in the Kelderlahne. He was trembling so much that he couldn’t get the cigarette he was given into his mouth. “Fine” (Josefine) from Hasneben brought him some coffee with milk and that helped. After half an hour a gendarme came from St. Leonhard and searched him for weapons and then took him to St. Martin. We lads had to carry the heavy pack with his parachute and other equipment. Fine called after the guard: Tiat oobr joa fein sein mittn Mentsch! (You make sure you treat that lad well!)” (S. H.)


Arrest of relatives

“…After fourteen days’ training we deserted in Schlanders and went via the Sonnenberg and the Pfossen valley down to the Passeier. When we arrived, they had already taken our relatives to the prison camp in Bozen. In my case they took my father, my mother and one of my sisters. We then received word that a member of our family would be shot if we did not turn ourselves in. We were also assured that nothing would happen to us. In September we turned ourselves in, we were then sent to jail in Schlanders and at the end of October I was sent to Dachau. There the SS would march prisoners around the yard, beating them with sticks, until they just remained lying there like half-dead sheep.” (J. B.)

From the parish chronicle of St. Leonhard (1947):

Bloody deed – Thursday, 20 March at 7 p.m.: the Passeier partisan leader, Karl Gufler, known as Meiler Karl, was shot behind the Quellenhof by the Carabinieri. He was buried in St. Martin in the presence of two priests.


“I discussed deserting with my parents and they were completely in agreement. They also supplied us with food. Two girls of perhaps 20 brought us the things. In winter they often had to drive goats along the path so that any tracks would be covered. We had enough guns, ammunition and weapons, so they would not have taken us alive. After the war we gave a few Nazis a good beating in public…” (J. S.)

In hiding

“By chance were we at the farm helping with the work when we were surrounded. We ran to our hiding place in the hayloft and had to spend three full days there, as the security men would not go away. We then built ourselves a new shelter out in the woods.” (A. R.)


Humorous poems from the time of the Option

Wer sind die Dableiber?

Falsche Christen – Alte Weiber

Egoisten – Hurentreiber

Warme Brüder – Schlechte Pfaffen

Welschbastarden – ein paar Grafen

Einige mit viel Millionen

Die ihr Geld mit Betrug gewonnen.

Mancher, der vor Angst ums Geld

fleißig zu den Welschen hält.

Allesamt wann‘s jemand wundert

sind jedoch nicht acht von hundert.

Wer sind die Abwanderer?

Arbeitsscheue, Wirtshausbummler,

Bierstrategen, Nazitrummer,

Glaubenslose, Kirchenfeinde,

Aufgehetzte, Streitesfreunde, (...)

Solche die vor lauter Schulden

Den Faschismus nicht mehr dulden.

Bauern, die in dummem Grolle

Feig verlassen Haus und Scholle,

Aufgehetzt von Lügenmäulern,

stürzen sich ins Abenteuer.

Sie verlassen freudig der Heimat Erden.

Sie! Die angeblich Hofers Erben.

So Dumme gibt‘s, wenn‘s jemand wundert

laut Statistik 70 von hundert.



Hardship and the new border made bold men inventive. Undertaking dangerous forced marches by night, they made the price differences between Austria and Italy into a lucrative business.

The traditionally good contacts in the Ötz valley helped with the illegal trade and the Italian authorities, regarded as outsiders, did nothing that might create a sense of wrongdoing among those involved. Anyone getting caught could expect ill-treatment and jail.

Transportation had always played an important role in the Passeier valley. The fastest way between the Burggrafenamt area around Meran and North Tyrol and Southern Germany was over the passes above the Passeier valley. First road-building, then increasing motorisation and the development of the railways caused unemployment among the carters, drovers and porters. Many families had lived from the transit trade, and now illegal trading had to alleviate the worst suffering.

First World War


“We knew that the war had broken out on Porziuncola Sunday (2 August). We quickly drank a few more glasses of wine and hurried cheering through the valley outside. In the inn in Moos there were already plenty of men gathered, some singing the imperial anthem, while others showed what they were going to do the enemy. Despite the enthusiasm for war, leaving home was very painful.

My mother cried and my father blessed me.” (F. L.)

On the battlefield

“I could not get the fighting in Galicia out of my head for decades. At night I awoke terrified that I was still in the middle of that bloodbath. Many a time we had to carry out pointless attacks against the Russian positions over open hillsides. Our men had no cover and were cut down by machinegun fire. But the worst was the hand-to-hand fighting. It was man against man with fixed bayonets. The screams of pain and cries for help went right through you. I was always glad when night finally fell.” (A. G.)

On the Dolomites front

“I was in action on different sections of the Dolomite front. The weather was often icy cold and it frequently happened that we had to endure the whole night without relief, wet through in the trenches. Apart from the terrors of battle, including constant artillery bombardment and the strains of building our positions, the lack of supplies and the weather in the high mountains was very hard for us to bear.” (J. R.)

Mountain refuges in the Upper Passeier valley

The first modern-day travellers in the Alps were scientists and, later, wealthy citizens making voyages of discovery in accordance with the spirit of the age. In their papers and reports the authors enthused about the mountains where so much still remained to be discovered and investigated. In this way mountaineering became known to a wide, educated class throughout Europe. Around the middle of the 19th century, alpine clubs sprang up to promote walking in the Alps and encourage the opening up of the area. This time also saw the introduction of uniform regulations for mountain guides, porters and signposts and the organisation of mountain rescue services.

In many German cities sections of the DuÖAV (German and Austrian Alpine Club) were founded. Lectures on mountaineering, evenings featuring exotic Alpine costumes, “Schuhplattl” (Alpine dancing) groups and spectacular Alpine celebrations were organised as far away as the North Sea coast. Groups of tourists visited the Alps.

Bourgeois colonialism (“A part of your homeland in the Alps”), the search for the original and the exotic, allowed the sections to select their own areas of activity and, financed by donations, to build their own mountain refuges.

Around the turn of the century three mountain refuges were constructed in the Upper Passeier valley, all of which played a major role in the development of the footpath network and the development of tourism.

Middle Stone Age

8–6 thousand years B. C.

The Alps were covered by glaciation that began to melt ca. 12,000 years ago. Plants, animals and humans subsequently settled the mountain regions up to a height of 2,500 metres. The nomadic hunters and gatherers sought campgrounds and shelter under rocks located near water. In the Passeier valley the first settlement occurred early in the 8th millennium B. C., with archaeological fi nds consisting of very small tools (microliths) of silex, quartz and chert. Charcoal indicates fi replaces whose age can be determined by means of C14 dating. The pasture region of the Upper Passeier valley was intensively exploited and the Timmelsjoch and Jaufenpass were also crossed.

Bearded Vulture

The Return of the Bearded Vulture

The Bearded Vulture is an exclusive carrion eater. But in ignorance of its feeding habits, it has also been referred to as the „Lamb Vulture“ and „child-killer.“ The massive persecution of the Bearded Vulture led finally to its extinction. About 100 years ago, there were no more Bearded Vultures in the Alpine region.

Since the 1970s, a wide-scale program to re-establish this mighty predatory bird has been underway. In 1986, the first young birds were released in the Hohe Tauern National Park. Since then, about 227 young birds have been released in the Alpine region. Since 1997, these birds have been successfully brooding in the wild; more than 38 young birds are now full-fledged. In the meantime, the population has grown to 300 individuals.

The re-establishment project was successful. The Bearded Vul-ture has returned.

Basic Facts

Body length: 105–125 cm. Wing-span: almost 3 meters. The Bearded Vulture‘s silhouette is easy to recognize, with its pointed wings and a long, wedge-shaped tail.

Feeding habits: Carrion-eater (eats only dead animals, bones and waste).

Habitat: High-altitude mountains above the timber line.

Geographic distribution: Originally widely distributed in all large forested areas in Europe, Central Asia, and North America; today, in Europe, the populations are highly fragmented.


Typical for cats, the Lynx is a loner. During the twilight hours or at night, it prowls through its large territory. Depending upon the local availability of prey, its territory can amount to about 100 square kilometers.

The Prowler

In contrast to Wolves, Lynxes do not hunt in packs. Rather, they employ stealth in stealing quietly up to its prey. It can take hours or even days before it is successful.

A stealthy return

More than 100 years ago, the Lynx had become extinct throughout Western and Southern Europe and thus also the Alpine region. Since the 1970s, there have been a number of successful attempts to re-establish these large members of the cat family.

In South Tyrol, the _rst de_nitive proof of their return was in Aldein/Aldino, where a Lynx was bagged. Since then, individual Lynxes have been spotted or their spoor discovered. There is very little information about their current prevalence in South Tyrol. But it seems certain that there are only a few individuals.

Basic Facts

Long-legged Big Cat with long ears, conspicuous tufts of hair onthe cheeks, and a short tail.

Social habits: A loner; stealth hunter.

Feeding habits: Feeds chie_y upon deer, Mountain Goats, small

mammals, and birds.

Habitat: Large, natural forests.

Geographic distribution: Was originally native in all large forested areas of Europe, Central Asia, and North America; today, the populations in Europe are extremely fragmented.


Exterminated by superstition

Superstition and over-hunting were responsible for the Ibex becoming almost completely extinct in the Alps. In the early 19th Century, there was only a small population still to be found in the area of Gran Paradiso in the Italian-French Alps. In 1854, King Victor Emanuel II placed the animals under his personal protection.

Smuggled into Switzerland

In the protective area of Gran Paradiso, poachers caught some of the animals and brought them into Switzerland. The Ibexes throve there. From the Swiss national parks, they settled in nearby regions. From there, three females wandered into the Pfossen / Fosse Valley in 1969.

Swiss provide neighborly assistance

In the autumn of 1976, the action “Mountain Goats for South Tyrol” was launched with the goal of re-establishing Mountain Goats in this region. In 1977 and 1978, four male Ibexes and two females were released in the Pfossen / Fosse Valley. The released animals were a present to South Tyrol from the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

Successful re-establishment

Only six years later, the number of animals had risen to 25. At present, approx. 400 Ibexes live in the protective area.

Basic Facts

Length (head and torso): 130–160 cm. Height (at shoulders): 65–100 cm.

Weight: males weigh 60–120 kg, females 30–55 kg.

Social habits: Herd animal; active during the daytime; excellent rock-climber; except for the mating season, the males and females congregate in separate herds.

Feeding habits: Herbivore (grasses, herbs, lichens).

Habitat: High-altitude mountains, above the timber line.

Geographic distribution: Distributed in insular patches in the high-altitude mountain regions of Europe.



Exterminated by superstition
Superstition and over-hunting were responsible for the Ibex becoming almost completely extinct in the Alps. In the early 19th Century, there was only a small population still to be found in the area of Gran Paradiso in the Italian-French Alps. In 1854, King Victor Emanuel II placed the animals under his personal protection.

Smuggled into Switzerland
In the protective area of Gran Paradiso, poachers caught some of the animals and brought them into Switzerland. The Ibexes throve there. From the Swiss national parks, they settled in nearby regions. From there, three females wandered into the Pfossen / Fosse Valley in 1969.

Swiss provide neighborly assistance
In the autumn of 1976, the action “Mountain Goats for South Tyrol” was launched with the goal of re-establishing Mountain Goats in this region. In 1977 and 1978, four male Ibexes and two females were released in the Pfossen / Fosse Valley. The released animals were a present to South Tyrol from the Swiss canton of Graubünden.

Successful re-establishment
Only six years later, the number of animals had risen to 25. At present, approx. 400 Ibexes live in the protective area.

Basic Facts
Length (head and torso): 130–160 cm. Height (at shoulders): 65–100 cm.
Weight: males weigh 60–120 kg, females 30–55 kg.
Social habits: Herd animal; active during the daytime; excellent rock-climber; except for the mating season, the males and females congregate in separate herds.
Feeding habits: Herbivore (grasses, herbs, lichens).
Habitat: High-altitude mountains, above the timber line.
Geographic distribution: Distributed in insular patches in the high-altitude mountain regions of Europe.

Brown Bear

In recent years, the re-appearance of Brown Bears near human habitations has attracted a lot of attention. In 1930, the last Brown Bear in our region was bagged in the Ulten Valley / Val d’Ultimo. After that, decades passed before the next sign of activity. Then, in the year 2001, the _rst Brown Bear (the female bear “Vida”) returned to South Tyrol. Four years later, the children of the problem bear “Jurka” showed up. The fate of the three young bears is known: All three survived only a short time.

Life Ursus

In the late-1990s, the population of Brown Bears in the Adamello-Brenta Nature Park had shrunk to just a few specimens. In order to prevent their total extinction, the Autonomous Province of Trento launched a settlement project called “Life Ursus” with the goal of stabilizing a viable population over the course of a few decades. Between 1999 and 2001, a total of ten bears from Slovenia were released in the Nature Park. The bears soon began giving birth to o_spring. By the year 2008, about 20 young bears were recorded. All in all, it is estimated that the population has risen to about 30 individuals.

Basic Facts

Length (head and torso): 170–250 cm.

Height (at shoulders): 120–140 cm; Weight: up to 250 kg.

Social habits: Nocturnal (twilight and nighttime); loner.

Feeding habits: Chie_y herbivorous; carrion; small mammals, insects, and occasionally also livestock.

Habitat: Forests with thick undergrowth; in the north of Europe, also in open tundra.

Geographic distribution: Several subspecies are found in Europe, North America, and Asia; in Europe, they are limited in Scandinavia, Southeastern Europe, and (to an extent) in the Pyrenees, the Abruzzo mountains, and the Alps.


The Legend of the Wolf

The Wolf plays a major role in numerous legends andmyths. The story of „Little Red Riding Hood“ by the Grimm Brothers has done much to contribute to the poor image of the Wolf as a „man-eater.“ One must likewise beware the „wolf in sheep‘s clothing“ mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount. There are only few positive examples demonstrating the Wolf‘s maternal nature. According to Roman legend, a Wolf nursed the two abandoned children, Romulus and Remus. In gratitude, they founded the city of Rome in 753 B. C. The hero of Rudyard Kipling‘s „Jungle Book“ is likewise raised by Wolves.

Gradual return?

Thanks to protective measures and a new understanding, there are good conditions for a successful return of the Wolf. The Wolf is gradually returning into the Alpine region from Eastern and Southeastern Europe.

Basic Facts

Similar in appearance to the German Shepherd

Social habits: pack animal.

Feeding habits: Feeds chie_y upon deer, red deer, and small mammals.

Habitat: Tundra and forests.

Geographic distribution: Wolves were once found throughout the northern hemisphere; today, they have been exterminated throughout much of Europe. Now found only in Eastern Europe, Spain, Italy, and Scandinavia.

Immigrants from the Arctic

The Ice Age

Northern Europe is buried under a thick mantle of ice. The Alps, too. Between the Scandinavian and the Alpine glaciers, there streches a vast tundra with only sparse vegetation. And animals wich have adapted to this environment.

End oft he Ice Age

Plants and animals return to the now ice-free land. Forests spread out. The animald oft he tundra migrate tot he north or into the mountains.

Some of these „relicts oft he Ice Age“ can still be found in the Arctic or in higher elevations. Adaptation and specialization are the keys to survival.

The Snow Hare comes from the Nordic region. During the Ice Age, it was forced into the tundras of Central Europe. After the ice retreated again, it migrated tot he Alps. It has a brown summer coat and a white winter coat, and is thus optimally protected against ist predators the whole year round. Ist hairy paws prevent it from sinking into the snow. The phenomenon of „double pregnancy“ is especially noteworthy: Before she bears, the female mates again. Despite theshort mountain summer, it is thus possible for her to have two to three litters.

The Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) is a typical relict oft he Ice Age, and inhabits the mountainous regions above the timber line. The soft white plumage not only protects it against the cold, but also provides excellent camoflage. In the winter, the bird often seeks refuge from the icy cold in deep holes it digs in the snow.

Like the Snow Hare and the Rock Ptarmigan, the Ermine also changes ist coat according to the season: it´s snow- white in the winter and brown in the summer. Only the tip of ist tail always stays black.

Marmots: An animal from the Steppes

Originally native to North America, the Marmot migrated tot he grasslands of Europe during the Ice Age. At that time, there was a land-bridge between the two continents. As the forests again expandedm, the Marmot withdrew to their last refuges in the steppes of Asia and the Alpine grasslands.

The Arctic Char, which is widespread in Northern Europe, gained enty into the medium-altitude lakes on the north side oft he Alps.

A relict of the Ice Age, it has remained there until today. This prized food fish was released in the mountain lakes og South Tyrol in the 15th Century during the reign oft he Emperor Maximilian. This species of fish has become very well adapted to living for six to eight months of the year in the darkness under frozen lake surfaces. The Arctic Char can have a life expectancy of up to 30 years.



1922 Benito Mussolini comes to power in Italy

1926 Hitler publishes “Mein Kampf” – he does not wish to endanger relations with fascism by raising the question of South Tyrol

1930 France starts building the Maginot line

1931 Italy begins fortifying its borders with France and Yugoslavia

1933 Adolf Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany

1935 Unilateral announcement of German rearmament

Italian attack on Abyssinia

1936 German troops occupy the demilitarised Rhineland

The Berlin-Rome axis is formed as a political alliance

Germany plans its Westwall fortifications

1938 Annexation of Austria takes place without Mussolini’s prior knowledge

Hitler publicly commits himself to the border on the Brenner Pass, but Italy decides to accelerate construction of light defensive works on the border

1939 The Pact of Steel makes military allies of Italy and the German Reich

The Second World War begins

The Duce orders increased fortifications along the border with Germany

1940 German attack on Western Europe

Italy enters the Second World War on the side of Germany Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan

Italian attack on Greece, beginning of Africa campaign

1941 German attack on the Soviet Union

The USA enters the Second World War following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor

No new construction work begun on the Vallo Alpino on account of the economic situation

1942 German offensive towards Stalingrad

The Duce orders a halt to work on border fortifications with Germany

1943 Allied landings in Sicily

Mussolini driven from power and German forces occupy Italy

The Republic of Salò is created as a puppet government

1944 Allied landings in Normandy. The German Westwall is strengthened

1945 Germany capitulates unconditionally. End of the Second World War. Mussolini is executed and Hitler takes his own life

Vallo alpino

The “Vallo Alpino”, the Italian Alpine wall, is a gigantic system of defensive works. The military experiences of the First World War encouraged strategists to build fortified positions, creating several lines of defence that extended up to 100 km into their own national territory. In South Tyrol over 300 structures were built, but these were not usually finished and were not occupied during the Second World War. Some bunkers were later operated during the Cold War and even armed. Only in 1999 were these “secret” facilities transferred to the South Tyrolean authorities.

“It is not difficult to block our valleys: simply build mountains of concrete on mountains of stone.”

(Mussolini to General Badoglio, 1939)

“Whatever the consequences of future events, I have drawn a clear German frontier with (…) Italy. It is the Brenner.”

(letter from Hitler to Mussolini, 11 March 1938, at the time of the annexation of Austria)

“The Germans are fearsome as enemies and unbearable as friends. But if Hitler intends to act on his own, no-one has mentioned any limit on my freedom of action. So you will rapidly study how to strengthen the frontier with Germany.”

(Mussolini to General Badoglio, 1939)

The axe blades from Ulfas

Two similar axe blades originate from the area around Ulfas (winged axe head with lateral eye) dating from the 5th- 4th century B.C.: One is of iron, the other of bronze. The iron winged axe originates from Ulfas (it was found in the 19th century), while the decorated winged axe of bronze was dicovered by a shepherdin 1840 on the Strizon (2,100 m).

Axes were weapons as well as tools, and occured frequentlyalso as sacrifical offerings. The bronze axe of Strizon is notable in that it is decorated on both sides with nested triangles and cricle eyes. It may be the sacificial offering of a valuable axe to the weather gods.

Finds and dating

The archaeological finds oft he Stone Age consist of silex (flint), originating from the Non valley and the Veronese mountains. Flint was used both for making fire and producing cutting tools such as blades and arrowheads.

Quartz and chert from the Northern Alps were also used. The origin oft he rew material shows the extensive trading relations oft he hunters and gatherers.

C14 dating determines the age of charcoal from the remaining carbon. Dendrochronology can determine the date a tree was cut down from the sequence of annual rings. Tree trunks from bogs and glacier tongues indicate climatic fluctuations and the height of the timberline.

Refugees and Returnees

Some plants returned to their original habitats or entered the Alpine region as new species. Thus, the White Dryad, which thrives on calcareous soils, and the delicate Twinflower are both arctic origin. The Alpine Azalea and the Arctic Starflower (Trientalis europea) come from North America. Then Wild Garlic originates from the Altai, while the Noble Lozenge and the Edelweiss came here from the steppes of Siberia.

A Roundet Shape as a Survival Strategy

Like the Alpine Azalea (Loiseleuria procumbens), plants oft he genus Saxifraga (Saxifrages or Stone-Breakers) and the genus Androsace (Rock Jasmines) also grow in rounded forms. Inside the thick hemispheres, there´s a microclimate with pratically „sub-tropical“ conditions (High temperature and humidity, no wind).

The Legend of the Glaciers

Mighty, mysterious, and wild- the „eternal ice“ oft he glaciers. The inhabitants oft he mountains revere and respect them. Mountainclimbers and scientists are enticedand fascinated by them.

In the Beginning, there was a Snowflake

Glaciers form when more snow falls in a locality than melts. The layers of porose, granular snoware compressed by their own weight, forming glacial ice.

The Plowshare of God

Glaciers are among the most impressive phenomena and most effective forces of Nature. The Swiss scientist Louis Agassiz called them respectfullly the „great plowshare of God“. Hummocky moraines, eskers, deep carved-out valleys, scoured valley wall, lakes and rivers are evidence oh these tremendous forces. The fertile soil is their most valuable legacy.

Significance and Consequences

Glaciers are of great importance for life on Earth. 90% of all freshwater is locked up in glaciers. If these gigantic masses of ice were to melt, the sea level would rise- with catastrophic consequenses for humanity.

„A man who keeps company with glaciers comes to feel tolerably insignificant by and by.“ (Mark Twain)

„Whatever the glacier takes, it gives back.“ (Icelandic proverb)

The Wild Garlic is a member oft he onion family and is found on grassy, rocky slopes at supaline- alpine altitudes (1,500-2,000 meters above sea-level).

The Noble Lozenge and the Edelweiss have come from the steppes of Siberia. Their wooly white leaves offer protection agaiinst dessication and the high level of ultraviolet radiation.

The Dwarf or Least Willoe - according to Carl von Linné, the world´s smallest tree- is a typical plant of the snowy little valleys where the snow can lie for eight or nine months.

The „Seelenstein“

The large slab with the so-called „soul hole“ from St. Martin in Passeier was probably part of a megalithic tomb from the Copper Age. Near Meran (Algund, Gratsch, Riffian) have been found numerous perforated slabs, known north and west oft he Alps as the front plates of gallery graves. As the opening in the stone is however of small diameter, it probably served for the subsequent burial of human ashes in a collective grave, that was often used for several generations. According to popular belief the souls of the dead could escape from the grave through the opening.

Glacial Periods and Interglacials

„Due to greenhouse gas emissions, we are in the process of gradually trasforming the temperate period in which we live into a hot period.“ (Peter Fabian)

Nothing Lasts Forever

Advance, retreat, advance, retreat again- the movement of glaciers coincides with the alternating warm and cold periods. Warm period, cold period, warm period- perhaps soon tob e followed by a hot period? And the glaciers? The depp-frozen climatic archives and water reserves? What are we losing? And what are the consequences?

Climate Change

The Alpine Region is especially effected by the rise in temperature. Extreme weather events are on the rise. The glaciers are melting. Permafrosts is thawinf. Mudslides and collapses are the result. The residents oft he valleys are at a greater risk.

Glaciers are important water reserves.

Once the ice has vanished, water scarcity will be a problem. The supply of water in the summer months will no longer be quaranteed.

There will be a dersth of potable water and irrigation water (drought in the summers of 2003 and 2006).

With the disappearance oft he glaciers, the Alps will also lose the „magic oft he snow-capped mountains“, and many a famous glacier view. Once the glaciers are gone, Alpine tourism will have lost a large part of its appeal.


The White Dryad - an evergreen sushrub- forms flat trellises close tot he ground.m The dark- green, leathery leaves are glabrous above, and densley white- tomentose beneath. The unusual number of eight white petals is characteristic. The fuzzy stalks are 2 to 3 centimeters long and form a seed head when in season.

The Twinflower - a rare relict oft he ice age- is found in mossy, Larch and Swiss Pine forests oft he rear Passiria Vallwy. This small subshrub features slender, woosy stems bearinf pale pink corolla.

Texel/ Tessa Group Nature Park

The Nature Park encompasses extensive high-altitude mountain landscapes of the Texel/ Tessa Group between the Schnals/ Senales Valley tot he west, the Etsch/ Adige Valley to the south, the Passeier/ Passiria Valley to the east, and the main ridge oft he Alps to the north. With a surface area of 33,420 hectars, it is South Tyrol´s largest nature park, and has been in existence since 1976.

Special features

  • The „Alta Via“ of Meran/Merano: A 100- km- long circular route through the Nature Park

  • The Spronser/ Sopranes Lakes: The largest group of high Alpine lakes in South Tyrol

  • Prehistoric settlements: „Ötzi“ – the Ice-Man- was found at the Hauslab/Tisa Pass in the Schnals/ Senales Valley. This famous glacial mummy can be viewed today at the Archeological Museum in Bozen/ Bolzano

  • Habitats: Visitors can walk through 3,000 meters of altitude differential, and experience a variety of vegetation levels, ranging from Mediterranean mixed forests to the snow line

  • Geological diversity: Rocks and minerals with different origins provide insight into the history oft he Earth

  • Nature Park Houses: The Texel/ Tessa Group Nature Park House in Naturns/ Naturno and the Bunker Mooseum

Nature Parks in South Tyrol

The seven Nature Parks encompass especially selected landscapes of South Tyrol characterized by a pristine nature and diverse cultural landscapes. The habitats extend from the Downy Oak/ Coppice Wood in the south ( the Trudner Horn/ Corno di Trodena) and various different kinds of forests associations to the high- altitude Alpine mountain landscapes in the north (The Texel/ Tessa Group and the Rieserferner-Ahrn/ Vedrette di Ries- Aurina).

Basic principles

  • Permanent settlements are excluded

  • All forms of construction activity are prohibited (except in the case of forestry and argicultural infrastructure)

  • Alpine agricolture and forestry- in harmony with the goals of nature and environmental protection- are still allowed

  • The maintenance of the landscape is an impertant issue and is promoted through subsidization

  • Visitors should take great care to avoid unnecessarily disturbing the environment. In particular, no plants, mushrooms, minerals, and/or fossilis may be collected

  • Starting fires, camping out, and the use of vehicles are prohibited


  • Protecting nature and cultural landscapes

  • Providing information and environmental education and thus promoting an understanding and sense of responsability for ecology

  • Promoting an enjoyment of nature and recreation by encouraging respectful and responsible behavior towards the environment

  • Disseminating knowledge and understanding by means of research and creating the foundation for an effetive protection of nature and spezies

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Sparked by the muder oft he Austrian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the First World War broke out in 1914, and directly or indirectly affected about 75% oft he world´s population at that time. The Austrian imperial terrritory of Tyrol did not escape, particulary as a consequence oft he Italian entry into the war in 1915 and the opening oft he Dolomite front nearby. Initial enthusiasm for war soon evaporated as hunger and need became widespread. The four Passeier companies of marksmen mustered some 300 men for „God, Emperor and Fatherland“: 55 young men died. In 1918 came defeat and theAustrian Empire, which Tyrol had belonged to since 1363, was no longer.

Immediataly following the armistice, the Italian army occupied the Passeier valley. Under the peace treaty of Saint Germain in 1919, South Tyrol was awarded to Italy. From a remote mountain region, the Upper Passeier suddenly became a border region of major national importance.

The post-war period was caracterised by great need. On top oft he damage caused by the war came economic crises, which in turn led to unemployment, deprivation and hunger. The small farms provided most Passeier inhabitants with the basic needs for survival: there was however no way to make a living in the valley. Smuggling with Austria, illegal schnapps distilling and poaching were just some of the consequences.

In 1922 Mussolini came to power in Italy. The Italianisation of South Tyrol was intensified under his Fascist government. Schools, place names and public institutions were all organised along strictly Italian lines. Most German associations were dissolved and soon the first young men were obliged to serve in the Italian military.

In the Upper Passeier the situation was made particularly precarious by the number of Italian troops on the border. The military, Faschist authorities, tax authorities and Italian road- builders all lived a kind of parallel existence to the local population. The strategically justified building oft he road to the Timmelsjoch and the new barracks catapulted the small mountain village of Moos into another age.

The Fascist pressure on the population gradually increased and culminated in the resettlement agreement, the so-called „Option“ of 1939. Families in South Tyrol had to decide whether to emigrate tot he German Reich or to stay and give up ther language and national identity.

Some 90% the South Tyrolean population decided to leave for Greater Germany. From 1940, some 78,000 South Tyroleans left their homeland, including some hundreds from the Passeier valley, although only one farming family left. Only the Second World War stopped this emigration.

The 1938 Pact of Steel between Hitler and Mussolini had once again made South Tyrol into a plaything of international politics. By 1939 it was already possible for South Tyroleans who had opted to emigrate to join the German armed forces. Those who were serving in the Italian military were discharged and had to change uniforms. In 1943, occupation by Germany raised hopes that South Tyrol would finally receive recognition of its status as a Germanic homeland. It soon became clear, however, that foreign rule by Fascists had been exchanged for a foreign rule by Fascists had been exchanged for a cruel Nazi dictatorship. As the war progressed, enthusiasm fort he Nazi regime gave way to thorough disillusionment and war-weariness. Some 1,100 inhabitants oft he Passeier had served on many fronts; some were still to endure many years of captivity.

Starting from 1943, the Allies launched numerous air attacks an targets north oft he Alps. Hundreds of heavily laden bombers would roar over the valley in ordered ranks.

The Passeier was regarded as being safe from the bombs, but people did not willingly stay in their houses. The blackout was compulsory. The bombers often dropped narrow, glittering tinfoil strips that would slowly drift tot he ground. They were supposed to disturb radio traffic.

In October 1944 the Germans brought 293 valuable pictures, including world-famous museum pieces, tot he court building in St. Leonhard, where they survived the remainder oft he war without harm.

The bombers could be dangerous if they were targeted bythe German flak batteries. In March 1944 a damaged plane tried to save itself by releasing its bombs on Ulfas and escaping over the mountains, before it crashed at Andels in the Pfelderer valley.

The Passeier Valley was the centre of anti-Nazi resistance in South Tyrol in the years 1943-45. In no other area were there so many deserters, and the repression inflicted by local functionaries was also unusually harsh.

Over 60 known deserters and partisans hid out in the mountains and in the farms. For some, survival was the sole aim, for others it was resistance and sabotage. The authorities would in certain cases detain a suspect´s entire family.

Many from the Passeier valley had paid for their service tot he Third Reich with their lives, others were convinced of final victory and behaved in an inhuman fashion. Still others fell victim to the indescribable horrors of the concentration camps.


Work on this bunker, „Opera 3 – Sbarramento do Moso“ (Moos barrier) was begun in March 1940. The construction, om two levels, was intended as a combat bunker with three fortified machine-gun positions and two freely positioned mortars, a protective bunker for the occupants of the Moos barracks, including storerooms, kidchen and latrine, and a command bunker fort he Moso fortified position as a whole. That particularly severe winter of 1941 interrupted work and, during 1942, the unfinished construction was sealed.

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