Krimml is an Austrian municipality in the Zell am See (Pinzgau)
district in the Salzburg region with 830 inhabitants (as of January
1, 2020). It is located in the Oberpinzgau region, about 26
kilometers from the main town of Mittersill and 54 kilometers from
the district capital of Zell am See and is part of the Hohe Tauern
National Park communities.
There are different theories about the origin of the place name itself. On the one hand, reference is made to the Slavic word “Chrumbas”, meaning “hostel”, which could indicate the importance of the place as a resting place when crossing the Krimmler Tauern. At Lahnsteiner there is a derivation of the word "curvature", as the Krimmler Ache has a strong loop shortly before its confluence with the Salzach at today's municipal boundary between Krimml and Wald im Pinzgau.
The center of Krimml is 1067 meters above sea level, below the Gerlos Pass in a valley basin. Krimml is the most south-westerly municipality in the state and, in addition to state borders with the Tyrolean districts Schwaz and Lienz, also has a federal border with Italy. Above the waterfalls, the Krimmler Achental extends with the two side valleys Rainbach and Windbachtal. From the Krimmler Achental, two foot crossings, the Birnlücke and the Krimmler Tauern, lead to the neighboring Ahrntal and thus to Italy. About the Rainbachtal resp. the Rainbachscharte leads to the Wildgerlostal, which also belongs to Krimml.
Krimml is best known for the Krimmler Waterfalls, where the Krimmler Ache plunges in three stages with a total drop of 380 m from the Krimmler Achental into the Krimml basin. While today the origin of the Salzach is generally located on the Salzachgeier, and Krimml cannot therefore be counted as part of the Pinzgau Salzach Valley, it is largely certain that in the past the Krimmler Ache was seen as the uppermost course of the Salzach. It was not until the Salzburg pedagogue and enlightener Franz Michael Viertaler determined the origin in the north-west corner of the Oberpinzgau in 1796.
Prehistory and early history to antiquity
Traces of the first settlement of today's municipality of Krimml go back to the Early Bronze Age. These are documented by numerous finds from this epoch as well as from the later Bronze Age and the early Hallstatt Age, which excavations under the prehistorian Martin Hell in the middle of the 20th century brought to light.
How permanent these early settlements were is difficult to reconstruct today. At the turn of the 7th to the 6th century BC, the change to a new culture took place in the western Alps, which is commonly referred to as Celtic. With a bit of a time lag, this also caught on in the Eastern Alpine region.
With the Celtic settlement or "Celtization" of the resident population of today's Pinzgau, the transition from prehistory or prehistory to the historical age for this region can be dated. According to general agreement, the whole of today's Pinzgau and with it Krimml was the settlement area of the Ambisonts. Around 200 BC, the Kingdom of Noricum emerged as a loose association of Celtic tribes, which very soon came into contact with its Roman neighbors. 15 BC The Alpine Celts were finally subjugated by the Romans under the step-sons of Augustus, Tiberius and Drusus, including the Ambisonters, who are listed next to almost fifty other Celtic tribes at the great victory monument of La Turbie.
In the year 10th BC Regnum Noricum became part of the Roman Empire. Like the cisalpine, the transalpine Celts became Romans. The use of the Krimmler Tauern as a transition has been documented since that time, but has been assumed to be probable since the Bronze Age.
With the Romans, a new language, a new culture and new goods came to the region and many of these goods found their way across the Krimmler Tauern. Belonging to the Roman Empire lasted 500 years. Assimilation to Roman culture meant that the Celts in this area were referred to by the Germanic peoples as "Romanen" or "Walchen". Under Claudius, Noricum finally became a Roman province, Iuvavum a municipality town, whose administrative district also included the area of today's Krimml as a peripheral area.
There are no indications of a permanent settlement in today's municipal area in Celtic and Roman times. During this time, too, its importance as a transport connection to the neighboring Ahrntal is crucial. According to Lahnsteiner, Albert Muchar writes in his first volume of The Roman Noricum about the significant remains of a Roman road up to the Krimmler Tauern and about the fact that today's Edenlehen was an old restaurant and, above all, a rest stop before the climb to the Tauern. There is also said to have been a rock cellar for storing wines in the Schmiedpalfen. Otherwise, as for the rest of the Inner Mountains, the settlement was extremely sparse (for example, an estate in today's Bramberger district of Weyer is occupied). The increasing incursions of the Alemanni and other Germanic tribes also led to the abandonment of most of the manors and unprotected villages. In 488 the population of Ufernoricum was evacuated and transferred to Italy. Smaller parts of the population remained in the country and were referred to by the Teutons as Roman and Walchen.
After the Celts and Romans, it was the Bavarians who brought a new language and culture into the country. In the first phase of the Bavarian conquest, however, the Inner Mountains remained unattractive for heavy settlement.
As part of the Duchy of Bavaria, the County of Oberpinzgau was given to the Counts of Lechsgemünd in 1100. During this time there was also increased clearing and reclamation in the Upper Pinzgau, which was also caused by a general increase in population. In a purchase agreement between the “Hauskloster” Kaisheim in Lechs- münd and the Archbishop of Salzburg, an estate with the name “Chrvmbel” is mentioned for the first time. In 1228 the Upper Pinzgau came to the Archbishopric of Salzburg under Archbishop Eberhard II Eberhard von Regensberg.
With the exception of the church, only a few traces have survived from the Middle Ages. However, this is one of the oldest in Pinzgau. In 1244, the Raitenhaslach monastery received a hat from the "Churches in the Khrumbe" - the first mention of the Krimml parish church through a donation from Eberhard II. The importance of the Tauern traffic in this context is evident from the fact that the goods belonging to the Raitenhaslach monastery had to pay an annual fee to Wallisch-Wein (wine from Italy).
In the middle of the 14th century, the archbishop's land register
for Krimml had 12 houses. The transitions into the neighboring
Ahrntal valley into today's South Tyrol were particularly important
for craftsmen and merchants (wine and cattle trade) as well as for
the farmers who grazed their cattle in the Krimmler Achental in
summer. The Krimmler Tauernhaus was documented in writing as early
as 1389 as an important station before the transition to Tyrol. This
is now in operation as a hostel and snack bar.
The Reformation and the Peasant Wars also affected the most remote corners of the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In his chronicle for Krimml, the priest Josef Lahnsteiner lists in detail those families and fiefs who sympathized with Protestantism. Those who were not prepared to renounce the teachings of the Reformation were also expelled from Krimml.
Krimml formed the westernmost cross costume in the archbishopric of Salzburg (administrative district with a church), consisting of the Ober- and Unterkrimml ranks, in the administrative area of the Mittersill nursing court.
Krimml belonged to Bramberg church until 1555, then to Neukirchen am Großvenediger until 1675 and then to Wald im Pinzgau until 1784. In 1784 Krimml became independent as a vicariate.
Lorenz Huebner gave a short description of the inhabitants of Krimml in 1796: “There are now 300 people here, a funny, liberal and open-hearted people, without deception or falsehood. The Ortswirthshaus also witnesses that there is a happy crowd who eats and likes to dance and jump. "
In 1803, with secularization, the spiritual rule over Salzburg ended after a millennium. This was followed by the short-lived Electorate of Salzburg 1803-1805, the years of belonging to the Austrian Empire until 1809 and that of the Kingdom of Bavaria between 1810 and 1816 as the Salzach District. When French and Bavarian troops occupied parts of Salzburg in 1809, the son of the farmer's back in Krimml, Anton Wallner, excelled in resisting the occupiers. The Anton Wallner monument is still located in the center of Krimml today. Both the historic rifle company and the local music band are named after Anton Wallner. The Anton Wallner Bräu microbrewery has also existed in the village for several years.
Between 1816 and 1849 Salzburg was part of the province of Upper Austria and Salzburg as the Salzburg district before the crown land of Salzburg was established in 1849/50. The Zillertal was separated from Salzburg in 1816. For Krimml this means that the Gerlos Pass has now also become a border pass.
As is typical for the entire region, Krimml was primarily characterized by the cattle farming, which was limited to the production of milk and dairy products. Due to the labor-intensive production in the high mountain region, it was not competitive in comparison with that of other crown lands. This only changed with the advent of early tourism, alpinism and the associated transport links in the late 19th century.
As early as 1835, the keeper of Mittersill, Ignaz von Kürsinger, had a path and a tourist and painter's house built to the upper end of the lower waterfall. In 1879, the German Alpine Club and the Austrian Alpine Club built a path with viewing platforms and bridges. Finally, in 1898, the Pinzgauer Lokalbahn runs from Zell am See to Vorderkrimml (district of Wald im Pinzgau), which means that more and more people are visiting the waterfalls. This makes a renewed expansion of the waterfall path necessary, which is finally carried out by the Warnsdorf Alpine Club section. Until the outbreak of the First World War, tourism increased gradually, which is reflected in the construction of numerous refuges and inns. The railway restoration at Krimml station was carried out in 1898, the Falkenstein restoration in 1899, the Hotel Krimmler Hof in 1900, the Filzstein inn in Hochkrimml in 1901, and the "Hotel zu den Krimmlerfälle" in 1902.
Of the 85 men who were engaged in the First World War from Krimml, 20 died. In the inter-war period, the change from a purely agricultural to a tourist community continued, and the beginning winter tourism in particular became increasingly important. A restaurant built on the Gerlosplatte in 1903 is expanded into a Plattenhotel in 1932. However, the global economic crisis and the thousand-mark block ultimately resulted in an almost complete collapse in tourism.
At the beginning of the 1930s, Krimml was one of the strongholds of the National Socialists in the Inner Mountains, where they achieved the best result in the district with 37.92% in the 1932 state elections. After the annexation of Austria, Krimml and Wald were combined to form the municipality of Krimml-Wald on January 1, 1939, and only divided again at the end of the Second World War. In the years 1939–1942, the former mayor of Wald, the farmer Johann Oberhauser, acted as mayor of Krimml-Wald, then until 1945 the former mayor of Krimml, the businessman Johann Schleinzer.
The historian Sonja Nothdurfter-Grausgruber describes the Krimmler's relationship to the Nazi regime as ambivalent, since the bourgeois camp clung to the new rulers unconditionally, while the enthusiasm of the Christian-social peasants was less, because church struggle, restriction of their property rights by the Hereditary Farm Act and the Court controls of the National Socialists were rejected.
Tourism came to a standstill in the war years 1939–1945. The hotels and inns were used differently accordingly. A rest home for the German railway workers existed in Krimml as well as a rest home for mothers run by the National Socialist People's Welfare. The Krimmler Achental was used as a hunting area by high-ranking National Socialists. Numerous foreign workers (“Eastern workers”, prisoners of war) were also deployed in Krimml, primarily in agriculture. Towards the end of the war, according to Lahnsteiner, many SS men came from Italy over the Krimmler Tauern in order to get to their homeland from here. In addition, more than 1,000 bomb refugees were quartered in the Krimml households. Of the 125 Krimml men who had been involved in World War II, 34 died. On May 10, 1945, a colonel in the US Army took quarters with his officers at the Waltl Inn.
The fact that Krimml was the only municipality in the state of Salzburg - located in the American zone of occupation from 1945 to 1955 - bordered on Italy (western North Tyrol was French, southern East Tyrol was occupied by the British) led to the Krimml Jews fleeing from Krimml in the summer of 1947. After the previously used Alpine crossings in the British and French occupation zones of Austria were closed to the thousands of Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe, 5000 Jewish refugees crossed the Krimmler Tauern Pass on their way via Italy to Palestine. The hut owner Liesl Geisler-Scharfetter looked after these people in the Krimmler Tauernhaus before they finally started the arduous crossing into the South Tyrolean Ahrntal. However, the perpetrators were also on the run, and many of them also chose the route over the Krimmler Tauern to Italy and from there often on to South America. During this time, the municipality of Krimml issued many identity cards for crossing the border.
With the economic miracle, tourism resumed early after the Second
World War, which over the decades has increasingly focused on winter
tourism. The construction of the Gerlos Alpine Road and the
Durlaßboden reservoir in the early 1960s represented major
infrastructure projects. In 1963 the first drag lifts were built on
the Gerlosplatte and the ski area was gradually expanded. The
preliminary highlight was the merger with neighboring ski areas in
Königsleiten and the Zillertal to form the Zillertalarena in 2003.
In the Hochkrimml, an alpine village was built, similar to the
Königsleiten settlement in the municipality of Wald im Pinzgau,
whereby winter tourists could be accommodated in the immediate
vicinity of the ski area. So far, not implemented, but discussed
again and again is a cable car project that is supposed to connect
the actual town of Krimml directly with the Zillertal Arena.
In 1967 the Krimml Waterfalls were awarded the European Diploma for Protected Areas and with the establishment of the Hohe Tauern National Park in 1981, Krimml became a national park community.