Paths of Peace in the Carnic Alps

A Documentation by Gernot Stadler

Documentation, 2007
Written and directed by
Gernot Stadler
Assistant Director
Dietmar Kaltenhofer
Benito Oliva
Markus Gangl
Production Management
Bernhard Puschl
ORF Enterprise

“Paths of Peace in the Carnic Alps” is a portrait of a region that was fiercely contested during the First World War. Between 1915 and 1917, Italian and Austro-Hungarian troops clashed along the Carnic main ridge. A wide-ranging network of supply routes, high mountain positions, caverns, tunnels or lodgings was created. The film traces the history of the mountain war on the Carinthian front more than a century ago, but also documents how the former front roads became an extensive network of hiking trails – the “paths of peace” – thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers of the “Dolomite Friends”.

Hubert Fankhauser is also a true expert on the events of war in the Carnic Alps, who has not only rediscovered and meticulously documented the most remote positions and front sections in recent years, but has also published numerous books on the subject. He also led the film team, led by director Gernot Stadler and cameraman Benito Oliva, to largely unknown areas of the former front and gave a vivid impression of the harsh life of the soldiers in the high mountains.

A hiking group is also accompanied, which is on the way from the Valentinalm via Lake Wolaya to the Hochweißsteinhaus in the western Carnic Alps. The hut owners, with whom they find accommodation, are often linked to this unique mountain region for a lifetime and tell about their lives in the lonely mountain huts.

The fact that a walk along the Carnic main ridge is always an encounter with history, is demonstrated not only by the numerous dilapidated positions and trenches, but also by finds of unexploded bombs, which then have to be defused by specialists. The joint operation of Alpine police, aviation police and explosives specialists was filmed in the Little Eiskar, the southernmost glacier in Austria.

Things are more peaceful on the Unterbuchacher pasture, where cheese and pods (smoked pot) are still produced according to old tradition. The old farmer learned how to make cheese from his father, but he did not want to join the Gailtal Cheese Association – which is why the cheese is still cooked in a copper kettle over an open fire in the rustic alpine hut.