“Fighting Where Nature Joins Forces with the Enemy:” Nature, Living Conditions, and their Representation in the War in the Alps 1915–19181
Daniel Marc Segesser
University of Bern
First World War propaganda, but also popular movies like Luis Trenker’s Berge in Flammen, for a long time presented the image of the war in alpine territory as a place, where solitary heroes fought a war in a magnificent natural scenery that was so different from the carnage of the western front. Based on recent research that has shown that the latter was not true, the following contribution focuses on the perception and representation of nature and natural phenomena in contemporary publications, diaries, and letters from Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. It analyzes the relationship between soldiers from many countries on the one hand, and nature as well as natural phenomena such as avalanches, fog, or rain on the other. The contribution discusses the reactions of officers and soldiers to nature and the respective natural phenomena and offers new insights on everyday living conditions of officers and soldiers in a landscape with harsh conditions that had never before been a battlefield for such a prolonged period of time.