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Prinz-Heinrich Memorial chapel, East Tyrol, Austria

The Prinz-Heinrich memorial chapel, a small timber chapel, is situated on a slight rise on the Obstanser Boden in the Carnic Alps in eastern Tyrol (borough of Kartitsch). The chapel was constructed in 1916 at a height of 1,957 metres above sea level to commemorate soldiers who fell in this section of the front. Its name commemorates Prinz Heinrich von Bayern who fell in November 1916 in Romania. The Prince fought along this section of the Carnic front as commander of the third battalion of the Bavarian Leibregiment.

Austria, East-Tyrol

Type of WWI-heritage

  • War monument

Dimensions

No information available.

State of repair/preservation

The chapel is in good condition.

Historical WWI Context

The Prinz-Heinrich memorial chapel, a small timber chapel, is situated on a slight rise on the Obstanser Boden in the Carnic Alps in eastern Tyrol (borough of Kartitsch). In May 1916 the chapel was constructed by Austrian soldiers as a simple timber construction with shingle roof and bark cladding at a height of 1,957 metres above sea level. It's name commemorates Prinz Heinrich von Bayern who fell in November 1916 in Romania and who fought along this section of the Carnic front as commander of the third battalion of the Bavarian Leibregiment. The Austrian section of the German and Austrian Alpine Club assumed maintenance and upkeep of the chapel in 1928. It was entirely refurbished 20 years after its construction. In 1987 the former hut warden of the Obstansersee-Hütte, Alois Goller, initiated a reconstruction of the timber chapel that had suffered from the adverse weather conditions.
The Karnischer Kamm formed a section of the so-called Southwestern Front – the front situated between Austria-Hungary and Italy from May 1915 onwards. It stretched over a length of around 600 kilometres in a linear distance from the Swiss border to the Adriatic coast. Italian, Austro-Hungarian and German soldiers faced each other on this part of the front mainly between 1915 and 1918, primarily in high-Alpine terrain and usually at an altitude of 2,000 to 3,900 metres above sea level. In 1915, soldiers on both sides initially had to make the complete terrain suitable for military operations. Apart from a few mountains made accessible for tourists and trails used by the local population in summer for cattle driving, hardly any well-developed paths or tracks existed between the Ortler (3,899 m) near to the Swiss border and the Julian Alps.
To enable Austria-Hungary to control the region of the front, the area was subdivided by their army into several administration units.  Border sector 10 for example consisted of several border sub-sectors (GUA), and these in turn consisted of battle sectors (KA): GUA 10a consisted of the battle sectors Ruffredo, Gemärk and Landro (later called Schluderbach), GUA 10b of battle sectors Zinnenhochfläche, Fischleintal, Burgstall and Hornischeck/Hornischegg (known as "Seikofel" from 23 June 1915), and GUA 10c of the battle sectors Eisenreich and Filmoorhöhe. While border sub-sector 10a continued to be under the command of Field Marshal Lieutenant Ludwig Goiginger, the two border sub-sectors 10b and 10c came under the responsibility of the 56th Mountain Brigade from November 1915 and the command of General Major Karl Englert.
The front on the Karnische Kamm belonged to border sub-sector 10c and had a length of approximately 30 kilometres: it stretched from Hornischegg/Mt. Arnese (2,550 m) to the Steinkarspitz/Mt. Antola (2,524 m) in the east. From 1916 onwards, border sub-sector 10c was administrated as a border sector and subdivided into battle sectors I: Hochgränten, II: Obstans, III: Filmoor/Leiten and IV: Obertilliach. The most northerly area of the Kreuzberg front was integrated into battle sector I: Hochgränten. From October 1916 the official name of border sub-sector 10c became "Karnischer Kamm".

State of legal protection

The chapel is heritage-protected.

Owner

The Austria section of the Austrian Alpine Club maintains the chapel.

Kind of cultural use of WWI

The Prinz-Heinrich memorial chapel is situated on the long-distance hiking route Karnischer Höhenweg (no. 403), also called the “Trail of Peace” (“Via della Pace”). The trails of peace were set up by the Austrian Dolomitenfreunde association in the 1970s.
Further information: www.karnischer-hoehenweg.at

The “Open-Air Museum of the Mountain War 1915–1917” on the Plöckenpass can be visited for free. For special occasions, the Dolomitenfreunde association also offers organised walking tours in the open-air museum. Further information: www.dolomitenfreunde.at
Entry must be paid to the “Museum 1915–18. From the Ortler to the Adriatic Coast” in Kötschach-Mauthen that focuses on the history of World War I in the mountains.

Opening

The Prinz-Heinrich memorial chapel can be visited for free.

Entrance Fee

The Prinz-Heinrich memorial chapel can be visited for free.

Information regarding cities, villages, other touristic attractions (non-WWI) nearby

Further information:

Mountain climbers villages: www.bergsteigerdoerfer.at
Gemeinde Kartitsch: www.kartitsch.at
Lesachtal: www.lesachtal.com
Region Karnische Alpen: www.karnische-alpen.com
City of Lienz: www.lienz.gv.at

Accomodation

Further information:

Mountain climbers villages: www.bergsteigerdoerfer.at
Gemeinde Kartitsch: www.kartitsch.at
Lesachtal: www.lesachtal.com
Region Karnische Alpen: www.karnische-alpen.com

Public Transport

The public traffic network (trains and buses) connects the communities in Lesachtal along the Karnische Kamm with the towns of Lienz in the West and Spittal in the East.

Further information:
ÖBB: www.oebb.at

Further information sources

Publications:

Gabriele & Walther Schaumann, Unterwegs vom Pustertal zum Plöckenpass. Auf den Spuren der Karnischen Front 1915–1917, Klagenfurt (2003).
Gabriele & Walther Schaumann, Unterwegs vom Plöckenpass zum Kanaltal. Auf den Spuren der Karnischen Front 1915–1917, Klagenfurt (2004).
Gabriele & Walther Schaumann, Unterwegs zwischen Save und Soča. Auf den Spuren der Isonzofront 1915–1917, Klagenfurt (2005).
Julia Walleczek-Fritz & Peter Fritz, Begehen-Begreifen-Bewahren. Der Erste Weltkrieg entlang des Karnischen Kamms zwischen Sexten und Plöckenpass, Kartitsch/Sexten (2015).
[English Version: Julia Walleczek-Fritz & Peter Fritz: Ascend-Apprehend-Aspire. The First World War along Carnic Ridge between Sexten and Plöckenpass, Kartitsch/Sexten (2015).]
Ludwig Wiedemayr, Weltkriegsschauplatz Osttirol. Die Gemeinden an der Karnischen Front im östlichen Pustertal, Lienz (2007).

Museums Private Collections

“Museum 1915–18. Vom Ortler bis zur Adria” [Museum 1915–18. From the Ortler to the Adriatic Coast], Kötschach-Mauthen (Carinthia)
“Open-Air Museum of the Mountain War 1915–1917”, the Plöckenpass Museum and open-air museum were established by the Austrian “Dolomitenfreunde” association which continues to support these until the present day.
Further information: www.dolomitenfreunde.at

Location

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