Heckmair, Andreas, known as Anderl, born 12-10-1906 in Munich
, Germany, grew up in an orphanage in Munich. When he spent a health holiday in Switzerland at the age of eleven, his love for the mountains and mountaineering was awakened in him at an early age.When he became unemployed in the late 1920s, he traveled into the Alps, where as a cook he could make a living in several mountain huts. As a climber he conquered extreme walls in both the Eastern and Western Alps and in the Dolomites. He was one of the four men who first climbed the north face of the Eiger in 1938. The most experienced mountaineer in the group, Heckmair, Ludwig Vörg,
and Fritz Kasparek,
Heckmair led the most difficult pitches in the ascent, aided by the extensive kit, including new 12-point crampons, that he and Vörg had purchased using sponsors’ money. Even as the most experienced climber, he still ran into several problems on the North Face of the Eiger,
The success brought Heckmair fame throughout the world, but particularly in his native Germany. The reception included an audience with Adolf Hitler (see Alois Hitler
(did you know
), whom Heckmair had met before after working with Leni Riefenstahl
. Although the Nazis, special propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels
(did you know
) used his achievement for propaganda Anderl shunned the publicity and never joined the Nazi party. After serving on the Eastern Front in World War II, he worked as a mountain guide in his native Bavaria, and was one of the driving forces in the formation of a professional association for mountain guides. In addition to the Eiger climb, Heckmair climbed new routes on the Grandes Jorasses and many other alpine mountains. He also participated in expeditions to the Andes and the Himalaya. He was also partially responsible for the development of the “two rope” climbing system. In 1934, he took part as a reserve of the DSV team, Franz Fischer, Gustav “Gustl” Müller, Matthias Wörndle, in the legendary Trofeo Mezzalama ski mountaineering competition.
Heckmair started one and a half hour after the teams as single runner and overtook all the competing teams. He had a short relation with Leni Riefenstahl
Ludwig Vörg, after the successful climb, the climbers were received by Hitler and used for propaganda purposes by the Nazi regime. Vörg was named Stammführer in the NSDAP and was declared indispensable, as a result of which he escaped front service. Because of his behavior, however, he was soon considered unreliable and was sent to the front anyway. Vörg died, age 30, in 1941 on the eastern front in Russia.
Heinrich Harrer after the Anschluss of March 1938, as Germany annexed Austria, he joined the Schutzstaffel (SS) on 1 April. He held the rank of Oberscharführer
(Sergeant), and on 1 May he became a member of the
Nazi Party. After their ascent of the Eiger North Face, the four climbers were received by and photographed with Adolf Hitler. Harrer later said he wore his SS uniform only once, on the day of his marriage to Charlotte Wegener, daughter of the eminent explorer and scholar, polar researcher, geophysicist and meteorologist, Alfred Wegener.
After returning to Europe in 1952, Harrer was cleared of any pre-war crimes and this was later supported by Simon Wiesenthal
In his memoir, Beyond Seven Years in Tibet
, Harrer called his involvement with the Nazi Party a mistake made in his youth, when he had not yet learned to think for himself. Harrer
died on 07-01-2006 in Friesach, Austria at the age of 93.
Fritz Kasparek died on 06-06-1954, age 43, falling to his death through a broken snow cornice near the peak of the Salcantay in Peru.
Death and burial ground of Heckmair, Andreas “Anderl”.