Never has a mountain occupied the German imagination longer and more thoroughly than Nanga Parbat (8,125m), the world's ninth-highest peak, located in the extreme western part of the Himalaya chain inpresent-day Pakistan. Repeatedly referred to in the 1930s as the German "mountain of destiny," over a period of roughly two decades from 1932 to 1953 Nanga Parbat became not only the destination of six German mountaineering expeditions, but also the quintessential German "mountain of the mind" onto whose slopes German mountaineers, mountaineering officials, politicians, writers, and filmmakers projected some of the most pressing social, political, and cultural concerns of their times. This book is a detailed study of that process: of the initial motivations of post-World War I mountaineers for attempting to scale one of the tallest mountains in the world, of the appropriation of this epic mountaineering challenge by National Socialism, of the reappropriation of the Nanga Parbat project during the early years of the German Federal Republic. And most important - since to date such an approach is almost completely absent from existing studies of Himalaya mountaineering of this era - it is a study of the means and mechanisms, the texts and contexts employed for communicating these high-altitude mountaineering exploits to the German public and thereby inscribing Nanga Parbat into the German imagination.
Harald Höbusch is Associate Professor of German and Associate Chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Kentucky.
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