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Grounded Modernity in the Bavarian Alps: The Reichenhall Spa Culture at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 May 2014

Adam T. Rosenbaum*
Affiliation:
Colorado Mesa University

Extract

Located on the Alpine frontier between Bavaria and Austria, Reichenhall was once a secluded town, historically defined by its salt industry. Its reputation began to change in the mid-nineteenth century, after a number of enterprising locals opened “cure facilities,” thereby establishing the foundations of a modern health resort. By the end of the century, the spa town drew over 10,000 guests per season. The local community accommodated these visitors with an expanding hospitality industry and a growing number of pleasurable activities. By 1900, the recently renamed Bad Reichenhall had become more than a spa: it was a multifaceted and modern tourist destination, offering progressive medical treatment and cosmopolitan entertainment, along with easy access to the Alpine environment. The following article argues that the marketing of these diverse attractions provides insight into how German society thought about modernity at the turn of the century.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Central European History Society of the American Historical Association 2014 

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References

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27 Wysocki, Leben im Berchtesgadener Land, 116–117. John Towner has argued that spas have traditionally relied on a range of attractions, stating: “Simply being a spring site was never sufficient and most successful spas served pleasure as well as health needs.” Towner, John, An Historical Geography of Recreation and Tourism in the Western World, 1540–1940 (New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1996), 54Google Scholar.

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Ibid

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33 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 7: “Amtsgeschäfte des Badeskommisars, 1861–1937.”

34 Kaiser Wilhelm I's visits to Bad Ems had a similar effect, just as Emperor Franz Joseph's patronage of Bad Ischl fueled the alpine resort's popularity. See Sommer, Hermann, Zur Kur nach Bad Ems: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Badereise von 1830 bis 1914 (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1999), 7274Google Scholar; Steward, “The Spa Towns of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Growth of Tourist Culture,” 110.

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37 The first pneumatic chamber in Germany debuted in Bad Ems in 1855. Sommer, Zur Kur nach Ems, 47.

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39 Douglas Mackaman makes a similar argument concerning spa medicine in nineteenth-century France. See Mackaman, Douglas, Leisure Settings: Bourgeois Culture, Medicine, and the Spa in Modern France (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 6Google Scholar.

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41 Fuhs, Mondäne Orte einer vornehmen Gesellschaft, 249.

42 An 1890 publication issued by the State Association for the Expansion of Bavarian Tourism claimed that Reichenhall offered a range of treatments for “infected and sick lungs.” StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 23: “Landesverein zur Hebung des Fremndenverkehrs, 1890–1896.”

43 In her influential work on the Heimat movement in the Bavarian Pfalz during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Celia Applegate contends that local hiking clubs and preservation groups helped to redefine both regional and national identities, effectively “mediating” between them. The Heimat movement, she insists, was decidedly modern, and participated in a new, public discourse on what it meant to be “German.” Applegate, Celia, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990)Google Scholar. For more on the concept of Heimat, see Confino, The Nation as a Local Metaphor, 97–209; Boa, Elizabeth and Palfreyman, Rachel, Heimat, A German Dream (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2000)Google Scholar.

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48 Pfisterer, Bad Reichenhall in seiner bayerischen Geschichte, 323–324.

49 Pfisterer, “Eine kleine Geschichte der Kurstadt Reichenhall (1850-1990),” 25–27.

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54 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 620–621.

55 Steub, Wanderungen im bayerischen Gebirg, 36; Bernard, Julius, Reisehandbuch für das Königreich Bayern und die angrenzenden Länderstriche, besonders Tyrol und Salzkammergut mit besonderer Rücksicht auf Geschichte, Topographie, Handel und Gewerbe (Stuttgart: Paul Gauger, 1868), 150Google Scholar.

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61 Vogel, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 71.

62 Reichenhall's transformation into a Staatsbad also explains why most relevant archival holdings for the post-1900 period can be found at the Munich State Archive as opposed to the Bad Reichenhall City Archive.

63 Kantsperger, “Die Entwicklung Reichenhalls zwischen 1890 und 1899,” 61–69.

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74 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 57, 59.

75 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 242: “Literatur und Pressestimmen, 1884–1908.”

76 Alexander, Bad Reichenhall als klimatischer Kurort, 8; Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 67. The terrain cure also became popular in many Austrian and Bohemian spas during the late nineteenth century. See Steward, “The Spa Towns of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Growth of Tourist Culture,” 108.

77 Pfisterer, “Die frühe Entwicklung der Kurortmedizin und der Balneotherapie in Reichenhall,” 163.

78 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 600.

79 Geisthövel, “Promenadenmischungen, Raum und Kommunikation in Hydropolen,” 214.

80 HAT, Prospekte, D061/09/00-45: Bayerisches Verkehrsbuch: Bayern Rechts des Rheins, 80; Friedemann, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall und Umgebung, 141.

81 Bühler, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall, Salzburg & Berchtesgaden, 14.

82 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 91.

83 Guidebooks often highlighted Bad Reichenhall's parks and gardens as one of the town's distinctive features. See HAT, Sachkatalog, BRU-65/BAYERN-12… D061/09: August Schupp, Bayerisches Hochland mit Salzburg und angrenzendem Tirol, 12th ed. (Munich: A. Bruckmann's Verlag, 1907), 198–199; Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1911), 13.

84 Umbach, Maiken, German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890–1924 (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009), 112113CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For more on the origins of the garden city movement, see Beevers, Robert, The Garden City Utopia: A Critical Biography of Ebenezer Howard (London: Macmillan, 1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

85 Author's Collection: “BAD REICHENHALL – Blick von der Villa Hessing auf Zwiesel und Staufen.” The origins of this postcard are unknown, but it was dated June 28, 1911.

86 HAT, Prospekte, D061/09/00-45: Bayerisches Verkehrsbuch: Bayern Rechts des Rheins, 79.

87 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1911), 39. Burkhard Fuhs argues that the increased availability of sporting opportunities in late nineteenth-century spas was directly related to the 1872 ban on gambling. Fuhs, Mondäne Orte einer vornehmen Gesellschaft, 290–295.

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90 Pfisterer, Bad Reichenhall in seiner bayerischen Geschichte, 330; Pfisterer, “Eine kleine Geschichte der Kurstadt Reichenhall (1850–1990),” 48–49. Jill Steward notes that the spas of the Austro-Hungarian also experienced modernization during this period, with “electric street lighting, hotel lifts and American plumbing” helping to create an “urban effect.” See Jill Steward, “The Culture of the Water Cure in Nineteenth-Century Austria, 1800-1914,” in Water, Leisure and Culture, 29.

91 Stadtarchiv München, Zeitgeschichtliche Sammlung, 117/1: “Fremdenverkehr Oberbayern, vor 1945.”

92 Woerl, Führer durch Bad-Reichenhall und Umgebung, 11; Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 46.

93 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 265. Wiedemann's guidebook likewise called attention to Germany's “most beautiful and perfect” saline works, detailing its impressive output and listing its hours of operations for interested visitors. Wiedemann, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall und Umgebung, 46–49. A similar emphasis on the modern engineering behind the town's saline works can be found in the brief entry on Bad Reichenhall in Baedeker's 1908 guidebook to southern Bavaria and the Tirol. Baedeker, Karl, Südbayern, Tirol, Salzburg, usw. (Leipzig: Karl Baedeker, 1908), 101Google Scholar.

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96 Alexander, Bad Reichenhall als klimatischer Ort, 8; StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 242: “Literatur und Pressestimmen, 1884–1908.”

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101 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 65. So-called light baths were first made famous by the naturopath Arnold Rikli in the Austro-Hungarian resort of Veldes. See Steward, “The Culture of the Water Cure in Nineteenth-Century Austria,” 28.

102 Wiedemann, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall und Umgebung, 18; Packard, “Bad Reichenhall,” 488.

103 Radkau, Joachim, Das Zeitalter der Nervosität: Deutschland zwischen Bismarck und Hitler (Munich: Hanser, 1998), 13Google Scholar; Killen, Andreas, Berlin Electropolis: Shock, Nerves, and German Modernity (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2006), 4243Google Scholar.

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107 The tourism industry had commonly grouped the Alpine sights of Bavaria and Austria-Hungary together in a single publication. For an older example, see Trautwein, Theodor, Das Bairische Hochland mit dem Allgäu, das angrenzende Tirol und Salzburg nebst Salzkammergut, 6th ed. (Augsburg: Lampart, 1893)Google Scholar. Other examples previously cited include Bühler, Adolf, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall, Salzburg & Berchtesgaden, 21st ed. (Bad Reichenhall, 1900)Google Scholar; Schupp, August, Bayerisches Hochland mit Salzburg und angrenzendem Tirol, 12th ed. (Munich, 1907)Google Scholar; Wiedemann, Fritz, Führer durch Bad Reichenhall und Umgebung mit Berchtesgaden und Salzburg (Bad Reichenhall, 1915)Google Scholar; Bühler, Adolf, Fremden-Führer durch Bad Reichenhall, Berchtesgaden, Salzburg und Lofer (Bad Reichenhall, 1915)Google Scholar.

108 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 273: “Badeprospekte, 1901–1934.” Publications in different languages typically contained the same content as those issued in German, and were common as early as the late nineteenth century.

109 Sommer, Zur Kur nach Ems, 221–223.

110 As several historians have pointed out, late nineteenth-century tourist publications emphasized the unique national and social diversity found at spas, while people-watching and celebrity-spotting became a popular feature of “the entire spa experience.” Geisthövel, “Promenadenmischungen, Raum und Kommunikation in Hydropolen,” 206, 226; Lempa, “Emotional Economy and Social Classes in Nineteenth-Century Pyrmont,” 41.

111 Platz, Unser Bayerland, 14.

112 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 649.

113 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 79.

114 Neues Münchener Tagblatt (Munich), 25 August 1908. This article also bemoaned the fact that residents of Munich were statistically underrepresented in Bad Reichenhall.

115 Penny, Glenn, “Fashioning Local Identities in an Age of Nation-Building: Museums, Cosmopolitan Visions, and Intra-German Competition,” German History 17, no. 4 (October 1999): 490CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

116 In his 1908 guidebook on Bad Reichenhall, Scheurer uses the phrase “world famous” three times in six pages, referring to the town itself, the pneumatic chambers, and the local saline springs. Scheurer, Führer durch den Chiemgau, 160–166.

117 Vogel, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 72–73; Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 612; StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 8: “Kirchen- und Religionssachen, 1873–1938.”

118 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 273. “Katholischer und protestanischer Gottesdienst, ersterer in zwei Hauptkirchen – letzterer in der 1881 erbauten Pfarrkirche…”

119 Steinhauser, Monika, “Das europäische Modebad des 19. Jahrhunderts: Baden-Baden – Eine Residenz des Glücks,” in Die deutsche Stadt im 19. Jahrhundert: Stadtplanung und Baugestaltung im industriellen Zeitalter, ed. Grote, Ludwig (Munich: Prestel, 1974), 106Google Scholar. The nearby Austrian resort of Bad Gastein, for example, featured an Orthodox church, an institution that Bad Reichenhall lacked, in spite of a relatively large number of Russian visitors. Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 614.

120 Woerl, Führer durch Bad-Reichenhall und Umgebung, 12, 16.

121 Kurverein e.V. Bad Reichenhall, Bad Reichenhall: Illustrierter Badprospekt des Kurortes (1904), 29, 43.

122 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 614, 618. Historian Hermann Sommer maintains that Jews were generally welcome in German health resorts during the nineteenth century, and points to the fact that a Jewish inn had been open in Bad Ems since 1800. More recently, Frank Bajohr has argued that there was a significant rise in anti-Semitism in German bathing resorts before 1914, a development which he links to Jewish emancipation and increased social mobility. However, this institutionalized anti-Semitism was largely confined to the resorts of Protestant northern Germany, while the experience of persecution made the Catholic proprietors of south German resorts less likely to target a religious minority. See Sommer, Zur Kur nach Ems, 328; Bajohr, Frank, "Unser Hotel ist judenfrei": Bäder-Antisemitismus im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 2003), 1152Google Scholar. For more on Jewish guests in central European spas, see Triendl-Zadoff, Miriam, Nächstes Jahr in Marienbad. Gegenwelten jüdischer Kulturen der Moderne (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

123 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 618.

124 StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 286: “Fremdenverkehr, 1854–1936.” The season, or “year,” ran from April 1 to March 31. Unfortunately, these statistics do not reveal the ethnic background of visitors from Austria-Hungary. However, the large numbers of both Russian and Romanian visitors leads me to speculate that not all of the guests from the Habsburg Empire were German speakers.

125 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 657.

126 Ibid., 622, 626.

Ibid

127 Quoted in Ibid., 644.

128 Leinberger, Karl, Der Fremdenverkehr in Bad Reichenhall, seine Grundlagen, seine Entwicklung und seine Wirkungen (Munich, 1923), 99100Google Scholar; Vogel, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 71.

129 Lang, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 670–674.

130 Pfisterer, Bad Reichenhall in seiner bayerischen Geschichte, 340; StAM, Kurverwaltung Bad Reichenhall, 836: “Errichtung und Betrieb eines Militär-Erholungsheimes in Bad Reichenhall, 1911–1932.”

131 Pfisterer, “Eine kleine Geschichte der Kurstadt Reichenhall (1850–1990), 51.

132 Vogel, Geschichte von Bad Reichenhall, 77.

133 Respectively, Bad Tölz and Oberstdorf registered 146,000 and 227,000 nights during the 1913–1914 season. Afterwards, Bad Tölz registered a figure of 235,000 during 1925–1926, and 265,000 during 1930–1931. Oberstdorf fared even better, with a recorded 280,000 nights in 1925–1926, and an impressive 483,000 during 1930–1931. Schwartz, Philip, ed., Bayern im Lichte seiner hundertjährigen Statistik (München: J. Lindauersche Universitäts-Buchhandlung, 1933), 75Google Scholar, Tabelle 18.

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