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Reading: About the days the Matterhorn was nearly destroyed


The Matterhorn puts its head on the line for lots of things. For one, it symbolises Switzerland, a fact that nearly cost it its head. The book by Thomas Wyss is certainly a gripping read. In it he reveals secrets about the Matterhorn and Switzerland, too.

A full-on attack was to have been launched on Switzerland’s iconic landmark, but as we all know, it never happened because a lot of luck helped. But very few people know that the situation was serious, so serious in fact that it is only down to silly coincidences that the Matterhorn is still standing. In 1936 the Nazis were in power in Germany. No lesser person than the German transport minister Eltz-Rübenach was planning to destroy the symbol of Switzerland’s mountains. The code name for the mission was “Irmgards nächtlicher Kuss” (Irmgard’s nocturnal kiss). The bombers of the Luftwaffe with their destructive payload did actually take off. Fortunately, none of them reached their destination; in fact, one of them crashed not far from the Matterhorn, in the Monte Rosa Massif.

A hair-raising read
The Matterhorn story is a true fact. The files are available, but to this day no-one knows whether diplomatic protests were lodged about the attack that almost was. The book by Thomas Wyss (available only in German) comprises 17 other stories about Swiss symbols, complete with documents, extracts from files, letters and notes. One reviewer wrote: “Some of the stories are so hair-raising, you’d think they were made up”. (Veronika Scheuermeier) Entertainment value: high! 

Information: Author: Thomas Wyss. Title: Das um ein Haar geköpfte Matterhorn. 200 pages, Fona Verlag 2012, ISBN 978-3-03781-047-7; CHF 35.90

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