Christmas Day in 1944 in Mayrhofen

It is particularly touching when people who can still remember the terrible times of war, tell of how Christmas, the festival of love and peace, was celebrated.

Christmas during the second world war in Mayrhofen

©Josef Kröll

Created by Elisabeth Frontull

We too live in a politically tense situation, when atrocities around the world are all too common. But we live here in Central Europe, in the Austrian Tyrol to be precise, in a so-called "Holy Land", yet untouched by terrorist attacks and the current unrest. My father would like to tell you a true story about Christmas. More specifically, about Christmas Day in 1944.

©Josef Kröll

Christmas Day; 1944

It was the afternoon of Christmas Day in 1944. My brother Martin and I were in the parlour, where the Christmas decorations and nativity scene had been set up next to the Christmas tree, and were enjoying a few biscuits that had been lovingly hung from the branches, and we couldn't resist. We giggled mischievously, because our eight brothers and sisters did not know that we were "unencumbering" the tree of its delicious treats. All of a sudden we heard an almighty bang, the windows ripped open and the small bells decorating the tree suddenly started to tinkle. Frightened, we ran down the stairs as fast as we could, through the kitchen and into the lounge, where the whole family had gathered. We stopped suddenly - and could hardly believe our eyes. Everyone was lying on the floor, on their stomachs.


How, why, and for what reason:

We later found out how, why, and for what reason.

How: A bomb had been dropped just below Guesthouse Zimmereben.

Why: The pilot had to drop the bomb, because the plane had been shot and damaged, and had to make an emergency landing at the valley entrance.

For what reason: In the event of being in line of the high pressure induced by a bomb blast, you have to protect yourself by lying face down on the floor.

©Josef Kröll

Saint Anthony

A statue of Saint Anthony, which stood in front of Zimmereben, protected our guesthouse. The lily in St. Anthony's hand, had just slipped down a little, but everything else remained unscathed. When you consider, however, that huge rocks fell to the right of the Ziller River and stones were later found in the attic of the former Krainz carpentry workshop,  it seems that Saint Anthony had kept a protective hand over Zimmereben.


The End

Another bomb fell on Hauserer Mountain but we were otherwise spared (thank God) from the turmoils of the Second World War, which ended in 1945. Peace has prevailed in our country ever since, for which we thank the divine powers.

©Elisabeth Kröll

Guest author, OSR Dir. Josef Kröll

My father, Josef-David, was born on 23.02.1936 as the 8th of 10 children and was the only member of the family to attend secondary school. He left his hometown of Mayrhofen at the tender age of 10 and attended grammar school in Hall in Tirol, where he was raised by strict priests in Innsbruck. He graduated from the Gymnasium in the Fallmerayer-Strasse before completing Teacher's Trainer College (nowadays, the Pedagogical Academy). He returned to his hometown as a teacher, first in Hippach and then in Mayrhofen, where he taught until his retirement. My father was the headmaster of Mayrhofen Secondary School for 25 years. He has always been a loving partner to his wife, Ida-Elisabeth, and the best father you could possibly wish for to his five children.