The Prussian Giant Mountains — some remarks about the ideologisation of Silesia’s highest mountains during the flourishing of mass tourism
The author of the article examines the beginnings of the national or, more broadly, state ideologisation of the mountains, using as an example Karkonosze or the Giant Mountains, which undoubtedly come to the fore in the case of the popularisation of mountain tourism. Already in the second half of the 18th century a chapel dedicated to St. Lawrence was built on the summit of Śnieżka, becoming straight away a pilgrimage destination and launching tourism in this mountain range. Just as quickly the Giant Mountains were ideologised as border mountains unique in the state to which it partially belonged — the Kingdom of Prussia. Authors describing Silesia’s highest peaks in the Enlightenment period (including J.T. Volkmar, J.E. Troschel, E.F. Buquoi and J.Ch.F. GutsMuths) did refer to Swiss models, yet they showed the Giant Mountains as the highest range in Silesia and Prussia, stressing the exceptional role and nature of this mountain range. Throughout the 19th century the ideological appropriation of the Sudetes’ highest range continued, acquiring in the early 20th century a virtually grotesque dimension, a manifestation of which was the equation of the Spirit of the Mountains with the ancient pan-Germanic god Wotan, known from old tales and poems and, more recently, from Richard Wagner’s music dramas.