Steps of Courage: My Parents' Journey from Nazi Germany to America: Hoerlin, Bettina
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Steps of Courage: My Parents' Journey from Nazi Germany to America

Author(s): Hoerlin, Bettina

Copyright: 2011, US
Specifications: 1st, 8vo, pp.xiii, 316, 57 bw photos, black cloth
Condition: signed, dj & cloth new

Following her parents death, Hoerlin discovered a suitcase filled with over 500 love letters between her mother Kate Tietz Schmid, who was part of Munich’s intellectual and musical elite, but Jewish, and her father Hermann Hoerlin, a world record-holding German mountaineer and aspiring physicist, as well as a staunch anti-fascist. Prior to meeting Kate, Hermann made a number of first winter ascents in the Alps with Austrian Erwin Schneider. In 1930, as part of an international team, the duo summited Jongsong Peak (24,334’) in the Himalaya, setting a record for the highest mountain climbed at the time. In 1932 he set up the highest known series of cosmic ray research stations on Hualcan (20,085’) in Peru, enduring a total of 41 days alone in the camps. He was then invited by both Gunter Dyhrenfurth and Willy Merkl to join their respective expeditions in 1934. Ultimately, he rejected both due to the death of his father.

Kate, too, was involved in mountaineering. She and her husband handled communications and press for Merkl’s 1934 German Himalayan Expedition to Nanga Parbat. In the midst of the unfolding disaster of the expedition Kate’s husband was murdered by the Nazis and Hoerlin was called in to assist with public inquiries. (Kate also worked very closely with Fritz Bechtold on his book ‘Deutsche am Nanga Parbat’ (Nanga Parbat Adventure)). As Hermann and Kate drew close they realized that, to have a future together, they must flee Germany. Standing in their way was a major obstacle, the Nuremberg Laws, prohibiting relationships between Aryans and Jews. This is not only a riveting love story, revolving around two extraordinary individuals, but also provides a close look at German pre-war mountaineering.


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