Tyrol against the rest of the world: The deep traces of the Corona pandemic!
Instead of full employment, there is record unemployment. And instead of being a tourist magnet, it is the bogeyman due to misconduct and harsh rhetoric. How did it get this far?
In addition to thousands of deaths, a devastated economy and severe psychological damage, the corona virus in Austria has claimed another victim: the successful image of the province that was hit first by the pandemic a year ago and is now once again in the limelight.
Things did not go well in Tyrol right from the start. When Austria’s first two Corona cases were discovered among employees of an Innsbruck hotel on 25 February 2020, ZiB 1 did a live broadcast. While the reporter explained to the TV audience that the building was under strict quarantine – still a dramatically exotic term at the time – a man was seen leaving the lobby unmolested in the background. The image of Tyrol as a Corona victim was born – and that as a Corona sinner.
AMS for the first time
What followed was a pandemic series of mishaps that, starting in Ischgl, brought the proud Tyrolean eagles into considerable turmoil. Since tourism has made the state’s economy soar, full employment in Tyrol is far more than just lip service.
This year things look different – brutally different: for every 41,239 unemployed there were only 3,309 vacancies at the beginning of February. The change in the unemployment figures compared to January of the previous year is between an incredible 200 and 445 percent in the districts of the tourism strongholds.
Many Tyroleans are in contact with the AMS for the first time in their lives, while those responsible for the pandemic management disaster from the spring were not sacked, but in some cases even promoted. That gnaws. It gnaws at the self-confidence and pride of the hard-working population, which after all has built everything up with its own hands – the hands of the guest workers are only meant here, if at all.
Instead of reacting to the crisis with socio-political measures, the country’s politicians are creating enemy images. After all, the hard-working don’t need a “social hammock”. “We” Tyroleans against “the” non-Tyroleans. Almost like a mantra, those in charge have repeatedly made clear what was never up for debate: “The virus was not born in Ischgl.” After all, the Tyrolean is not sick. There is no trace of self-criticism.
Elsbeth Wallnöfer, a folklorist and philosopher, explains this reflex with the transfigured historical image that is handed down in the land of the no less transfigured folk hero Andreas Hofer: “The topos of the Tyrolean originates from a literary myth created by the Germans and the British in the 19th century”.
In contrast to South Tyrol, North Tyrol’s political representatives like to fall into roles that have long been outdated, explains the researcher: “When politicians from Bolzano appear in Rome, they do so in suits and briefcases. They don’t play the alpine clown.”
No trace of insight
Tyrolean politicians have made the country “a laughing stock worldwide”, Wallnöfer criticises. By governing their country in the style of a folk play, they are harming it and doing it an injustice. “Because Tyrol is actually more modern,” Wallnöfer is convinced.
The image of the country and the image of itself diverge considerably, even in times of pandemic. After thousands of tourists brought home the corona virus as a souvenir from their skiing holidays in the spring of 2020, Tyrol was declared the “virus hotbed of Europe”. In the country itself, this criticism is considered unfair “bashing”.
One year later, Tyrol is once again isolated as a hotspot of the new South African mutant, and there is still no sign of understanding among the political leaders.
On the contrary, they are openly confrontational with Vienna, Germany and the whole evil world outside. Only in Tyrol is the world apparently still in order. But if you want to enjoy the peace and quiet, you have to scramble up the mountains in the land of narrow valleys and steep mountains – where the transit trucks and tourist cars can’t reach.
Core-healthy because it is sporty
This has led to a self-image that defines the Tyrolean as healthy and sporty. As children at school, skiing days are compared, as young adults summit crosses are collected for the Instagram album, while the 40+ generation diligently posts hut visits with e-bikes or hiking boots on Facebook and in Whatsapp stories.
When the supposedly healthiest and most sporty part of Austria, of all places, was the first to be hit by a treacherous disease in the spring, and people were forced to make severe restrictions on their freedom of movement late in the day, the shock and incomprehension were great.
At the time, everyone knew someone who had been punished for walking to the neighbouring village or going for a mountain bike ride, but many did not know anyone infected with Corona.
The summer of 2020 allowed the beleaguered country to breathe a brief sigh of relief. People could once again move freely in nature and go to Lake Garda. The guests came again, the Tyrolean world seemed all right again. Until the second Corona wave hit in autumn, when schools, restaurants and shops had to close again.
In a show of strength, the provincial politicians prevented the ski lifts from falling victim to the Green Minister of Health’s rage for regulations. This is how priorities are set in Tyrol, as philosopher Wallnöfer also confirms: “Tyrol’s particular interests are represented by people who only represent a single sector. Yet this country is much more than just tourism and cable cars.”
For the South Tyrolean scientist, the northern neighbour is a case for psychoanalysis: “Here, images of others have obviously been internalised to such an extent that many find it difficult to distinguish between role and reality.” She is referring to provincial politics and Tyrol’s VP national councillors, some of whom she accuses of “great human deficits and bad style”.
The attacks against virologist Dorothee van Laer, who recently criticised Tyrol’s politicians for their inaction in the face of the spread of the South African virus mutant and urged caution, would be emblematic of this.
Instead of taking the side of science and rationality, provincial whingers formed the spearhead of the attackers. Quite in the tradition of the anti-Enlightenment patron saint of the country, Hofer.
But unlike back then, this time the Germans and the British did not write heroic epics about the defending Tyroleans. Quite the opposite.
Source: Der Standard news