It was as long ago as 500 years that the famous Austrian Doctor Paracelsus expressed the view that ‘‘each country is given its own illnesses, but for each of these illnesses they have been granted their own ancient medicines and remedies.’’
Standing below the thunderous and cascading Krimml Waterfalls – the fifth highest in the world, located in Hohe Tauern National Park in Salzburgerland – the doctor’s sentiments seem to make more sense. Krimml Waterfalls have been scientifically proven by the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg to have healing properties. The fine spray that covered my face in regular refreshing bursts accompanied by a crescendo of noise is not just visually appealing but has a positive effect on the respiratory tract and improves lung function.
The source of the Krimml Waterfalls is the mountain waters of the ‘‘Krimml Ache’’ which is a glacial stream, where the comparatively gentler flows bypass the verdant and rolling pastures so common in Austria, before hurtling down a trio of sheer rock cascades at 20 to 25 cubic meters per second. Standing at the bottom of this mighty wonder of nature, the words ‘‘glacial stream’’ seem a little tepid as millions of gallons of water is deposited into the valley each hour and the thunderous roar of nature can be heard kilometres away. The feeling is uniquely exhilarating!
The water tumbles from a height of 380 metres and hits the rocks on the valley floor with such incredible force, that the water molecules shatter into tiny fragments. The resulting effect is mushrooming clouds of micro-fine spray with a high density of negatively charged air ions which attach themselves to each droplet. When inhaled, they penetrate deep into the respiratory tract giving a long-lasting and cleansing effect on the body and immune system. As early as 1808, the late medical expert Wolfgang Oberlechner was recommending stays at the Krimml Waterfalls to his patients and this practise continues today as a natural remedy, opening up new therapeutic options to allergy sufferers and asthmatics.
The Krimml Waterfalls also have another interesting and modern historical significance, as the starting point of a journey for groups of Jewish refugees in 1947, fleeing persecution. In the summer of that year, early one morning groups of between 150 and 200 from a total of around 5000 men, women and children assembled before the waterfalls. Awaiting them was a 15 hour trek on foot. Their goal was Palestine, which could only be reached by means of illegal flight. Their lives, homes and most of their relatives from Eastern Europe had been lost during World War II and even after the war had ended, they were still being persecuted. Many survivors were accommodated in the so-called transit camps in the city and province of Salzburg. The only remaining escape route by the summer of 1947 was the arduous trek over the 2634 m high Krimmler Tauern Pass into Italy. All other routes were closed due to political pressure from Great Britain, the ruling power in Palestine at that time.
On the 60th anniversary of the exodus, the peace initiative ‘‘Alpine Peace Crossing’’ was founded in 2007 by Dr. Ernst Loschner and continues to this day. The national park APC Peace trail is dedicated to all refugees worldwide. The power and force of the waterfall and the surrounding area continues to benefit and amaze those who visit. Back in 1796, Europe’s highest waterfall was described as the “most magnificent natural spectacle in the State of Salzburg” and still today, few can argue with this, as the sheer thrill and excitement of Krimml remains as potent as ever.
For more information, go to www.austria.info.