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'Nazi-era' names cause climber consternation

Peter Vinthagen Simpson · 12 Aug 2010, 15:01

Published: 12 Aug 2010 13:05 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Aug 2010 15:01 GMT+02:00

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Swedish historian and sport climber Cordelia Hess discovered that several of the names used for the crag in Gåseborg bore names with a Nazi theme such as "3rd Reich", "Swastika" and "Himmler", according to a report in the Dagens Nyheter daily.

"I was there with my friends and doing a bit of climbing, and I thought it felt rather unpleasant to climb through the 'Crematorium' or say that 'now I am going to do Kristallnacht'," Hess told the newspaper.

Cordelia Hess argued to the newspaper that the names trivialise the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust.

But the names are set to stay in place for the time being as it is accepted climbing praxis for the first climbers who tackle and conquer a route to be given the right to name it.

"It is up to the first climber who makes it to name a route," Stockholm climber Erik Djerf told The Local on Thursday. "It is thus that climber, or perhaps the publisher of a local climbing guidebook, who would then be able to change it".

Story continues below…

Djerf told The Local that while there is no formal body that approves or rejects names of climbing routes, sites are registered by the Swedish Climbing Association for reasons concerning the public right of access (allemansrätten) and nature conservation.

"There is no board or committee that gives the yay or nay, but perhaps if the names would cause a great deal of offence...The names are in any case often chosen to be deliberately provocative," he said.

Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:01 August 12, 2010 by Gletta
Perhaps Cordelia should change her name as well
15:17 August 12, 2010 by xenyasai
@Gletta: And why is that?

16:19 August 12, 2010 by Audrian
I find this scandalous. Where are the police and culture institutions?
19:03 August 12, 2010 by Gletta
Oh dear - not Cordelia - Hess - bit ironic that that was the name of Hitler's deputy for many years
20:26 August 12, 2010 by wxman
Good catch, Gletta. I too always enjoy a big bowl hypocracy when it's dished out by those who would control every aspect of our lives. They feel a great deal of self-satisfaction telling us what's right and wrong from their vast font of superior wisdom.
21:29 August 12, 2010 by ehwhat?
So, some puerile climbers chose to demonstrate their lack of maturity by naming the ascents after the Nazis? How is this news? Those of us who seriously climb are constantly dealing with unsafe idiots of limited intelligence and imagination. Perhaps if one of them had fallen on its head before the naming, that might be news. No to mention a good cautionary tale. But this hardly rates.

Official names are disregarded all the time by any number of climbers. Indeed the choice of name used can quickly identify from whence you came. Don't like the name? Don't use it. Or better yet, choose a deeply disrespectful name for the climbing club that the idiots belonged to and use that for every ascent (just change the number from 1-N to keep them straight).
17:35 August 13, 2010 by namso
I was hoping for less than a dozen holocaust movies this year, now it will be holocaust all over the cinemas to compensate for this.
17:43 August 13, 2010 by donnick
Wow! I didn't know neo Nazis were so industrious that they'd climb mountains! I assumed they'd be busy beating up old ladies and printing out hate propaganda.
21:16 August 13, 2010 by Syftfel
It is precisely for similar reasons that I get the shivvers, and find it disconcerting, to saunter down Olof Palmes Gata on Norrmalm. In other words where does one draw the line on this type of reasoning? "I'm opposed to the Monarchy, I would never set foot on Drottnnggatan". "Karl the XII was a conquering, savage, brute. Heaven forbid I should have to change buses on Karl XII Torg." Someone will invariably always have a complaint over any given name. "I'm a vegetarian. I'm offended every time I go to Djurgården"
21:39 August 13, 2010 by Toonie
Where does one draw the line on this type of reasoning?

What kind of reasoning would that be? Naming is a process of honouring. Olof Palme because he was Swedish Prime Minister respected around the world (though, as we know, held in contempt by some sections of society in Sweden). There's no evidence, obviously, that Swedes who claim contempt for Charles XII now wouldn't have regarded him a hero had they been his contemporaries. And vegetarians might be offended by a park named for living animals? No one's asking to eat them. If you can't see why people would be offended by naming climbing spots after Nazis, you lack education, information and imagination. It's not about politics. It's about systematic, murderous racists. It's not just about Jews. Just about every European south, west and east of Trelleborg could tell you why, because they have living relatives who know. And they don't think it's clever or funny for 'do-nothings-when-it-matters' to dismiss such symbols as unimportant. Get it now?
02:14 August 14, 2010 by Karenrae
I agree with Toonie. Naming places using Nazi names should be condemned by anyone with any knowledge of the horrors that the Nazis committed. Sweden's neutrality and possible aid to the Nazis during WW11 still rankles with many. If Swedes accept this without some outcry it only furthers the thoughts of cowardice by others throughout the world.
11:15 August 14, 2010 by cogito
"Sweden's neutrality and possible aid to the Nazis..."

"Possible"??? Is there doubt?

The irony is that the state forbids certain names parents choose for their children. Not too long ago, a couple wishing to name their baby Elvis were denied that right by the authorities.
12:58 August 14, 2010 by israeli
only in sweden. only in sweden.

why am i not surprised?
10:51 August 25, 2010 by Britswedeguy
Clearly these were jokingly named by climbers - get a life and lighten up!
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