History - Alpine Journal
214 THE ALPINE JOURNAL 2006 My dear Peel, I advised Aufschnaiter to postpone his departure as it would be impossible to get word regarding his application to go to Nanga Parbat before his date of sailing.... In his letter he asked the specific question whether present political relations had prejudiced his chances. I replied that I could not say, but I did not think so, though "rather naturally, after recent happenings, we were all pretty disgusted at the way the Munich agreement had been cast aside; and that as a result, even an elderly man like myself had much less leisure than in normal times, owing to the crisis." I have had the following reply from Munich: "My dear Mason, Thank you ever so much for all the trouble you have taken, if we had not you, we would be at a loss. The [Munich] Consulate did not give us the visa. We are starting now without. If we would not go, we should have to pay the passage in the Lindenfels plus the passage to Egypt by an Italian boat; now we have gained some 19 days. In the meantime it will have been decided at least if they will allow us to enter Indian soil, or not. If not, we can go back from Port Said. Peel replied, 6 April: Dear Mason, I have just had your letter .. .informing us that the party had decided to start in anticipation of permission being granted. It is really rather tiresome of them. If we get the Government of India's decision in time we will consider your suggestion of telegraphing Aufschnaiter at Port Said. A flurry of diplomatic telegrams was exchanged between London, Germany and India and permission was granted. In June a grateful Aufschnaiter wrote to The Resident, Kashmir, from Base Camp: I have received a letter from Bauer ... he expresses his great satisfaction that our party was granted permission. I am convinced that all quarters in Germany who get knowledge of it will appreciate particularly this attitude at the present time.' The archives show the British did everything to help, though the German government was requested that longer notice be given in future as German expeditions were making a habit of setting off without permission. A note to the British Secretary of State, however, indicates some concern: In the present state of international affairs it is obviously necessary to be vigilant in regard to the activities of German expeditions...the policy of the Foreign Office is still to treat German applications in the same way as other foreign applications. We have always maintained friendly relations with Dr Bauer... and Aufschnaiter is a friend of Mason and apparently not a Nazi. In any case this expedition will not apparently have much opportunity to engage in undesirable activities.
PRISONERS OF THE RAJ To which Peel added the comment: I do not suppose this expedition is likely to be mischievous, though it has caused us a great deal of unnecessary trouble by failing to apply in proper time. At the expedition's end, having climbed Diarnir Peak (5570m) and Ganolo Peak (6400m), with war immediate, the mountaineers sought passage home on the ship Uhlenfels. However, the vessel had been instructed not to approach India. Unable to find other ships or aircraft, Harrer, Chicken and Lobenhoffer attempted to reach Persia via the Principality of Las Belas, Beluchistan, whose ruler was no friend of the British and might be of help. Unbeknown to them, they were being watched: Indian News Agency Telegram, Simla: 'Karachi, 30th August. Defying Government order directing them not to leave city limits four German residents are reported to have left Karachi last night under mysterious circumstances for unknown destination.' Word reached the India Office where an official noted 'I'm afraid they are going to have considerable difficulty in getting home unless they left India before 29th August.' The trio's flight ended abruptly when, after bivouacking, they were arrested for travelling without papers. Interviewed in 2003, Harrer recalled, We were not 'arrested' but were involuntarily taken to Karachi. Newspapers stated that aliens leaving main roads were liable to ten years' imprisonment. The superintendent of police received us with 'Well gentlemen, you lost your way while hunting, didn'tyou?' We replied "Yes, Sir!" We were much relieved by this act of kindness.' Archived intelligence relates: The superintendent of police... stated there was nothing suspicious about them, except an intense desire to get away to Germany before war broke out. There was no case against them... The four came prominently to our notice on account of the rush tactics they adopted in getting to India... We are now trying to fmd out something about them and if they did any serious climbing. All four were interned in the Central Internment Camp, Ahmadnagar, west of Bombay, and their baggage impounded. Although civilians, they were 'Prisoners-of-War' under the Geneva Convention. The censor returned Aufschnaiter's maps and books, including Bell's Colloquial Tibetan as being close to Bombay these were thought to be harmless, little realising the prisoners would later end up near the Himalayas. In 1941 they were moved to Deolali, north-east of Bombay which provided an escape opportunity 215