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History - Alpine Journal

History - Alpine Journal

218 THE ALPINE JOURNAL

218 THE ALPINE JOURNAL 2006 crossed Tsangchokla pass (5240m) into Tibet. Ordered to leave they travelled to the Sutlej river where the altitude-afflicted Treipl also gave up, his goal of reaching the Japanese via the Gobi now seeming impossible. Back in camp he too received 28 days. The remaining three, intent on staying in Tibet, headed to the Spiti river making slow progress. Without Aufschnaiter's spoken Tibetan - how valuable that language book had been - they would have got nowhere. At Tradom, they requested permission to go to Lhasa. In November, having waited months for a reply, Kopp's patience ran out. Offered work in Nepal, he thought to claim asylum. Given a military escort as he approached Kathmandu, he was taken straight to the British Embassy - the trap had sprung! He re-entered Dehra Dun on Christmas Day without receiving 28 days from the long-suffering Colonel Williams, as he had honestly believed Nepal was neutral. Now there were two, both hardy, experienced mountaineers, mentally and physically fit for lonely and strenuous life at altitude. Again ordered to leave, they appealed to Lhasa for permission to stay. Months later, learning the war was over and knowing they would still be imprisoned ifthey returned to India, they illegally set off for Lhasa, making an incredible grim winter journey across the Changtang plateau, reckoning such an approach to the capital might go unchallenged. According to 'Confidential Weekly Reports' of the British Mission, Lhasa, they were being watched throughout - the British Raj had long tentacles. 17th June 1945: The two internees were in Kyrong. They had been seen taking surveys and distributing medicine in exchange for supplies. 26th August The order to turn out the internees across the Nepalese borderno action seems to have been taken. 20th January 1946: The two reached Lhasa on 15 January. They were reported to have been dressed as Tibetan nomads in tattered sheep skin Chhu-pas, it is said they had a donkey, carrying their few effects. They have been staying in the house of a Tibetan official who picked them up in the streets... Government are at present interrogating them. It is learnt that a few Tibetan officials and Chinese have called and have given them clothes and provisions. Tibetan Government has also given some presents. 27th January: It is reported that the two are now permitted to go about the city. The Dalai Lama's parents entertained the Germans and gave them presents of provisions and cash. It is reported that the Dalai Lama himself [then aged 11] asked his parents to entertain them. 10th February: The Germans have expressed their wishes of going across China overland; it is reported that Government has issued a warning stating they should be prepared to go back to India. 24th February: The two, for whom Tibetan escorts and the transport are now ready, were told to leave. But are reported to have requested the authorities to remain until the younger one, who is said to be laid down with some trouble of his hip, gets better. 24th March: Tsarong

PRISONERS OF THE RAJ Dzasa has suggested to Government that for the meantime the two should remain in order that Government may benefit of the younger one's [actually the older Aufschnaiter's] knowledge of agricultural tree planting schemes. 14th July: The Austrians have added wine making to their activities, and have produced red and white wine from black and white raisins respectively. A number of people seem to have suffered from drinking these concoctions. 6th October: Harrer is teaching English to several sons of Tibetan and Nepali traders. It is said that he has been asked by Tibetan officials to supervise construction of tennis courts. He seems to be quite popular in Lhasa. Interviewed in 2003, Harrer was most amused and fascinated by the accuracy of British intelligence. Actually, they had an unknown sympathiser in Sikkim in the shape ofArthur Hopkinson, British Political Officer Sikkim, Bhutan and Tibet, who himself had been a PoW in the Great War. He was influential in allowing the Austrians to remain in Lhasa as he thought it no use to re-intern them. (Interview 30 March 2004 with Robert Ford, a British radio operator in Tibet 1945-1950). Other internees attempted to reach Tibet, including Ludwig Schmaderer (Nanga Parbat, 1938) and Herbert Paider. In Sikkim, they and Ernst Grob, a Swiss, who owned a machine shop, had made a magnificent lightweight first ascent of Tent Peak (7363m) on 29 May 1939. On 24 March 1945, Schmaderer was undergoing a medical examination outside the wire, ready to be sent to Deoli, a secure camp south west of Agra, with another 22 who had made escape attempts, when he made a run for it. Before the guards could shoot he was hidden in jungle. Creeping back at night he contacted Paidar to arrange for him to escape three days later. Paidar made a repeat of the dung-cart ruse, this time hiding under empty meat tins. They travelled the same route as the others to the river Spiti, where, while Paidar set up camp, Schmaderer went to buy provisions. Meeting hostility in the nearest village of Tabo he had to pay high prices and was seen with money, gold coins and a watch. Laden with food, he was crossing a steep, narrow bridge on his way towards Paidar's camp when three locals offered him more supplies. Taken unawares he was pushed into the river and murdered with stones thrown from above that caused him to drown. Paidar spent three days searching for his companion before turning back to India. A fortnight later in Tashigang a Tibetan witness told Paidar all. The Indian police arrested the culprits - two escaped but the third was charged with murder and hanged. (Ironically, Paidar was to die in a stone fall on the Grossglockner in the 1950s). Kopp, recaptured in Nepal, was also transferred to Deolali with the 22. He later wrote that, en route, each prisoner was closely guarded. Despite this, Schonfeld, a German Buddhist, leapt from a moving train in his yellow mo.nk's robes at Hatwar. He was recaptured three weeks later near the pilgrimage centre of Badrinath, high up the river Ganges. 219

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