Rebel Bavarian town wants to secede to Austria

31st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 March 2005, KIEFERSFELDEN - A rebellious German town that believes it would be better off if it joined Austria is planning a 'Welcome to Austria' party this Friday, April Fools Day, to publicise its demands.

31 March 2005

KIEFERSFELDEN - A rebellious German town that believes it would be better off if it joined Austria is planning a 'Welcome to Austria' party this Friday, April Fools Day, to publicise its demands.

Kiefersfelden, tucked into the Bavarian Alps, is to put up a beer tent on the town square where residents will quaff beer for a subsidized 50 cents a glass while the town band plays oompah music.

On municipal signs, the word Bavaria will be pasted over with stickers that will say 'Tyrol', the name of the Austrian province in direct sight on the opposite bank of the Inn river.

In today's borderless European Union, frontier towns that are divided by rivers are being melded together. Kiefersfelden is so close to the small Austrian city of Kufstein that residents cross over to shop. Local rail journeys take place in Austrian carriages.

"Why shouldn't we go all the way and just join Austria?" says Werner Schroller, head of the tourist office in Kiefersfelden, where holidaymakers stop over for summer or winter hikes below snow-capped peaks, or go rafting in fast-flowing mountain streams.

This is not just an April Fools joke, insist Schroller and mayor Erich Ellmerer. The Bavarian state government in Munich, 80 kilometres to the northwest, is treating the area of nearly 7,000 residents as a rural backwater, they claim.

Alleged neglect includes German refusal to reduce taxes on petrol locally. "Everyone drives over to Austria to fill up because the taxes there are lower. We used to have seven filling stations in Kiefersfelden. Now only two are left," says Schroller.

The district ambulance, which takes the sick 30 kilometres down the E45 autobahn to the German hospital in Rosenheim, is to cease operating at nights from 1 May, the two men add.

Curiously, Kufstein's hospital is just 4 kilometres away, but the ambulance never drives there because health insurers refuse to pay for 'cross-border' transport.

"What good is it to us being Bavarian?" says the tourist chief.

Mayor Ellmerer's complaint is that Bavarian planners are blocking his plans for shopping marts near the highway, one of Europe's busiest north-south routes. He says Tyrol is more liberal and welcomes commercial development in the scenic valleys.

To tweak the noses of the Bavarian authorities, Kiefersfelden officials have written to the premier of neighbouring Tyrol province asking him to attend Friday's mock celebrations of secession.

A Tyrolean flag is to be hauled up over the town hall and automobile number plates will be altered to look like Austrian ones.

"We'll only be serving beer brewed in Austria," adds Schroller.

DPA

Subject: German news

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