Then and now: HERBERT WANTS TO HELP

The Holzner has been a place of living history for 112 years. And through all the ups and downs, through all the periods of prosperity and crises, it has grown and become what makes it lovable and special today: a place of joy and peace for all generations, then and now. This time we present the story about how a young boy experienced the occupation of the Holzner in the early 1940s.
Herbert Holzner as a young man.
Herbert Holzner as a young man.
Our neighbour, Mr. P., was a boy of about 10 years in the early 40s. He remembers the time, when the Holzner was occupied by German troops, who had set up their anti-aircraft guns on the large meadow below the hotel and peered into the sky from the tower to see if any allied flying squads were about to fire on the Bolzano station. Mr. P. preferred to avoid them, these soldiers, just as he had preferred to avoid the fancy guests of the hotel before the war, who had spent long, mild summer days in Oberbozen and sometimes strolled through the village.

Mr. P.'s parents' house was right next to the meadows of the Wieserbauer farm, not far from the hotel. And one day, with an ear-piercing whistling and squeaking, a hit airplane crashed into the summery buzzing meadow. Mother P. made the sign of the cross and intoned the Hail Mary, while 10-year-old Mr. P. rushed out. A plane! An ally! Almost in his own garden! He had to see that.

Young Mr. Holzner, Herbert, came running and dared to approach the smouldering, squealing wreckage, and right next to it, at Herbert's feet, lay a man; in a uniform that was scorched and dirty and full of red spots. And he spoke, gargling and groaning, but he spoke with young Mr. Holzner! Mr. P didn't understand a word. He couldn't say it if they spoke English or French or any other language. And while Mr. Holzner bent down to the man, one of the German soldiers approached behind them, who had run ahead of the others and threatened both the man from the plane and Mr. Holzner. "Get away from that man!" he might have said, or "Hands up or I'll shoot!" or "You are guilty of treason." Mr. P doesn't remember. But Mr. Holzner didn't want to, he wanted to help the groaning, dirty man on the ground, and said so. And while both Mr. Holzner and the German soldier were starting to yell at each other, the rest of the German troops arrived, including the officer. And he ordered the overzealous soldier to put away his gun.

"Mr. Holzner is under my personal protection," Mr. P. still heard, when a strong hand dragged him backwards, away from the bush behind which he had been hiding. In the following days the wrecked plane was carried away by the Germans. Sometimes Mr. Holzner came to the end of his grounds and watched them from afar. Mr. P. however, never saw the wounded man from the plane again.

The German troops disappeared just as quickly as they had come, just before the end of the war in 1945. Herbert and his mother Mizi, who tirelessly supported her son, were able to welcome holiday guests at the Holzner again in 1948, the same year in which little Hans was born in a room on the ground floor of the house. Hans grew up and took over the family business in the late 60's, leading it back into more carefree times.
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