Roundtrip in Austria-Hungary

Pussterthal – Bruneck

A beautiful, shield-shaped badge shows a portrait of Archduke Eugen, with the inscription Pussterthal below. It took a little research to find the place and also how the badge can be interpreted. According to the Pallas Lexikon, it is between the High -Tauern and the Carn Alps, north of the Dolomites, in today’s South Tyrol. It is a 100 km long valley, at one end it stretches to the towns of Mühlbach and Bruneck, and to the east to the towns of Toblach and Lienz. In the greater part of the valley, the Rienz and then after the watershed the Dráva rivers flow in it. Several side valleys open into it, from which the southern ones extended one after the other towards the battlefields of the Great War. There was also a railway line in the valley, on which the supply of the front section could easily be solved. According to today’s interpretation, the valley is understood only up to the watershed, i.e. up to Toblach.

The other puzzle was determining the competent troop unit. This was also successful: there was a Pussterthal division that bore the number 49. Field Marshal Archduke Eugen did not command the division, but was the commander-in-chief of the south-western (Italian) front. That’s how his portrait ended up on the division’s insignia.

The headquarters of the 49th division was in Bruneck. As in other settlements, a memorial statue was erected in this town, in which iron nails, available for a donation, could be hammered. This statue no longer exists, but a contemporary postcard shows it.

It must have stood somewhere in that district, perhaps on the banks of the Rienz River, which we also see on the opening postcard. This shows the castle of Bruneck, in front of which is St. Catherine’s, or “Rainkirche”. The castle was built in the 1200s. The church in the 1700s.

Compared to the opening picture, the valley of the river has been significantly built up, I have not found any street view that could have depicted the castle and the church together as closely as in the opening picture.

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