>Pagans In Tirol: Der Judenbühel


 Below the Alpenzoo, close to the Hungerburgbahn, is a bridge to a hill called the Judenbühel, or literally, Jews’ Hill. From a cursory online search I found that the first written reference to it is from 1598, when a Jewish local man got permission from court to establish a family plot there, “where the old Jewish graves were”. 

The old Jewish cemetery (rediscovered and now an historical site — the actual cemetery moved to the Westfriedhof in the 19th century) is found on a southern slope, not at the top. The top of the Judelbühel is as flat as a pancake, as wide as a parking lot, and circular. It currently holds a grassy park with a playground.

 The sides of the hill are covered with moss and trees, but there are places where the ground is eroding. And here you can see that there are no stones in this ground at all, it’s all just earth and tree roots. Which I find unusual, since this whole region full of rocks and boulders of all sizes. Was it landscaped in the last 100 years, or did it slowly grow, like the altar mound atop the Goldbichl?

 There may be perfectly modern answers about the flat-topped Judelbühel (maybe the top was landscaped for the playground in the last century or two?), but I haven’t found them yet. In the meantime I am left with comparisons to the Hexelbodele near Birgitz, and Schlern, and Bergisl and the Kalvarienberg, and other flat-topped hills which have histories as places of pre-historic communion. 
Which brings me back to Norbert Mantl and a few things he speculated about, in his book about pre-christian relics in the Inn Valley. One was that a few place-names beginning with “Jud-” are morphed from “Haid-” or some medieval version of it, which means “heathen”, which makes sense if you remember that to the early Christians (and in some places today too), Jews were just another kind of heathen. Mantl writes:

‘[The Judenbühel] is supposed to have gotten its name from the old Jewish cemetery which had been here… however it always questionable to view such cases as chapters of Jewish history. The Judenbühel is a “heathen” hill and for this reason only did the Jewish cemetery end up here, because Jews, as arch-heathens, could only be buried where other heathens were buried. One would never have allowed [in the Middle Ages] a Jewish cemetery to be built in such a beautiful place, if the Judenbühel and its neighbor the Ruch* had not already been home to the oldest and most evil form of heathendom. [Here I think he is referring to the Three Bethen.] Stone-age finds were made on the hill, therefor there was a very old settlement here and one can assume with some certainty that the hill was a holy place**, from which it got its name in early Christian times, independent from  later Jewish settlement in Innsbruck.’

 Smack in the middle, traces of a regular campfire. Who makes these fires? Just squatters? An uneasy thought — I don’t know any local Pagans whom I can ask ( if maybe the fires are ceremonial), but there are elements of the neo-nazi scene which goes in for the Pagan, the mythological, the old ur-Germanic. The idea that they might be “keeping the fires lit” on these ancient meeting grounds does give one pause. Then again, what do I know, it might be the Scouts.
*I don’t know what the “Ruch” is.

** Why? Mantl does this all the time, assumes that because it was used, it was a holy place.

2 thoughts on “>Pagans In Tirol: Der Judenbühel

  1. >Actually it is, they don't seem to advertise. However I do know somebody who claims to know a witch here, and I should try that angle (although I have no idea if she's solo or with a group.)


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