Peter Aufschnaiter

Peter Aufschnaiter ( born November 2, 1899 in Kitzbuehel, † October 12, 1973 in Innsbruck ) was an Austrian mountaineer, agricultural scientists, development workers and cartographer.


The son of a carpenter attended the grammar school in Kufstein. While still in school, the young Peter Aufschnaiter had to drop out of school and 1917 engage in the Dolomite front. After graduation he moved to Munich and went on to study, from which he graduated in 1927 as Agronomist.

Already in his youth he began to mountain climbing - in Munich, he was known Munich connecting to mountaineers.

1929 and 1931 he took part in the German expeditions to Kanchenjunga in Sikkim. During these expeditions he got the first time contact with Tibetans and began to deal with the Tibetan language.

After the seizure of power by the Nazis in 1933, he joined the NSDAP. From 1936 to 1939 Aufschnaiter was a full-time Director of the German which was exploited by the Nazis for their goals Himalayan Foundation. He was a close confidant and friend of Paul Farmer, the founder and director of the Foundation. 1939 led Aufschnaiter a reconnaissance expedition to Nanga Parbat and Rakaposhi in what was then British India (now Pakistan); one of the participants was Heinrich Harrer. Since during the expedition broke out in Europe, the Second World War, the expedition members were interned on 3 September 1939 on the return journey in India.

Escape and stay in Asia

On April 29, 1944 Aufschnaiter, Heinrich Harrer and five other prisoners managed to escape from the internment Dehradun. While the freedom of three inmates only of short duration ( Rolf Magener and Heins von Have managed to escape through India to the Japanese front in Burma; Hans Kopp accompanied Aufschnaiter and Harrer through western Tibet, but then decided to go to Kathmandu, where he at the instigation the British was interned again ), reached Aufschnaiter and Harrer on January 15, 1946, the Tibetan capital, Lhasa - the end of an adventurous flight through western Tibet past the sacred Mount Kailash, through southern Tibet and the Chang Tang, the plateau of northern Tibet; during their march both benefited from the Tibetan language skills Aufschnaiter. The story of this adventurous flight has been described several times, the most famous depiction is that of Heinrich Harrer in his international bestseller Seven Years in Tibet.

Staying in Lhasa lasted until 1950 - at this time planned Aufschnaiter as an employee of the Tibetan government in Lhasa a hydroelectric power plant and a sewerage system, led first afforestation and river regulation in the Lhasaer level by, tried to improve the seed and created with the help of Harrer the first time an exact map of the Tibetan capital. As the work Aufschnaiter made ​​first archaeological discoveries in Lhasa, about which he corresponded with the Italian Buddhologists and Tibetologists Giuseppe Tucci. His work earned him the reputation of " first aid worker in Tibet " a.

In October 1950, the occupation of independent Tibet since 1911 de facto started by the armed forces of the People's Republic of China; the advancing on Lhasa Chinese People's Liberation Army forced Harrer and Aufschnaiter on December 20, 1950 again to escape, where they joined the caravan of the fleeing Dalai Lama, who waited for the political development in the region lying on the border of Sikkim and India Tschumbi Valley. Harrer went from Tschumbi directly to India; Aufschnaiter separated already in the south Tibetan town of Gyantse from the caravan, as it was hard for him, Tibet, leaving his "second home ", and lingered, always retreating to the west, still about 10 months in Tibet.

In January 1952 Aufschnaiter crossed the border into Nepal. He was expelled at the instigation of the Indian government and worked for several years as a cartographer for the Indian Army in New Delhi. From 1956 he worked for the FAO ( "Food and Agricultural Organization Culture " UN / Agriculture Organization ) back in Kathmandu as an agricultural expert. He took the Nepalese citizenship, which allowed him locked areas for foreigners in Nepal, including the little kingdom Mustang to explore. On one of these trips he discovered historically valuable, early Buddhist frescoes.

In 1971, it succeeded Aufschnaiter following his crossing North West of Nepal as one of the first visitors from a non- communist country again for 14 days in the place Khochar ( Khachar; Khojarnath ) to stay in Western Tibet.

Peter Aufschnaiter died on 12 October 1973 in the University Hospital of Innsbruck and found his final resting place in the cemetery at St. Andrew's Church in Kitzbühel. Even today his grave is decorated with Tibetan prayer flags.

The very introverted Aufschnaiter planned until shortly before his death, to publish his memories of his stay and his travels in Tibet and Nepal in book form, what was it but no longer possible. The manuscript, after his death, owned by Paul Bauer, was passed by this Swiss tibetologist Blanche Christine Olschak for processing; this left it finally the Tibetologists Martin Brauen, who edited the bulky in many respects work and published. Aufschnaiter diaries and estate came into the possession of the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich.


  • Peter Aufschnaiter, Martin Brauen (eds.): Peter Aufschnaiter. His life in Tibet. 2nd edition, Steiger Verlag, Innsbruck, 1988, ISBN 3-85423-016-8
  • Peter Aufschnaiter: Lands and Places of Milarepa. Add: East and West. N.S. 26, 1976, p 175-189.
  • Peter Aufschnaiter: Prehistoric Sites Discovered in inhabited regions of Tibet. Add: East and West 7th 1956, p 74-88.
  • Bruno J. Field of Justice (Ed., eds ): .. Aufschnaiter Peter posthumous record of his journey through North West Nepal to Khochar in Tibet in 1971, complemented by Giuseppe Tucci's description of his visit to Khochar in 1935 and Swami Pranabananda Description of the Monastery of Khochar In 1939: Munich Contributions to Ethnology. Yearbook of the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich 10/2006, published by the State Museum of Ethnology in Munich, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-927270-50-3, pp. 183-232