The filmmaker Fredi M. Murer, who grew up in the canton of Uri, made the documentary film "Wir Bergler in den Bergen sind eigentlich nicht schuld, dass wir da sind" in 1973 and 1974. It deals with the life of the mountain people in Uri in the Göscheneralp valley, the Schächen valley, the Urnerboden and the Maderan valley. The director portrays individual people and families by accompanying them in their everyday lives and giving them the floor to talk about work and progress.
"The recordings are unique contemporary documents".
During his research and filming in the mountains of Uri, Murer therefore had many conversations, which he recorded on tape. This resulted in extensive audio material in the form of around 160 magnetic tapes. The mountain people talk about their lives, work, hopes and worries about the future in the rugged mountain region. "The recordings are a unique document of a rapidly changing living world. They capture voices from strata of society that are not documented anywhere else. This is also significant beyond the canton of Uri," says Romed Aschwanden, director of the Institute "Cultures of the Alps".
Fredi M. Murer had only used a small part of these recordings for his film and the tapes had been resting in his archives for almost half a century. "Listening to these recordings you learn a lot about the reality of life for mountain farmers at the time. They were not listened to much in the 1970s," says Sophia Murer, the filmmaker's daughter. "For my father and me, it was therefore important to preserve these rare contemporary documents before they become unplayable due to age and are lost forever." With financial support from the Dätwyler Foundation, the Lottery Fund of the Canton of Uri and the Otto Gamma Foundation, Sophia Murer and Paul Avondet, peakfein studio, digitised these valuable sound recordings.
Immersing oneself in the realities of life at the time
During the digitisation process, true treasures of life memories came to light. Sophia Murer has now made part of the recordings accessible to the public on the specially created website "wirbergler.ch". She deliberately places the main focus on the audio recordings with the mountain people and thus gives them the necessary hearing. The stories about everyday life on the farm, family life, work on the farm, the children's education and their difficult prospects of a future as mountain farmers, the alpine summer, avalanche winters, stories about the souls of the poor, prayers and much more are clearly arranged by region.
The website also features interviews with contemporary voices, such as those of the painter and writer Ludwig Lussmann and the midwife Babette Gisler-Arnold. In addition, there are audio recordings of the discussions at the Uri corporate community in 1973, which dealt with the introduction of women's suffrage at the corporate level.
"All recordings are accompanied by a photo portrait showing the protagonists at the moment of the discussion. Accompanied by this, listening to these authentic and lively audio documents, one is immersed in the reality of life in the mountains at that time. Whether as a reminder of people and places one may know or for research purposes; due to their thematic diversity, these stories are unique and exciting for everyone. Regardless of how old you are and whether you live in the mountains or in the city."
Students analyse structural change
Romed Aschwanden, Executive Director of the Cultures of the Alps Institute, is also very excited about the valuable research opportunities opened up by these sound recordings. "We are the first research institution to be allowed to evaluate the material, which is a special task and a certain honour." Especially as the documents can be used to trace the change in the 1970s. "These years are particularly drastic for the canton of Uri in the context of national road construction, the construction of the Gotthard tunnel, but also agricultural policy."
Together with students from the University of Lucerne, the institute now wants to approach the mountain region of the 1970s from a historical perspective and take an in-depth look at the structural changes in mountain agriculture in Uri. A course is planned for the spring semester of 2022.
The audio documents are available at www.wirbergler.ch.