Resident: Bertram Schaffenrath
Photographer Bernhard Müller in conversation with Bertram Schaffenrath, born in 1969 in Tyrol, living in Tamsweg since 1992, group inspector at the highway police station St. Michael in Lungau.
“We have everything here that you need for a good life”.
What was your career like and how did you come to Lungau?
My name is Schaffenrath Bertram, I was actually born in Tyrol and have lived in Lungau for 30 years. I have been in the police force for 32 years, I have been here on the autobahn for 25 years and I am a group inspector. We operate from the border between Carinthia and Salzburg and are responsible from the middle of the Katschberg tunnel to Hüttau just before the Reittunnel, but that does not mean that we turn around in the tunnel.
Has much changed on the highway in recent years?
Considerably more traffic. In the Corona era, it was very moderate, but now it’s already much more, including criminals, it’s all increasing a bit.
What brought you to Lungau?
It was love.
What do you appreciate about Lungau?
Actually, the central location in Austria. You don’t have far to go to Germany, you don’t have far to go to Vienna or to Tyrol, you’re immediately at the Mediterranean. I appreciate the nature, little industry. I appreciate that the people are still rather peaceful, everything is still quiet, more moderate. There are a lot of customs, you know a lot of people and you are not so anonymous. And I like the climate quite a bit, it’s very cold but also very dry in the winter. We have snow and it’s pleasant in the summer, you can sleep well at night. And basically you have everything you need for a good life here.
Are you yourself culturally active or involved in customs?
I’m not really, but I go to a concert now and then, I also have an annual ticket from the cultural association, there are church concerts in St. Leonhard and sometimes I go out to Salzburg to concerts in the Mozarteum. Modern art actually less, because, as far as that is concerned, it is not offered here either. But I am also an annual member of the cultural association in Tamsweg, which is a very active association, and there are a relatively large number of events in all possible directions throughout the year, from cinema to high-quality concerts, church concerts, cabaret, theater, all kinds of things. One must say for such a district as the Lungau very high-carat. Especially the church concerts in St. Leonhard, there they come from the Mozarteum or even the Vienna Philharmonic.
What would you like to change about the Lungau?
Oh, I don’t really feel anything negative here. I would wish that the population does not shrink, because we already have that here, it is a process that the population is declining. But I would wish that no heavy industry settles, that the Lungau remains as it is. The natural, I call it biosphere.
Why do you think people or young people leave the Lungau?
There are relatively many commuters in Lungau, because the number of jobs or the wage level is not excessive. Although my subjective opinion is that many young people do not work here, but build here, because the land prices are still different. The high land prices are the problem that is occurring elsewhere right now, that you can’t get anything in Salzburg, for example. In Lungau, there is a danger that many Dutch and many Germans will buy apartments here because they like it here, and that of course drives up the price level. That is certainly also a problem.
Do you have an experience that you associate with the Lungau in particular?
Well, what is quite interesting in the Lungau is that there are or have been some such originals, such as Valentin Pfeiffenberger, the priest from Thomatal, who rode into the church on a donkey at Pentecost and was also a quite interesting, down-to-earth person. Then there was the Federnbachtl, which was a kind of sandler, who lived in the forest and had clothes with nothing but feathers, he has already died.
I can still remember how I came here and knew no one at all. There’s the United to Tamsweg, which is a kind of brotherhood and my father-in-law said, you go to this brotherhood and I had no idea what that is, but of course I said I’ll do that. There is this carnival festival, you get a helmet on and a horse figure and then you have to perform certain dances in various inns and in Sters, which are private accommodations, and everywhere you have to drink a schnapps. And of course they are always looking for a newcomer and that was me. But that was interesting because I got to know so many people from Tamswege within a very short time and I still don’t forget how quickly that went through this association and it is something very special every year when you take part. I know many other areas, but actually I would not want to live anywhere else, I have a secure job, I like to ski, go hiking and biking, here is just ideal.