1. The Butcher of Lyon
The past is never dead. It’s not even past. ~ William Faulkner
Towards the end of Hotel Terminus, Marcel Ophuls interviews Ute Regina (or is it Regine?) Messner. It is difficult to discover anything about Ute or her husband Heinrich (Heini?) or their family. Their presence on the internet is practically nil. I was able to find only one undated photograph of them together in Bolivia. One wonders what Heinrich was doing with the German community in Bolivia but no answers are forthcoming. What one finds about Ute are references to one or two documentaries and in a few press releases related to her presence at her father’s trial. About Heinrich, I could find nothing. Is he the Austrian Olympic skier of the same name, about whom one can only find records of his ski results and nothing at all about his personal life? That Ute was reported to live at an Austrian ski resort at Kufstein, where her husband worked as a teacher makes this a tempting proposal. When Heinrich Messner, the alpine skier, retired from professional skiing, he taught at a ski school, but Wikipedia says this school was at Steinach am Brenner in the Austrian province of Tyrol (a one hour drive from Kufstein) so it is hard to know what to make of this, if anything. Were this to be a Borgesian tale, and perhaps in a way it is, one could also mention a Reinhold Messner – another mountaineer from the Italian Province of South Tyrol (which, one soon discovers, may be the same place as the Austrian province of Tyrol), whose picture, speaking at an event nine years ago in the Kufstein Arena, can also be found online. Reinhold’s father, Josef Messner, like Heinrich Messner, is reported to be a teacher. I could find no pictures of this Josef (was Josef one of Heinrich’s names?), although I did discover a Franz Josef Messner who, of all things, was a leader of anti-Nazi resistance in Austria and who, after being betrayed, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber at the Mauthausen Concentration Camp.