hidden europe 43

Divided loyalties: Jungholz

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: The school in the Austrian village of Jungholz could soon be welcoming pupils from the nearby German village of Unterjoch (photo © hidden europe).


The village of Jungholz lies at an altitude of just over 1000 metres in the Alps. At this time of years, the Alpine meadows are full of wild flowers. So Jungholz is a pretty spot. But it is also exceptional in that it is a diamond-shaped piece of Austrian territory that has, bar for one point at the southernmost point of the diamond, no connection with the rest of Austria.

Jungholz is an enigma, one of those lovely geographical curiosities that we stumble upon from time to time around Europe. It is a fully paid-up part of the Austrian Tyrol, yet in many matters of everyday life it behaves as though it is in Germany. In the matter of postal services, it hedges its bets, enjoying both German and Austrian postal codes.

Prior to both Germany and Austria adopting the euro in January 2002, Jungholz did most of its business in German marks rather than using the Austrian schilling — and, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, the village attracted large numbers of well-heeled cross-border investors from Germany who wanted to have a Deutschmarkdenominated account in a community protected by secrecy conventions which in those days were more a feature of Austrian banking than they are today.

In 1868, Jungholz entered into a customs agreement with the Kingdom of Bavaria, and in time became part of the German customs zone — even though it was not part of Germany (except for a seven-year period from 1938 when it was annexed by Nazi Germany and administered from Berlin).

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