2 min reading time
Story 182 – 1934 – People

Tragic end at the "Fateful Mountain of the Germans"

Uli Wieland died on Nanga Parbat in 1934

Uli Wieland, son of Philipp Wieland and grandson of the company founder, died in 1934 while trying to climb Nanga Parbat (Western Himalaya) for the first time. A foundation was established in his honour to support school children – and two schools in Vöhringen now bear his name.

Uli Wieland, born in 1902 as Philipp Wieland's youngest child, followed in his father's footsteps from an early age. After graduating from high school, he studied electrical engineering in Munich and Zurich, and in 1930 he started working as a graduate engineer at Wieland-Werke. In line with his studies, he was responsible for the modernization of the power plants in Vöhringen.

His private passion was mountaineering, also in 1930 he participated in a Himalayan expedition. He summarised his experiences in an impressive expedition report, a copy with a personal dedication to Karl Eychmüller is still kept in the Wieland archive today.

In 1934, Uli Wieland was given the opportunity to participate in a very special project: the first ascent of the 8,126-metre-high Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain on earth. In April 1934, under the leadership of Willy Merkl from Munich, ten mountaineers and three scientists set out from Venice by ship for India, and four weeks later they reached their base camp at the foot of the mountain giant. In addition to surveying and mapping, the expedition leader was also concerned with the prestige of the first ascent - the "conquest" of the mountains by daring Germans had meanwhile found the interest and support of the Nazi regime for propaganda purposes.

But the project was ill-fated. Already halfway up, one participant died of pneumonia. Bad weather delayed the further ascent and made it more difficult. After all, the men had to turn back only 230 meters below the summit, exhausted. Worse still, Uli Wieland died of exhaustion on July 9th - only 30 meters away from the safety of an intermediate camp. In the following days, two other climbers and six Sherpas suffered the same fate. Because another expedition in 1937 also ended with the death of seven German mountaineers and nine Sherpas, the National Socialist press later spoke of the "fateful mountain of the Germans", after the war there was also talk of the "alpine Stalingrad".

In memory of Uli Wieland, the Voehringen municipal council named a new school building after him in 1956, from which today's secondary school is derived. At the same time, the Wieland family established the Uli Wieland Foundation, which serves the "education and support" of the local pupils. Finally, in 2019, a primary school was renamed "Uli-Wieland-Grundschule".

Himalayas Report Book 1930

Already in 1930 Uli Wieland took part in an expedition to the Himalayas. He recorded his experiences in a detailed report.

Uli Wieland Memorial stone at Lake Constance

On a country estate of the family at Lake Constance, a memorial stone commemorates Uli Wieland. The pathetic inscription corresponds to the spirit of the time, which heroically elevates the "mountaineer's death".