[Reading] ➻ Sieben Jahre in Tibet By Heinrich Harrer – Horse-zine.co.uk

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10 thoughts on “Sieben Jahre in Tibet

  1. says:

    Now the Living Buddha was approaching He passed quite close to our window The women stiffened in a deep obeisance and hardly dared to breathe The crowd was frozen Deeply moved we hid ourselves behind the women as if to protect ourselves from being drawn into the magic circle of his power.We kept saying to ourselves, It is only a child A child, indeed, but the heart of the concentrated faith of thousands, the essence of their prayers, longings, hopes Whether it is Lhasa or Rome all are united by one wish to find God and to serve Him I closed my eyes and hearkened to the murmured prayers and the solemn music and sweet incense rising to the evening sky 14th Dalai Lama as a childHeinrich Harrer was part of a four man team who were the first to successfully scale the North face of the Eiger They reached the summit on July 24th,1938 Harrer had been a member of the Nazi party for just two months He had also joined the SS with the rank of sergeant After the ascent he and the rest of the team had a photo op with Adolf Hitler They were national heroes His life could have very easily spiraled toward an early death on the battlefield or he could have been compromised in the many atrocities perpetrated by the SS during the war As it turned out, the only day he wore his SS uniform was the day he got married The one with the cheesy moustache is Adolph Hitler Standing on his right is Heinrich Harrer Harrer renounced any association he had with the SS stated that he was too young to be making those decisions.Harrer was in India with a four man team scouting the viability of climbing the Diamir Face of the Nanga Parbat when war broke out in 1939 They were picked up by the British and interned in a detention camp In 1944 after several failed attempts to escape, finally Harrer, Peter Aufschnaiter, and two others are successful They strike out for Tibet The other two men, after experiencing the hardship of travel with improper clothing, inadequate food supplies, and a nagging doubt about what life will be like once they do reach Tibet, decide to go back Harrer and Aufschnaiter press on They rely on the kindness of strangers Lucky for them, by nature, Tibetans are kind Their ultimate goal is to reach Lhasa, but there are public officials, miles of red tape, and many hazards to be faced before they reach that destination Princess Coocoola, wife of the governor of Tibet is one of the many beautiful Tibetan women.They meet a young couple on the road A young woman fleeing her THREE husbands She dutifully married three brothers and took care of their household until a handsome young stranger appeared The couple were fleeing her husbands to start a new life Most cultures still do or once did allow men, usually wealthy men to collect wives, but this is the first time I ve heard of a culture that allows a wife to collect three husbands The problem, of course, is always choice, and she wasn t a willing participant to marry the three brothers When the proverbial traveling salesman comes to town she takes the opportunity to escape January 15th, 1946 they finally reach their destination We turned a corner and saw, gleaming in the distance, the golden roofs of the Potala, the winter residence of the Dalai Lama and the most famous landmark of Lhasa This moment compensated us for much We felt inclined to go down on our knees like the pilgrims and touch the ground with our foreheads PotalaBecause of their uncertain status Harrer and Aufschnaiter, despite the pleasant welcome they received, were always worried that they would sent back to India and internment They receive reassurances followed by neck snapping counter orders to leave They begin to ingratiate themselves to the government by designing and producing better irrigation for the city Harrer builds a fountain for the backyard of one of his friends and soon all the nobles want a fountain seems to be a human tendency regardless of country to compete with the Jones s There are various levels of nobles who are very wealthy, happy and yet, pious people There was an uprising and several people were arrested, too many for the local jail The nobles had to each take responsibility for a prisoner As a result one found in almost every house a convict in chains with a wooden ring round his neck Talk about putting a damper on your social situations The Tibetans have a rather gruesome, especially to westerners, way in how they dispose of their recently departed The decorated pine tree which stood on the roof was removed and the next day at dawn the body was wrapped in white grave cloths and borne out of the house on the back of a professional corpse carrier We followed the group of mourners, who consisted of three men only Near the village on a high place recognizable from afar as a place of burial by the multitude of vultures and crows which hovered over it, one of the men hacked the body to pieces with an ax A second sat nearby, murmuring prayers and beating on a small drum The third man scared the birds away and at intervals handed the other two men beer or tea to cheer them up The bones of the dead girl were broken to pieces, so that they too could be consumed by the birds and that no trace of the body should remain To them the body of the deceased is an empty shell The consciousness has already moved on towards yet another in a series of countless lives Their belief that the fly that lands on the rim of the rancid butter tea, that they like to drink, could be their grandmother causes Harrer no ends of problems when he is asked to build a movie theater for the Dalai Lama Every worm that is disturbed by the shovels must be carefully relocated back to a safe spot The life one can save the happier one is Henrich HarrerHarrer becomes a paid government official, a translator and court photographer that along with his side projects gives him a satisfactory income He becomes close to the Dalai Lama, instructing him in Western culture and the way the world works beyond the Tibetan borders There is even a scene that had me chuckling with the Dalai Lama wanting to shadow box with Harrer It was just hard for me to imagine this national treasure with his fists raised dancing around throwing punches In October 1950 the army of the People s Republic of China invade, defeat a Tibetan army, and take over the country Harrer and his friend Aufschnaiter have to abandon their peaceful lives and return to Europe As he leaves he waves up at the roof where he knows the Dalai Lama, possibly one of the most lonely people in the world, is watching him depart through the singular eye of his telescope In 1959 during a Tibetan uprising the Dalai Lama fearing for his life, fled to India where he established a Tibetan government in exile Harrer continued to go on mountaineering expeditions around the globe and wrote twenty travel books about his exploits His photography is considered to be among the best records of Tibetan culture ever obtained This book was a huge bestseller in America showing the hunger that people felt, and continue to feel to know about Tibetan culture It certainly has inspired me to want to know Friends for life.A movie was made of Seven Years in Tibet in 1997 starring Brad Pitt The movie focuses on Harrer s abandonment of his wife and child not a subject he discusses in the book , and also revealed an arrogance and a selfishness that is not in the book either We see the movie version of Harrer become a better person under the influence of the people he came to know and love in Lhasa The movie is visually stimulating and was the reason I decided to read the book I hope that others who see the movie will be encouraged to explore the subject matter further as well Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet I often think I can still hear the cries of wild geese and cranes and the beating of their wings as they fly over Lhasa in the clear, cold moonlight My heartfelt wish is that my story may create some understanding for a people whose will to live in peace and freedom has won so little sympathy from an indifferent world If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    I read this book many decades ago It was interesting However, I kept asking myself What did Heinrich Harrer live on until he reached Lhasa after about two years He had no money He had no provisions He had no weapons to shoot animals to eat And while traveling, he, definitely, had no land to grow any food From what I remember, there were also no tales that he asked for or was granted hospitality by the inhabitants of the areas he passed I don t think that anyone will be able to survive on the scarce vegetation to be found in high elevations So what did this man eat I really would have liked to learn.


  3. says:

    This is a book that I bought way back in 1990 It was an excellent travel book and I purchased it because of my enjoyment of reading about life in Tibet it always struck me as such an exotic place and I was also very influenced by Buddhism at the time It was so sad about the situation with China and the Dalai Lama.I must reread this.


  4. says:

    I bought my copy of this book from a thrift shop last 27 January 2010 Handwritten on its first inside page is the former owner s name followed by 23 Jan 1999 Los Angeles California 7 00 pm I suspect he or she was a Tibetan It s typical of these religious and superstitious people to ascribe meaning to every event, or to the time, place and date it happened Even when it is just a book purchase.The former owner s name seems to read Yee Yitathajisi but I m not sure, especially the small s in the last name It doesn t really look like an English letter I also looks like an r with a loop on its left side but his r in California is like the number seven His two small s in Los Angeles look like a regular s but somewhat written like the number five.Yee struggled with his English He highlighted English words which are not really difficult cache , brooks, roamed, vague, ascent, etc Many times he also wrote his translations above the English words which gave him difficulties He read the phrase small ice floes, for example, and he underlined floes then wrote something above it in letters completely foreign to me the closest I can interpret it to something I know how to read is iiwaliiv followed by a comma and some flourishes above three letters I ve seen Japanese and Chinese writings but they re not squiggly looking like this.When the second world war broke out, several German mountaineers were in India which was then still under British rule They were arrested and imprisoned by the British They successfully escaped after several attempts The author, Heinrich Harrer, was one of them Together with another German guy, they fled on foot towards Tibet For almost TWO YEARS they hiked on the mountainous terrain of India, Nepal and Tibet until they reached Lhasa, Tibet s capital city They were in the worst possible state emaciated, dressed in rags and without money About half of the book is devoted to the story of their five year stay in Lhasa So while hellfire infernos were raging in Europe and Asia they were there in those strange and wonderful places trying to fight off starvation, fatigue and disease unaware of the horrors being brought to the world elsewhere, ironically, chiefly by their own countrymen After the end of the war, or sometime in 1950, they were forced to leave Tibet when China, which considered Tibet as just its province like it is treating Taiwan now , invaded the country.Although I ve read literature about Tibet before, especially on how Tibetans determine who their next ruler and spiritual leader shall be their Dalai Lama, a God King who dies but immediately reincarnates , this has opened my eyes about this wondrous country and its peace loving and very religious people Do you know that Tibet s land area is as big as Spain, France and Germany put together I didn t until I ve read this book I thought Tibet was just a small, obscure settlement pearched atop a snowy mountain, like Baguio City Have you tasted or even just seen TSAMPA That s the staple food in one of the regions there and this is how it is prepared You heat sand to a high temperature in an iron pan and then pour barleycorns onto it They burst with a slight pop, whereupon you put the corns and the sand in a fine meshed sieve through which the sand runs after this you grind the corn very small The resulting meal is stirred up into a paste with butter tea or milk or beer, and then eaten This was made into a film starring Brad Pitt which I haven t watched but was not shot in Tibet The Chinese authorities won t allow the filming there or even its showing in China Tibet is unfree Free Tibet


  5. says:

    First off let me say that the writing of this book is nothing spectacular, it s adequate for this type of book and gets all the facts across without lots of embellishment However, the content is an amazing travelogue of Heinrich Harrier s journey through Tibet and his eventual friendship with his Holiness the Dalai Lama Quite a large portion of the seven years was spent actually travelling Harrer doesn t go into a lot of detail about all the climbing and trekking his friend Peter and himself did and it s easy to skip over that accomplishment It s easy to forget that Heinrich and Peter WALKED about a 1,000 miles and crossed many passes over 18,000 feet high all WITHOUT any equipment If you look at a map, their trek started in North Western India and circumvented Nepal to get to Lhasa Life in Lhasa is well described and I was surprised at how well educated the upper echelons of society were In the time before the Chinese invasion, Tibetan culture had remained little changed in 2,000 years In a sad postscript written almost 50 years later Harrer describes how all that culture has been wiped away If you have seen the excellent movie by the same name then the book is certainly worth reading Harrer was a consultant for the film and was most pleased with the decision to have Brad Pitt play him Not for the fact that Mr Pitt was better looking than him, but for the fact that thousands of people probably went to see the movie just to see Brad Pitt, and in so doing learn t something of Tibet and became aware of that countries plight.


  6. says:

    Absolutely fascinating it s a pity the prose was on the pedestrian side One wonders what a Patrick Leigh Fermor or an Eric Newby would have made of the same material.


  7. says:

    Heinrich Harrer, the author of this book, was a mountaineer and an adventurer He was the first to climb the North Face of the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland He did this int the 1930s This book, originally published in 1953, is an adventure classic that recounts Heinrich Harrer s 1943 escape from a British internment camp in India, his daring trek across the Himalayas, and his seven years in Tibet, coming to an end with the Chinese invasion He became a dear friend of the fourteenth Dali Lama Definitely interesting, but in that the narrations follows the time line of the events it was repetitive at points, i.e a particular theme was discussed many times One example of this is how white scarves are used in Tibet as a means of expressing respect and honor People were handing out scares right and leftI kept wondering what was done with all these scarves Finally near the end of the book it was mentioned that they were reused and handed out to others And this leads to my next complaint Listeners are left with questions Terms are not clearly defined so you search for understanding, to make sense of what you are told At one point, my husband and I, we were both listening to the audio book together, did not agree on who had been killed Neurotic as I am to understand EXACTLY what has happened I rewound and listened again and again Finally I understood In fact I was right in the mini battle with my husband, but the point is that what you hear read can easily be misinterpreted.So the book isn t perfect, but don t let that determine whether to pick it up or not The reader follows an exciting adventure and there is a lot to learn here about old Tibet, before the Chinese invasion in 1950.One other point which I found intriguing is how there are so many rules to be followed.but there is always a way to get around them In the Buddhist philosophy no creature can be killed, so of course meat cannot be eaten But, but, but, but people do need some meat so it is quite handy if the people in neighboring Nepal can provide thisthen all is OK This bothered me tremendously Time and time again, the Nepalese were handy to have to do that which the Buddhist faith did not allow to be done in Tibet.And it bothered me that in sport events where it was determined that the Dali Lama must win, he of course always did win Is that real competition Never mind, just my own thoughts troubling me It is amusing to picture a dike being built and a worm appearing on the shovel of dirt That worm had to be carefully placed aside so no harm came to it This all sounds so sweet, but to function as a nation bribery and conniving were necessary I am very glad I read this book I learned a lot, and it made me see into the reality of a Buddhist culture It is very hard to get a view into Lhasa, the Forbidden City.


  8. says:

    I read this book in fits and starts between breaks in class Restlessness has been the case for me lately Perhaps the cure is travel books like these Books that are easy to pick up, put down, and pick up again The book made no grand promises instead the author proposed to give me his notes plainly told about his journey through Tibet, a journey that began just prior to the second World War and ended a few years after it The author did not over promise, and sticking to his world, early on, I found his writing to have a dry, clinical feel to it Perhaps some of this had to do with it being translated from German, but I think some of it had to do with its limited pretensions And yet, at least for long moments, I was utterly lost in the account Perhaps travel writing is the best remedy for someone confined to a desk for any period of time I marveled at Harrer s adventurousness and resiliency If his notes were dry, they often seemed to lack any kind of malice or ethnocentrism More importantly, as I drifted off in my own thoughts, I found I could return to the book without losing too much of the story The book demonstrates that substance is better than style, and that in order to be a good writer one should live an adventurous life The parts I liked the most about the book were the little scenes where Harrer was making a new life for himself in Lhasa Certainly, the earlier scenes where Herrer escaped from prison and managed to survive in the wilderness were exciting, but the scenes where he is creating a new life for himself with the help of the compassionate Tibetans were the most romantic and enjoyable More than anything, they reminded me of my own small delights living and working overseas In the end, this book seemed to me as much about home as about travel As Harrer says at the end of the book, Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for Tibet A beautiful sentiment simply stated More travel writing to come We ll see where my reading adventures take me next.


  9. says:

    I ll be the first to say the movie version is well, awful It sensationalized aspects of Harrer s life although the part about leaving his pregnant wife turns out to be true and was interestingly omitted by Harrer from the book itself The film also created a stupidly melodramatic fake love triangle and gave short shrift to just how riveting the journey to Lhasa must have been Of course, this shouldn t be the surprise The book is better than the movie is a common refrain Once you get into this book it s a quite thrilling travelogue I especially appreciate this book because it provides a different perspective on the Tibet issue than the typical information that I read on the Chinese news sites which, as stories relate to sensitive domestic issues in China are hilariously biased and not entirely distinguishable from when The Onion parodied Chinese news in 2009 It doesn t provide a perfect picture of Tibet before the Chinese invaded either namely Harrer details corruption and closemindedness among some of the monks and other bureaucrats Tibet was a feudal society, after all Nonetheless, there is no mistake here, this book is strongly in favor of Tibetan independence That is not to say that this book rams politics down your throat except maybe in the epilogue But it is precisely because Harrer was somewhat of an objective observer of Tibet, able to report it from a western perspective and therefore tells the story in a relatable way for many foreign readers, that this book remains a powerful case for Tibetan independence Plus, his stories about the young Dalai Lama s determination and intellectual curiosity at age 13 just make me admire him even .


  10. says:

    This is a wonderful book and significantly different that the movie with Brad Pitt While Harrar and his fellow PoW escapee, Peter Aufscnaiter, were simply trying to be free from the British in India during WWII although Harrar seemed interested not in Tibet itself initially but just making his way across Tibet and through China to the Japanese lines since the Japanese were Germany s ally they both seemed to quickly fall in love with the people and the land of Tibet While at times the book did seem to drag and it was clear that Harrar wrote this from a very personal perspective he did an excellent job in detailing a lot of information about the land and the people of Tibet Although he did seem to portray them as somewhat simple in nature I don t feel like he necessarily meant to From his perspective he saw their lives as significantly simpler than his and to an extent that can certainly be enticing From the way Harrar wrote you can tell that he truly fell in love with the land and the people of Tibet and felt great sadness when the Chinese invaded in 1950 and took over If you are interested in the land of Tibet and the people and their culture this is an excellent book to start with as an introduction.


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